Competition Notes and News
News from the F.I.A.
Since the provisional classification of cars for International events was published last Autumn some detail changes were made before this Appendix "J" came into force for 1966. The most important being in Category C—racing cars, where groups 7, 8 and 9 have been reshuffled. For those who like to know in detail what is going on I append a complete list of the F.I.A. International classes for cars competing in International events.
Category A.—Recognised Production Cars:
Group 1.—Series-production touring cars (5,000 in 12 consecutive months).
Group 2.—Touring cars, (1,000 in 12 consecutive months).
Group 3.—Grand touring cars (500 in 12 .consecutive months).
Group 4.—Sports cars (50 in 12 consecutive months).
Category B.—Special Cars :
Group 5.—Special touring cars.
Group 6.—Prototype sports cars.
Category C—Racing Cars:
Group 7.—Two-seater racers.
Group 8.—Formula racing cars.
Group 9.—Formule fibre racing cars.
As examples we can expect to see the following taking part in all manner of events this year.
Group 1, 1275S Mini-Cooper as sold (not with Monte Carlo Rally lighting System.
Group 2, 1275S Mini-Cooper with special equipment.
Group 3, Ferrari GTB, Porsche 911, or Lotus Elan.
Group 4, Porsche Carrera 6, Ford GT40, or Ferrari L.M.
Group 5, Saloons with no holds barred.
Group 6, Ferrari 330 P3; Ford GT Mk. II, Chaparral 2c.
Group 7, McLaren-Elva, Lola T70, Lotus 40.
Group 8, Formula One, Two, Three, Tasman Formula, etc.
Group 9, Any other form of racing car.
The European Hill-Climb Championship for 1966 starts with the German Rossfeld Hill-Climb on June 12th and is open to Group 3 cars of any cylinder capacity (i.e. GT cars) and to sports cars in Group 4 with a limit of 2 litres (50 off) and to prototype sports cars (1 off) also with a 2-litre engine limit. The list of events to count for this championship is as follows :— Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5, Group 6, Group 7, Group 8, Group 9.
As all the events are on mountain passes the season has to be condensed into the summer months while the snows are gone and the passes are open. It is unfortunate that Britain does not possess a suitable mountain pass on which to hold a round of the European Championship. If all the hills in the National R.A.C. hill-climb championship were put end-to-end they would hardly add up to the average European mountain hill-climb.
The International Trophy for Prototype Sports cars (Group 6), is already well under way, with the Daytona 24-hour race and the Sebring 12-hour already run. The full list of events for this championship, which is for manufacturers not drivers.
Once again there is an F.I.A. International Championship in which Britain regrettably has no event, and yet we smugly consider our country to be the centre of International motor racing. We used to have the Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod, a circuit that was the equal of any European one, but the safety-conscious R.A.C. deemed it unsafe. Instead of spending vast amounts of money on pocket-handkerchief circuits (I nearly wrote circuses !) all over England, perhaps the R.A.C. should have channelled all the money into developing Dundrod. There is one bright possibility on the. horizon and that is the plan to hold a Targa Florio-type Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man motorcycle circuit, a plan that is going ahead well for 1967. It if comes off we hall be able to take our place on the International list of classic sports car events and once more consider ourselves an important part of the F.I.A.
When you look at the Grand Prix scene and compare the permanent aspects of circuits like Nurburgring, Monza, Reims or Spa with Brands Hatch or Silverstone, where we hold our annual British Grand Prix, you begin to understand why Britain does not play a very important part in F.I.A. matters. If it was not that our cars and our drivers persistently win Grand Prix races Britain would hardly count at all in International motor racing affairs.
News from Le Mans
As this issue of Motor Sport appears on the bookstalls the Sarthe circuit at Le Mans will be ringing to the sounds of screaming V12-cylinder Ferraris and thundering Ford V8 engines, as the annual practice week-end takes place. At the moment 55 entries have been accepted for the annual 24-hour race, with a number of reserves, and the list contains 33 Fords and nine Ferraris, with a further five Dino Ferraris supporting the Maranello colours. Once again Ford has split its forces into numerous camps and unless they all work together their hopes of winning will be small. Last year the various teams running Fords seemed more intent on hampering each other than working collectively towards a victory for Detroit.
