Ferrari 312 PB

The Ferrari 312 PB was a Group 6 Prototype-Sports Car introduced in 1971 by Italian carmaker Ferrari. It was officially designated the 312 P, but often known as the 312 PB to avoid confusion with a previous car of the same name. It was part of the Ferrari P series of Prototype-Sports Cars but was redesignated as a Group 5 Sports Car for 1972.

Ferrari 312 PB
Ferrari 312PB Mallory Park
Category1971:Group 6 Prototype-Sports Car
1972-73:Group 5 Sports Car
ConstructorScuderia Ferrari
Designer(s)Mauro Forghieri
Technical specifications
ChassisAluminium central monocoque with steel spaceframe front and rear
Suspension (front)Double wishbone, outboard coil spring/damper
Suspension (rear)Single top-link, reversed lower wishbone, twin radius arms, outboard spring/damper
EngineFerrari 3.0 L DOHC flat-12, naturally aspirated, mid-mounted
TransmissionFerrari 5-speed manual
FuelShell
TyresFirestone/Goodyear
Competition history
Notable entrantsScuderia Ferrari
Notable drivers
Debut1971 1000 km Buenos Aires
Constructors' Championships1 (1972 WSC)

Development

In 1970, a change in the regulations for sportscar racing for 1972 was announced. The loophole for the big 5-litre sports cars (such as the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512) was closed, and the minimum weight of the 3-litre prototypes was raised to 650 kg (1,433 lb).

Porsche considered this too heavy as their Porsche 908/03 were 100 kg (220 lb) lighter, and this advantage would have been lost. On the other hand, their air-cooled two-valve engine was low on power with 370 hp (276 kW), and the development of a new engine would have been necessary. Thus, Porsche did not enter world championship sports car races after 1971 and sold the 908s to customers who would have to add weight to them. Matra and Alfa Romeo were willing and able to compete, but only in selected seasons or events. Also, Ford's successful Formula 1 Cosworth-V8 engine was available for independent chassis builders, but vibrations made it unreliable for endurance racing.

After having been beaten by the Porsche 917 in 1970, Ferrari abandoned further development of the Ferrari 512M, leaving the 512 to customer teams like Penske Racing and NART.

1973-05-27 35 Carlos Pace, Ferrari, Hatzenbach
Carlos Pace driving a 312 PB at the Nürburgring in 1973

Instead, in 1971, Ferrari focused on a new 3.0L prototype based on the 180° flat-12 boxer from the 312B F1 car. Officially this design was known as 312P, the motorsports press appending the B to avoid confusion with the earlier 312P V12 cars. This design was similar to the traditional Porsche engine layout with its low center of gravity, but Ferrari used water-cooling and 4-valve heads. The car was promising, but did not win, while the similar Alfa Romeo 33 scored two wins against Porsche's dominance. The 312PB's engine has many similarities in design to the F1 engine, but nearly every part is different and non-interchangeable with the F1 flat 12. This has led to problems for users of these cars in historic racing, as spare parts for these quite fragile engines, are, in comparison to the F1 flat 12 engine, very difficult to obtain.

Racing history

The car first appeared at the 1971 1000 km of Buenos Aires in Argentina at the hands of Italians Ignazio Giunti and Arturo Merzario. Its history started off tragically when Giunti was killed in this race after he hit Jean-Pierre Beltoise's Matra head-on while the Frenchman was pushing the stricken car back to the pits. The car did not win a race that season. In 1972, with only Alfa answering the challenge, the 312 PB was very successful and won all World Sportscar Championship races in which it was entered. Ferrari skipped Le Mans, though, as the F1-based engine had not lasted 24 hours in testing and would surely spoil their otherwise perfect record.

In 1973, Matra which had previously focused on Le Mans also challenged for the championship while Alfa was absent. As Matra won several races, Ferrari needed to enter in the 1973 24 Hours of Le Mans, with an improved yet still doubtful engine. One car was used as a "hare" which supposed to lure the Matras into driving faster laps than they intended, to test their reliability. Ironically it was only the "hare" Ferrari which survived the 24 hours, finishing a respectable second behind a Matra. The championship saw the same order, with only two Italian wins compared to five French. In addition, despite the absence of the Matras, the 312 PB could not defend the 1972 win of the Targa Florio as the prototypes of Ferrari and Alfas failed and a Porsche 911 collected a surprise win.

