A dramatic ending
Osterreichring, Zeltweg, October 14th
THE 1,000-Kilometre sports-car race run on the new racing circuit at Zeltweg, in central Austria, was the final event in the 1970 Manufacturers’ Championship and, though Porsche had won the Championship with their Le Mans victory, back in June, the entry for the Austrian race was well supported. Unlike the Grand Prix world, where the racing appears to be purely for the benefit of the drivers, and points gained are all that matter, the Sports-Car world consider each race as a separate entity, to be fought for and won, or lost, and the final reckoning of who is Champion Manufacturer seems of secondary importance. Also these long-distance races contain a refreshing atmosphere of healthy team rivalry, the team being fully involved from the top driver to the lowest mechanic, for pit stops for fuel, tyres and driver changes play an important part, and the seconds gained by a fast driver can be thrown away by an inefficient team of mechanics, and vice-versa. Most important is the fact that the car represents the total effort of the design department for all parts of the car, so that Porsche are out to show that their engineering is better than Ferrari engineering and Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Matra are all pitting their engineering departments against each other, unlike Brabham, Lotus, March, etc., who can only hope to show that they are more clever than the next group at utilising standardised components. The rather artificial world of Grand Prix racing, where most teams are “chummy” and McLaren lend De Tomaso a Cosworth engine so that they can get their starting money, for example, just doesn’t exist in long-distance sports-car racing. If Ferrari blows up an engine in practice he doesn’t borrow a spare one from Porsche, so in consequence the whole atmosphere is different and more healthy. Porsche, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo did not enter the Austrian 1,000-kilometre race because the starting money made it a good paying proposition, but because they all wanted to win the race regardless. There was a 1,000-kilometre race to be run and they were interested in running it and winning it, and no one asked for it to be reduced to 800 kilometres because their cars were not strong enough, or because their drivers would get tired.
Porsche were represented by the two regular teams of 917 cars, JW Automotive entering two cars for Gulf Oil, driven by Siffert/ Redman and Rodriguez/Kinnunen, and Porsche Austria entering two, for Elford/Attwood and Ahrens/Marko, the last named a new recruit to the 917 ranks. Helmut Marko is an Austrian doctor of law from Graz, who started in Formula Vee a few years ago, and some drives in a private Porsche 908 this year made sufficient impression for him to be offered the seat vacated by Hans Herrmann, who has now retired from racing. The Scuderia Ferrari entered a single 512S coupe with a revised tail very like a Porsche 917, with Ickx and Giunti as the drivers, and Autodelta entered four cars on behalf of Alfa Romeo. These were all the latest Tipo 33-3 with 3-litre V8 engines, with very low nose cowlings not unlike the Targa Florio Porsche 908/3 models, and upswept tails. The pairs of drivers were Galli/Stommelen, de Adamich/Pescarolo, Hezemans/Gregory and Facetti/Zeccoli, the French Matra driver Pescarolo being-on loan for this race as Matra did not enter. The Martini Racing Team of Hans Dieter Dechent entered their two very reliable 908 Porsche Spyders, driven by Larrousse/Lins and Jost/Pankl, and the Austrian pair Lauda and Peter had a similar car. From England there was the very neat little Lola T210 of Max Wilson with Daghorn as co-driver, the car powered by a reliable 1,600 c.c. FVA-Cosworth engine, and a GT40 driven by Weir/de Cadenet. The rest of the list of 31 starters was made up by German, Austrian, Swiss, Swedish, French and Italian semi-professional amateur drivers, mostly in Porsche variants ranging from an old 906 to the latest 914 roadsters. Due to heavy early morning fog the start had to be delayed 30 minutes, until 10.30 a.m., and then from a three-two-three grid the 31 cars got away to a superb start, lckx streaking into the lead from his front-row position between the blue and orange 917 of Rodriguez on his left in pole position, and Ahrens in the blue and white 917 on his right. Elford in the orange and white 917 and Siffert in the second JW-Gulf car were in the second row. Rodriguez had done a practice lap in 1 min. 40.48 sec., a mere eight-hundredths of a second off the Formula One lap record. With 170 laps to be run and four or five refuelling stops due for each car, the race quickly settled into its first phase, with Ickx showing the Ferrari to be superior on speed and building up a long lead. After only a few laps Rodriguez headed for the pits with the 12-cylinder engine of his Gulf-Porsche making a nasty noise in the valve gear and his race was over. The second Gulf Porsche was not handling too well, especially under braking, so that it was Ahrens who held second position, with Siffert third, being very hard pressed by Elford. Then came the complete Alfa Romeo team, driven by Stommelen, de Adamich, Hezemanns and Zeccoli with Larrousse in the private 908 close behind.