Shelby American have entered four 7-litre Mk. II Fords, Holman and Moody (the Californian engine specialists) have entered three 7-litre Mk. IIs, all seven cars being in the prototype class. The Alan Mann team have three 4.7-litre prototype Fords, and there are three 4.7-litre GT40 models in the sports class, entered by Comstock Racing, Scuderia Filipinetti and Ford France. The Ferrari entry consists of four 4-litre 330-P3 works cars, three 4.4-litre prototypes developed from the P2 models; entered by N.A.R.T., Maranello Concessionaires and Ecurie Francorchamps, all three teams having very close allegiance to the parent factory, while the two private LM cars will no doubt be prepared by the factory. Similarly, the five Dino Ferraris will be prepared at Maranello and are entered by SEFAC Ferrari (the works), Maranello Concessionaires, Pierre Dumay and N.A.R.T.
Undoubtedly the Ford versus Ferrari battle will be the main attraction at Le Mans, but the lone Chaparral driven by Phil Hill/Joakim Bonnier, could well upset many plans. If the performance of the new Carrera 6 Porsche in the Daytona 24-hour race is anything to go by, one of these cars will almost certainly be well up in the running, especially if the Fords and Ferraris destroy each other like they did last year. The complete lack of any serious British opposition goes to further the thought that Britain is a bit of a back-number on the International scene. Thank goodness for our Grand Prix teams. The British cars at Le Mans consist of two Austin-Healey Sprites and a French entered Marcos!
News from Honda
It does not look as though we shall see a new Formula One Honda in Grand Prix racing in Europe this season as the Japanese firm have released Richie Ginther from his contract in order that he can drive for the Cooper works team. This does not mean that Honda have abandoned Grand Prix racing, for they have said that Ginther's release is only temporary and until such time as they need him. Now a firm like Honda works with different methods to teams like Lotus and Brabham; there is no question of finishing a new car the night before a race and taking it to the circuit untried. Apart from any new engine having to undergo many weeks of test-bed work, any new chassis will certainly do a lot of private testing before it is entered for a race. This will mean that Honda will require Ginther in Japan at least three months before they race a brand new design, and Ginther would hardly join Cooper for one race only. If Honda prove to be ready three months after Monaco that brings us to the end of August, with only the Italian G.P. left on the calendar, so if Ginther starts to disappear from the European circuits after the first race we can assume that a new Honda might appear at Monza, otherwise Mexico might be the Japanese objective. One of the main reasons for the delay at the Japanese factory is that they are more than busy on racing motorcycle development. For this season they have signed up Mike Hailwood as their number one rider and it cost them a lot of money to lure him away from the MV Agusta, so they obviously intend to use his abilities to the full, and this means new motorcycles for him to race. The transverse 4-cylinder in 250 c.c. and 350 c.c. form are obsolete and a transverse 6-cylinder has already been raced, while a 500 c.c. V8 seems likely and all their energies seem to be going into retaining their high position in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing field.
In car Grand Prix racing they did not have a high position, they were trying to get in amongst Ferrari, Lotus, Brahham and B.R.M. As everyone knows, Mike Hai!wood tried his hand at car Grand Prix racing but did not make much of an impression. One of the reasons for this was that he did not have works cars, or the backing of a works team, and he found that the Parnell Lotus-B.R.M.s were rather fragile if pushed hard. This was a trouble that Surtees experienced when he first joined Grand Prix racing. Having been used to works motorcycles that could be driven as hard as he liked, he found Grand Prix cars very fragile by comparison. It was the lack of a car that he could push to the limit that persuaded Hailwood to give up car Grand Prix racing, but I cannot help feeling that Mr. Honda must have ideas about Hailwood in a Honda Grand Prix car, and no doubt Hailwood has similar ideas.
