1970 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1970 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners

The 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 38th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 13 and 14 June 1970. It was the eighth round of the 1970 World Sportscar Championship season. As the race saw the factory teams entering four Ferrari 512S and five Porsche 917K, plus another nine of these 12-cylinder powered sports car entered by privateers, and provided the background for the Steve McQueen movie Le Mans, the 1970 Le Mans race is also called Battle of the Titans.[1]

Much of the racing footage of the motion picture was taken from a competing car, as the #29 Porsche 908/02 had been fitted with movie cameras.[2]


During June 1969, Enzo Ferrari sold half of his company to Fiat to finance the construction of the required 25 cars to compete with the Porsche 917; the Ferrari 512, powered by a 5.0L V12, was introduced for the 1970 season. Despite a lack of factory drivers, as Ferrari had only two F1 pilots permanently under contract, the Scuderia entered four works cars. With another seven cars entered by customers, a total of eleven Ferrari 512S entries were accepted for Le Mans, plus a 1969 Ferrari 312P in the prototype category, in which three other factories competed.

More Armco was added to the track in the spots that originally weren't as dangerous as other spots where Armco was added the year previous.

Disappointed by the poor results of the 917 in 1969 and facing a new competition, Porsche contracted John Wyer and the Gulf Team to become the official Porsche team, and also the official development partner. During tests in Zeltweg, Wyer's engineer John Horsmann had the idea to increase downforce to the expense of drag, a new tail was molded with aluminum sheets taped together. This worked well as the new short tail gave the 917 better stability. The new version was called 917 K (Kurzheck).

Wyer was surprised to discover that another team was carefully preparing Le Mans with close support from Porsche. As in 1969, the Porsche Salzburg team was a de facto second works team under control of members of the Porsche family. The Martini Racing team also gained some support from Porsche AG; obviously Porsche had made major efforts to win the race with competing teams.

A new low drag version of the 917 was developed for Le Mans with support from the external consultant Robert Choulet. The 917 L (Langheck) featured a spectacular new "Long Tail" body with a wing, which had very low drag and better stability than the 1969 version. Ferrari brought a similar body, dubbed Coda Lunga.

Two 917 L were entered in Le Mans, one by Porsche Salzburg, the other by Martini Racing. The spectacular livery of this car was an elaborate whirls and swoops of light green on a dark blue background. The car gained the nickname of the Hippie Car or the Psychedelic Porsche from the team and media. The Porsche-Salzburg's 917L was powered by a new 4.9L engine that Porsche had introduced at the 1000km Monza.

Wyer lined up three 917Ks, two with the 4.9L engine for the regular drivers, and one with the 4.5L unit, for motorcycle champion Mike Hailwood. A fourth JWA 917K entry, chassis 013 with number 26, was not accepted — the drivers would have been actor Steve McQueen and reigning F1 world champion Jackie Stewart. Porsche Salzburg also entered a 917 K with the standard 4.5L engine for Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood, while a third car with #24, which was qualified by Herrmann and Elford ahead of their #23 car, was withdrawn. With only one privateer 917K, that of David Piper, seven flat-12 from Zuffenhausen faced twelve V12 from Maranello's (incl. the 312P), as the entries of two 512S and four 917K had been rejected.

The 3.0L prototype category saw four competing factories. Of the two 1969 Ferrari 312P of NART driven in practise at rather slow pace, only chassis 0872[3] with the bubble roof extension was used to race, as 0870 had been sold. Of the three 1969 908/02 accepted, one of Martini crashed in practice, and the Solar Production car had to serve as camera mule anyway. Matra entered two MS650s (roadsters with tubular chassis) and a new MS660 (a roadster with monocoque chassis). Except for Jack Brabham all the drivers were French. Alfa Romeo, until 1951 the major Italian competitor, had upgraded their Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 from 2 to 3 litres.


Unsurprisingly, the low-drag, high-power Porsche Salzburg 917L 4.9 set the pole position at 3:19.8, with Vic Elford at the wheel. Only 0.2s behind was the fastest 512S Coda Lunga, though, and with the Siffert/Redman 917K, another 512 and the other Wyer 917 4.9 within 2 seconds, competition was close. The fastest Matra was 14th in practice, and the fastest Alfa at 17th was still ahead of two 512S.

