New Zealand races

The January races in New Zealand were once again run to a capacity limit of 2-1/2-litres and were a virtual Coventry-Climax benefit series, though one wonders whether next year a 1-1/2-litre Formula will be adopted, so that all the obsolete British engines can be unloaded in 1966! Four races comprised the series, starting with the New Zealand Grand Prix over 50 laps of the Pukekohe circuit, and the main contenders were Graham Hill, driving a brand new Brabham, with 2-1/2-litre 4-cylinder Climax engine, belonging to David McKay and his Scuderia Veloce, McLaren and Phil Hill with Tasman Cooper-Climax 2-1/2-litres, built by the McLaren Racing Team but using Cooper components, and Jim Clark with a Lotus 32B, this being a Formula Two monocoque Lotus fitted with a 2-1/2-litre Coventry-Climax engine. In the short preliminary races before the main event McLaren crashed and bent his car, so took Phil Hill's for the final; however, soon after the start he collided with Jim Clark's Lotus, which put the Team Lotus car out of the race, and later caused the Tasman Cooper to retire with gearbox trouble, so Graham Hill had an easy and unchallenged victory in the new Brabham. No doubt benefiting from his experience of European racing, Frank Gardner drove another Brabham-Climax into second place, outstripping all the local opposition.

New Zealand Grand Prix – January 9th – Pukekohe circuit – 50 Laps – 177 Kilometres
1st: G. Hill (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 1 hr. 13 min. 43.4 sec.

2nd: F. Gardner (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 1 hr. 15 min. 06.3 sec.

3rd: J. Palmer (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 49 laps

4th: J. Riley (Lotus 18-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 47 laps

5th: R. Flowers (Lola-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 47 laps

6th: L. Geoghegan (Lotus 32-Ford 1-1/2-litre) ... 47 laps

Fastest lap: G. Hill (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre), in 1 min. 26.3 sec

Seven other finishers.

Following the New Zealand Grand Prix, Jim Clark made sure he did not get involved in any further trouble and ran away with the three remaining races, the only opposition being from McLaren and Phil Hill and the local lads, as Graham Hill returned to England. Probably the most interesting feature of the New Zealand races was the clashing of the American tyre firms of Goodyear and Firestone with the Dunlop monopoly, Clark being on the latest Dunlops, McLaren's cars on Firestone and Gardner on Goodyears.

Gold Leaf Trophy
January 16th – Levin circuit – 28 Laps – 49.5 Kilometres
1st: J. Clark (Lotus 32B-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 24 min. 05.9 sec.

2nd: F. Gardner (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 24 min. 17.2 sec.

3rd: J. Palmer (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 24 min. 21.9 sec.

4th: P. Hill (Cooper-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 24 min. 23.0 sec.

5th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 24 min. 26.9 sec.

6th: R. Lewis (Brabham-Ford 1-1/2-litre) ... 24 min. 31.5 sec.

Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus-Climax), in 49.9 sec.

Lady Wigram Trophy
January 23rd – Christchurch – 44 Laps – 164 Kilometres
1st: J. Clark (Lotus 32B-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 1 hr. 04 min. 19.3 sec.

2nd: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 1 hr. 04 min. 29.5 sec.

3rd: J. Palmer (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 1 hr. 05 min. 58.0 sec.

4th: F. Gardner (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 1 hr. 06 min. 11.0 sec.

5th: K. Grant (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 43 laps

6th: R. Lewis (Brabham-Ford 1-1/2-litre) ... 42 laps

Fastest lap: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax), in 1 min. 25.9 sec.

Teretonga Trophy
January 30th – Invercargill – 50 Laps – 121 Kilometres
1st: J. Clark (Lotus 32B-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 52 min. 58.4 sec.

2nd: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 53 min. 12.4 sec.

3rd: P. Hill (Cooper-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 49 laps

4th: K. Grant (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 49 laps

5th: J. Palmer (Brabham-Climax 2-1/2-litre) ... 48 laps

6th: R. Lewis (Brabham-Ford 1-1/2-litre) ... 48 laps

Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus-Climax), in 1 min. 01.7 sec.


Riverside 500 Miles
January 17th – Riverside, California – 800 Kilometres
1st: D. Gurney (Ford V8) ... 5 hr. 41 min. 42.0 sec. – 141.156 k.p.h.

2nd: J. Johnson (Ford V8)

3rd: M. Panch (Ford V8)

This was Dan Gurney's third successive victory in the annual long-distance saloon-car race on the Riverside road-racing circuit. AJ Foyt, also driving a Ford, was challenging hard for second place towards the end of the race when he crashed badly, but his injuries were not serious.