The Solitude Grand Prix

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Stuttgart, July 15th.

It was unfortunate that the Solitude-rennen had to be held in the middle of July, for it came between the French Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, and due to the proximity of these two major events the German race suffered in entries. After the mechanical mortality at Rouen the Solitude entry suffered even more. The date chosen was beyond the control of the A.D.A.C. as it had to fit in with the motorcycle World Championship calendar.

Of the 22 original entries, Team Lotus had to scrub their third entry as they had only two cars left after Rouen, Porsche could only field two works 8-cylinder cars, U.D.T. – Laystall had to scrub both their entries and Bowmaker withdrew their lone Lola that Surtees should have driven. The result was a very sparse entry consisting of four works cars capable of putting up a battle and the rest were private owners who could do little but battle between themselves. Clark had the new Lotus 25 he drove at Rouen and Taylor the new Lotus 24 with which he did one lap at Reims, both having Climax V8 engines, the Type 25 with a 5-speed ZF gearbox and the Type 24 with a 5-speed Colotti gearbox, Gurney had a brand-new Porsche 8-cylinder, similar to his Rouen-winning car, and Bonnier used the car he had in France, having had all its troubles put right. Among the private owners de Beaufort and Schiller had their 4-cylinder Porsches, and Settember and Campbell-Jones had Emerysons, both with Climax 4-cylinder engines. Burgess had the Anglo-American Equipe Cooper-Climax Special, with the side radiators replaced by a normal front mounted radiator, in the interests of weight distribution rather than cooling, and Frenchman Collomb was making his re-entry into Formula One racing after his Bruxelles crash, having bought the 1961 Yeoman Credit Cooper Special with the narrow bodywork. Kuhnke and Sieffert had old Lotus 18 models, and Joseph Siffert, the good Swiss driver, had his new Lotus-B.R.M. V8, lending his 4-cylinder car to local driver Mitter. Finally there was Marsh with a Marsh Special comprising an early rear-engined B.R.M. chassis with Climax 4-cylinder engine and Cooper gearbox.

On the first day of practice the Team Lotus cars were ready but Colin Chapman had been delayed by trouble on his aeroplane, and having his drivers with him it meant that they all missed practice. The result was that Friday afternoon practice was not exactly exciting and Gurney and Bonnier were completely unchallenged, both improving handsomely on the old lap record, as would be expected. Last year in practice Bonnier made fastest lap in 4 min. 01.1 sec. with the 4-cylinder Porsche, and in the heat of the race, which was very fierce, Gurney recorded 3 min. 58.6 sec. With the 8-cylinder Porsches they had no trouble in beating this, Gurney with 3 min. 55.7 sec. and Bonnier with 3 min. 56.2 sec. After practice finished Chapman and his two drivers arrived, and as there was some G.T. practice taking place the organisers agreed to let Clark and Taylor do three practice laps untimed, at the end of the afternoon. Porsche took advantage of this offer to join in and do some more practice, so that instead of three laps the Lotus boys were able to put in quite a number.

On Saturday afternoon practice livened up a bit for there were four fast runners out, but some rain earlier had left the track damp in places. However, it eventually dried out and though Gurney had got down to 3 min. 55.7 sec. again. Clark was soon after him and finally settled for 3 Min. 53.9 sec., While Bonnier was getting much more confident with the 8-cylinder Porsche and did 3 min. 35.8 sec. Practice had been late in starting, and Clark had been delayed by a puncture on his opening lap, caused by a front brake pad corning out of place and the metal carrier gouging its way through the wheel rim until it got to the inner tube! When practice was due to finish Clark still held F.T.D. and Gurney was out trying hard to beat it, getting very close with 3 min. 54.8 sec., and the organisers took their time over ending practice. While this extra time was going on Campbell-Jones crashed in Ashmore’s Emeryson, it catching fire and burning the driver slightly, so that when this happened practice just had to end, leaving Clark with pole position on the grid.

Race day was a busy affair with many motorcycle races, the Formula One event coming on after lunch, by which time the circuit was pretty well polished, but the weather was fine and dry. Gurney had little trouble leading away from the start for Clark got rather a lot of wheelsplin and Bonnier made a complete nonsense and got away amongst the private owners, so that on the first lap Taylor held third place behind Clark, but on the next lap Bonnier passed the young Lotus driver, and the order was Gurney, Clark, Bonnier, Taylor, and that is how it stayed. Clark’s engine was not running too well, the mixture being wrong and two plugs were overheating, so that he could not keep up with Gurney, and as Bonnier’s car lost a tail-pipe from its exhaust system and this lost him 300 r.p.m., he could not keep up with Clark, so the three of them spread out slowly but surely. Gurney was in fine form and lapping around 3 min. 56 sec., the car running perfectly, and on lap nine he set a new lap record in 3 min. 55.6 sec.- 174.4 k.p.h. Meanwhile the private owners were having little private dices among themselves; except Siffert, who spun his Lotus-B.R.M. V8 on the opening lap and then on lap two had petrol come out of the overflow pipe and spray on the ignition system, which caused a minor electrical bonfire. Marsh was in trouble with his clutch., getting nowhere at all and finally retiring, and Settember had got the better of de Beaufort and Mitter when an oil pipe broke and he stopped out on the circuit. Burgess was the only private owner not in trouble, running well in fifth posItion, but naturally unable to keep pace with the works cars.

Ominously some heavy clouds began to come up and on lap 17 there was a shower of rain which made the circuit like a skating rink, and Gurney had a moment which took him well and truly on to the grass, but without consequences, and then Taylor lost his Lotus on a hairpin and spun on to the grass verge. He stopped at the pits next time round to ask if he could have his tyre pressures lowered, and to explain that he had been off the road. Just as he was leaving it was seen that he was trailing about 20 feet of fence wire under the car which must have been lying in the grass, and luckily it had not caused any damage. Next lap and Clark failed to appear, having spun on the wet circuit at almost the same spot as Taylor, but he was less lucky and hit the bank with the rear of the car, bending the exhaust pipes at right-angles and buckling the right-hand rear radius arms. He limped back to the pits and was forced to retire, thus leaving the two 8-cylinder Porsches in full command of the race, and they finished a very healthy first and second, giving Gurney two wins in two weeks, which not only boosted his morale but put the whole Porsche team in line fettle, while Bonnier was much happier with the car by the end of the 25 laps, especially as both Lotus cars had got into difficulties on the slippery surface, while his Porsche had felt all right. – D. S. J.

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