XXIII Pau Grand Prix: A Team Lotus demonstration
Pau, France, April 15th
With Easter being rather early the traditional Pau Grand Prix, held on Easter Monday, suffered from many possible entries not being ready, neither Ferrari nor A.T.S. being sufficiently advanced with their new cars to take part in the 100-lap "round-the-houses" race. Fifteen drivers were assembled for the first practice, which took place on Saturday afternoon, but only fourteen took part as Trintignant had not come to an agreement with Rob Walker over the use of his Lotus-Climax V8 and the car was not prepared.
In spite of much publicity by the Goodwood organisers that Team Lotus would be at the B.A.R.C. meeting, both Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor were at Pau, driving last year's Lotus 25 models. Clark's car had a new Coventry-Climax V8 engine, with shorter stroke and Lucas fuel-injection, while Taylor had the car that Clark used at Snetterton recently. On the number one Team Lotus car a large electric pump supplied fuel at 110 lb./sq. in. pressure to the Lucas metering unit, this unit being mounted in the vee of the cylinder block and driven by a toothed rubber belt from the water pump shaft on the front of the engine. Plastic pipes then took the metered fuel to the injector nozzles situated in the mouths of air intakes at right angles to the air stream. On this car a Purolator oil filter had been hung on a bracket on the left of the 5-speed ZF gearbox, for filtering the engine oil.
The only possible opposition to the Team Lotus cars was the Rob Walker team, of Bonnier on a Cooper-Climax V8 and Trintignant on a Lotus-Climax V8. Walker was due to have a new Cooper on the lines of last year's works cars, but as it was not ready he hired one of the 1962 team cars for the time being and painted it "Walker blue." The Lotus was a Type 24 with 1962 Coventry-Climax engine and 6-speed Colotti gearbox, this having a right-hand gear lever in the cockpit with a cross-over linkage behind the gearbox as the 6-speed Colotti has the selector mechanism on the left.
The remainder of the entry was composed of private owners, the Swiss Scuderia Filipinetti having Joseph Siffert on the Lotus-B.R.M. V8 with which they struggled unsuccessfully last year, and a new driver Herbert Muller on the Lotus 22 with 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engine that Siffert drove early last season. The Swiss team also entered Heinz Schiller on a 4-cylinder Porsche that was borrowed from de Beaufort, while the Dutchman had a similar car, both cars being painted orange and having Porsche disc brakes, but they were basically the old Formula Two Porsches.
Tim Parnell had two equally old cars for himself and Andre Pilette, these being ex-U.D.T. Laystall Lotus 18s with 4-cylinder Coventry-Climax engines. Bob Anderson had his newly acquired Lola-Climax V8, with which he made his debut in Formula One racing in the Snetterton Lombank Trophy, and Tony Settembre had an Emeryson-Climax 4-cylinder as his Sirocco-B.R.M. V8 was not ready.
The Frenchman Bernard Collomb had sold his Cooper-Climax 4-cylinder to the Swiss driver Andre Wicky, this being the narrow-bodied car he got from Bowmaker, and had replaced it with the Lotus 24 with V8 Coventry-Climax engine and 6-speed Colotti gearbox that Taylor drove for Team Lotus last year. To complete this rather miscellaneous entry there was Jo Schlesser with a Brabham Junior fitted with a 1,500-c.c. Holbay-tuned pushrod Ford engine and a Hewland 5-speed VW-based gearbox.
The Saturday practice conditions were very good, being cool and overcast with dry roads and Clark was on his own, with Graham Hill racing at Goodwood and Surtees not having a Ferrari available. Even though the Lotus was not handling perfectly he was nearly 3 sec. faster than anyone else, but in spite of a new engine, fuel-injection, the monocoque chassis and the new Dunlop R6 tyres his best time of 1 min. 30.5 sec. was only a tenth of a second improvement over his best practice lap last year with a Lotus 24. However, with Bonnier next best at 1 min. 33.2 sec. there was not much incentive for Clark to try any harder.
