Tips & Tricks
By Simon Taylor and Patrick McNally (Autosport 18 June 1970)

Elford's gear ratio change did the trick, for on Thurdsay evening he became the first man ever
to lap Le Mans in under 200 secs - despite the recently-adopted Ford chicane. The big white
streamliner was now touching 227 mph, only a small improvement, but Vic was now really
happy with the car's handling, and his best lap was 3m 19.8s. He said that an all-out effort
with no traffic problems could have taken 4 secs off this. Vaccarella was still going were well,
managing 3m 20.6s on this occasion, while Siffert was quickest Gulf man with 3m 21.1s.
Sensation of the evening was brave Merzario, who produced a 21.3; the Ferrari were pretty
trouble-free on Thursday apart from a perfect plague of punctures (nine!), whereas Rodriguez
complained of poor brakes on his Gulf 917, and Siffert had a transistor ignition failure. Attwood
said that his brakes had not been improved, and that instead the Salzburg mechanics had made
various unwanted cockpit changes.

Ickx, displaying his usual unruffled approach to the 24-hour event, did very little practice,
being content to scrub a few tyres and bed in brake pads and discs; by contrast, Forghieri was
having to restrain his more extrovert drivers from wearing out their cars trying to better
Vaccarella's time.
The only serious incident in the whole of practice occurred in the 140 mph link just after White
House halfway through the Thursday session. Brabham's Matra was coming up to pass
Spoerry's Martini Porsche 908 which had moved to one side, apparently to let him through.
When Matra was almost alongside the Porsche moved across again and the cars collided.
Brabham kept the Matra under control, and brought it into the pits with slight bodywork
damage, but the Porsche shot off the road into the bank and disintegrated. The engine was
flung bodily down the road and the front suspension and steering wheel went in another
direction, while the gearbox was found 50 yards away in a field. The wheel-less cockpit frame
landed with Spoerry still strapped in it, and though the remains caught fire, the Swiss
unstrapped himself and ran clear with nothing worse than a cut leg. From the lurid pictures of
the accident that appeared in the French papers the next day, it seemed a really miraculous

Brabham had been well in the groove with his 650 Matra, setting fastest 3-litre time in 3m
32.2s, but the 660 was still not right and was wheeled away for an engine change, while the
ENB Ferrari burnt out its clutch. The Ligier set fastest 2-litre time, but then a faulty oil pump
produced bearing damage and it too got a new engine on Friday.
The Ferrari 512S driven by Ignazio Giunti/Nino Vacarella
The Matra MS 650 driven by Jack Brabham/Francois Cevert
Final practice times (starting drivers names first were):
If practice waer taken as indicating race form things looked good for Ferrari, with six cars in the
fastest nie; furthermore, the Porsche team managers were going to have a stiff task persuading
their drivers not to make a Grand Prix of it and try to beat each other. There is ineviteablty
constant rivalry not only between Elford and the JW drivers, but even between Seppi and
Pedro, and nobody knew better than David Yorke and John Wyer that a lack of discipline in this
direction could be disasterous. It was also plain that Ferrari would properly try to send one car
out in front as a hare to lure the Porsches on to engine and gearbox-breaking efforts. In their
various hotels, while the mechanics worked in the garages and the drivers relaxed, the team
managers spent Friday evening pondering on their tactics for the morrow. It lokked like being a
titanic struggle.