Little-known Group B/C relics terrorise tranquil Sussex
Ferrari’s 70th anniversary helps paint Goodwood Festival of Speed red... and yellow
Single-seaters dominated the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where dual celebrations of Ferrari’s seven decades and a tribute to the career of Bernie Ecclestone formed on-track and off-track centrepieces. But it was the endurance racers that added most colour and variety, with an exhibition of ex-tom Kristensen cars, and a strong Group C contingent.
This ex-ecurie Francorchamps 512BB made its Goodwood debut as part of an anniversary cavalcade of Ferraris. ‘It was one of four built to reintroduce Ferrari to the GT class,’ said collector Colin Kolles of the car, which contested the 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours with Jean Blaton, Teddy Pilette, Raymond Touroul and Nick Faure.
Ferrari struggled at Le Mans in the Seventies, with its 308 GT4/LM reclassified as a prototype after falling foul of homologation regulations and faring badly against the dominant Porsche 908s. ‘Luigi Chinetti’s NART team had developed a privateer 365Bb-based GT racer and it had potential,’ explained Kolles, ‘so when the 512BB came out, Ferrari took the initiative. However, it wasn’t officially involved in GT racing – technically the Scuderia was just an F1 team – so the cars had to be entered by regional importers rather than the factory. Charles Pozzi’s Ferrari France operation entered two, one was the American NART car, and this was the Belgian team’s car.
‘They were all built by Ferrari’s “customer assistance department”, so Maranello provided these teams with full knowledge and support despite the official line that they weren’t really involved. Although none of these 512BBS finished at Le Mans in 1978 – this one suffered transmission failure after five hours – they helped give Ferrari the knowledge to create the BBLM, which went on to win its class and finish fifth overall in 1981.’
Mercedes’ Group C C292 made its public debut at the Festival, 25 years after it was built.
An evolution of the unsuccessful C291 – itself built in response to the 1991 World Sports Car Championship’s new 3.5-litre rules which favoured
Mercedes C292 debuts after 25 years