Zolder, Belgium, May 4th
Readers may remember the ridiculous situation which arose in last year’s Limbourg G.P. for Formula Two when, after the addition of places for the two heats, John Surtees was declared the overall winner although Jim Clark had obtained a higher average speed for the combined distance. For this year’s race the situation very nearly arose again, and Ferrari could have gained their first 1,600-c.c. Formula Two victory with their driver Amon, although the highest average speed would have been obtained by Rindt. For reasons explained later the verdict went to Rindt.
The Formula Two circus presented themselves for the fifth week running with everyone starting to feel a little homesick, although the Zolder track, within easy reach of Brussels, is popular with most drivers. Ferrari continued with their policy of miss one race, take in the next, and turned up with two of their fast-developing Ferrari Dino 166s. There were also works or works-backed cars from Brabham, Matra, Lola, McLaren, Lotus and Chevron. One new face in the 1,600-c.c. division was Moser with a brand new Tecno-Cosworth, although this Swiss has already been seen in Vogele’s private Formula One Brabham-Repco this year.
In practice the lap record took a tremendous hammering and 12 competitors, including private Brabham drivers Ahrens and Lambert, bettered it. Top of the list was Rindt, who did 1 min. 28.1 sec. with his Brabham, and Amon 0.1 sec. slower, then came Beltoise in the Matra.
At the start of the first heat it was Beltoise who led with Rindt in hot pusuit, and this situation continued for five laps when a Matra driveshaft broke, leaving Rindt firmly in the lead. From then on the race leadership was never in doubt, and the Austrian sailed home 10 sec. ahead of Amon with Irwin driving yet another good race to take third place from the similar car of Redman. Rees, Widdows and Gethin took the next three places, finishing in a tight bunch. Ickx just crawled across the line in his Ferrari with fuel injection trouble and was classified eight. Piers Courage crashed heavily but was uninjured.
So to part two, which started sensationally, for Redman, from the second row, made a hasty start, caught Rindt’s back wheel and spun him around. A fuming Rindt was soon under way and carving his way back through the field. The two Ferraris were out in front with Ickx leading Amon and Irwin in the Lola shadowing them. Rindt lowered the lap record to 1 min. 27.5 sec. and by lap 19 of the 24-lap race had taken Irwin and moved into third place, although the remarkable Pescarolo, who made a pit stop in part one, managed to hang on to Rindt.
With Rindt now in third place there was a very interesting situation on the cards. If Rindt held his position he would finish up with a first and third, giving him 4 points, and if Amon held station he would have two second places, also giving him 4 points, but Rindt would be the winner on a combined times basis. But if Ferrari could manage to get Amon ahead of Ickx, who was holding a 3-sec. lead, Amon would be the winner. But if such a manoeuvre was attempted Rindt might slip through, as he was gaining all the time.
Ferrari team manager Gozzi waited until the last lap to give Ickx the sign to let Amon by, but either the Belgian wanted to win the race in front of his home crowd, or just did not see or understand the sign, for he did not slow. So Ickx won just ahead of Amon, with Rindt third but the overall and deserving winner. Pescarolo was fourth and Irwin fifth.
On final positions the order was Rindt, Amon, Irwin, Ickx, then Redman, who had been penalised a minute for his hasty start. The race certainly proved one thing, when the next Formula Two race is held on June 3rd, the Ferraris are going to be the cars to beat.
A. R. M.