For almost an hour the Ferrari dominated the scene, setting up a new lap record in 1 min. 40.0 sec., and behind it the battle between Siffert and Elford for third place was really something to see, especially as they sliced through the slower cars when lapping them. The Ferrari stopped for fuel, Ickx continuing to drive afterwards, but while it was in the pits Ahrens, Siffert, Elford, Stommelen and de Adamich went by, so that it rejoined the race in sixth position. Then Ahrens stopped and Siffert, Elford and Stommelen went by, but just as Ickx and de Adamich appeared round the Rindt Curve the blue and white Porsche shot out of the pits, now driven by Dr. Marko. At 35 laps Siffert and Elford both headed for the pit road, the Gulf car roaring down to the far end while the Porsche Austria car stopped at the first pit. While they were being refuelled Stommelen went by into the lead, followed by Ickx, who had overtaken Marko, and then Attwood was charging down the pit lane in the Elford car just as Redman started the engine in the Siffert car. Attwood was actually first out of the pits but Redman caught him as they went up the hill, so the cars were back in their same order again, but with different drivers. Stommelen led the race for Alfa Romeo for a few glorious laps, until his refuelling stop was due, and then Ickx was back in the lead and everything was back to normal again, except that Larrousse had taken eighth place from Zeccoli. The various number two drivers who had taken over were maintaining the positions set by the team leaders, including young Marko, who was having his first race in a 917, so it was now a question of endurance for the machinery and the strategy of the team managements, while pit crews could obviously play a vital part in the outcome of the race.
First it was the endurance of the machinery that let things down, for just as Ickx was due for his second stop and for Giunti to take over, the Ferrari died out on the circuit with electrical trouble, thought to be a suspect alternator. Mechanics went out to the car with a new battery and ignition unit, and a long while later the Ferrari came motoring into the pits, the claim being that the sight of the new battery had caused the flat one to revive and restart the engine! While all this was happening Marko had gone into the lead and then Attwood brought the white and orange Austrian Porsche into the pits with oil dripping from all over the front, the huge oil cooler having sprung a leak. The mechanics set about replacing it and the race order was now Marko, Redman, Galli, Pescarolo and Larrousse and it looked as though the Alfa Romeo team or the private Porsches might well be the ultimate victors. The Ferrari had a new battery and ignition unit fitted but it was still not well and after some prodding about at the alternator, buried deep down behind the driving seat, Giunti did a few erratic laps and then gave up and the car was withdrawn. The first of the Alfa Romeos was now overdue, and it never did appear for there had been a big bang in the engine department, as something vital broke, like a connecting-rod or the crankshaft. The order settled once more at Marko, Redman, Pescarolo, and the Lins/Larrousse 908 Porsche, with Elford back in the race but a long way behind, though he soon started gaining places.
When the leading Porsche was due for its second pit stop there was sudden consternation in the pit for it did not appear and Marko came walking back to report that it had run out of fuel. The pit staff had miscalculated on the number of laps and failed to signal him in. This left the lone Gulf-Porsche now in the lead and the well-regulated JW Automotive pit brought it in, refuelled it and sent Siffert off back into the race without losing the lead. It soon built up more than a lap lead on the second-place Alfa Romeo, Which was around two minutes, but it needed this as the 5-litre Porsche engine was more thirsty than the 3-litre Alfa Romeo, and was going to need an extra pit stop. The number two Alfa Romeo had been delayed by some electrical trouble earlier on, and now came in for a refuel and Hezemans found it would not start. A new battery was fitted, but it was the starter motor that was at fault, so in a typical scene of Italian confusion the car was push-started, stopped and restarted, in theory on the button to conform with regulations, but the Austrian organisers wou!d not wear it and the car was disqualified while the Autodelta peop!e yelled and shouted, but smilingly accepted the decision because they knew they had been trying it on. The fourth Alfa Romeo, which had not been able to keep up with the rest of the team, had retired in a spectacular fashion when Facetti had found the throttles would not shut and had pirouetted through the wire safety fence.
