The Group 6 Battle
By Simon Taylor and Patrick McNally (Autosport 18 June 1970)
In Group 6 there was also a twin-marque battle, this time between Matra's V12 and
Alfa-Romeo's V8, but with some non-works examples of the reliable 908 Porsche interloping.
Matra's plans to field several examples of their new all-monocoque 660, lighter and better
shaped than its predecessor, the 650, were thwarted by early development holdups which put
their programme well behind schedule, Johnny Servoz-Gavin's retirement from racing also lost
them one of their fastest drivers, but they filled their entry of three cars with a singleton brand
new 660, 02, for Jean-Pierre Beltoise/Henri Pescarolo and two650s for Jack Brabham/Francois
Cevert and Jean-Pierre Jabouille/Patrick Depailler, also bringing the first-off 660, which had done
two 24-hour test stints at Marigny, for spares. At the last moment Tim Schenken was offered a
drive, perhaps because Matra were worried about the lack of experience in their third car,
although Elf were anxious to use as many French drivers as possible. As it turnedout he did not
drive in the race.
All three cars naturally used the Matra V12 Formula 1 engine in its latest centre-induction form,
running to a strict rev-limit of 9200 rpm at which it was producing just under 400 bhp. In
Formula 1 this engine has an 11,000 rpm red line, and in long distance sports car events 10,000
rpm is normally permitted. All three Matras had different body shapes, the 660 having a long tail
with a horizontal stabiliser and a big oil radiator mounted above the gearbox. The nose wing
tried on the 650 earlier this season had disappeared; the Brabham/Cevert car, 02, had long
pontoons behind the 13-ins rear wheels, while the third car, 03, had a shorter tail and 15-ins
rear wheels. The 660, which uses the engine as a structural mamber, was 40 kgs lighter than
the 650s at 705 kgs.
Autodelta, whose efforts in Group 6 this year have been rather spasmodic, brought four brand
new Alfa-Romeo Tipo 33/3 Spiders for Piers Courage/Andrea de Adamich (AR75080-010), Rolf
Stommelen/Nanni Galli (AR75080-007), Toine Hezemans/Masten Gregory (AR75080-014) and
Teodoro Zeccoli/Carlo Facetti (AR75080-009). Although similar to the T33/3s that have
appeared throughout the year, these cars had some of the modifacations that had appeared on
the lightweight Nürburgring machine, like titanium body fixings, alloy instead of copper radiators
and lightweight wheels, reducing the weight of this comparatively heavy car by 40 kgs to
around 765 kgs. The suspensions geometry was back to pre-Nürburgring specifications, and all
four cars had long tails with vertical fins, which according to technical director Maurizio Siena
added 13 mph. The drivers were given a strict rev-limit of 8600 rpm, 1000 rpm less than for
shorter races, but their power output with the lower-revving V8 was still about 395 bhp.
As well as his big 917, Hans-Dieter Dechent brought along both his Martini Racing Team 908/2
Spyders for Rudi Lins/Helmut Marko and Dieter Spoerry/Alain de Cortanze; both were as they
have been all season, the former with its long tail with vertical fins. A third 908 was the camera
car for Steve McQueen's film, entered by Solar Productions and to be driven by Porsche factory
test driver Herbert Linge and Jonathan Williams. The cameras had been beautifully mounted
front and rear in little fairings, and the car had been prepared by the factory - allegedly for
free, because in the film a Porsche wins! Also in this class was André Wicky's 2.2-litre Porsche
907, shared with Jean-Pierre Hanrioud.
As well as their 512 Ferrari, NART brought both of their pretty ex-works 312P coupes, which
were looking rather sorry for themselves. Both were tried in practice, but the team decided to
run only one of them, for American Formula A champion Tony Adamowicz and Chuck Parsons.
The Healey SR, which started at Le Mans for the past two years, appeared in drastically
modified form for Roger Enever and Andrew Hedges. The 2-litre Climax VS had been replaced by
a 3-litre single-cam Repco 740 VS driving through a DG300 gearbox. Wheelbase and track have
been increased and there were big Girling ventilated discs front and rear. GKN had made up
some special wide wheels and supplied some expensive roller-bearing drive shafts. Two years
ago the car might have been competitive but for 1970 it was too heavy and too lacking in
horsepower to get to grips with the Matras and Alfas. However, at least it was a courageous
British effort. . . . .
The Matra MS 650 driven by Jack Brabham/Francois Cevert
The Alfa Romeo T 33/3 driven by Piers
Courage/Andrea de Adamich