1970 Season (Part 1) 



Year 1970 begins with a scene that shows to us Ferrari with a great technical and economic unfolding destined to defeat to Porsche.

Following the spectacular policy used previously by Porsche, in Italy Ferrari displays 25 units of their new model, the 5-litre 512S (500 cm3 more than the 917). Nevertheless, the presentation takes place with a remarkable delay, reason why the F.I.A. it will not homologate the new model until the 31 of January of 1970, after the first championship race of the season.

Porsche however, started the year with a perfect organizational chart of races. It intuits that its direct interference in the races can cause rubbing between the drivers and avoids the possible problem unloading all the sport problems in two official teams: Gulf-Wyer and Porsche Austria (also known as Porsche Salzburg).

Porsche will only have interference in the meticulous preparation of the cars. John Wyer must take care of the completion and set up of the cars, and the driver selection. As a result of this new organization, Porsche retired all backing and support to any semi-official team.

The conjectures that could become after the previous season were that still it would be necessary to work in the 917 to make them much more competitive and than their first line of winning cars would be the 908´s at least until mid-season. Nevertheless the reality indicated that the 917 were extremely competitive from the beginning and won 7 out of 10 races of the year. Two of them (Targa Florio and Nürburgring) were also won by Porsche, although with their 908/03 model. The only race won by the house of Maranello, was the second date at Sebring.

After the Monza race, in which the 917´s debuted their new 5-litre engines- and because the evident superiority of the Germans - Ferrari would use Spyder models, long tails, short tails, reformed nose, with spoilers, without spoilers; thousands of variants, but always without results.

The Wyer cars were still beating everyone in all the competitions they entered until the end of the year in a sheer demonstration of overwhelming forcefulness. The way in which Porsche dominated the year was demonstrated not only in the results - in which the repetition of the winning formula got to be a little boring- but also in a little disguised, openly fashion in which all the other marques " copied " - like in kindergarten- all the solutions and innovations brought by Porsche to the category. For example, the shape of the front end of the cars. Absolutely all the rival teams modified the nose of their cars, imitating Porsches shape.

The championship itself was only fought by two marques: Porsche and Ferrari, because they were the only sophisticated manufacturers who could produce twenty five 5-litre sports cars, in order to be able to fulfill the regulation. Under these circumstances, Matra and Alfa Romeo, with good cars for the Prototype class, had to resign their chances before the overwhelming difference with the Sports class ruled by the powerful marques, relegated of main category to secondary. Anyway, it would not be fair to excuse them absolutely, because when Porsche ran with its 3-litre 908´s against the Matras and Alfa Romeos, Porsche beat them without contemplations. Only Alfa Romeo managed to rise a few hopes, while leading for a short period in Zeltweg in the hands of Andrea De Adamich-Henri Pescarolo – recently hired- arriving in second place behind Siffert-Redman and their 917; a surprise victory for Porsche, because the winning car finished really beat up and was not responding well in the final part of the race.

Next, the detail of what happened through the different races from the season. 




Being a non-championship race, Porsche abstained to participate officially, trusting the effort on of David Piper’s private team.

From left to right: Redman, Piper and Mrs. Piper.

Before a huge crowd, David Piper-Brian Redman, commanding the 917 obtained the Pole Position on Saturday, and led the race at the initial moments.

The race evolved in a certain unexpected form. The time gap that Redman with the 917 tried to make during the first laps made no sense: with the quickest and most powerful car of the lot (100 BHP more than anyone of the rest), it did not seem necessary to devastate yet. One of the English mechanics of the German car had said: "Piper is not a driver that stands out by its driving skills, but uses the head". Evidently, either the mechanic was mistaken or Piper was; since the moderate race that everybody expected, did not take place.

Photo courtesy : Philippe Moriniere

Brian Redman/ David Piper

Instead, what was pretty much visible, was the evident difficulties of the car to turn, specially in the slow curves. Everything finished with an awaited off track, that damaged the front suspension and the wheel alignment.

Thus, with the machine to beat out of race, everything turned into an interesting Matra - Alfa Romeo duel.

The Italian team had come to Argentina to win. Piers Courage and Andrea De Adamich, driving the Alfa Romeo 33 surprised everyone, with the agility of the car to turn, and the power of the small 3000 cm³ V8, although more surprising was the Matra 650 of Jean Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo that without standing out, showed the necessary balance to prevail.

The Matra was a manageable, agile, car; perhaps not as powerful as the Alfa but with the sufficient BHP to dispute the leadership. Impeccably lead by Beltoise -main creator of the victory- before the opaque work of a –still stranger- Pescarolo was also directed very well from boxes, making an excellent victory in Buenos Aires

The winning Matra 650 Nº 10 of Beltoise-Pescarolo.

Of the rest of the field, the Porsche 908, an exquisite machine, excelled by its simplicity and forcefulness; it behaved with the softness of a Formula 1 and forgave driving errors, although lamentably did not have more than 360 BHP. The Lolas appeared heavy and without the acceleration power of the Sport Prototypes, and about the Ford GT40 it is not due to process conclusions since the exponents that arrived at Buenos Aires were regular.

On the abandonment of the Porsche 917

Brian Redman’s behavior was amazing in every way. On and off the track. He managed to obtain benefits from the order and the experience of Piper, to surpass the handling problems of the German monster, and to capitalize the unexpected caused by the Lola of the " tourists " Rey-Berney. Because according to its own declarations, which he kindly repeated time and time again for all the interested ones, in spite of the bad moment that happened when it marched flat out in the straight behind boxes, he was locked up by the Lola Nº44 that inexplicably at the moment in which Redman was going to pass it, swerved towards the center of the track. Redman left the road and crossed 300 meters through the bumps, blinded by the dust until the car stopped with the front suspension, direction and front bodywork, damaged.

