Jarama Circuit, Spain, April 28th
With only 18 places on the grid and 24 cars squabbling over them, practice for the Madrid G.P. on April 28th was almost as exciting as the race. This lost considerable interest when Jackie Stewart, who was fastest in practice, crashed the Matra International Matra. The car was little damaged, but Stewart had torn a ligament in his right arm so was out of the running. This left the main battle to Rindt and Beltoise and in the end it was the French-man who won the day.
The entry was headed by this pair and Beltoise was backed up by his team-mate Pescarolo, although Rindt’s number two in the Winkelmann team was without a car following the previous week’s accident. Ferrari were busy at Silverstone, but the works Merlyns of Cardwell and Hart made their second appearance of the year, there were McLarens for Widdows, Lawrence, Ligier and Schlesser; the works Lola for Irwin, the works Tecno for Regazzoni and Graham Hill made his first F2 appearance since Hockenheim with last year’s works Lotus. A similar car was in Oliver’s hands. The rest of the field was made up of some fast private Brabhams driven by people such as Bell and Ahrens and the two Spanish Lolas. A Brabham driven by Galli was fitted with a four-valve per cylinder version of the Alfa GTA engine.
Coming only two weeks before the World Championship G.P. at the same circuit, it was not surprising that only a small crowd turned out; however, those who did come witnessed a tremendous battle between Rindt and Beltoise. The Brabham driver led for the first 20 laps or so, but then the pair started changing positions on almost every lap, but after about ten laps of this the Frenchman started to pull away. At the end he had pulled out almost 20 seconds over Rindt in one of the best drives of his career.
Schlesser in the McLaren held third position until the closing stages, when his engine blew up, and this allowed F.3 graduate Ahrens in his Brabham into that position. Ahrens was pressed right to the finish by Pescarolo. Fifth, a little way back, was Regazzoni, while the young 22-year-old Spaniard, de Bagration, drove a good race before his home crowd to finish sixth just ahead of Hart in the Merlyn. The other Spaniard and Bell in his Brabham were eliminated in a spectacular start-line accident. Graham Hill made a poor start and worked up to sixth place before retiring when a wheel hub peg broke.
The outright lap record set by Clark in the Formula One Spanish G.P. last November took a beating and was reduced to 1 min. 28.2 sec. by Beltoise.—A.R.M.