16th Grand Prix of Siracusa

A Ferrari demonstration

Siracusa, Sicily, May 21st

By changing the date of their Grand Prix from early in the season to after the first big Championship race the Ente Autonomo Circuito di Siracusa fell foul of clashing dates, with the result that a very small entry was received. Those who were not making money in Formula Two at Limburg were trying to make money at Indianapolis qualifying, and the only works entries were the V12 Ferraris of Parkes and Scarfiotti, the former having the 1966 car with 1967 engine with which he won at Silverstone at the end of April, and the latter having the late 1966 car with which he had won at Monza last September. Both engines were of the three-valves-per-cylinder variety, the 1966 one with exhausts on the outside of the unit and the 1967 one with the exhausts in the centre of the vee. As the average Sicilian race follower gets only one Formula One race a year, and last year saw Surtees drive the prototype 3-litre Grand Prix Ferrari, this year afforded them the opportunity of seeing two later versions of the Ferrari, and they turned up in vast numbers to support the race. The rest of the entry consisted of Bonnier and Siffert with the Cooper-Maseratis they normally race, Spence with a 2-litre V8 B.R.M. "Tasman" car and Irwin with a Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8, both entered by Parnell, and Moser with the Cooper-A.T.S. V8 owned by Fritz Baumann. There should have been, in addition, Ligier with his Cooper-Maserati but the engine blew-up on the test-bed at Maserati, Schlesser with a Matra-Cosworth FVA but he wrote it off in practice, while there was no sign or sound of Anderson (Brabham-Climax), Hobbs (B.R.M.) and Wicky (Porsche Special).

Needless to say the two Ferraris had things all their own way but it was interesting to see the progress made by Ferrari in twelve months, for last year Surtees gave the 3-litre Ferrari its first run and in practice clocked 1 min. 42.3 sec. on the very fast Sicilian road circuit, and felt he could have got down to 1 min. 40 sec. if he pulled out all the stops. This year Parkes got down to 1 min. 41.6 sec. and Scarfiotti to 1 min. 41.7 sec. in practice, so that one can assume that given a driver of the calibre of Surtees the latest Ferrari would easily lap at under 1 min. 40 sec., without much effort. As this represents a lap speed of close on 123 m.p.h. for the 3 1/2-mile circuit, which includes a bottom-gear hairpin and two very sharp left-hand bends, it will be appreciated that Ferrari had the opportunity of finding out some more about highspeed motoring. During first practice Parkes was doing some experimenting which ended up in a spin on one of the left-hand bends and Siffert came round the corner and hit the Ferrari's left front wheel, the Cooper-Maserati suffering a broken rear wishbone and upright. As Schlesser had misjudged a fast bend with his F.2 Matra, hit a wall and spun into the guard-rail and demolished his car completely, the first practice saw the loss of nearly half the entry! The Cooper-Maserati and the Ferrari were repaired but on the second practice day both Parnell cars were hors de combat, the V8 B.R.M. breaking its gearbox and the Lotus-B.R.M. breaking its clutch; however, they were repaired in time for the race. Parkes started practice running under number 18, but as this was the number of Bandini's ill-fated Ferrari at Monaco, this was changed to 28.

With no opposition the two Ferraris put on a demonstration of speed and reliability that many other Grand Prix teams would like to be able to emulate, but not many could guarantee to achieve. For the whole 56 laps of the race Parkes and Scarfiotti ran in close company, even when rain started to fall, making the circuit very slippery. They took turns in leading and often ran side-by-side, to the delight of the huge crowd who seemed more than happy enough just to listen to the two works Ferraris on full song. Moser lasted only ten laps before his clutch began to slip, but he had his first taste of high-speed driving and got by Bonnier's Cooper-Maserati before he retired. Spence went out with failing oil pressure on the B.R.M., having held fourth place, unable to keep up with the Ferraris or Siffert, and the Swiss driver in the Walker/Durlacher Cooper-Maserati held third place throughout, even though he collected a stone through the radiator and lost all his water. The Maserati engine boiled itself dry and was practically incandescent by the end of the race, but it kept going although it was very rough on the last few laps. Chris Irwin in the old Lotus-B.R.M. V8 of the Parnell stable had only done five laps' practice on the first day and none at all on the second day, so he started the race not really knowing where he was going. It did not take him long to dispose of Moser and Bonnier and by the end of the race he was going quite well and very nearly caught the ailing Cooper-Maserati of Siffert.

For the last few laps the two Ferraris ran very slowly and practised for the finish, which was obviously going to be a dead-heat. Meanwhile the vociferous Sicilian crowd shouted at the Ferrari pit and team manager Franco Lini to let Scarfiotti win. It was not to be and at 50 m.p.h. the two Ferraris crossed the line in a dead-heat, this last very slow lap allowing the other three runners to close up, still a number of laps behind, so that all five cars completed their slowing down lap in a tidy group.

In Sicily there are only two serious races each year, the Targa Florio and the Siracusa G.P., so it is not surprising that each are treated like a public holiday and everyone attends, no matter how small the entry. Enzo Ferrari has always kept faith with the Sicilians, especially since the dark days of 1955 when they refused to succumb to the mass hysteria that pervaded other motor-racing countries. It is a pity that some of the other big people in motor racing do not give the same support to the enthusiastic element on the island. – D. S. J.

B.U.A. International Trophy

Matra 1-2 at Crystal Palace

The Greater London Council presented the longest race ever held at the narrow Crystal Palace circuit on Spring Bank Holiday Monday, a 75-lap, 105-mile Formula Two event. It was organised by the B.R.S.C.C. and sponsored by British United Airways. Entries, again powered solely by Ford-Cosworth FVA engines, included Surtees in the Lola Two, McLaren in his own M4A, works Matras for Beltoise and Servoz-Gavin, Ken Tyrrell Matras for Jaussaud and Ickx, Ron Harris Protoses for Hart and Offenstadt, an MRD Brabham for Gardner, a Winkelmann-entered Brabham for Rees, Lotus Components' Type 41b for Oliver, and a pair of Gerard Cooper entries for Beckwith and Gethin.

