I relieved Seppi on lap four and, halfway around the track, I caught Vaccarella. The only logical place to pass the Ferrari was on the long straight beside the Mediterranean but there the 5-litre 512S could use its potent horsepower to establish a 20mph supremacy in top speed. I did try to pass elsewhere but the Ferrari had Nino aboard, blocking savagely and nearly pushing me off the road in each of my attempts. Prudence and the benefit of better fuel consumption made me patient, and I remained a safe distance behind, waiting for the Ferrari to pit. When I saw Nino getting ready, I closed up fast and we made our usual quick pit-stop for fuel, tyres and driver change. The mechanics’ coordinated manoeuvres allowed Siffert to exit the pits in the lead.
At the finish, Jo and I were two minutes ahead of Rodriguez and Kinnunen (Leo setting a new lap record of 33 minutes 36 seconds) and two more in front of the Vaccarella/Giunti Ferrari.
Most races ended with appreciative cheering no matter who won, but not in Sicily, and not for a German car driven by a Brit and a Swiss. As our Porsche triumphantly crossed the finish line for the win, thousands of Italian spectators remained eerily silent, communally crushed that the victor was neither a Ferrari nor an Alfa Romeo, nor any car driven by an Italian.
It mattered not to Seppi and me. After five races together in the JW Automotive team, we finally had our first major victory, and a most satisfying one it was. For nearly 500 miles and nearly 8,000 corners neither of us had put a wheel wrong. That night’s celebratory dinner tasted of victory, washed down by copious draughts of Sicily’s inky Mount Etna wines.