Last year, after a Porsche 917 had won the famous 24-hour race over the constantly-improved Simile circuit at 222.340 k.p.h., Motor Sport was obliged to comment on the fact that some people found dissatisfaction with this very fast, night-and-day sports-car race. This was mainly on account a poor entry, no “works” Ferraris and Porsches. This year, under the 3-litre ruling, the race again lacked the “works” Ferraris but was very open, between Alfa Romeo, Matra, Lola and privately-run Porsches and there was the added interest of who would pull off the new Group 2 saloon-car category, which takes the race a bit closer to its former “touring car” status.
At a time when F1 is in a state of flux, Le Mans remains Le Mans, for alterations to the circuit and the rules have not materially changed the conception it this race, the longest of the sports car marathons. from the brave experiment of 1923, since when, up to this year, it had been won nine times by Ferrari. and on five occasions by Bentley and Jaguar, four by Alfa Romeo and Ford, twice by Bugatti, Lorraine Dietrich and Porsche. and once by Chenard-Walcker, Lagonda, Delahaye, Talbot, Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin.
So we offer congratulations to this year’s winners (Hill and Pescarolo in a Matra M670, illustrated) of this great and traditional race, and to the Ferrari which won the GT category and the Ford Cologne Capri which won the Group 2 section. One wonders whether a Group 1 saloon-car race, lasting perhaps 12 hours, could be profitably introduced as a Le Mans-week attraction ? It might not he enthrallingly fast, but speed does not necessarily constitute attraction, and in this case there would be the anticipation of “200 m.p.h.” two-seaters to follow. When the JCC ran a Double Twelve-hour race at Brooklands not many spectators came for the breakfast-time starts. They arrived, however, to see the closing stages, the point being that in races of this kind the outcome is often more interesting than the actual spectacle. This alone might justify a long-duration Group 1 race. And remembering how the Bol d’Or officials used to cope with a 24-hour motorcycle marathon followed almost immediately by a 24-hour small-car race, don’t suggest that the well-organised and commercialised AC de l’Ouest couldn’t cope.
Tarring and gritting
Although we have been experiencing to date a remarkable non-summer, the annual summer madness of gritting and tarring is with us again, causing the Editor to shout “grit” as the windscreen on the BMW he was driving into Tewkesbury from Ledbury was shattered by a flung-up stone. This disregard of motorists’ property and safety is a criminal disgrace which should be firmly put down—more firmly than are the offending flints.
In an age when we are fined and endorsed for cut tyres, unseen licences, dirty windscreens, faulty lamps and a million other technical charges, and when the compulsory wearing of seat-belts and crash-hats is never far from the official mind, how can the sudden loss of vision caused by broken windscreens consequent upon an inexpensive bit of road repairing be tolerated ? We have talked with road-construction experts about tarring and gritting without getting any satisfaction. It causes no harm if the loose stones are swept up, if the right size flints are used, if we do the required four or five hours rolling-in at low speed! This ignores the fact that a driver coming down from 70 to 44 m.p.h. will fling lethal weapons at cars coming in the opposite direction and that efficient road-rollers have been available since the turn of the century. The non-skid properties are destroyed unless the rolling-in is done by our nice soft tyres ? Then it is high time new methods of re-laying roads was discovered.
In our me we thought poorly of BMW for fitting a toughened screen to an expensive car, after which we fitted a Compact emergency windscreen, and drove on. The latter even withstood use of the wipers-and we have no wish to put its makers out of business-every driver should carry one! But we do think it is high time a petition was got up for the abolition of antiquated road-repairing methods which so frequently cost car owners so much in inconvenience, cost of replacement windscreens and cuts and shock, and which could, no doubt do, cause accidents. The next time you have cause to say “grit”, why not complain to your MP and the Ministry of Environment ? For this added motorists’ burden has got to be abolished.
VW flying high
A twin-engined Britten-Norman Islander has been bought by Volkswagen (GB) to run an express parts delivery service between Germany and the UK. It will he captained by wartime fighter pilot, 47-year-old Sqd./Ldr. Joe Blyth, who is a double DFC and double AFC. The aircraft will make four trips a week from Manston in Kent to the Volkswagen parts warehouse in Kassel, Germany. It will be used on the fifth day for freight runs within the UK.
VW say they can already supply 95% of the approximately 24,000 parts in normal demand from stocks held in this country. If a part is asked for more than once in six months in the whole of the UK, it is stocked here. If not, it is:specially air-freighted from Germany. This can take up to four or five days. The use of the VW aircraft should cut this to around 48 hours. Volkswagen (GB) are the first vehicle importers in Britain to purchase an aircraft for the express delivery of parts. The Islander may be used occasionally for flying VW personnel between the UK and Germany and within the UK itself. It can carry nine passengers or a ton of cargo. Ray Smith, Volkswagen (G.B)’s Parts Manager, says: “Our eventual aim is to ensure delivery of VW parts to anywhere in the UK within 24 hours. This move brings us a step nearer to that objective”. So VW seem to be flying high again! We remember many years ago, being unable to obtain a cooling Ian pulley-key from a VW depot, so let’s hope the Islander will bring to this Island spares both large and small. — W. B.
The things they say . . .
C.R. writing in the Team Castrol News for motorcyclists about the man who lapped the Isle of Man TT circuit at 108.77 m.p.h. on a Honda 4, “… the gentleman who has now joined Jock McArmco and his band, namely S. M. B. Hailwohd, M.B.E.” Does C.R. mean that Hailwoocl has joined the GPDA ? and Jock McArmco ? Now who could that be ?
He goes on to ask “… how is it that the Grand Prix Drivers Association is powerful enough to get Armco put all round Spa-Francorehamps when they don’t even use it for a Grand Prix. It is even put across some of the escape roads!”—at Stavelot for example.