For the first time the traditional "Le Mans start", in which the drivers run across the track to enter their cars, was replaced by a variant in which the pilots already sat in their cars, having had their belts safely strapped tight by mechanics. But now almost all cars entered the track simultaneously,[4] so since 1971,[5] a rolling "Indianapolis start" is chosen. For Porsche's 20th participation, Ferry Porsche himself was given the honour of dropping the tricolor flag at 16:00. After few laps, the engine of the Vaccarella/Giunti 512 that had qualified second failed, soon followed by the Wyer-917K 4.9 of Pedro Rodríguez with a cooling fan failure.

At 17:30, when the rain began to fall, all the Ferraris had already lost touch with the leaders. Soon after, Reine Wisell was running at reduced speed at Maison Blanche in his "coda lunga" Ferrari 512S, when Derek Bell came in another 512 S going around 160 km/h (100 mph) faster. Bell produced a miracle in avoiding the crash. The following Works 512S of Clay Regazzoni hit Wisell's, and Mike Parkes hit both cars, setting his own 512S on fire. Firemen came quickly and no drivers were seriously hurt. To complete Ferrari's disaster, Bell's engine had taken excessive RPMs in the adventure and broke on the Mulsanne Straight, meaning that by now, three factory Ferrari and two of Scuderia Filipinetti were out. A few laps later, the Wyer car with Mike Hailwood crashed at the Dunlop Curve, eliminating the seventh top 10 qualifier.

The rain became heavier around 20:00, at a time when the last works Ferrari, driven by Peter Schetty and Jacky Ickx, was sixth. Ickx, probably the most talented driver of this era under the rain, managed to bring the car to second at midnight, but this ended tragically when Ickx had an accident that killed a corner worker at the Ford chicane. After Ickx's crash a little more than 4 hours into the event, 9 of the 11 (including all 4 works) Ferrari 512's entered were out of the race. Jack Brabham and François Cevert led the prototypes in the Matra roadster, but the V12s were using too much oil, and over a period of 9 laps all the Matras broke piston rings no later than lap 79. This wasn't the year either for Wyer, after Rodríguez and Hailwood out early, Jo Siffert blew his 4.9L engine by missing a shift while passing slower cars. Save for the polesitter, all the major players were gone during the night.

At dawn the weather turned from heavy rain to storm. Three 917s were leading, followed by a 908. The remaining Porsches just had to make it home safely, driving almost all day in the heavy rain without losing concentration. After 18 hours, also the Porsche-Salzburg 917 L had problems with its 4.9L engine, leaving only the 4.5L Porsches. Of the 51 cars that had started, 16 were still running after 24 hours, and twelve of them were Porsche, the camera car among them.

Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood in their red and white No. 23 Porsche Salzburg 917 K won while Gérard Larrousse and Willi Kauhsen finished second with the Hippie Car[6] of Martini Racing. Martini also entered a pair of Porsche 908/02 LH, and the one driven by Rudi Lins and Helmut Marko finished 3rd, ahead of two Ferrari 512, a Porsche 914 and a Porsche 911 as the seventh and last car to be classified, as all others had either dropped out or not covered enough distance compared to the winner. Porsche had won all four classes that had finishers.

Hans Herrmann, a veteran at age 42 who had survived the dangerous Mille Miglia and Carrera Panamericana races of the 1950s, had driven for Mercedes and Porsche in F1 and won the Targa Florio plus many other major races for Porsche, had promised his wife to quit racing if he should finally win the big one at Le Mans, a success which he had missed narrowly in 1969. So he retired with immediate effect, much to the surprise of his Porsche Salzburg team and its boss Louise Piëch. His career with Porsche extended back to 1953, behind the wheel of Porsche's first mid-engine car, the 550, and saw the evolution of Porsche's racing effort from the shoestring operation it was in the 1950s to the world-beater it became in 1970.

After many class wins, Porsche had won Le Mans outright for the first time, the last and most sought after triumph for the former underdog which managed to win all others sports car races and titles during the 1960s. The next weekend, the two 917s were paraded across Stuttgart, from Zuffenhausen to the town hall square.