News from Formula Two
On the Formula Two front there will be more than enough entries from Brabham, Lotus, Lola and Cooper, using variations on the engine theme from B.R.M., Cosworth, and Honda with gearboxes by Hewland. Last year the French name of Matra began to appear alongside the French Alpine-Renault, and this new name was an offshoot of the Matra aeronautical firm who are engaged on rocket and space projects. They acquired the tumbling remains of the Rene Bonnet racing team and produced some very effective Formula Three cars, the chassis layout being of riveted monocoque construction with orthodox Lotus/Lola type suspension. For 1966 they have built B.R.M.-engined Formula Two cars, with Hewland gearboxes, and Ken Tyre!l has contracted to race these Anglo-French cars, supplying Jackie Stewart as his number one driver.
As the French are running their Grand Prix de France series again, for Formula Two, with an overall Championship, it is not difficult to imagine the amount of support that will be forthcoming for the TyreII Racing Organisation at places like Pau, Reims, Rouen, Albi and Montlery. In spite of using British engines, British gearboxes, British driver and British organisation I can foresee the French being very content and telling themselves they have won a French championship with a French car. At one time the International aspect of racing used to be Inter-National, with Nation competing against Nation, the red cars against the blue ones, or the green ones, but now racing is truly International with all nations mucking in together to form a hotch-potch of everyone racing against everyone else, with little or no ultimate objective in view. Motor racing in all its forms has changed.
News from Italy
In Italy there is as much racing activity in the workshops as in Britain, and like much of our special building and tuning, and small production stuff, a lot of it never goes far from its country of origin. Nevertheless it is interesting from a national point of view, even if it is not likely to affect the International scene. Modena is a veritable hot-bed of this sort of activity, for apart from Ferrari and Maserati being synonymous with the town, there are numerous small workshops which are always busy building something new, quite often a one-off special for a wealthy client, and occasionally some of this activity is motivated by a rich American who wants something rare and Italian. One such car was recently built by the small firm of Neri and Bonacini, two mechanics who set up on their own when the Maserati racing department dosed down. Called a "Nembo" this is it GT racing coupe built on the lines of an lso-Grifo, a very low and flat front-engined coupe powered by a 7-litre Ford V8 engine. The chassis has independent suspension all round, by wishbones and coil springs, and Amadori alloy wheels, with Campagnolo disc brakes: in other words an Italian small-company special, very similar in conception to numerous British one-off specials built from components supplied by specialist firms. It is unlikely that more than one Nembo will be built, but somewhere, some day, someone will find it lying derelict and say "What on earth is a Nembo ?"
In Livorno, down the west side of the leg of Italy, is the small Bizzarrini factory, where the Chevrolet Corvette-powered Iso Grifo racing coupes have been built. Giotto Bizzarrini was an engineer at Ferrari until a few years ago, since when he has been working on his own and doing contract design work. He designed and built the prototype Lamborghini V12 engine amongst other things, and some pro-Ferrari people still claim that the Lamborghini engine is in reality a Ferrari design that Bizzarrini took with him when he left Maranello ! Now Bizzarrini has built a new racing 2-seater sports car with a 4-litre Lamborghini engine in the rear, mounted in line with the chassis and coupled to a 5-speed transmission, as used by numerous British builders. This latest car from Livorno is a large hairy monster, rather reminiscent of a Lister-Jaguar, having head fairings, and holes and slots all over the place. Meant for competitions, the Bizzarrini/Lamborghini will be a mouthful for any commentator, and probably a handful for the driver.
Lamborghini themselves are working away on their rear-engined coupe, with the same basic engine mounted transversely behind the cockpit, but this power unit uses an entirely new crankcase layout that incorporates the gearbox and final drive. The St. Agata factory people will tell you that they don't propose to go into racing, even though they have one hand on their heart and the other on the roof of the fiercest racing coupe you have ever seen. Italians are like that.
In the north-west corner of Italy, in Turin, Carlo Abarth is very active with all sorts of racing projects and his latest is a 2-litre V8 o.h.c. engine, based on two of his successful 4-cylinder engines. This power unit will almost certainly appear in his rear-engined sports car for the European Hill-Climb Championship, and probably in some racing events as well. On the mountain hill-climb it should provide interesting opposition to the V6 Dino Ferraris and the flat-6 and flat-8-cylinder Porsches.—D.S.J.