The Siffert/Redman Porsche was now in complete command of the race, with the de Adamich/Pescarolo Alfa Romeo second, the Larrousse/Lins Porsche 908 third, followed by the Jost/Pankl sister car and the Lauda/Peter 908 fifth, the private owners having a heyday at the expense of the factory cars. Elford was charging through the backmarkers and was up to sixth place, followed by the rather slowly-driven 512S Ferrari of Loos/Pesch and the little 1,600 c.c. Lola of Wilson/Daghorn, which was running like a clock and giving its drivers a most enjoyable time. After the leading car had made a major pit stop for fuel and rear tyres and Redman set off, the outcome of the race seemed settled, for it only had one more short precautionary stop to make 26 laps before the finish. This was accomplished in the usual JW-team efficient manner, the left front tyre being changed while oil and fuel were being poured in and Siffert took over to finish the race. With 13 laps to go the restful scene of the JW team quietly waiting for another victory and the Alfa Romeo team contentedly settled for second placei-suddenly became very animated, for as Siffert came out of the Rindt Curve he was flashing the Porsche headlights furiously and the 917 went by the pits making a horrid noise from its engine and only firing on about half its cylinders. His lap time dropped by 10 to 15 seconds and the pit kept him fully informed of the situation while he “pussy-footed” round hoping the engine would not break up completely. The trouble was in the valve gear at the rear of the left-hand bank of cylinders, but was not spreading so that he was able to keep going. Meanwhile, the Autodelta pit was urging Pescarolo to go faster, and he caught the stricken Porsche and went by, to be on the same lap, but there were insufficient laps left for him to make up another full lap, unless the Porsche got worse. As Siffert was due to begin his penultimate lap the Alfa Romeo should have been ahead of him, but it did not appear and after the Porsche had gone by the Alfa Romeo came coasting into the pits with oil dripping from every pore. There had been a big bang and no more oil pressure, said Pescarolo, which was not surprising for most of the oil was on the outside of the engine and gearbox!
A very lucky JW-Gulf team chalked up yet another victory for the blue and orange Porsche 917 cars and concluded a very satisfactory season of serious motor racing. Stationary at the pits, the stricken Alfa Romeo was still in second place, while the well-regulated private Martini International Team car was third, with the Elford/Attwood 917 Porsche thundering through to fourth place.—D. S. J.
1,000 Kilometres of Austria – Groups 6, 5 and 4 – Sports Prototypes, Sports and GT
Osterreichring – 170 laps – Warm and dry
1st:J.Siffert/B. Redman (Porsche 917, 5-litre, 12-cyl.) – Gr. 5 – 5hr. 08 min. 04.67 sec. – 195.72 k.p.h.
2nd:A. de Adamich/H. Pescarolo (Alfa Romeo 33-3, 3-litre, V8-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 2 laps behind
3rd:G. Larrousse/R. Lins (Porsche 908, 3-litre, 8-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 3 laps behind
4th:V. Elford/R. Attwood (Porsche 917, 5-litre, 12-cy.l – Gr. 5 – 8 laps behind
5th:R. Jost/G. Pankl (Porsche 908, 3-litre, 8-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 8 laps behind
6th:N. Lauda/P.Peter (Porsche 908, 3-litre, 8-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 9 laps behind
7th:G. Loos/F. Pesch (Ferrari 512S, 5-litre, V12-cyl.) – Gr. 5 – 14 laps behind
8th:M. Wilson/M. Daghorn (Lola T210, 1,600-c.c., 4-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 17 laps behind
9th:L.Moreschi/”Pam” (Abarth 2000, 2-litre, 4-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 21 laps behind
10th:L. Hofer/W. Riedl (Porsche 910, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 5 – 24 laps behind
11th:J. Weir/A de Cadenet (Ford GT40, 5-litre, V8-cyl.) – Gr. 5 -29 laps behind
12th:G. Steckkonig/Hohenzolleren (Porsche 914, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 4 – 31 laps behind
13th:K. Reider/O. Stuppacher (Porsche 906, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr.5 – 31 laps behind
14th:E. Seiler/P. Ettmuller (Porsche 914, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 4 – 33 laps behind
15th:M.Ilotte/M. Rusba (Porsche 911, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 4 – 33 laps behind
16th:R. Bauer/D. Schmied (Porsche 911, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 4 – 34 laps behind
17th:C. Graemiger/R. Vogel (Chevron-BMW, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 6 – 35 laps behind
18th:S. Garant/G. Masoneri (Porsche 911, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 4 – 37 laps behind
19th:E. Kremer/G. Huber (Porsche 911, 2-litre, 6-cyl.) – Gr. 4 – 46 laps behind
Fastest lap:J. Ickx (Ferrari 512S, 5-litre, V12-cyl.), in 1 min. 40.0 sec. – 212.83 k.p.h. -(new absolute record).
31 starters – 19 finishers