Official results[edit]

Le Mans in 1970
Porsche 917K Kurzheck 4.5L, winner
The Martini Racing blue and green "psychedelic" livery on a 1970 917K, as raced at Watkins Glen in 1970.
Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
23 Austria Porsche KG Salzburg Germany Hans Herrmann
United Kingdom Richard Attwood
Porsche 917K Porsche 4.5L Flat-12 343
2 S
3 Germany Martini Racing Team France Gérard Larrousse
Germany Willi Kauhsen
Porsche 917L Porsche 4.5L Flat-12 338
3 P
27 Germany Martini Racing Team Austria Rudi Lins
Austria Helmut Marko
Porsche 908/2L Porsche 3.0L Flat-8 335
4 S
11 United States North American Racing Team (NART) United States Ronnie Bucknum
United States Sam Posey
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 313
5 S
12 Belgium Ecurie Francorchamps Belgium Hughes de Fierlandt
United Kingdom Alistair Walker
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 305
6 GT
40 France Établissement Sonauto France Claude Ballot-Léna
France Guy Chasseuil
Porsche 914/6 GT Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 285
7 GT
47 Luxembourg Écurie Luxembourg Germany Erwin Kremer
Luxembourg Nicolas Koob
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.3L Flat-6 282

Not Classified[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
8 GT
2 France Greder Racing France Henri Greder
France Jean-Pierre Rouget
Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet 7.0L V8 286
9 P
29 United States Solar Productions[7] Germany Herbert Linge
United Kingdom Jonathan Williams
Porsche 908/2
(Camera Car)
Porsche 3.0L Flat-8 282
10 P
57 United States North American Racing Team (NART) United States Tony Adamowicz
United States Chuck Parsons
Ferrari 312P Coupe Ferrari 3.0L V12 281
11 GT
62 France René Mazzia France René Mazzia
France Pierre Mauroy
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.2L Flat-6 275
12 GT
42 Switzerland Wicky Racing Team France Sylvain Garant
France Guy Verrier
Porsche 911TH Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 271
13 GT
67 France Jacques Dechaumel France Jean-Claude Parot
France Jacques Dechaumel
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 271
14 GT
45 France Claude Laurent France Claude Laurent
France Jacques Marché
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.2L Flat-6 262
15 GT
64 Switzerland Claude Haldi / Hart Ski Racing France Jean Sage
Switzerland Pierre Greub
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 254
16 GT
66 France Raymond Touroul France Jean-Claude Lagniez
France Claude Swietlik
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 231