At the end of the 1973 season, Ferrari abandoned sports car racing to focus on F1 again, as the F1 team had even skipped GP races in 1973 due to lack of competitiveness.

References

  • Cruickshank, G. 2006. Profile: Ferrari 312PB. Motor Sport, LXXXII/11, p. 43
  • "1972 Ferrari 312 PB". conceptcarz.com. Retrieved 2007-02-17.
  • "Ferrari 312 PB". ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
1000 km Buenos Aires

The 1000 km Buenos Aires was an endurance sports car event held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The race mostly run on the Autódromo Oscar Alfredo Gálvez, although it would run the Costanera circuit in 1957. Besides a single race in Caracas, Venezuela, it was the only annual South American race in the history of the World Sportscar Championship.

1973 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1973 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 41st Grand Prix of Endurance and took place on 9 and 10 June 1973. It was the eighth round of the 1973 World Championship of Makes.

The race promised to be close, with Ferrari, Matra and Porsche all having two wins in the championship along with a surprise victory for Mirage at Spa. It did indeed turn out to be one of the most tense Le Mans, with the race won in the pits as both Ferrari and Matra took turns in the lead only to be stymied by mechanical failures. All three Ferraris had time in the lead, but as mechanical issues overtook them it was the Matra of Henri Pescarolo and Gérard Larrousse, despite its own tribulations, that took the chequered flag. In the end it was a comfortable six-lap margin over the second-placed Ferrari of Merzario and Pace with the Matra of Jabouille/Jaussaud third.

There was a certain symmetry for a French car and a French team winning the fiftieth anniversary of the first 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ferrari did win the GT category after a close tussle with Porsche, and BMW had the only finisher in the Group 2 Touring Car category.

6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps

The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (formerly the 1000 Kilometres of Spa-Francorchamps) is an endurance race for sports cars held at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Aurora AFX

The Aurora Plastics Corporation introduced the A/FX (Aurora Factory Experimentals, later simply "AFX") line of slot cars, slot car track sets, and related accessories in 1971. The AFX brand continued production until the company was forced into receivership in 1983. Aurora designed the AFX cars with interchangeable car body shells usually compatible with each chassis they released during these years. The original 1971 A/FX chassis utilized an updated version of the existing pancake motor design of Aurora's "Thunderjet 500" line, popular in the 1960s. Aurora then released a longer version of the A/FX chassis in 1973, known as the "Specialty" chassis, which incorporated a longer wheelbase and gearplate (and often a more powerful armature) with bodies unique to that chassis. The car bodies designed to fit the shorter original chassis featured a clever snap-on design while the bodies for the Specialty chassis were affixed with a small screw.

In late 1974, Aurora redesigned both the original and Specialty chassis and exposed the bottom of the motor magnets. The exposed magnets were attracted to the metal rails in the track during racing, creating downforce to help hold the car on the track while cornering. AFX "Magna-Traction" cars remained popular from their release in 1974 throughout 1983, even after faster chassis designs were introduced in house and by Tyco.

Aurora introduced the innovative "G-Plus" in-line motor chassis in 1976. This design allowed the manufacture of narrow, open wheel Formula 1 style bodies. A version of the chassis was also released that would fit most of the previous tab-mounted AFX bodies. Aurora never designed an in-line chassis for the longer Specialty chassis bodies. In 1977, Aurora initiated several attempts at AFX-based slotless car chassis designs. These included the Ultra-5, Speed Steer, and Scre-e-echers Magna-Steering. Another in-line chassis design similar to the G-Plus was also introduced as the Super Magna-Traction and SP1000. Trick variants of the Super Magna-Traction include Blazin' Brakes, Speed Shifters and Cats Eyes. Improvements in the form of add-ons to the still popular Magna-Traction chassis, the Magna-Sonic sound box and an overhead light flasher for police cars, were also initiated.

AFX body shells encompassed a variety of themes including the Can-Am racing series, NASCAR and Trans-Am series stock cars, Formula 1, Funny Car Drag Racing, sports cars, off-road cars, and street cars, as well as custom designs.

