The 1969 Porsche racing programme will be concentrated on two major activities, long-distance sports/prototype racing and rallies, and for the first tune since 1963 Porsche factory cars will not be taking part in the European Mountain Hill-Climbs, though it would be no surprise to see one of the 1968 ultra-lightweight “Bergspyders” being run by a private owner. For the long-distance classic motor races the 3-litre 8-cylinder 908 models will be further developed, and at Sebring in March a new open or Spyder version, to the 1969 Group 6 rules, will be running. Herrmann, Mitter, Elford, Siffert and Stommelen are all-staying with the team, and they will be joined by Ahrens, Attwood, Redman and Schutz, while during the season the Germans Kausen and von Wendt and the Austrian Lins will be offered occasional drives. It looks as though the new team manager Rico Steinemann, from Zurich, will be playing the game of “musical drivers” as von Hanstein used to do, trying to pair-off ability, temperament, knowledge and speed into the most suitable car for any given circuit. For the American events at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen various American drivers like Buzzetta and Patrick will join the team.
Last year everyone thought that the Porsche team would sweep all before it, but they spent the whole season fumbling and failing from one technical fault after another, due in part to a re-organisation within the racing department, and the introduction of some new young engineers. They found out the hard way that knowledge gained over 16 or 17 years of successful racing should not be discarded as being of no value. It often pays to pause and see what happened “last year or the year before that”, before plunging ahead on a new idea. Let us hope that Porsche will do better this year and regain the name they had for impeccable reliability and speed that they built up during the reign of von Hanstein. Porsche engineering and ability has always been beyond reproach, but some of the things that happened in racing in 1968 were not worthy of the Stuttgart team.
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It would seem that Matra Racing are continuing Grand Prix racing with the Tyrrell organisation running Matra International, fielding Matra MS10 cars powered by Cosworth V8 engines for Stewart and Beltoise to drive, and the parent firm will run Matra Sports with their own V12-cylinder engined cars later in the season for Beltoise and Pescarolo. After the performance of the V12 Sports/Prototype at Le Mans last year it is understandable that Matra Sports are putting more effort into Group 6 racing than into Grand Prix racing, for a win at Le Mans would be of far greater benefit to them overall, than a number of Grand Prix victories. Stewart, Beltoise„ Pescarolo and Servoz-Gavin will appear in Formula Two.
At the time of writing it looks as if we shall not see the Cooper team in Grand Prix racing, principally because no tyre manufacturer is interested in backing them. With Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop developing racing tyres at high pressure a major team must have the backing of one of them if it is to keep up, for cars need to be developed hand-in-hand with tyre development, not a week after a new tyre has been announced. It would seem that the announcement by Firestone at the end of last season that they were giving up racing was merely a big-business trick. Certain firms seem to get over subscribed with users of their components and the only way to shake off the unwanted ones is to announce a complete withdrawal. This causes a mad rush away in other directions by everyone and then you can say “Psst. . . .” to those you really want, like Lotus and Ferrari if your name is Firestone. Just before the end of the old 1½-litre Formula Coventry Climax found themselves in this situation, their enthusiasm having got them involved with far too many users of their successful V8 so that they were trying to do more than they wanted to. They suddenly said “No more racing engines” and, while everyone was spinning round wondering what to do, Coventry-Climax quietly said “Psst. . . .” to Lotus and Clark and lent them a nice new 32-valve V8 engine. They concentrated all their resources on one car and one driver, with the success that they hoped for. I can foresee Cosworth Engineering being forced to pull the same trick if their monopoly gets broken by Ferrari, B.R.M., Matra or Honda. While you can build and maintain a batch of racing engines to production-standards, if the going gets tough and you need to race a one-off development engine, or super engine, it is not possible when Lotus, Matra-International, McLaren, Brabham and others are all using your engines and your research and development.
From Team Surtees Ltd., which is part of the John Surtees empire, comes an announcement that they have severed all business association with Lola Cars Ltd., and the Surtees racing activities which took place under the name of Lola Racing Ltd. will now happen under the name of T.S. Research and Development Ltd. The ways of the business world are very confusing and when Surtees did not finish a race you never really knew whether the blame lay with John Surtees, Team Surtees Ltd., Lola Racing Ltd.., Honda Racing, Lola Cars Ltd., or “the firm next door”. It is still just as confused and on the surface it looks as if John Surtees, who leads the Surtees Empire, and Eric Broadley, who leads the Lola Empire, have fallen out and are no longer chums, but I doubt if this is true. They may argue and differ, but they have enormous mutual respect for each other and being next-door neighbours on the Slough Trading Estate will surely still be helping each other during the racing season.
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After the successes or the Formula Two Ferraris at the end of the 1968 European season and in the Argentine races in December, together with Amon’s two victories in New Zealand, all with Dino V6-type engines, it would not be a surprise to see Ferrari running a V6 car in Grand Prix racing. While the V12-cylinder Grand Prix car is fast and powerful, it is a large lump of machinery, especially on circuits like Monaco, Jarama, Clermont-Ferrand or Brands Hatch. The Tasman car has a V6 engine enlarged to 2.4-litres, so if it could be stretched a bit more, to 2.8-litres say, and still retain the Formula Two overall size it could prove very suitable for wiggly circuits. The original V6 conception came about in this way, for it started life as a 1½-litre, was enlarged to just over 2-litres and then 2.4-litres, and was found to be a match for the more powerful, but more unwieldy Lancia V8-Ferraris. History could repeat itself.
