8. FER­RARI 312 PB

Motor Sport News - - Le Mans Preview: Retro -

BEST RE­SULT: 2nd (1973) “The 312 PB was a fab­u­lous car,” re­calls fac­tory Fer­rari driver Brian Red­man. “But right from the start in 1973, the Ma­tra was slightly bet­ter, with more ef­fi­cient aero­dy­nam­ics, and also the han­dling was some­what bet­ter.”

Even so, Ma­tra’s de­feat of Fer­rari in their epic 1973 Le Mans tus­sle was a close-run thing.

Fer­rari had won ev­ery cham­pi­onship round it en­tered in 1972, but skipped Le Mans as the F1-de­rived engine was thought not to be ready to last 24 hours. Ma­tra, which only en­tered Le Mans, thus took a dom­i­nant 1-2.

In 1973, Ma­tra en­tered the cham­pi­onship and Fer­rari added the French Clas­sic to its sched­ule, with three long-tailed 312 PBS tak­ing on four Ma­tras.

Ar­turo Merzario led a Fer­rari 1-2 in prac­tice and he charged off into an early lead be­fore drop­ping from con­tention while a fuel leak was fixed. Af­ter the two lead­ing Ma­tras hit trou­ble, the Car­los Reute­mann/tim Schenken 312 led un­til its engine broke.

Even then, the con­ser­va­tively driven Red­man/jacky Ickx Fer­rari moved to the front. A bro­ken ex­haust, body­work re­pair and fuel leak al­lowed the Henri Pescarolo/ger­ard Lar­rousse Ma­tra ahead, but the French car’s run was not per­fect ei­ther and Red­man/ickx still had an out­side chance when the flat-12 engine failed with 90 min­utes to go.

The three 312s had topped 14 of the hourly bulletins, but sec­ond place was the best they could man­age at the flag. And that was the end of Fer­rari’s last at­tempt at out­right Le Mans suc­cess.

late fail­ure Ickx/red­man 312 had Red Fer­raris led the blue Ma­tras at the start in ’73

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