GT GIANT KILLERS
Daytona 2000 was a dogfight to the end
– only, the two cars duking it out were GTs.
Sure, the French ORECA squad won with
its GTO class Dodge Viper because the
faster prototypes hit trouble, but it had to
fight tooth and nail for the victory with the
best of the factory Chevrolet Corvettes.
The Viper GTS-R shared by Olivier
Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique
Dupuy was a scant 31 seconds ahead of
the second-placed Corvette C5-R after a
thrilling class battle that raged through the
race. It just happened that, after 20 hours,
that battle was also for the overall lead.
The prototypes had wilted early. The
winning Viper was second by the 10-hour
mark, and overall victory by a GTO car
looked assured when the leading Dyson
Racing Riley & Scott MkIII lapsed onto
seven cylinders with four hours to go.
The victorious Viper had problems of its
own in the closing stages. The drivers had
to nurse the gearbox through the final two
hours, but they held on to score a win that
would have been unthinkable the previous
November, when ORECA got the last-
minute call from Chrysler to even take part.
The ’ 73 Targa is best remembered as the
final proper running of the last of the great
road races, but it also produced an upset.
There was only a smattering of prototypes
and when they hit problems a GT car took
the win in the final Targa run as a round of
the World Sportscar Championship.
Only, the winning Porsche 911 Carrera
RSR driven by Helmut Marko and Gijs van
Lennep wasn’t really a GT car, not by
classification anyway. It was entered as a
prototype, although in May ’ 73, the car
that set Porsche on the path to its
fire-breathing 935 Group 5 and IMSA GTX
contender was only lightly modified.
Porsche had decided to upgrade the
car for its SWC assault because, to all
intents and purposes, it was bored.
“In GT, we were limited by the
homologation on what we could do,” recalls
Norbert Singer. “We wanted to develop the
car, because that’s what factories do, so we
changed it into a prototype to have a look
at things we wanted to do for the future.”
Despite a few minor tweaks, the 911 was
more than three minutes behind the
quickest Ferrari 312PB in qualifying, but a
driveline issue and a crash soon sidelined
Maranello’s two-car attack. The solo Alfa
Romeo T33/TT/12 in the race was also out
early after a clash with a backmarker, leaving
the RSR to add a Targa win to its victory in
the Daytona 24 Hours earlier in the year.
2000 ROLEX 24
1973 TARGA FLORIO
(ABOVE) The 2000 Rolex 24-winning
ORECA Dodge Viper GTS-R pits during the
long Daytona night. (BELOW) Porsche’s 911
Carrera RSR took a surprise ’ 73 Targa win
when the true prototypes wilted or crashed.