Here we have a Porsche 917K driven by Josef Siffert, who was teamed with Brian Redman, just crossing the bridge over Eau Rouge on the entry to the uphill nearly flat out Raidillon early during the May 17, 1970 running of the Spa-Francorchamps 1000 Km. race which counted for that year’s Manufacturers Championship. Behind the Redman/Siffert 917K on the still damp track Is another J. W. Engineering Porsche works team 917K, this one driven by Pedro Rodriguez (with Leo Kinnunen) which had been the fastest qualifier in practice and set an even lower time the race, breaking the F1 lap record by almost 15 seconds at an average speed for the lap of over 160 mph. Keeping station behind the two Porsches on the descent from the La Source hairpin is the Ferrari 512S driven by Jacky Ickx, who was teamed with John Surtees.
These super-powerful Porsches and Ferraris were showing the limitations of a high speed public road-based circuit. Already the the original Spa circuit which was 8.7 miles in length using public roads with almost no runoff before the trees was coming under criticism for safety concerns. Guard rails had recently been installed, but the worries continued. These eventually led to the creation the present circuit which captures much of the character of the original layout, although the infamous Masta Kink seen here is no longer used.
Prarctice was further marked by the Wyer Porsches losing their tire pressures as the tires worked off the rims due to centrifugal force at high speed. This resulted in some heart-stopping offs for both Siffert and Redman. Fortunately, the problem was cured by metal spraying the rim shoulders. The Redman/Siffert team would win the race, followed by the Ickx/Surtees Ferrari while the Rodriguez/Kinnunen Porsche would retire with gearbox lubrication failure after 44 of the 71 laps completed by the two leaders, all other runners being at least a lap down.
Here is Brian Redman taking over the Wyer/Gulf 917K late in the race. He and Jo Siffert would win with a healthy margin of about 2 min 35 sec over the Ickx/ Surtees Ferrari.
Photos by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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