Because there were 24 competitors for the 16-car grid there were two qualifying heats of ten laps. Coinciding with Indianapolis, the entry list lacked Rindt, Clark, Brabham, Hill and Hulme, the formula's most successful drivers, but there was no lack of entertainment in the efforts of those who did take part. The first heat was dominated by Beltoise and Surtees, the Matra and the Lola drawing 14 seconds ahead of Oliver, Beckwith and Gethin. A shower of rain just before the second heat had all the drivers on tiptoe wondering whether to change tyres, Gardner (Motor Racing Developments' Brabham) and Courage (John Coombs-entered McLaren) succumbing to temptation. Gardner took an early lead but dropped back when the track dried after five laps and McLaren led to the end, pursued by Jaussaud in the Matra. The French driver was having his first Formula Two drive, was making his first visit to the Palace, and recorded fastest time in practice, so there is no doubt now about the up-and-coming French talent to handle the Matra Formula One cars next year.

The Serious part of the day's proceedings ran in warm sunshine. McLaren took the lead immediately and pulled out a commanding lead with Suttees and Beltoise in pursuit, but after three laps the Matra got past the Lola, and then Ickx climbed from fifth to third place This was too much for Surtees, who stopped in his pits to have the front suspension checked, then continued at undiminished pace a lap and a half behind.

McLaren held the lead until nearly half distance, when Ickx got by and only Beltoise was anywhere within striking distance. Well behind them were Gardner, Courage and Rees, but the former retired with less than 20 miles to go with deranged suspension, damaged earlier in a collision with Gethin. Jaussaud did not have such a happy final, retiring from fourth place ahead of Courage in the early stages when a fuel injection pipe broke.

Only 14 laps from the end Beltoise overtook McLaren, the New Zealander apparently trying to conserve his front tyres, and although McLaren nearly got back to second place on the last stretch to the flag Ickx was well clear, and as they have a habit of doing in Formula Three the Matras came first and second.

In fourth place, Rees just avoided being lapped, while Oliver in sixth place was doing well with his ill-handling Lotus to keep Courage in sight. – M. L. C.


Formula Two

John Surtees followed up his Mallory Park victory the previous week-end by winning the Zolder Formula Two race on May 21. But this time the result was far from clear cut and showed up the deficiencies of running a race in two parts.

As at Mallory, Messrs. Rindt, Stewart, Hulme, and Hill were busy qualifying at Indianapolis but Clark, his American mission completed returned to the field. Other absentees included the works B.M.W.s as the German firm are making further detail modifications to their radial 16-valve engines and for the same reason Surtees was driving the Cosworth FVA-powered Lola. The Ferrari Dino V6 failed to make its debut.

The event was split into two 24-lap races over the 4.184 km. Hugenholtz designed Belgian track. The first race immediately developed into a scrap between Jim Clark in the Lotus and the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Beltoise. Clark won while Beltoise suffered a blown head gasket but still finished second way ahead of Surtees and McLaren who battled during the early part of the race.

The second heat was very closely contested with Clark leading until slowed with head gasket trouble at two-thirds distance when Brabham who was an undistinguished fifth in part one, moved ahead. Brabham was chased hard by Surtees who took the lead on the very last lap to head the World Champion across the line by inches. Beltoise having broken bottom gear finished third ahead of Clark.

The only thing remaining was the question of the overall victor and the Lotus pit seemed sure their man had won and the Lola team were not disputing it. But it was Surtees who was placed on the rostrum as the organisers had clearly stated that overall classification would be based on a points system and not combined times as in England. Thus Surtees with a first and third bettered Clark with a first and fourth although Clark had completed his 48 laps in 1 hr. 3 min. 37.0 sec. compared with Surtees's 1 hr. 4 min. 38.2 sec. To add to the confusion Beltoise's combined time was 1 hr. 3 min. 39.8 sec. although he was placed third. – A. R. M.

Tourist Trophy

The oldest racing event on the British calendar, the Tourist Trophy, was held at Oulton Park for the first time on Spring Bank Holiday Monday. The choice of this Cheshire circuit, the best road-racing course in the country, is a good one but the decision to make the event a qualifying round in the European Touring Car Challenge is far more debatable. When it was planned the R.A.C. thought the Challenge would be for Group 5 saloons which often provide good, fast racing.

By way of justification, the R.A.C. intended to bring the race back to its original intent, an event for road-going cars, but Group 2 saloons are not popular in Britain because modifications are limited and there is very little spectator appeal. No one in their right mind would suggest that Le Mans should be reserved for touring cars, since Prototypes, GT cars and graded drivers are the ingredients for success. Unless the Challenge is upgraded to Group 5 next year the R.A.C. will be hard put to resist re-grading the T.T. to Group 6 and Group 4, and will then have to provide considerably more starting money.

The race was dominated by the Alfa Romeo GTA team entered by Autodelta, headed by Andrea de Adamich who flew in from the Nurburgring 1,000 kms. race the previous day. Only Baron von Wendt, in a Porsche 911, was able to contest the leading position backed up by another Porsche driven by Giorgio Pianta. Bosse Ljungfeldt, in the Ford-of-Sweden Mustang, was going very well on a wet track until retiring with fuel pump trouble, but did not look like winning unless the road dried. The 1,300 c.c. class was a benefit for Mini-Coopers since Conte damaged his Lancia Fulvia and Maglioli's Fulvia was outpaced.