Taylor's car spent a lot of time having its suspension re-adjusted, so that he did not do a great deal of practice, and Siffert made third fastest time at 1 min. 34.0 sec. on the Lotus-B.R.M., the V8 engine going quite well, the Filipinetti mechanics having got it sorted out. Of the rest Schlesser was fastest in 1 min. 36.6 sec. with his Brabham-Ford, the little Junior chassis being very quick on the twisty downhill parts of the circuit but the low horsepower being a handicap on the long drag up from the station-hairpin to the Parc Beaumont.
By midday Sunday real Easter weather had come to Pau and the sun was blazing over the snow-covered Pyrenee mountains, all of which was nice for the spectators but too hot for the cars and drivers and on some corners the tar was beginning to melt. Trintignant and Rob Walker came to an agreement and the dark blue Lotus-Climax V8 was prepared for practice, and everyone else was out, but the only fast driver to improve his time was Trevor Taylor who spent more time out than previously and got down to 1 min. 33.5 sec. which gave him third fastest, as Siffert made no improvement, in spite of lowering his axle ratio overnight. Many of the slower drivers improved their times, mostly by reason of getting to know the way round the twisty little 2.76-kilometre circuit. For a first attempt at Formula One, or for that matter in a single-seater, young Muller was showing up well, with a time of 1 min. 36.1 sec. in a none too brilliant Lotus, this time beating Schlesser and putting him sixth overall in front of many drivers with much more experience. Trintignant put in a lot of practice to make up for missing yesterday's session and got down to 1 min. 34.8 sec. which put him on the second row of the starting grid.
Monday was another glorious day with a cloudless sky and after lunch the fifteen competitors had a few laps to look at the circuit, and then lined up as follows:
Row 1: 4 - T. Taylor (Lotus-Climax V8) - 1 min. 33.5 sec. 6 - Bonnier (Cooper-Climax V8) 1 min. 33.2 sec. 2 - Clark (Lotus-Climax V8) - 1 min. 30.5 sec.
Row 2: 8 - Trintignant (Lotus-Climax V8) - 1 min. 34.8 sec. 20 - Siffert (Lotus-B.R.M. V8) - 1 min. 34.0 sec.
Row 3: 18 - Schlesser (Brabham-Ford) - 1 min. 36.6 sec. 12 - Settembre (Emeryson-Climax 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 36.4 sec. 22 - Muller (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 36.1 sec.
Row 4: 24 - Schiller (Porsche 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 38.2 sec. 16 - de Beaufort (Porsche 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 37.3 sec.
Row 5: 30 - Collomb (Lotus-Climax V8) - 1 min. 40.4 sec. 26 - Parnell (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 40.1 sec. 14 - Anderson (Lola-Climax V8) - 1 min. 38.3 sec.
Row 6: 28 - Pilette (Lotus-Climax 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 40.9 sec. 32 - Wicky (Cooper-Climax 4-cyl.) - 1 min. 40.7 sec.
By 2.30 p.m., when the start should have been given, the sun was so hot that the tar on the road was melting and there was a delay while cement powder was brushed into the surface, during which time cockpits became very hot and drivers did what they could to find some shade and keep cool. It was after 2.50 p.m. when the signal to start engines was given and then the flag fell in a bit of a rush and the race over 100 laps was on.
The opening lap resolved itself into a cloud of cement dust, but out of it Clark and Taylor in the works Lotus cars were leading, with Trintignant doing his best to keep up. Then came Bonnier, but he was being hard-pressed by Siffert, and Settembre was leading the rest, with Muller just behind him. It did not require many laps to see that no-one was going to challenge the Lotus works drivers, for they soon pulled away from Trintignant, who in turn was pulling away from Bonnier. However, the Swede still had Siffert, the young Swiss driver, pressing on his tail and looking for an opening to pass. After only six laps Settembre hit some straw bales, his Emeryson doing odd things on the front end, and he withdrew letting Muller lead "the rest," and on the next lap the Team Lotus pair began lapping the tail-enders.
