Le Mans-Winning 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Revs Colombo V12, Sounds Vicious

Having already won the 1972 World Sportscar Championship for Makes with eight consecutive wins, Ferrari chose not to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the premier sports car class. This decision enabled French outfit Matra-Simca to score its first of three overall wins at Circuit de la Sarthe. But even though Ferrari did not send a factory team to Le Mans that year, private teams dominated the GTS class with a handful of 365 GTB/4 Daytonas.
1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione 9 photos
Photo: cvdzijden - Supercar Videos/YouTube
1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione
Based on the road-legal 365 GTB/4 that Ferrari had introduced in 1968, the Competizione version first hit the racing scene in 1970. Fitted with a lightweight body made of aluminum and fiberglass, it retained the factory Colombo V12 engine, which produced 347 horsepower. Ferrari upgraded the 4.4-liter mill to 400 horsepower in 1972 and 450 horses in 1973. In all, Maranello built 15 examples in three batches.

The official Scuderia Ferrari team raced none of the cars. However, that didn't stop the Daytona Competizione from achieving great success at the race track, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 365 GTB/4 first hit Circuit de la Sarthe in 1969 as an experimental entry by the North American Racing Team (NART). The attempt came to a quick halt in practice following a crash.

Two years later, Luigi Chinetti's team tackled the premier category with an updated Daytona as a reserve entry and finished fifth, behind the much quicker and more powerful Porsche 917Ks and Ferrari 512Ms. It was a tremendous result at the time, but the Daytona Competizione returned in 1972 to score an even more spectacular result at Le Mans.

This time, no fewer than nine cars lined up on the grid, all run by privateers, including NART, Scuderia Filipinetti, and Ecurie Francorchamps. All five cars occupied the first places in the GTS 5.0 class, finishing only nine laps apart. Moreover, the slowest Daytona covered 22 more laps than the Chevrolet Corvette C3, which won the GTS +5.0 category.

The winning Competizione car was fielded by the French team Charles Pozzi, driven by Claude Ballot-Lena and Jean-Claude Andruet. The French pair finished only one lap behind Autodelta's Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, a prototype that contested the premier S 3.0 class. The team returned to Le Mans in 1973 for its second class win, this time around with Vic Elford alongside Ballot-Lena. The No. 39 car lapped Circuit de la Sarthe 316 times and managed to leave a Porsche 908 behind.

The French outfit did it again in 1974, when Cyril Grandet and Dominique Bardini drove the Daytona to a class win and a fifth-place finish overall.

Come 2023 and the most successful 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione that ever raced at Le Mans is still alive and kicking. Obviously refreshed after years of hard racing, it still sports a Carrefour-sponsored, French-flag livery and the same "39" roundels it did when it impressed Le Mans crowds in 1972 and 1973.

And the beefed-up, Colombo-designed V12 engine sounds just as vicious as it did back in the day, proving that Maranello metal is immortal with proper maintenance. The car was most recently spotted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, so hit play and crank up the volume to watch it racing up the iconic hill.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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