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1973 Daytona 24 Hour – An auspicious debut for the Porsche Carrera RSR

The start 1973 Daytona 24 hours led by John Watson in the Mirage
Daytona 24 Hours, 3-4 February 1973: The start 1973 Daytona 24 hours led by John Watson in the Mirage on pole

1973 saw a return to normality for the Daytona 24-hour race. The distance was set back at 24 hours, after running only a 6-hour length in 1972. Ferrari in 1972 had petitioned the FIA to keep races at 6-hours, as the reliability of the 3.0-litre prototype cars (312PB) was suspect over a 24-hour distance. For 1973, Bill France petitioned to have the Daytona race returned to 24-hours distance in the World Championship and the FIA (international rules body) concurred. The car rules remained unchanged. The prototype cars running for the world championship were 3.0-litre cars, but the bulk of the field was GT cars of various types and sizes.

Reine Wisell sits in the Lola T282 Ford
Daytona 24 Hours, 3-4 February 1973: Reine Wisell sits in the Lola T282 Ford during practice. This car was entered by Scuderia Filipinetti would succumb to ignition problems
The Matra 670B takes on fuel
Daytona 24 Hours, 3-4 February 1973: The lone Matra 670B takes on fuel at the pumps during practice

Not many of the European prototype teams bothered to make the trip. Ferrari and Alfa Romeo stayed home, not trusting their cars to run for the 24-hour distance. Apparently, at first they agreed to come but demanded large starting money from Bill France, which he refused to pay. John Wyer entered two Gulf Mirage Ford powered prototype cars. Driven by Derek Bell, Howden Ganley, Mike Hailwood and John Watson, they were quick but not expected to last the distance. These were powered by the 3.0-litre Cosworth F1 engine that was de-tuned as much as possible. One lone Matra 670B was entered for Francois Cevert, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo. Matra was using this race as a test for Le Mans, and this car seemed to be the favourite. There was a lone Lola T282-Ford, also with 3.0-litre Cosworth, entered by Georges Filipinetti for Reine Wisell, Hugues de Fierlant and Jean-Louis Lafosse. Reinhold Joest entered his Porsche 908-3, while slower than the newer prototypes, this car was thought to be more reliable and in with a chance should the others falter. There was also an older 908-2 for the Canadians Rudi Bartling and Harry Byzek, as well as an even older 910. The rest of the large field was made up of various GT cars.

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