Did Not Finish[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
17 P
34 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Roger Enever
United Kingdom Andrew Hedges
Healey SR XR37 Repco 740 3.0L V8 264
18 S
25 Austria Porsche KG Salzburg United Kingdom Vic Elford
Germany Kurt Ahrens, Jr.
Porsche 917L Porsche 4.9L Flat-12 225
19 P
36 Italy Autodelta SpA United Kingdom Piers Courage
Italy Andrea de Adamich
Alfa Romeo T33/3 Alfa Romeo 3.0L V8 222
20 P
35 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Nanni Galli
Germany Rolf Stommelen
Alfa Romeo T33/3 Alfa Romeo 3.0L V8 213
21 P
49 United Kingdom Paul Watson Racing Organisation /
Chevron Racing Team
United Kingdom Ian Skailes
United Kingdom John Hine
Chevron B16 Ford Cosworth FVC 1.8L I4 213
22 P
44 United Kingdom Paul Watson Racing Organisation /
Chevron Racing Team
United Kingdom Clive Baker
United Kingdom Digby Martland
Chevron B16 BMW 2.0L I4 187
23 P
61 Switzerland Wicky Racing Team Switzerland André Wicky
France Jean-Pierre Hanrioud
Porsche 907 Porsche 2.2L Flat-6 161
24 S
20 United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Switzerland Jo Siffert
United Kingdom Brian Redman
Porsche 917K Porsche 4.9L Flat-12 156
25 S
5 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Belgium Jacky Ickx
Switzerland Peter Schetty
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 142
26 GT
63 Switzerland Rey Racing Switzerland Jacques Rey
Switzerland Bernard Chenevière
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.3L Flat-6 132
27 S
9 Spain Escuderia Montjuich Spain José Juncadella
Spain Juan Fernandez
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 130
28 P
60 France Guy Verrier France Daniel Rouveyran
Switzerland Willy Meier
Porsche 910 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 128
29 GT
65 Switzerland Claude Haldi / Hart Ski Racing Switzerland Claude Haldi
Switzerland Arthur Blank
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.2L Flat-6 124
30 P
46 France Christian Poirot France Christian Poirot
Germany Ernst Kraus
Porsche 910 Porsche 2.0L Flat-6 120
31 S
18 United Kingdom David Piper Autorace
Finland AAW Racing Team
United Kingdom David Piper
Netherlands Gijs van Lennep
Porsche 917K Porsche 4.5L Flat-12 112
32 S
16 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti
Italy Scuderia Picchio Rosso
Italy Gianpiero Moretti
Italy Corrado Manfredini
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 111
33 S
4 Belgium Racing Team VDS Belgium Teddy Pilette
Belgium Gustave Gosselin
Lola T70 Mk. IIIB Chevrolet 4.9L V8 109
34 GT
43 Belgium Jean-Pierre Gaban Belgium Jean-Pierre Gaban
Belgium Willy Braillard
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.2L Flat-6 109
35 P
31 France Equipe Matra-Simca France Jean-Pierre Beltoise
France Henri Pescarolo
Matra-Simca MS660 Matra 3.0L V12 79
36 P
32 France Equipe Matra-Simca Australia Jack Brabham
France François Cevert
Matra-Simca MS650 Matra 3.0L V12 76
37 P
30 France Equipe Matra-Simca France Patrick Depailler
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Australia Tim Schenken
Matra-Simca MS650 Matra 3.0L V12 70
38 GT
59 France Jean Egreteaud France Jean Egreteaud
France Jean Mésange
Porsche 911S Porsche 2.2L Flat-6 70
39 P
50 France Écurie Intersports S.A. France Guy Ligier
France Jean-Claude Andruet
Ligier JS1 Ford Cosworth FVC 1.8L I4 65
40 S
10 Germany Gelo Racing Team
United States North American Racing Team (NART)
Germany Helmut Kelleners
Germany Georg Loos
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 54
41 S
22 United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering United Kingdom David Hobbs
United Kingdom Mike Hailwood
Porsche 917K Porsche 4.5L Flat-12 49
42 P
38 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Teodoro Zeccoli
Italy Carlo Facetti
Alfa Romeo T33/3 Alfa Romeo 3.0L V8 43
43 S
7 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC United Kingdom Derek Bell
Sweden Ronnie Peterson
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 39
44 S
8 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Italy Arturo Merzario
Switzerland Clay Regazzoni
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 38
45 GT
1 France Écurie Léopard France Joseph Bourdon
France Jean-Claude Aubriet
Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet 7.0L V8 37
46 S
15 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti United Kingdom Mike Parkes
Switzerland Herbert Müller
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 37
47 S
14 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Sweden Joakim Bonnier
Sweden Reine Wisell
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V12 36
48 S
21 United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Mexico Pedro Rodriguez
Finland Leo Kinnunen
Porsche 917K Porsche 4.9L Flat-12 22
49 P
48 Belgium Levi's International Racing Belgium Julian Vernaeve
Belgium Yves Deprez
Chevron B16 Mazda 10A 1.0L Rotor 19
50 S
6 Italy SpA Ferrari SEFAC Italy Nino Vaccarella
Italy Ignazio Giunti
Ferrari 512S Ferrari 5.0L V8 7
51 P
37 Italy Autodelta SpA Netherlands Toine Hezemans
United States Masten Gregory
Alfa Romeo T33/3 Alfa Romeo 3.0L V8 5


  • Pole position - #25 Porsche KG Salzburg Porsche 917L (Vic Elford)- 3:19.8 (150.797 mph/242.685 km/h)
  • Fastest lap - #25 Porsche KG Salzburg Porsche 917L (Vic Elford)- 3:21.0 (149.897 mph/241.236 km/h)
  • Distance - 4607.810 km (2863.16 mi)
  • Average Speed - 191.992 km/h (119.3 mph)
  • Weather conditions: Overcast; later rain

Trophy Winners[edit]

  • Index of Performance - #27 Martini International Racing Team
  • Index of Thermal Efficiency - #3 Martini International Racing Team

External links[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.autosportsltd.com/featured_bot.php
  2. ^ http://www.autosportsltd.com/featured_bot_more8.php
  3. ^ http://www.a2zracer.com/page36.html
  4. ^ http://www.autosportsltd.com/featured_aroundclock.php
  5. ^ "24 key dates for the 24 Hours". ACO. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  6. ^ http://www.autosportsltd.com/featured_bot_more19.php
  7. ^ Stone, Matt (2007). McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon. Minneapolis, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-7603-38957. Le Mans requires that each car complete a certain distance to be classified a finisher, even if it was running at the end. Only seven cars met that requirement. But the Solar Productions 908, at the hands of Herbert Linge and Jonathan Williams, ran a clean race and, had it completed enough distance, would have finished an impressive ninth overall. The team's pit stops took much longer than the other competitors' did, because not only did the car require refueling and tire and driver changes, but the cameras needed to be swapped out for those containing fresh film. 

World Sportscar Championship
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1000km of Nürburgring
1970 season Next race:
Watkins Glen 6 Hours