Porsche 917’s original success story


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Ferrari’s heated 1970 racing duel against Porsche in the World Sportscar Championship.

Created for the FIA’s new endurance prototype rules, the Porsche 917 suffered handling issues in its first World Sportscar Championship season (1969) but was refined to perfection for 1970.

After a one-two at Daytona, it lost to the Ferrari 512 at Sebring due to a Mario Andretti masterclass. Another win came at Brands Hatch, and we pick up the story at Monza – newly shorn of its terrifying banking.

Ferrari fielded five cars against Porsche’s seven. A mixed group of five led away from a messy start, their jockeying causing several to need repairs.

Porsche’s Jo Siffert was lapping 2.0-litre cars within 10 laps but crashed when avoiding one. A 20-minute pit stop for repairs then put him out of contention, with his colleagues Vic Elford and Pedro Rodríguez inheriting first and second.

When they were relieved by Kurt Ahrens and Leo Kinnunen, Ignazio Giunti went all out to cut their lead, and the crowd was further enthused when Ahrens had a tyre blowout.

Giunti was on Kinnunen’s tail by the time he needed to refuel, so Porsche reinstated Rodríguez. His experience plus pit stop problems for the Ferrari (now back driven by Chris Amon) earned a win by a lap.

The 917 would go on to win all of the remaining six races that year, including Porsche’s first Le Mans.

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