8. FERRARI 312 PB
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