The Aintree International '200' Race

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A fine victory for Jim Clark’s V8 Lotus

Aintree, April 28th

This Aintree ‘200’ saw the first corning-together of the majority of the 1962 works teams, the exception being Porsche, whose flat-eight engine is not yet racing. Ferrari sent two of the 1962 rear-engined cars fitted with last year’s 120-deg engine for Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti, Lotus brought the “chicken coup” V8 car which won at Snetterton and retired at Pau for Jim Clark and a 4-cylinder car for Trevor Taylor. Bowmaker-Yeoman brought their V8 Lola for Surtees and a 4-cylinder for Salvadori. While the Owen Organisation sent two V8s for Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, and Tony Marsh was under the works wing with his V8 engined 1961 car. The works Cooper team has no V8 engines yet so they entered only Bruce McLaren in a 1961 car with a 4-cylinder Mk II engine supplied by Tommy Atkins. UDT-Laystall sent 4-cylinder cars for Ireland and Masten Gregory, Moss being a regretted absentee, the space opposite his favourite number in the programme being marked withdrawn. Of the entries Jack Brabham had the car hastily prepared for Pau and more hastily prepared for Aintree with the ruined engine between Thursday and Saturday. Emeryson Cars, now financed by an American, had two cars for American sports car driver Tony Settember and John Campbell-Jones, Keith Greene had his Gilby, Wolfgang Seidel his Porsche and a varied collection of Lotuses were driven by Tony Shelly, Jay Chamberlain, Parnell, Bernard Collomb and Gunther Seifert, while the other Cooper in the race apart from McLaren’s was the oddly shaped car of Ian Burgess. No less than ten Lotuses took part, a complete reversal of the old order in the 21/2-litre formula.

Practice took place in two short sessions on Friday and Jim Clark quickly demonstrated that his practice at Pau was no flash in the pan by circulating in 1 min 53.8 sec, a speed of 94.90 mph, 4 sec better than the 11/2-litre record set up by Tony Brooks last year, and 3.2 sec better than the lap record, set up by Moss (BRM) and McLaren (Cooper) in 1959. Graham Hill got the BRM round in 1 min 55.0 sec, then bent the nose of the car somewhat at Melling, while John ensured a place for himself on the front row of the grid by doing 1 min 55.0 sec in the V8 Lola. Innes Ireland made fastest time for a 4-cylinder car in practice with 1 min 56.6 sec, in the UDT Lotus, a time which was equalled by Richie Ginther. The Ferrari team were not too happy, Phil Hill having a bout of stomach trouble and Baghetti being virtually new to the cicuit as his previous visit had taken place in pouring rain at the last British GP, whereas on this occasion Aintree was bathed in sunshine for a change. In the first practice session when they were sorting out the handling neither driver beat 2 min, but in second session Hill did 1 min 57.4 sec, with the rear anti-roll removed while Baghetti got down to 1 min 57.6 sec to give eighth and ninth fastest practice times, being slower than McLaren and Gregory who both did 1 min 57.0 sec. Coming in after making these times Baghetti’s rev counter tell tale stood at 12,000 rpm, and Hill’s at 11,000 r.p.m.! Jack Brabham’s car was not ready for practice so he took Jim Clark’s V8 round a few laps, turning an easy 2-minute lap, although he was obliged to start from the back of the grid as he had not practised in his own car.

Race day was fine and warm and after the preliminary races had been disposed of the field was released for the Aintree 200. The shrill scream of the V8 Climax mingled with the deeper bellow of the BRM V8s and Ferraris to make a most impressive cacophony of sound. Now that the 11/2-litres are as quick as 21/2-litres and even noisier everyone should be happy. Hill crept slightly then checked himself just as the flag fell and was left by the other two on the front row, but Richie made the best start and he shot through into the lead on the first lap followed by Hill with Jim Clark already trying to pass them in the Lotus. Bruce McLaren, looking unfamiliar in a new helmet held down fourth place, followed by Phil Hill, lnnes  Ireland, Masten Gregory, Baghetti, Surtees, Marsh, Salvadori, Shelly, Brabham, who had already gained 10 places. Clark disposed the two BRMs on lap two and began opening a gap, while Hill took over second place from Ginther. Surtees began making up for a poor start, being ninth on the first lap, seventh on the second, sixth on the third and fifth on the fifth, disposing of Phil Hill rather easily. Ian Burgess came into the pits on his first lap with misfiring and thereafter circulated in desultry fashion, while Roy Salvadori called in to say he had over-revved due to a sticking throttle returning on lap eight to retire with a broken throttle. Tony Marsh lost some oil on the circuit and was forced to retire as oil replenishment is no longer allowed. Jack Brabham went out on lap five with a broken gearbox having climbed to tenth place.

