Belgian Jacky Ickx, driving a Ferrari 3128, was credited with the fastest time in the two days of preliminary practice at Le Mans, on Saturday and Sunday (18-19 March).
GV Cars 44 & 43 (Porsche) into pit
SV Crowd on stand
GV & SV Mechanics working on car 30 (de Tomaso) (2 shots)
GV & SV Ditto on car 81(Opel) (2 shots)
SV Mechanic sticks number on car 12 (Metra)
SV & GV Ditto in driving seat of car 12
SV Car 1(Forrari) leaves pit
SV PAN Car 1 out of pits & away
SV PAN Car 43 out of pits & away
GV PAN Various cars down straight & around bends on course(3 shots)
Initials SGM/1628 SGM/1648
SPORT: MOTOR RACING
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Background: Belgian Jacky Ickx, driving a Ferrari 3128, was credited with the fastest time in the two days of preliminary practice at Le Mans, on Saturday and Sunday (18-19 March).
French driver Francois Covert, in a Metra, clocked the second fastest time, with Clay Regazzoni of Switzerland, in another Ferrerl, placed third.
It was the first time the drivers had been able to test their cars on the new circuit on which this year's 24-hour endurance race will be run on 10-11 June.
Both Ickx and Covert expressed regret that the new circuit was slower than in the past, but said they preferred it to the old course where speed down the long Mulsanne straight was the main criterion for victory.
The new circuit is 181 metres(198 yards) longer, but the drivers said this could not alone explain the difference in speed - in the past the Metra had been clocked at nearly nine seconds faster than its performance this weekend.
SYNOPSIS: In France, the first practice session for this year's 24-hour race at Le Mans was held at the weekend. West German Porsches were present in force but did not show the performance which brought them victory last year. Italy's de Tomaso Panther showed impressive form in the special grand touring class, with the fifth fastest time in the two days of practice. But with many top names absent, the trials gave only a hint of the battle ahead.
Francois Covert of France clocked the second fastest time in a Metra, but his was not the new Metra-Simca on which the French are pinning their hopes for victory. Fastest time was credited to Belgian Jacky Ickx, driving one of the powerful Italian Ferraris. Another Ferrari, driven by Clay Regazzoni of Switzerland, took third place.
But no-one has forgotten the sweeping Porsche victories of the last two years.
The trails gave drivers their first taste of the new Le Mans circuit, which has been changed to improve safety and place less emphasis on sheer speed down the long Mulsanne straight. Both Ickx and Covert said they were disappointed sat the slow speed of the new section. Covert's Metra was timed at almost nine seconds slower than in past years, on a circuit which is only 180 meters longer than the old one.