Before that, which obviously caused the abandonment, the 917 stopped several times because of the excessive wear of the tires and the oil consumption. For Sunday the completion of the front suspension set up was due to modify, since Saturday the car was understeering heavily. The profile of the car had been streamlined since its debut, to improve the performance in medium speed circuits (tail almost in wedge formation and cuts), which demanded the use of 10" 1/2 front tyres; but Piper-Redman only had bearings of 9" 1/2 diminishing therefore the power of required turn properly. They tried to surpass the problem by means of a change in geometry, but the variation caused the excessive tyre consumption. Redman, alerted, copied the turning radiuses without power-sliding the car, to avoid worsening the problem, but anyway he could not manage to stay in the lead.  

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

El 917 de Piper-Redman en acción

Both Redman and Piper gave an exact sense of professionalism, the "capo scuadra " of the team under the distant trusteeship of the factory.

The Following Commitment: 

 NON-CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: 200 Miles of Buenos Aires  (18/01/70)  

Since the following weekend would host another International SP competition, in Buenos Aires, although this time the route of the test would be of only 200 miles divided in two series by sum of times, the Porsche 917 of Piper-Redman was taken for its repair to the factories of Horacio Steven, a well renowned Argentinean constructor, with international fame by its exquisite manual labor. There, some welds in the chassis, and body adjustments were made.


The 917 in Horacio Steven’s garage. In spite of the effort in put it, he disappointed in his following presentation.

Nevertheless, although the work on the car was carried out correctly, Piper-Redman disappointed in his second presentation in Buenos Aires. They arrived at racetrack on Friday, almost at the last minute, and were not able to test the car. On Saturday they barely managed to obtain seventh place, and in Sunday they were able to give only two laps in the first series: the breakage of the gearbox selector forced them to lea retire definitively. In those 2 laps, the excessive understeering of the car was clear, almost identical to what had occurred one week earlier, back in the 1000 km race.

At that point, the problem was analyzed and it was concluded that the problem had been generated by the short tail configuration of the prototype used in Argentina instead of the long tail configuration, with which it was said that the 917 became more oversteering.

Nevertheless, as it would be proven later, Porsche and John Wyer´s Team did not waste time, and made exhaustive tests, prior to the first race of the championship - Daytona - in which they would show an overwhelming superiority.

To summarize, the 200 Miles of Buenos Aires, which did not grant championship points, really were won by Andrea De Adamich and Piers Courage driving an Alfa Romeo 33

 See the race statistics (1000 Km. of Buenos Aires)




Imagen extraída de : http://pages.globetrotter.net

A brand new season begins, and Ferrari debuts its new model: the 512S. The k had yet to homologate this model and therefore they could not credit championship points. Andretti had taken the laurels in the classification, but nevertheless his pole position did not change the initial impression: the Ferrari 512 was more powerful but the 917 was more reliable 

This situation had total ratification during the course of the competition. The Italian machines, with a 500 cm3 advantage on the Germanic prototypes, could not make a worthy the difference (Ferrari, with 4994cm3. and 4494 cm3 for Porsche).

A determining factor in Porsche’s superiority was doubtlessly the testing and experimentation period. Don Enzo´s cars paid the right of floor, where as John Wyer´s cars made their raid with the ease of someone that has everything in place and must only worry to put gasoline and wait. The night previous to the race, both 917´s (Siffert-Redman and Rodriguez-Kinnunen) were locked up and their mechanics asleep.


Meters further on, the garages reserved to the red prototypes boiled in activity.

A fuel supply problem, forced Maranello´s mechanics to work intensively in the five 512S until high hours of the dawn. That disadvantage reappeared in race forcing several of the cars to resupply every 50 minutes with problems in the apparently useless fuel pump. The only Ferrari that was competitive was the one trusted to Mario Andretti-Arturo Merzario (specially when it was Andretti that commanded it). 

Arturio "Arturo" Merzario today 

Who attended the Formula One race held in Monza, 2001.

His chances to attack the position of the 917 of Pedro Rodriguez-Leo Kinnunen was restricted by the appearance of a fissure of considerable dimensions in the tail of the car, that caused a long and detrimental pit stop. 

Click para agrandar

Image: http://pages.globetrotter.net

However, in equality of conditions, the Porsche turned better, accelerated fantastically, and had a more docile gearbox.  

The Ferrari 512S were very quick, but their turning and braking abilities, and the details of their completion and the fragility of their chassis and engines, showed the hurry whereupon they had been conceived and constructed

By the race pace of its pilots, the Porsche 917 of Siffert-Redman must have been the winner. If thus it did not happen it was because first, a tire and soon brakes and electrical system were combined in against the drivers. 

Photo's details:  Matra MS650 #34 of Beltoise-Pescarolo (they finished 18º), Ferrari 512S #30 of Corrado Manfredini-Gianpiero Moretti (did not finish) and Porsche 917 #2 de Rodríguez-Kinnunen, the winners

Free unforeseen expenses however, the other 917 in competition already took advantage of the already proven regularity of the Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and the dowries of Kinnunen from Finland. Most spectacular of the race took place in Sunday morning, because Siffert reconquered second place at Andretti´s expense. In an impressive overtaking maneuver, turning to the limit in the bankings, and marking record, the Swiss discounted 6 laps in one hour (between the 10 and the 11 in the morning). In spite of such a tremendous effort, he only managed second place, 45 laps behind Rodríguez-Kinnunen.

Salzburg’s 917 driven by Elford-Ahrens did not finish.

  See the race statistics


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