New Zealand races

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75

A small group of European cars and drivers went out to New Zealand for the winter season, these comprising the Bowmaker-Lola team, having a last fling before being wound up, the C.T. Atkins Cooper and the 4-W-D Ferguson. Brabham returned “down-under” with one of his own racing cars, and drivers McLaren, Surtees, Maggs, Graham Hill and Ireland also went. The Bowmaker-Lola team took two of their Lola F.1 cars, fitted with 2.7-litre 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engines, and also a Cooper fitted with a similar engine, the idea being to loan it to promising local lads. The Lola drivers were John Surtees and Tony Maggs, the ex-motorcycle champion winding up his Bowmaker contract with the Antipodean series of races, before he joins the Scuderia Ferrari; the South African driver Maggs was having a very short contract with Bowmaker, having left the works Cooper team at the end of 1962 and signed up with Bowmaker, only to have the Finance Firm withdraw their support to Lola for the 1963 European season, so Maggs was signed for the New Zealand and Australian races and then he will return to the works Cooper team.

The Atkins car was a 1962 Cooper chassis that his men built at the beginning of last season, anticipating fitting a B.R.M. V8 engine, for McLaren to use in non-championship Formula One races. Delivery of the B.R.M. engine was slow, and early private-owner attempts with B.R.M. engines were so disappointing that Tommy Atkins abandoned the project rather than waste his efforts, having missed the best part of the season. Instead, the brand new chassis had a 2.7-litre Coventry-Climax 4-cylinder engine installed and mated up to the Colotti gearbox and it went South for McLaren to drive to victory in the Australian Grand Prix last November. It then went on to New Zealand for the young Kiwi to drive on his home ground.

Jack Brabham built his second Grand Prix chassis, on similar lines to the V8 that he raced last season, and incorporated all those little modifications that Grand Prix races with the prototype had sorted out. This new car had a 2.7-litre Coventry-Climax engine, like the other runners, and a Colotti gearbox. The 4-W-D Ferguson P99 that last ran in public in October 1961, when Stirling Moss won the Oulton Park Gold Cup, has been used for high-speed braking tests since that date, and though it did not race during 1962 Graham Hill tried it out at Silverstone and agreed to drive it in the New Zealand Grand Prix, it having a 2.5-litre Coventry-Climax 4-cylinder engine installed for the trip South. Still wearing its Rob Walker colours it was tended by a combined team of Walker and Ferguson mechanics and should have been driven by Stirling Moss, but early notification of Graham Hill as driver indicated that Moss was still not recovered from his Easter 1962 accident. Hill was due to drive P99 in the major event in New Zealand and in the Australian Grand Prix, the car being driven by Innes Ireland in the lesser New Zealand events.

New Zealand Grand Prix – January 5th – Formule Libre – Pukekohe Circuit – 75 laps – 267 kms.
1st : J. Surtees (Lola-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 hr. 56 min. 32.7 sec.
2nd: A. Hyslop (Cooper-Climax 2.5-litre) 1 hr. 57 min. 56.3 sec.
3rd: J. Palmer (Cooper-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 lap behind
4th : J. Histed (Lola-Ford) 10 laps behind

This race run on a brand new circuit was a disaster for the International stars, with the exception of Surtees who had a lonely win, all his fellow Grand Prix aces falling by the wayside. McLaren went out with a cooked magneto and a split fuel tank, Maggs had his engine over-rev at the start which bent valves, and Brabham had engine trouble. Graham Hill in the Ferguson was not very happy, but with the trouble of the others he held 2nd position. However, the gearbox was leaking oil and it finally broke on the last lap, almost within sight of the finish. Bowmaker lent their Cooper to 21-year-old Jim Palmer of New Zealand, who justified their confidence by finishing 3rd on his first attempt with such a powerful car.

Vic Hudson Trophy – January 12th – Formule Libre – Levin Circuit – 28 laps – 50 kms.
1st : J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre) 115.594 k.p.h.
2nd: A. Maggs (Lola-Climax 2.7-litre)
3rd : I. Ireland (Ferguson-Climax 2.5 litre)
Fastest Lap: J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax) in 51.8 sec.

