Aintree 200

Aintree, April 27th.
Entries for the annual Aintree 200 race came from the usual British works teams and private owners with no intervention from abroad. B.R.M. sent two cars for Hill and Ginther, both being 1962 chassis with modified engines, Team Lotus brought two cars for Clark and Taylor, Clark's being the car with which he won the Pau and Imola G.P.s with short-stroke Climax fuel injection engine, while Taylor's was the 1962 carburetter model. Two Coopers came from the factory, McLaren's being the 1963 model with angled anti-dip wishbones and the driver's seat also doing duty as the fuel tank. Maggs had the slightly modified 1962 car, both models having the short-stroke, fuel injection engine. Jack Brabham had a 1962 Brabham fitted with the new Climax engine, B.R.P. their regular Lotus-B.R.M.s, Reg Parnell his V8 Lola for Chris Amon and V8 Lotus for Jimmy Blumer, while the rest of the entry was formed by the regular private entrants with their regular cars.

Practising took place in good weather on Friday and the old lap record of 1 min. 54 sec., held by Jimmy Clark, soon began to take a beating, Clark himself actually being fastest in 1 min. 52.4 sec., followed by Jack Brabham who did 1 min. 53.2 sec. and then burned a piston, putting himself out of the race. Innes Ireland seems to have taken on a new lease of life with the Lotus-B.R.M. and he made the front row of the grid with 1 min. 53.4 sec., putting the two works B.R.M. drivers back into the second row, both Hill and Ginther having recorded 1 min. 53.8 sec.

On Saturday a good crowd watched three preliminary races in rather wet conditions but after lunch the sky brightened a little and the track was almost dry when the F.1 race started. Unfortunately Jimmy Clark's battery refused to start his engine and he was left on the line when the rest of the field stormed away. The car was pushed to the pits, where a new battery was fitted, but the whole field had completed a lap, and the leader, Hill, over 1 1/2 laps before Clark rejoined the race. This was, of course, an insurmountable task even for Clark, especially in 50 laps, but he set about the job in no uncertain fashion and he was very quickly on the same lap as some of the tail-enders. Meanwhile Hill and Ginther were holding a tenuous lead from Ireland and McLaren, with Trevor Taylor in fifth place, well clear of Chris Amon, Jimmy Blumer and John Taylor in Bob Gerard's remarkably quick Cooper-Ford. On lap five Ireland passed Ginther and began to close on Hill, but the World Champion drove just hard enough to keep the pale green Lotus at bay. All the same, B.R.M. must be regretting ever selling an engine to B.R.P. for Ireland finished third at Snetterton and first at Goodwood, while he appeared comfortably in second place at Aintree. On lap nine, McLaren, in the very noisy Cooper, passed Ginther into third place but Ginther, who usually seems to start well then gradually drop back through the field, only allowed this to continue for three laps and then re-took third place. Already five cars had retired, but most attention was riveted on Clark's lone drive in the Lotus. Then came the moment which really put some life into the race as the Lotus pit signalled to both Taylor and Clark to come into the pits, Taylor being on his 18th lap and Clark on his 16th. They sensibly called in Clark first so that he was waiting as Taylor came into the pits; Taylor jumped out, the seats were changed and Clark was away after a 17-sec. stop, with the car still in fifth place.

A flurry of signals from the other pits told drivers of the danger but Clark soon got into the groove and began clipping his lap time, first to 1 min. 53.0 sec., then 1 min. 52.6 sec., then 1 min. 52.0 sec., then 1 min. 51.8 sec., and finally to 1 min. 51.0 sec. (96.60 m.p.h.), no less than three seconds faster than his old record and all done with a 1962 car. Stop-watches clicked furiously and from the calculations it was pretty obvious that he would overhaul McLaren by lap 40 and Ginther just before the finish, assuming that neither driver speeded up appreciably.

Hill and Ireland circulated steadily in first and second places knowing full well that Clark had no chance of catching them unless something went wrong, and the crowd riveted their attention on the flying Lotus, for Clark was really motor racing and reminding us of Moss when he was up against it. On lap 39 he caught and passed McLaren into fourth place and set off after Ginther, who had 12 sec. lead with only 11 laps to go. But by now Clark could see Ginther on the long straight and he was soon making up over a second a lap, so that by lap 45 he was on the tail of the B.R.M., and to the accompaniment of tremendous cheering from the crowd he moved into third place on lap 48. A couple of laps later Graham Hill took the flag, having driven impeccably, while 15 sec. later Innes Ireland crossed the line in second place having driven very hard for his place, while 13.6 sec. after Ireland came Clark, who once again demonstrated that he is probably the fastest driver in Grand Prix racing today.

Results: Aintree 200—50 Laps—241 Kilometres

1st: G. Hill (B.R.M.) .. 1 hr. 35 min. 20.8 sec.—84.39 m.p.h. (151.87 k.p.h.)

2nd: I. Ireland (Lotus-B.R.M.) .. 1 hr. 35 min. 35.8 sec.

3rd: T. Taylor/J. Clark (Lotus-Climax) .. 1 hr. 35 min. 49.4 sec.

4th: R. Ginther (B.R.M.).

5th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax).

6th: C. Amon (Lola-Climax).

7th: J. Clark/T. Taylor (Lotus-Climax).

8th: J. BIumer (Lotus-Climax).

Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus-Climax). 1 min. 51 sec. (96.60 m.p.h.).

***

The meeting opened with a sports-car race run in quite heavy rain which was lead from start to finish by Roy Salvadori's Cooper Monaco, from Ireland's Lotus 19 and Mike Beckwith's rapid Lotus-Ford. Beckwith's team-mate Tony Hegbourne finished the first lap in twelfth place but drove very well to pull through to fourth place behind Beckwith.

The Formula Junior race was led from start to finish by Dennis Hulme's Brabham-Ford, followed by Richard Attwood's Lola until he spun, letting Frank Gardner's Brabham into second place. The drive of the race was put in by Paul Hawkins, who, after a pit stop, rushed through the field from 19th place to seventh until a sticking throttle sent him into the bales at Melling Crossing. Peter Arundell finished third in the new Lotus 27 but misfiring restricted his top-end performance.

The saloon-car race was the usual Jaguar benefit, with Graham Hill winning from Roy Salvadori. The most impressive cars were the Ford Cortina GTs from Willment, Jack Sears leading home Harper's Rapier quite comfortably and looking much happier on the corners.—M. L. T.