|Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione S3|
When Ferrari replaced the 275 GTB with the 365 GTB/4 'Daytona' in 1968 and no competition version was announced, a highly successful era came to an end. In this period, Ferraris, particularly the 250 GT derivatives, dominated GT racing. There were various reasons for the Italian manufacturer to suspend the customer racing program, like the spiralling costs of the sports car and F1 efforts and the switch of the focus to prototype racing of the potential clients.
The Ferrari 365 GBT/4 was nevertheless bestowed with the same racing DNA as its predecessors, so it was only a matter of time before one was independently prepared for racing. Not surprisingly, among the first to field a Daytona was Luigi Chinetti, who was Ferrari's American importer and long time private entrant under the North American Racing Team (NART) banner. Readied in 1969, the alloy-bodied NART Daytona was raced at Daytona and Sebring with a twelfth at the latter as the best result.
Buoyed by the performance of his Daytona, Chinetti approached Enzo Ferrari in an attempt to re-consider his decision not to make a competition version. He met his old friend halfway and offered the help of the 'Assistenza Clienti' or customer assistance department to ready a batch of five new cars for the 1971 season. Crucially, the 'Gestione Sportiva', the works racing department, was not involved. With this arrangement, Ferrari could genuinely claim they had no association with the competition Daytona, while also keeping his loyal clients happy.
Built to Group 4 regulations, the new 'Daytona Competizione' featured an all-aluminium body with plastic windows. This helped shave a massive 400 kg off the dry weight of the relatively heavy road car. Further changes to the exterior included the removal of the bumpers and the addition of small 'fences' on the the front wings to improve stability at high speed. Modification to the engine was limited to a cold air box and an open exhaust system. This raised the power with 50 bhp to 402 bhp.
In addition to Chinetti, other seasoned Ferrari privateers like French importer Charles Pozzi and Scuderia Filipinetti also bought the new GT racer. The fifth car was sold to an Italian, who opted to use the ferocious machine on the street. Ready late in 1971, the Daytona Competizione debuted at the Tour de France where the Filipinetti and Pozzi cars finished fourth and tenth overall respectively. The final major outing that year was in the Montlhery 1000 km where the Ferrari France car Daytona placed third overall and second in class.
Over the Winter five more cars were built, which used a steel body and a further tweaked engine, now good for 430 bhp. The Daytona Competizione had a breakthrough result at the 1972 edition of the 24 Hours where a Series 2 example entered by Pozzi finished fifth overall and first in class ahead of four sister cars. Underlining the car's versatility the Le Mans class winner also took an outright victory in the Tour de France a year later. Across the Atlantic, the Daytonas were also raced successfully.
Another and final batch five cars were built with even stronger engines for the 1973 season. They remained successful, scoring two more class wins at Le Mans. In addition to Chinetti's prototype and the 15 examples produced by the Assistenza Clienti, several other road-going Daytonas were updated to 'Group 4' specification in the early 1970s. Many of these cars had lengthy and successful racing careers; one even finished second overall in the Daytona 24 Hours as late as 1979.
With three class wins at Le Mans and an outright win in the Tour de France Automobiles, the Daytona Competizione has a rightful place in the long line of successful Ferrari GT machinery. Especially considering it was built in the manufacturer's client assistance department and not in the competition department. Today the Daytona Competizione is highly sought after and eligible for all the major events like the Tour Auto and Le Mans Classic.
Article by Wouter Melissen, last updated on December 07, 2012
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