The Dino V6 sports/prototype car, like the one raced in England last season by Tony Dean, has now been homologated as a Group 4 Sports car, which means that the F.I.A. have been convinced that 25 have been built and sold. The official name is the Dino 206 GT of 1,987-c.c. capacity. At the same time the Italians have also convinced the F.I.A. that Alfa Romeo have produced 25 of their Tipo 33, this number presumably taking into account various Motor Show specials, like the Bertone Carabo, and the Pininfarina creation. The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 is homologated at 1,995 c.c. The Germans have homologated the Porsche 910 as a Group 4 sports car at 1,991 c.c, so there should be some good 2-litre sports-car races this season.
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The F.I.A. have recently had a bit of a revision of the rules governing National, International and World Records, drawing up Groups and Categories for all sizes and types of vehicle. The overall Group called Land Vehicles, and this includes Hovercraft, are divided into two categories : (a) automobiles, a land vehicle running on at least four wheels not aligned, two of which at least assume the steering function and two at least the propulsion, and (b) special vehicles, land vehicles propelled by otherwise than through their wheels. Distances and times of records of National status are left to the country concerned, but for International and World records the times and distances are fixed as follows :—
Distance Records with Flying Start : 1 kilometre, 1 mile.
Acceleration Records with Standing Start : ¼-mile, ½-kilometre-, 1 kilometre.
Distance Records with Standing Start :
Kilometres : 10; 100; 500; 1,000; 10,000; 25,000; 50,000; 100,000.
Miles : 10; 100; 500; 1000; 10,000; 25,000; 50,000; 100,000.
Time Records with Standing Start : Hours: 1; 6; 12; 24.
While on the subject of records and record-attempts, nothing more has been heard from the R.A.C. or the F.I.A. about all the short distance records that were set up at the Elvington Records Weekend last October by a group of sprint cars. The ratification of the paperwork has got bogged down in Belgrave Square or Paris, no one seems to know where. The motorcycle records that were set up have gone through with commendable speed; the A.C.U., also in the Belgrave Square building, sent them off to the F.I.M. in Geneva and in November they were all listed and detailed and complete copies published, received here in December. The Official document stated that if no protest was received within one month they would be put to the 1969 International Spring Congress of the F.I.M. and if confirmed will be inscribed in the World Record Register as World Records. In other words, the “two-wheeler boys” are efficient and the whole process of ratification of records has gone through according to plan. In our “four-wheeled world” even some of the people who set the records last October still don’t know what is happening. When you try to comprehend the paperwork of our governing body of motoring sport, as instanced by the new Competition licence rules whereby we now have three separate licences to be an active clubman, instead of one, it is not surprising that the records lists seem to have been lost.
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In the F.I.A. Year Book of Automobile Sport, costing 25s. from PSL Publications Ltd., 9, Ely Place, London, E.C.1, or any of the specialist motoring book shops, is listed the Graded Drivers for 1969. These we can consider the elite of International motor racing and consist of World Champions of the last five years; drivers who have finished in the first six of a Championship race, at least twice; drivers who have finished in the first three at least twice in a Sports/Prototype Championship event; the Formula Two European Champion; and drivers who have finished once in the first six of a Grand Prix and once in the first three of a Championship Sports Car Race. The list of Graded Drivers is as follows :
Amon, Beltoise, Bianchi, Bonnier, Brabham, Courage, Elford, Foyt, Gurney, Hawkins, Herrmann, Hill, G., Hobbs, Hulme, lckx, McLaren, Mitter, Neerpasch, Oliver, J., Parkes, Redman, Rindt, Rodriguez, Siffert, Stewart, Stommelen, Surtees. A good bunch of drivers as I think everyone will agree.
The very thick F.I.A. pocketbook is a mine of information on all matters International and is a must for anyone interested in motor racing above club level, competitor or spectator alike. On a National and club level the R.A.C. have produced their Blue Book of Rules commendably promptly this year, so that it can be taken seriously, unlike previous years when it appeared after the season was well under way. In the new multiple licence system for British competitors you now get a Blue Book free, otherwise it costs 7s. 6d.
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Two French items of interest are that first there is a practice weekend at Le Mans on the 29th/30th of March. You can see some of the cars that will race in June, but more important, you can savour the atmosphere of Le Mans in comparative comfort with only 30,000 people milling about instead of 300,000. The second is that the Rouen Circuit will be in use again this summer, but limited to an International Formula Three race, a French Gordini race, and a French National affair like our Formula Ford for beginners; there will also be an International motorcycle and sidecar race.
The magnificent Rouen circuit, one of the best in Europe, is just south of the historic and pleasant town, and a very easy trip from England and ideal as a first trip to a Continental motor race. There was to have been a Formula Two race, but the date of June 22nd clashes with the Dutch G.P. at Zandvoort, so the Normandy club have wisely dropped it, as there would have been a shortage of good drivers.—D. S. J.