Jo Siffert and Brian Redman win the 1970 Targa Florio in a Porsche 908/3

Jo Siffert and Brian Redman win the 1970 Targa Florio in Porsche 908/3 - Archives Ted Walker

On the road to Sicily

At the end of April 1970,  a convoy is preparing at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen. Mechanics drive some Porsche 908/3s and a Porsche 917K on the trucks.  Soon they start for a long trip to Sicily, where they will race the 1970 Targa Florio. 3 of the Porsche 908/3 carry the typical blue /orange livery from the JWA Gulf team,  the other cars will race under the Porsche Salzburg banner.

 

The 3 Gulf JWA Porsche 908/3 and the Porsche Salzburg Porsche 908/3

Porsche designed the Porsche 908/3 for use on just 2 tracks : the Nordschleife and the Targa Florio. Ferdinand Piëch however wanted to experiment with the Porsche 917 on the Sicilian roads. After the training however, the Porsche 917 collided with a truck while it was on the way back to the Porsche headquarters. On top of that, it turned out that the Porsche 917 was not the best car to race on the narrow and curvy Sicilian roads.

The 3 Gulf JWA Porsche 908/3s at the 1970 Targa Florio
The 3 Gulf JWA Porsche 908/3s at the 1970 Targa Florio – (c) Ted Walker

Jo Siffert had the best training times, and started the Porsche 908/3, shared with Brian Redman, in pole.  Vic Elford started in 2nd in the Porsche Salzburg Porsche 908/3 and teamed up with Hans Herrmann.  Nino Vaccarella qualified 3rd in a Ferrari 512S. In the Targa Florio, the cars start with an interval of 30 seconds. This start procedure precents first-lap mayhem. However, it does not eliminate the hazards of overtaking on the narrow roads of Sicily. The 1970 Targa Florio had 11 laps of 72 kilometers, so the total distance of the race would be just under 800 kilometers. Richard Attwood and Bjorn Waldegard drove another Gulf Wyer JWA Porsche 908/3. The 3rd was in the hands of Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen.

1970 Targa Florio -Hans Herrmann / Vic Elford - Porsche 908/3 - (C) Ted Walker
1970 Targa Florio -Hans Herrmann / Vic Elford – Porsche 908/3 – (C) Ted Walker

During the race, the lead changed several times among the Gulf JWA Porsche 908/3s, the Porsche Salzburg Porsche 908/3 and Vaccarella’s Ferrari 512S. Even though both the Porsche 908/3 and the Ferrari 512S were suited for the Targa Florio, the main advantage of the Porsches was the fuel consumption. The Ferrari had to come in for fuel about every 2 laps. The Porsches could do 3 laps, and even 4 when they used the satellite refueling stations that Porsche had set up in the mountains.

1970 Targa Florio at Colesano - Jo Siffert / Brian Redman - Porsche 908/3 - (C) Porsche
1970 Targa Florio at Colesano – Jo Siffert / Brian Redman – Porsche 908/3 – (C) Porsche

So, even the higher top speed of the Ferrari at the straights, could not prevent Brian Redman to come in the pits together with Vaccarella in the Ferrari. Redman knew the Porsches pit stops took less time. He jumped out of the car. Siffert jumped in to  take the wheel, and after refueling and tyre change, he exited to take the lead and continued in leading position for the rest of the race.

At the end of the race, Siffert had a 2 minute advantage of Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen. Rodriguez who felt sick that day, had not been driving a lot. Kinnunen however set a new lap record with a time of 33 minutes and 33 seconds.

The official Porsche press release announcing the victory of Jo Siffert and Brian Redman in the 1970 Targa Florio

 

 

Pictures courtesy Porsche AG, Ted Walker archives.