It needed only two more laps for Bonnier and Siffert to start lapping the field and in the confusion Siffert not only got by the Walker car but pulled away quite a bit, while at the same time the Walker Team suffered another indignity for Trintignant came into the pits with his gear-change linkage adrift and lost two laps while it was fixed, so that Siffert was now in third position. Clark and Taylor were now "touring" round in laps of 1 min. 39.0 sec., running in close company and 30 sec. ahead of the third man, both of them looking very comfortable and relaxed, as well they might be, for barring mechanical incident there was nothing to stop them finishing 1st and 2nd.
Siffert was going very well in 3rd place when he suffered a leak in the rear brakes and clouted the bales at the station hairpin, which put paid to his race, and Trintignant had joined in again but too far back to do any good so he gave up after a few laps. Now Bonnier was in 3rd position, but well behind the two green Lotus cars and everyone else had been lapped, while Collomb's new V8 Lotus had split a fuel tank and Schlesser was suffering from continual misfiring on his Holbay-Ford.
Lap after lap the two Team Lotus cars circulated consistently, as if tied together and with fifty-two seconds lead over Bonnier; Clark let Taylor lead for a while. Muller was still leading the rest and Schiller was comfortably leading de Beaufort, the two orange Porsches sounding reliable if not fast. When the Lotus mechanics signalled Clark and Taylor that there were 50 laps to go the drivers were very depressed for they both thought they must be nearing the end and were actually only at half-distance. By this time Anderson had retired his Lola-Climax V8 with a broken brake pipe and Parnell had disappeared long since with a blown head gasket, though his second car, driven by Pilette, was still going round at the back of the field.
The second half of the race showed no change for the Team Lotus drivers, they merely took turns at leading and ran in close company lapping at around 1 min. 39 sec. all the time, though Clark took time off to drop back a bit and then put in a fastest lap while catching up again, for "the Guvnor" would have not forgiven them if they had returned home without the fastest lap prize. Depending on what the two Lotus drivers were doing at the time the gap between them and Bonnier in the V8 Cooper varied from 50 sec. to 34 sec. and while at the lower figure Bonnier had a big fright as he went past the Casino in the Parc Beaumont. He suddenly clapped his hand to his right ear, as if he had been stung, but what had happened was that his ear-plug had fallen out and he suddenly got the full blast of the Climax V8 in his right car and he thought the engine had blown-up rather violently. As it happened this could have been a premonition, for ten laps later the right-hand half-shaft universal joint broke and he coasted to a stop up the hill from the station.
The race as such had been over since lap 2, but now it was really finished, for with 20 laps to go the "Lotus Lads" had 5 laps lead over Muller, who was now third. For his first race in a single-seater car the little sandy-haired Swiss driver was doing very well, leading Schiller, de Beaufort, Pilette and Wicky, but his joy was not to last, for on lap 81 he called at the pits for fuel and by the time he got away the two Porsches of Schiller and de Beaufort had gone by. In spite of this Muller drove on with great verve, sliding his corners on full opposite lock just for the fun of it and being the only one left at the finish who was still motor-racing.
The two Lotus drivers did their last lap almost side-by-side and crossed the finishing line a few inches apart, after having given a first-rate demonstration of team work and as good an example of a well-matched pair of drivers as any team could wish for. Colin Chapman is very lucky to have such a pair, and equally they are very lucky to have Lotus 25 cars, knowing that there is better still to come. The Swiss driver Schiller was third, having driven a very regular race and having been in front of de Beaufort from the start, while the unfortunate Muller finished fifth.
D. S. J.
One hundred laps of the Pau circuit may be a long way, but it is good practice for Monte Carlo.
The quantity of melted tar on tyres at the end of the race was remarkable, and many of the corners broke up like Reims in 1959.
Some of the slower drivers were a bit too keen to allow the Team Lotus pair to lap them. They braked hard before corners which caused Clark and Taylor to have to dodge which put them off line and into the loose surface on the outside.
Finishing 4th in the 500 c.c. Production motorcycle was one Jean-Paul Behra, son of the famous Jean Behra. This was his first competitive event.