Montlhéry (October 18)
The annual long-distance race held on the Montlhéry combined road and track circuit has yet to achieve classic status and become the final round in the Manufacturers’ Championships, but nevertheless it receives a good amateur entry each year, with factory support from Matra, the Autodrome of Linas-Montlhéry being only a few miles from Velizy, the home of Matra. This year the French factory entered two cars, both open type 660 models, one being lightened considerably by attention to detail, the other in normal Le Mans 24-Hour trim. The lightened car was driven by the factory employed drivers Beltoise and Pescarolo, and a reduction in weight was achieved by removing the lights and charging system and using a Hewland gearbox in place of the more robust but heavier ZF gearbox, while the engine was the GP version of the VI2, able to use 11,000 r.p.m. against the normal 10,500 r.p.m. The normal Le Mans car was driven by Brabham and Cevert, and as Brabham has suggested, we may know the truth of why he is driving Matra sports cars in a year or more, or we may not! There was no factory opposition to the Matra team, but the Martini International Racing Team, in conjunction with Team AAW, had a 917 Porsche, driven by Larrousse and van Lennep, as well as their well-proven 908 Spyder Porsches, driven by Lins/Marko and Ballot-Lena/ Chasseuil, as they had not taken delivery of the ex-Salzburg team’s 917 Porsches as expected. The rest of the entry of twenty-nine cars that started being privately-owned cars.
A circuit of 7.821 kilometres long was used, comprising half of the banked track, with chicanes at each end of the banking, and part of the road course, and the race was over 128 laps and was run in warm and fine weather. Beltoise set the pace with the lightened Matra 660 and only van Lennep proved to be any sort of challenge, but the 917 engine broke early in the race leaving the Beltoise/Pescarolo car unchallenged. Robbed of his drive in the 917, Larrousse took over the 908 of Ballot-Lena/Chasseuil, and after a slow start Brabham and Cevert moved up into second place. The leading Matra ran into trouble with its Hewland gearbox, due to the oil breather system not being right, and after some delays at the pits the car was forced out of the race by horrid noises in its transmission, this letting the second Matra take command. In second place was the carefully driven, privately-owned Ferrari 512S of the Spaniard José Juncadella, with the young French driver Jabouille as his partner. In spite of retiring, the lightweight Matra was classified in fourth position.
Results: 1,000 Kilometres of Paris
1st:J. Brabham/F. Cevert (Matra-Simca 660 – 3-litre V12) ……… 5 hr. 49 min. 41 sec. – 171.763 k.p.h.
2nd:J. Juncadella/J.P. Jabouille (Ferrari 512S 5-litre V12) ……. 3 laps behind
3rd:C. Ballot-Lena/G. Larrousse (Porsche 908 – 3-litre 8-cyl) …. 6 laps behind
4th:J-P. Beltoise/H. Pescarolo (Matra-Simca 660 – 3-litre V12) .. 14 laps behind
5th:W. Meier/C. Olivar (Porsche 910 – 2-litre) …………………….. 18 laps behind
6th:M. Garton/R. Heavens (Chevron-BMW – 2-litre) …………….. 20 laps behind
Fastest lap:H. Pescarolo (Matra-Simca 660), 2 min. 35.3 sec. – 181.298 k.p.h.
29 starters – 16 finishers.