This year’s Motor International 6-hour touring car race, held at Brands Hatch on June 6th, had a very promising entry; but last-minute withdrawals resulted in the field which actually appeared being a good deal less interesting than it might have been. These withdrawals included two Lancias, two Alfa Romeo Giulias, a Swiss Chevrolet Impala due to be driven by Jo Siffert and P. Zund, the Alan Brown Galaxie for Brabham and Hulme, which ran its bearings in practice, and the very fast Jaguar 3.8 of the Germans Lindner and Nöcker, who were engaged in repairing their E-type after its 1,000 km. misadventures and getting it ready for Le Mans. Two other cars barely managed to make it, the Baillie/Jopp Galaxie also having had engine troubles and a Willment Cortina GT having been rolled in practice, but after the addition of four reserves 29 cars were on the grid for the start – one Galaxie, three Jaguar 3.8s, two Mercedes-Benz 300SEs, a Lancia Flaminia and two coupé Flavias, a Volvo, a B.M.W. 1800 TI, four Lotus-Cortinas and two Cortina GTs, three Giulia TI Supers, an Anglia Super and eight Mini-Cooper 1275 and 1293Ss.
The weather forecasts were not encouraging and there was a short shower just before the start, but the track remained dry for the first hour, after which the weather became decidedly damp. At 2 p.m. precisely the flag fell and the race was on, the two Alan Mann-entered Lotus-Cortinas of Whitmore and Harper taking an immediate lead from the McKechnie-entered example of Fowler with Böhringer’s works Mercedes 300SE next. The Galaxie started at the back of the field, having produced no practice time before its engine troubles, but BaiIlie forced his way through at a creditable rate, closing steadily up on the leaders and finally passing Whitmore’s very quickly driven Lotus-Cortina just before the end of the first hour. The dry surface during this period had played havoc with wheels and tyres, Fowler’s Lotus-Cortina, Sparrow’s Jaguar, Harper’s Lotus-Cortina and the Copper Ss of Hopkirk and Aley all suffering to a greater or lesser degree as a result of this (Sparrow went off after Paddock, and Aley’s car actually rolled into the pits on three wheels, while the fourth rolled merrily along by itself out of Clearways and along the pits straight).
Positions after one hour:
Overall: 1st: Baillie/Jopp (Galaxie), 29 laps (79.07 m.p.h.); 2nd: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 29 laps; 3rd: Böhringer/Linge (Mercedes 300SE), 29 laps; 4th: Nicholson/Derisley (Lotus-Cortina), 29 laps. Classes: Up to 1,300 c.c.: Rhodes/Slotemaker (Mini-Cooper S), 28 laps (75.99 m.p.h.); 1,301-1,600 c.c.: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 29 laps (79.04 m.p.h.); 1,601-3,000 c.c.: Böhringer/Linge (Mercedes 300SE), 29 laps (77.32 m.p.h.); Over 3,000 c.c.: Baillie/Jopp (Galaxie), 29 Iaps (70.07 m.p.h.).
Immediately after the hour, however, the situation changed when the rain began to fall in earnest. Whitmore was very soon close up behind the worse-handling Galaxie again, and after a lap or so passed it and went into the lead once more, and a long pitstop shortly afterwards, for tyre-changes and new front disc pads, left the big American car with the hopeless prospect of trying to make up some five laps on a track which was wet and looked likely to remain so. A pit-stop some time later also dropped the leading Mercedes back, and after a fierce engagement with Nicholson’s Lotus-Cortina until this spun, and with Olthoff’s Willment Cortina GT until this made a pit-stop, the Cella/Crosina Lancia Flavia and the Schneider/Hahne B.M.W. took over second and third places. The Rhodes/Slotemaker Cooper S lost much time through having to fit a new oil cooler as well as new front wheels, Fowler’s Lotus-Cortina had parked itself on the inside bank at the exit from Druids, the Prinotti/Balzarini Giulia’s engine had seized, and Olthoff’s Cortina GT, now driven by Hawkins, was about to go out with a broken half-shaft.
Positions after two hours:
Overall: 1st: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 58 laps (76.89 m.p.h.); 2nd: Cella/Crosina (Flavia), 57 laps; 3rd: Schneider/Hahne (B.M.W. 1800 TI), 57 laps; 4th: Taylor/Harper (Lotus-Cortina), 57 laps. Classes: Up to 1,300 c.c.: Handley/Broad (Cooper S), 56 laps (75.33 m.p.h.); 1,301-1,600 c.c.: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 58 laps (76.89 m.p.h.); 1,601-3,000 c.c.: Cella/Crosina (Flavia), 57 laps (76.29 m.p.h.); Over 3,000 c.c.: Mclaren/Coundley (Jaguar 3.8), 56 Iaps (72.71 m.p.h.).