Meanwhile Jim Clark had been increasing his lead over the BRM pair who were circulating in close company, while Bruce McLaren, who had been going extremely fast in the 4-cylinder Cooper, was quickly overhauled by John Surtees in the Lola who took over fourth place on lap 11. Further down the field, Baghetti was gaining confidence and began attacking the UDT pair of Ireland and Gregory who were holding down seventh and eighth places. On lap 11 he split the pair which really roused the UDT drivers and Gregory re-took the Ferrari on the inside at Waterways, but the power of the Ferrari was not to be denied and although the pale green cars hung on for several laps by outbraking and out cornering Baghetti, he had got in front by lap 15, although Gregory passed Ireland in an effort to stay with the Ferrari. The two Ferraris were now in sixth and seventh places with Hill rapidly overhauling McLaren. The other Hill, Graham, had temporarily relinquished his second place to team mate Ginther but both drivers missed top gear on one or two occasions and sure enough Ginther came into the pits on lap 22 to retire with a broken gearbox. However, Graham Hill seemed to be in a comfortable second place albeit over half a minute behind the flying Clark who had already dropped the outright lap record to 1 min 54.6 sec, a speed of 94.74 mph.

Phil Hill took over fourth place from McLaren at the same time as Ireland made one final attempt to get back at Baghetti, just managing to nose ahead for one lap before the overstressed engine gave way, forcing him to retire after making one slow lap with the engine sounding very rough. At half distance the order was Clark (Lotus), G Hill (BRM), J Surtees (Lola), P Hill (Ferrari), B McLaren (Cooper), G Baghetti (Ferrari), M Gregory (Lotus)—five different makes in the first seven.

The next target for Phil Hill was Surtees who was eight seconds ahead at half-distance while Baghetti was 15 seconds behind McLaren, but neither of them seemed to be making much impression. Hill making curious signals as he came past his pit and holding his head backwards as if to catch some cooling air. Further down the field Masten Gregory was in seventh place ahead of Trevor Taylor who was circulating steadily in the Team Lotus 4-cylinder car, well clear of Campbell-Jones in the Emeryson, Tony Shelly’s Lotus and Tony Settember’s Emeryson. On lap 34 Gregory’s engine succumbed to the same trouble as team mate Ireland’s.

Despite his obvious distress Phil Hill began closing on Surtees, mainly because the V8 Lola wasn’t sounding quite so crisp as before, and on lap 37 Hill went past in third place, the Lola creeping into the pits with deranged valve gear. However Hill was obviously slowing and being rapidly overhauled by McLaren who in turn was gradually being caught by Baghetti. Lap 44 saw McLaren pass Phil Hill for third place, which rapidly turned into second place as Graham Hill had gone past the pits on his 44th lap with smoke blowing from the rear of the BRM, and he stopped out on the circuit with undiagnosed engine trouble. As the race drew to a close Clark circulated with precise regularity while the Cooper pit were showing their obvious delight at their “old-banger” finishing second. Baghetti closed right up on Phil Hill on the last few laps and finished less than a second behind the number one driver who had been troubled by fumes in the cockpit throughout much of the race. These four were the only ones to finish on the same lap and if the race had been anything like full Grand Prix distance Clark would have lapped Baghetti and Phil Hill.

On this showing it would appear that the British teams have made up the leeway on Ferrari but the V8s are still not 100% reliable and the Ferraris at Aintree were not the last word from Maranello. Only Zandvoort will provide the answer.—MLT

 

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