GT/prototype racing 1964

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In 1964 Ferrari again won the Challenge Mondiale de Vitesse, well ahead of Porsche in second place and Shelby American Cobra in third place.  It also won the Grand Touring Car Championship (with 84.6 points) just beating Shelby American Cobra (78.3 points) with Jaguar a poor third.  It was not eligible for the Prototypes Trophy because no Ferrari Prototypes ran in the Targa Florio.   After sweeping the board at Le Mans Ferrari withdrew the works Prototypes for the rest of the season, leaving it to the private teams to compete in the remaining races.

This was the year in which Ford launched its campaign to fight back, having been rebuffed in its attempt to buy into the Ferrari image in 1963.  At the end of March 1964 the company presented its prototype GT40 (based on a Lola chassis) to the motoring press, and the car made its first appearance on the track at the Le Mans Practice Weekend.  Its performance was shown to be decidedly inferior to the Ferraris, slower on the straight, and unstable at high speed.  Ford competed at Le Mans and the Rheims 12 Hours with teams of cars, but in both cases was defeated by mechanical failures.

In 1964 Mike drove GTOs or Prototypes in five long-distance races: he drove works-entered  cars at Sebring, the Nürburgring and Le Mans, whereas at Spa and Rheims they were entered by Maranello Concessionaires.  He achieved two first places, at the Sebring 12-Hour Race and in the 500 Km. Spa GP, one second place, in the Nurbürgring 1000 Km, and one third place, in the Rheims 12-Hour Race.  At Le Mans, the car was withdrawn after five hours.

In the Sebring 12 Hour race he came first with co-driver Umberto Maglioli, driving one of the new 275Ps, and achieving a distance record for the race of 1,112.8 miles. This race was something of a Ferrari walkover. Five Ferrari prototypes competed, with no serious competition; two retired with mechanical faults and the remaining three came first, second and third.
At the 500 Km Spa GP, where Mike was driving a Ferrari 250 GTO, the one to beat was the Cobra Daytona Coupé driven by Phil Hill. The Cobra started well and at a certain point put up the fastest lap but then had problems with a fuel blockage. Mike built up a good lead in the early stages of the race and came in first, followed by Jean Guichet in second place in another GTO.
At the Nürburgring 1000 Km Mike was driving a 250 GTO with Jean Guichet. The competition included three 275 Ps and a single Ford GT40. Two of the 275Ps had mechanical problems and the Ford GT40 also withdrew due to a broken weld in the rear suspension. Scarfiotti and Vaccarella won the race in a works 275P and Mike and Guichet came second, less than a minute behind them.
Le Mans saw the first major battle between Ford and Ferrari, with six prototype Ferraris (of which four were works entered), two 250LM Ferraris, and three Ford GT40s. Mike was paired with Scarfiotti in a 275P; the car withdrew after five hours, due to an oil leak. Overall the race was a major success for Ferrari: they finished first, second and third and two of the three Fords retired due to mechanical problems.
The line-up for the Rheims 12 hour race included two Ferrari 250LMs, entered by Maranello Concessionaires and NART respectively, three Ford GTs, and a 250 GTO, driven by Mike and Ludovico Scarfiotti, also entered by Maranello Concessionaires. The race became an exciting ding-dong battle between the two Ferrari 250LMs for first and second place; Mike and Ludovico came third overall and first in the GT class. The three Fords retired due to mechanical problems (gearbox and crankshaft).

Mike missed the second half of the racing season, due to a crash while testing a Ferrari on the Modena autodrome, which left him with his torso in plaster for several weeks.

Next: GT/prototype racing 1965

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