The Alan Mann team strengthened its hold on the race during the third hour, the Taylor/Harper car taking over second place when the Flavia and B.M.W. made routine pit-stops (it was noticeable that apart from their sheer pace, the two Mann cars gained many precious seconds through good pit-work). The Nicholson/Derisley Lotus-Cortina came in for an unscheduled stop since Derisley was very sick, and the reserve driver Alan Deacon took over. The Facetti/Pianta Flaminia spent some time in the mud at South Bank and the Elizabeth Jones/Denise McLuggage Cooper S became a decided non-goer when Miss McLuggage rolled it several times coming out of Paddock, fortunately emerging unhurt.
Positions after three hours:
Overall: 1st: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 86 laps (76.31 m.p.h.); 2nd: Taylor/Harper (Lotus-Cortina), 85 laps; 3rd: Schneider/Hahne (B.M.W. 1800 TI), 83 laps; 4th: Handley/Broad (Cooper S), 86 laps. Classes: Up to 1,300 c.c.: Handley/Broad (Cooper S), 83 laps (73.41 m.p.h.); 1,301-1,600 c.c.: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 86 laps (76.31 m.p.h.); 1,601-3,000 c.c.: Schneider/Hahne (B.M.W. 1800 TI), 83 laps (74.11 m.p.h.); Over 3,000 c.c.: Baillie/Jopp (Galaxie), 82 Iaps (72.75 m.p.h.).
The fourth hour saw the retirement of the lone, though very fast, B.M.W., Hahne rolling to a stop just past the pits with a useless clutch and both drivers deservedly receiving sympathetic applause for their fine performances from the crowd as they walked back to their pit. The Galaxie made another long pit-stop, the trouble again being the front brake pads, and the McLaren/Coundley Jaguar took over the big car class lead once again; however, this car retired not long after with a broken half-shaft. The Mini-Cooper of Handley and Broad also had trouble with the new type of oil cooler, and this was replaced after an 8-minute stop.
Positions after four hours:
Overall: 1st: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 113 laps (75.41 m.p.h.); 2nd: Taylor/Harper (Lotus-Cortina), 112 laps; 3rd: Böhringer/Linge (Mercedes 300SE), 110 laps; 4th: Herrmann/Lang (Mercedes 300SE), 110 laps. Classes: Up to 1,300 c.c.: T. Taylor/Miss A.Taylor (Cooper S), 108 laps (72.19 m.p.h.); 1,301-1,600 c.c.: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 113 laps (75.41 m.p.h.); 1,601-3,000 c.c.: Böhringer/Linge (Mercedes 300SE), 110 laps (73.39 m.p.h.); Over 3,000 c.c.: Baillie/Jopp (Galaxie), 107 Iaps (71.29 m.p.h.).
Shortly after the beginning of the next hour Anita Taylor, at the head of the Cooper class, came into the pits for a routine stop, her brother taking over; but, alas, within a very short time their turquoise and red Aurora Gears Mini came to a stop just before South Bank bridge, and after a short inspection Trevor Taylor returned disconsolately to the pits with news of a broken timing chain. The leading Lotus-Cortina was by now showing some signs of strain, and it came in twice to have its hot differential examined and have oil added. This gave the lead to the Taylor/Harper car, though it too made a quick stop for the same reason.
Positions after five hours:
Overall: 1st: Taylor/Harper (Lotus-Cortina), 139 laps (73.85 m.p.h.); 2nd: Whitmore/Procter (Lotus-Cortina), 138 laps; 3rd: Herrmann/Lang (Mercedes 300SE), 137 laps; 4th: Böhringer/Linge (Mercedes 300SE), 137 laps. Classes: Up to 1,300 c.c.: Broad/Handley (Cooper S), 132 laps (70.36 m.p.h.); 1,301-1,600 c.c.: Taylor/Harper (Lotus-Cortina), 139 laps (73.85 m.p.h.); 1,601-3,000 c.c.: Herrmann/Lang (Mercedes 300SE), 137 laps (72.92 m.p.h.); Over 3,000 c.c.: Baillie/Jopp (Galaxie), 136 Iaps (72.20 m.p.h.).
The main question during the last hour was whether the two leading cars would manage to keep going, for the Nicholson/Derisley/Deacon Lotus-Cortina first stopped out on the circuit with similar trouble and then staggered into the pits to have its differential changed. The two works Mercedes were too far back to harry them, however, and apart from changing the order in order to obtain maximum Championship points for the team leaders, the race ran out with the two Lotus-Cortinas and the two Mercedes keeping the first four places to themselves. The excitement at the end, in fact, came from a battle in the smallest class, with Timo Makinen in the Cooper S he shared with Clarke making a last-minute assault on the leadership of the class. He managed to pass just before the end, but his car gave up in sight of the line and he rolled over it behind the Broadspeed entry.