Daytona 24 Hour race won by RodrÃguez Kinnunen in a Porsche 917.
A brand new season, and Ferrari debuts its new 512S. Andretti had taken the pole in qualifying, but his pole position did not change the initial impression that the Ferrari 512 was more powerful but the 917 was more reliable. This was illustrated during the course of the race. The Italian machines, with a 500 cc advantage over the Germanic prototypes, could not make a noticable the difference. A determining factor in Porsche's superiority was doubtlessly the testing and sorting that had gone on before the race. Don EnzoÂ´s cars were worked on right up to the start, where as John WyerÂ´s cars prepared with the ease of someone that has everything in place and only has to put in the petrol. The night previous to the race, both the 917Â´s were locked up with their mechanics asleep. A few feet away the Ferrari garage was a hive of activity. A fuel supply problem, forced MaranelloÂ´s mechanics to work intensively on the five 512S until early hours. The problem reappeared in the race forcing several of the cars to refuel every 50 minutes. The only Ferrari that was competitive was the Mario Andretti-Arturo Merzario car (specially when Andretti was driving). In the race the Porsche handled better, had great acceleration , and an superior gearbox. The Ferrari 512S were very quick, but their handling and braking as well as the build detail and the fragility of their chassis and engines, showed the speed at which they had been conceived and constructed. On sheer race pace, the Porsche 917 of Siffert-Redman must have been the winner. But tire problems folllowed by brakes and electrical system worked against them. Meanwhile free from unforeseen problems, the other 917 took advantage of the proven reliability of the Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and Kinnunen from Finland. The most spectacular part of the race took place on Sunday morning, Siffert retook second place at AndrettiÂ´s expense. In an impressive overtaking maneuver, going to the limit of the banking, and setting a new lap record, the Swiss clawed back 6 laps in one hour (between the 10 and the 11 in the morning). In spite of such a tremendous effort, he only managed second place, 45 laps behind RodrÃguez-Kinnunen. The Ferrari of Mario Andretti, Arturo Mezario and Jackie Ickx finished third. Salzburg's 917 driven by Elford-Ahrens did not finish.