Usually when the Le Mans 24-hour race is finished we hear no more from the district of Sarthe until the end of the year, when the regulations for the next event are published. This year it has been a different story for ever since the end of the 24-hour race the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and its dignitaries have been closely involved with members of the C.S.I. in actions contrary to the rules of the F.I.A. This year Le Mans was a fantastic spectacle of speed and power and the only death was a member of the public who killed himself on a Go-Kart track, nevertheless the Le Mans organisers seemed to be in a flap about the speeds being attained, in spite of the fact that it was the spectacle of speed that netted them half a million pounds sterling from the record crowd. The big worry was the speed of the cars through the pit area and they lived in dread of another multiple crash. The danger, if it exists, does not lie with the cars, but with the inadequacy of the track and rather than face the problem of building new pits with a bypass road, such as has been done at Monza, Brands Hatch, Silverstone and Indianapolis, the Le Mans people have sought to reduce the speed of the passing cars, not by spending money on re-shaping the road as the Germans have done at Nurburgring, but by limiting the capacity of the engines of the competing cars.
Somehow the A.C. de l’Ouest have influenced the C.S.I. into deciding that Group 6 Prototype cars should be limited to 3-litres and Group 4 sports cars (50 off) to 5-litres. If this limitation, which stemmed from a member of the Le Mans organisation, were to apply only to Le Mans no-one would mind, but it is to apply to all classic long-distance races, if those races want to stay in the manufacturers’ championships. The C.S.I. consists of a committee of representatives from the major motor racing countries and our delegate is Mr. Dean Delamont of the R.A.C. He voted in favour of this 3-litre/5-litre limit without consulting any of the people that it was going to affect, such as Eric Broadley, of Lola Cars, who has just set up a production line of 5.6-litre T70 coupés in order to produce 50 and homologate them as Group 4 sports cars. Also the Lola-Aston Martin project, which has a 5-litre prototype engine has been killed by this master stroke of toe C.S.I. As Broadley says, a 3-litre car won’t need to be anything like as big so the existing T70 design is doomed. It would seem that the representation of Germany and Italy acted in a similar manner for neither Porsche nor Ferrari are in favour of the idea, but quite apart from the actual limitation of 3-litres or 5-litres, most people are rightly incensed by the manner in which the decision has been taken, with no prior warning, no discussion, no thought for the people who make the racing, the constructors and the owners, but what is almost criminal is the fact trial this ruling is to take effect from next January, when eighteen months or two years is the normal warning for a major change to a Formula.
The whole affair was carried through with such speed and in such a secretive manner that it has left a nasty smell in the sporting world, our part of the smell emanating from 31, Belgrave Square, London, where the R.A.C. have their sporting offices. It could be that there is something deep behind this hurried and badly conceived decision, such as impending Government legislation, but if so then the C.S.I., through our spokesman Mr. Delamont, should keep us informed. Of course, if the organisers of the long-distance races at Daytona, Sebring, Nurburgring, Monza, Spa, Targa Florio, Brands Hatch are not in agreement with this limitation they can still run their events for unlimited capacity cars and not take part in the overall Championships. This would leave Le Mans with 3-litre cars and all the Championship points! So far there has been little comment from race organisers other than the Le Mans people. The official F.I.A. statement says that races or the 1968 Championship of Manufacturers will be limited to 3-litre prototypes, not that all races will be limited, so if Daytona want 7-litre Fords to run they merely have to opt out of a rather nebulous Championship.
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After the French Grand Prix when the two Lotus 49s broke their crown-wheels and pinions Chapman took the gearboxes and flew direct to Freidrichshafen where the ZF factory is, for ZF make the gearbox/axle units to Lotus designs. Within hours of his arrival the broken units had been dismantled and analysed and the cause attributed to flexing of the alloy casing, allowing the mesh of the crown-wheel and pinion to alter with the obvious results. The torque of the Cosworth V8 engine was too much for the casing, but a contributory cause was that the side plates of the differential unit housing carrying the bearings had been weakened since the original design. This was caused by the adoption of the internal sliding splines in the differential unit, to replace the orthodox sliding joints in the drive shafts, for this improvement had meant using larger diameter ball-races which meant a much bigger hole in the side plates, with consequent loss of rigidity. There had been warning of this flexing of the casing ever-since the Lotus 49 first ran, for oil leaked out of joints that should have been leak-proof, indicating a movement of the metal. By doing away with paper gaskets and making ground metal-to-metal joints the trouble was alleviated until Le Mans where the continual on-off-on loadings were more than the casing could stand. Before Chapman left ZF on the Wednesday after the French G.P. modifications had been designed and drawn and patterns were being made for the new castings. There is nothing like motor racing to speed up development and design work.