Aurora contracted with race car drivers whose images and endorsements appeared on AFX Slot Car sets. These included Peter Revson, Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, A. J. Foyt, and Richard Petty. Revson's untimely death in 1974 forced Aurora to cover his image with a sticker on already produced boxed sets.Aurora released only one licensed track set in 1982, when they partnered with the popular Fall Guy TV show. A licensed M*A*S*H set and fire engine set were planned for 1983, but Aurora suspended operations prior to release.

Ferrari 512

Ferrari 512 S is the designation for 25 sports cars built in 1969–70, with five-litre 12-cylinder ("512") engines, related to the Ferrari P sports prototypes. The V12-powered cars were entered in the 1970 International Championship for Makes by the factory Scuderia Ferrari and private teams. Later that year, modified versions resembling their main competitor, the Porsche 917, were called Ferrari 512 M (for modificata). In the 1971 International Championship for Makes, the factory focused on the new Ferrari 312 PB and abandoned the 512 which was only entered by privateers. From 1972 onwards, the 512 (as the 917) was withdrawn from the world championship following a change in the regulations, and some 512s in private hands were entered in CanAm and Interserie races.

Ferrari P

The Ferrari P was a series of Italian sports prototype racing cars produced by Ferrari during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Although Enzo Ferrari resisted the move even with Cooper dominating F1, Ferrari began producing mid-engined racing cars in 1960 with the Ferrari Dino-V6-engine Formula Two 156, which would later be turned into the Formula One-winner of 1961.

Sports car racers followed in 1963. Although these cars shared their numerical designations (based on engine displacement) with road models, they were almost entirely dissimilar. The first Ferrari mid-engine in a road car did not arrive until the 1967 Dino, and it was 1971 before a Ferrari 12-cylinder engine was placed behind a road-going driver in the 365 GT4 BB.

List of Nordschleife lap times (racing)

The Nürburgring Nordschleife is a motor racing circuit in Germany. Its over 20.8 km (12.9 mi) long old section dating from 1927, was truncated in 1982 as international championships had started to boycott the track after 1976. The adjacent modern Nürburgring Grand Prix track was opened in 1984. The two tracks can host events independently, or they can be combined, e. g. for the 24 Hours Nürburgring. As a result, lap times have been set in racing events on numerous Nordschleife track variants ranging from less than the shortest 20.832 km (12.9 mi) to the current maximum of nearly 26 km (16.2 mi).

An even longer approx. 28 km (17.4 mi) combined track that included the 7.7 km (4.8 mi) Südschleife was seldom used for major races since the 1930s. This shorter southern circuit was not modernized in the 1970s and was sacrificed for the 1980s construction of the modern track, as were the old pit facilities, the Südkehre (southern turn) and the straight behind the pits which were used in an original Nordschleife lap.

Pierre Scerri

Pierre Scerri is a French telecommunications engineer and model builder, who gained fame in 1998 after having his highly accurate 1:3 scale model of a Ferrari 312 PB featured on the BBC programme Jeremy Clarkson's Extreme Machines.

He began his project for the model in 1978, out of desire for having a Ferrari that could function in his dining room [1]. Pierre Bardinon, owner of the Mas du Clos race track, allowed Scerri to take detailed photographs of the actual car on display at the adjacent Ferrari museum. Based on those photographs, he drafted the schematics and made the molds for all parts of the model, a process which took 15 years.

In 1989, he finally completed assembly of the engine, a perfect scaled replica of the Flat-12 cylinder engine found on the 312PB. He reportedly took extra time tuning the engine so that it would sound like the full-scale model [2]. The project was finally completed in December 1992.

Scerri is now working on 3 new models, a Ferrari 330 P4, another Ferrari 312PB and an engine for a Ferrari 250 GTO, all 1:3 scale.

South African Springbok Championship Series

The South African Springbok Championship Series was a sports car racing series based in Southern Africa. The series ran from 1966 until 1973. The series was cancelled after two rounds of the 1973 season due to the Oil crisis, and never returned. The series' signautre event was the Kyalami 9 Hours. The series was frequented by European teams and drivers, as it took place in November and December after the World Sportscar Championship and Can-Am seasons.

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