Pedro Rodriguez wins the 1970 Brands Hatch 1000kms after a heroic race.

Pedro's crossing the Finish line. In the back is the Lola T70 Mk3b of Barrie Smith / Howden Ganley that crashed out (Smith driving) at the end of the 1st lap and caused the yellow flags that would lead to Pedro's blackflagging, claiming he never saw them. © Eric Della Faille

April 12 1970, a cold and wet day, though a day that Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen wrote another chapter in motorsports history. And despite the weather conditions, a mere 20.000 spectators showed up at the Brands Hatch 1000km. All of them returned home, soaked to the bone. None of them regretted being there, after seeing Pedro Rodriguez and Leo Kinnunen taking the checkered flag after a heroic race.

Braking for Druids bend, © Eric Della Faille.

In contradiction with the race,  the pilots qualified in dry conditions. The Porsche 917  #10 (chassis 917-016)  had some gear selection problems. The team however managed to solve the issue, and Rodriguez / Kinnunen qualified 7th. The other Porsche 917 #9 (chassis 917-004) of the JWAE team with Jo Siffert and Brian Redman at the wheel qualified 5th. Porsche Salzburg entered another Porsche 917 in the race. Vic Elford and Denis Hulme shared the wheel of Porsche 917 #11 (chassis 917-023) and qualified 3rd.  David Piper brought his personal Porsche 917. His camshaft broke during practice, and race was over for Piper as there were no spare parts available.

he JWA Gulf-Porsches of Rodriguez/Kinnunen (917.016) and Siffert/Redman (917.004), followed by the Salzburg 917 of Herrmann/Attwood (917.020) that finished 3d. © Rainer Schlegelmilch.

Because of the steady rain, the race directors had a few moments of doubt whether to start the race or not. Finally the decision fell to give it a go. It was Vic Elford that made the best start.  Even in the 1st turn Elford takes the lead of the Ferrari 512S of Jacky Ickx. Elford hoped to be able to drive a few laps clear of spray by the other cars. At the end of the first lap, Barry Smith’s Lola T70 spun and crashed. A yellow flag was the result. However, because of the spray, Pedro Rodriguez probably didn’t see the yellow flag, and he may have passed another car in the yellow zone.

Vic Elford and Pedro coming out of Druids bend. © unknown

Clerck of the course Nick Syrett became later upset with the speed of Rodriguez and his proximity with the crashed car while officials were trying to move it from the track. Syrett deciced to black flag Rodriguez, which the latter denied for 2 laps. Rodriguez could be disqualified because of this, so he was called into the pits. He was given a severe reprimande by  the race official. Rodriguez was furious. Later he told he did not see the yellow flag, and he didn’t feel himself driving unsafe.

Pedro getting back in the 917 after Kinnunen’s only stint. Leo can be seen with white helmet and John Wyer taking notes under the #39 sign. © Eric Della Faille

After the reprimande, Rodriguez left the pits in a hurry, almost a lap behind the leaders. He drove furiously, and showed his amazing skills in wet conditions. By lap 15, the Porsche 917 #10 had overtaken most of the field and drove in 3rd,  Chris Amon in 2nd in the Ferrari 512S and Vic Elford at the head of the race. In the next lap, Elford lost his leading position to Chris Amon. And just 2 laps later, he had to let go Rodriguez too. In lap 20, Rodriguez showed his suppremacy  and shows Chris Amon the rear of his Porsche 917. 

Victory for Pedro and Leo Kinnunen after 6 hours and 45 minutes. © Eric Della Faille

It seemed there was no possibility to stop Rodriguez. By lap 50, he had a lead of over a minute and a half. And after 2 hours in the race, Rodriguez lapped Vic Elford for the 1st time. After 3,5 hours in the race, Rodriguez handed the wheel to his partner Leo Kinnunen. He only drove 38 laps and Rodriguez jumps into the car again. At the end of the race, Pedro Rodriguez has been about 6hours of a 6 hour and 45 minute race. He lapped the rest of the field 5 times, when he takes the checkered flag.

At the 1970 Brands Hatch 1000Km, Pedro Rodriguez showed once again he was the ‘Rain Master’, with an impressive victory.