By Silverstone practice a week later six gearboxes had been modified and that the work was effective was seen by the race results. New and thicker side plates for the differential unit housing were made of cast iron instead of magnesium, and a thicker alloy top cover plate was used, while the side plates were extended upwards above the casing so that cross bolts could run through lugs on the new top covers and through the side plates, thus clamping the whole casing together very firmly. It is this speed of action, at which Chapman is a master, that keeps Team Lotus at the top.
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At the Rouen Formula Two race the new Ferrari Dino 166 made its first race appearance, having been out on test at various Italian circuits for some time post. The engine is a V6 with four overhead camshafts, a design that goes back to 1958 when it first appeared as a 1½-litre unit and as the F.2 rules demand a standard cylinder block casting Fiat put the V6 Dino unit into production for their new sports car, so consequently Ferrari is able to use the V6 layout for his F.2 engine. It has already been used in his 2-litre Dino sports/racing cars, proving very successful in mountain hill-climbs, and a lot of development work has gone on with new cylinder heads and fuel injection. A 3-valve-per-cylinder layout was introduced last year and recently a 4-valve-per-cylinder layout has been used on the 2-litre hill-climb version. The F.2 car was a 3-valve-per-cylinder, or 18-valve engine, with the inlet ports down the centre of the cylinder heads between the camshafts, while exhaust ports are on the outside of the heads. On the back of the left bank exhaust camshaft is a mechanical fuel pump, on the inlet shaft on that side is the Lucas fuel injection metering unit and on the right bank inlet shaft is the 12-pole distributor for the coil ignition with two plugs per cylinder. The chassis frame appears to be a monocoque of stressed-skin construction but actually has steel tubes running through it, these running alongside the engine to a steel fabricated loop which carries the rear suspension. The engine is bolted between this loop and the bulkhead behind the cockpit, thus tying everything together. Suspension follows conventional Formula One practice, with inboard spring units at the front, but at the rear the anti-roll bar runs under the gearbox instead of the more usual way over the top. The 5-speed gearbox is a brand new design, with the rear disc brakes on either side of it and the gearchange mechanism is unusual in that the selector rod runs forward through the see of the engine above the gearbox. On the bulkhead behind the seat is a long rocker arm with ball ends and this transmits the motion from the right-hand gear-lever shaft to the selector shaft in the vee of the engine.
Compared with other Formula Two cars the Ferrari is solid and heavy and as it develops “less than 200 b.h.p.” whereas Cosworth engines develop “much more than 200 b.h.p.” the Ferrari is not very competitive, but if the new 4-valve-per-cylinder heads are successful it could then be a challenge to the all-conquering Cosworth-powered cars. Anyway, it is nice to see a car that is made entirely by the manufacturer and is not a collection of proprietary parts put together by a “special builder.”
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At the Monaco G.P. earlier this year a new Maserati V12 engine appeared for practice installed in an old Cooper chassis. Since that time a great deal of development work has gone on and Cooper’s designed an entirely new chassis for the engine, getting it finished in time for the British Grand Prix. It follows the same pattern as the 1966 cars, being a riveted monocoque of aluminium and steel, while suspension and brakes are similar, but the whole car is a complete redesign, being smaller lighter, lower and narrower. As on the first of the 1967 cars a Hewland gearbox is used in place of the ZF unit and the whole car is nearly 1 cwt. lighter than previous Cooper-Maseratis. The scuttle is exceedingly low as is the radiator so that driver visibility is first class and Rindt seemed very pleased with it the first time he drove it. The engine was described in the June issue of Motor Sport. — D. S. J.