With World Champion Graham Hill returned to England, Innes Ireland took over the Ferguson P99 and did remarkably well to finish 3rd, on the same lap as the leader, on his first try with the 4-W-D car. Surtees had gearbox trouble with his Lola, and McLaren spun and bent the Cooper’s front suspension on a circuit marker. Brabham was the real star of the meeting, not only winning the Vic Hudson Trophy race, but also winning the “warming-up” 8-lap Heat before the main race, and an 8-lap free-for-all at the end of the meeting. The short 1.1 mile circuit, which is rather rough and bumpy, caused quite a number of suspension breakages among the local runners, especially those with English Grand Prix cars that are now getting a bit long in the tooth.

Lady Wigram Trophy – January 19th – Formule Libre – Wigram Airfield – 71 laps – 242 kms.
1st : B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 hr. 36min. 04.7 sec – 150.844 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 hr. 36 min. 35.2 sec.
3rd : A. Maggs (Lola-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 hr. 36 min. 50.0 sec.
4th : A. Hyslop (Cooper-Climax 2.5-litre) 1 hr. 36 min. 50.8 sec.
Fastest lap: J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax) in 1 min. 18.3 sec.

The International line-up was the same as for the Levin Races, but this time Brabham was in trouble, having to stop for oil while in the lead. Ireland drove the Ferguson again, but retired with a number of maladies, the most important being a sick engine, while Surtees went out with gearbox trouble once more. Tyre wear was a big problem on the Airfield circuit and had not Brabham and McLaren had troubles which caused them to ease the pace, they would have probably worn out their rear tyres completely.

Teretonga Trophy – January 26th – Formule Libre – Invercargill – 50 laps – 121 kms.
1st : B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 2.7-litre) 130.679 k.p.h.
2nd: A. Maggs (Lola-Climax 2.7-litre)
3rd : I. Ireland (Ferguson-Climax 2.5-litre)
4th : J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre)

On the short and twisty little Teretonga Park circuit McLaren and Brabham raced together in complete command of the race, until the Brabham used up a rear tyre and punctured, leaving the New Zealander to win as he pleased. While Brabham limped round on a flat tyre Maggs and Ireland passed him, relegating him to fourth place. Preceding the race there had been two short heats, as circuit openers. McLaren won the first and Brabham the second, the stars of the meeting being divided between the two short races.

***
This race ended the New Zealand season and the “tourists” set off for Australia, to take part in the Grand Prix of that country on the Warwick Farm Circuit. Graham Hill flew out to drive the Ferguson once more and Brabham made a terrific effort in having three Brabham cars in the race, the other two being driven by fellow Australians David McKay and Bib Stillwell. The Australian racing enthusiasts must have felt the same satisfaction at seeing Jack Brabham win their own Grand Prix as we did when we saw Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss win the 1957 British Grand Prix at Aintree, in a Vanwall. There were bad signs last year that indicated that Brabham might have forgotten how to race, but it seems he has recovered from that session of over-work and insufficient racing.

Australian Grand Prix – February 10th – Formule Libre – Warwick Farm – 45 Laps -162 Kilometres
1st: Brabham (Brabham-Climax 2.7 litre) 1 hr. 16 min. 34.0 sec.–127.938 k.p.h.
2nd: J. Surtees (Lola-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 hr. 16 min. 42.6 sec.
3rd: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 2.7-litre) 1 hr. 17 min. 29.9 sec.
4th: D. McKay (Brabham-Climax 2.5-litre) 1 hr. 18 min. 02.7 sec.
5th: B. Stillwell (Brabham-Climax 2.5-litre) 1 lap behind
6th: G. Hill (Ferguson-Climax 2.5-litre) 1 lap behind
Fastest lap: J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax) and J. Surtees (Lola-Climax) – 1 min. 40.2 sec. – 130.074 k.p.h.