First Formula Two Race
Pau, France, April 5th.
The annual race round the town circuit in Pau has had its ups and downs since its inception in 1933, and this year was definitely a “down.” It is usually a proper Grand Prix race, but has invariably clashed with the Goodwood Easter Monday meeting, and in days gone by when most of the Grand Prix cars came from Italy and France, this did not matter. Since the domination of Grand Prix racing by British cars the field at Pau has been sparse, so this year the A.C. Basco-Bearnais decided to hold their race one week later than usual, thus avoiding the clash with the Easter holiday racing in England. Unfortunately they got involved with the series of Formula Two races being organised in France this year, and had the doubtful honour of running the first race to this new Formula for 1,000-c.c. racing cars. This in itself would not have been a major disaster, but a series of misfortunes caused the 80-lap race to be dull in the extreme. During the past winter nobody seemed too sure just who or what the new F.2 was intended for, and the entry of Jim Clark with a Lotus for the Pau race seemed to settle the issue. In order that he should not have it all his own way Graham Hill accepted an offer from the French Alpine firm to drive one of their new cars, and Brabham and Hulme entered with the latest Brabham cars, so it looked as though Clark was not going to have an easy time. However, Graham Hill gave up all idea of driving the Alpine after trying it in practice, Brabham could not get his new car completed in time, and Hulme, with the only existing 1964 Brabham F.2 car, was eliminated on the opening lap of the race through the exhuberance of another competitor who ran into the back of him and demolished the rear suspension of the Brabham. The result of all this was that Clark led the race from start to finish, never putting a wheel wrong, in a model drive that might well have been a demonstration of how to be a World Champion.
The whole outcome of this first Formula Two race depended on a number of people, those building chassis frames and suspensions, those building engines, and those building gearboxes, and fortunately there were sufficient of these people to permit the assemblage of an interesting collection of machinery at Pau. For the first time for many years there were to be some French racing cars entered, of which more anon, but the main bulk of the entry was from Britain. Lotus were represented by the Ron Harris team, Lola by the Midland Racing Partnership, Cooper by the Normand Racing Team, and Brabham by themselves. All were relying on Cosworth for engines and Howland for gearboxes, and fortunately both these firms did their best and supplied components. The Ron Harris team had the first Lotus 32 chassis, a monocoque on the lines of the 1963 Junior car, and in this was installed a Cosworth Type SCA 1,000-c.c. engine, with single o.h.c. and two downdraught Weber carburetters. It drove, through a Hewland gearbox to the Lotus independent rear end on Formula One lines. There only being one Lotus 32 completed, this car went to Clark, and his team-mate Arundell had to make do with a Formula Junior Lotus from last year, fitted with a push-rod 1,000-c.c. Cosworth-Ford engine. The M.R.P. had two Cosworth camshaft engines and Hewland gearboxes, and these were installed in their 1963 Lola Formula Junior chassis frames, slightly modified, the drivers being Attwood and Maggs. The Normand team, who last year raced sports cars, had turned their attention to Formula Two and had two 1964 Cooper Type 72 chassis frames, in which were installed the standard set-up of Cosworth SCA engine and Hewland gearbox, the drivers being Hegbourne and Beckwith, though the former had to practise with a push-rod engine, his new unit not being fitted until shortly before the race. Hulme’s Brabham was a new development from last year’s successful Juniors, having a similar layout and using some interesting new drive shafts forged from solid bar of less than an inch diameter, in contrast to the more normal and bulky Hardy Spicer tubular shafts. Inboard universals on this car followed the Lotus standard of rubber “doughnuts,” and the essential components came from Cosworth SCA and Hewland. The WilIment Racing team entered their two worthy drivers from “down under,” Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins, but having no cars of their own they borrowed an aged Lotus with push-rod motor for the former, and the works Alexis, also with push-rod motor, for the latter. The Italian Gianini firm in Rome entered two cars for Starrabba and Pandolfo, these being Brabham Juniors kited with 2-o.h.c. Gianini engines built around Fiat blocks, but they were slow and unreliable. Trintignant had the misfortune to become involved with a French-owned Gemini with Holbay-Ford engine that did not last long, and Schlesser and Siffert were unable to take part as their new Brabhams were not completed.
Finally, there were the two French teams of Alpine and René Bonnet, both having had a lot of experience with small-capacity sports cars and GT cars, but now turning their attention to single-seaters, although Bonnet dabbled with them some years ago when he was the “B” of D.B. Three Alpines were entered and they were basically Brabham Juniors as regards the chassis and suspension, but the front steering uprights had been changed for Renault ones and their own fibreglass body fitted, while cast-alloy Alpine wheels were used. A 2-o.h.c. Renault-Gordini engine was used, coupled to a Hewland gearbox, and the whole car was supposed to be pure Alpine. This small French firm is run by Jean Redele and his connections with Renault are very strong, his Alpine GT cars having been built around Renault components for many years. The Alpine team of drivers was led by the Belgian Mauro Bianchi and Jose Rosinski, with a Junior driver, Jacques Maglia, to make the third, but shortly before the race arrangements were made for Graham Hill to take the third car. The Rene Bonnet cars, unlike the Alpines, were entirely from the hand of the enterprising Frenchman, and he had obviously had a good look at the original monocoque B.R.M. at Reims last year. The front and centre section were in one, of tubular construction but formed into a monocoque by means of fibreglass covering. A separate tubular frame carrying the engine/gearbox unit and the rear suspension bolted on to the bulkhead just behind the driver’s seat. Front suspension was by double wishbones with inboard coil-springs operated by extensions to the upper wishbone, on the Lotus 25 principle, the wishbones themselves being of elliptical section and fabricated from sheet steel. At the rear a system of double wishbones with coil-springs working between the upper ones and a central point above the gearbox was reminiscent of the ill-fated 1963 B.R.M. Disc brakes were used and Bonnet’s own cast alloy wheels, while the engine and gearbox came from Renault, the engine being the Gordini 2-o.h.c, unit and the gearbox a modified R8 unit. With Gerard Laurcau and J. P. Beltoise, a young motorcyclist, as drivers it was certainly an all-French effort compared to the rival blue concern.
The practice sessions were wet so they were pretty hopeless and inconclusive, but were sufficient for Graham Hill to decide the Alpine was not good enough for him to race and so withdrew from the event. Keith Duckworth was in attendance, keeping a fatherly eye on his new engines, there being six of them taking part in their first race, and in some ways the outcome of the race could have beets very open with so many new variables at work. However, as already stated, from start to finish it was Jim Clark in the Lotus 32 with the new Cosworth engine, and by winning this event Clark put the car in that select group of brand new designs that have won their very first full-length race. The only driver that looked as though he was in the same event as Clark was Attwood, with the Lola-Cosworth SCA, and though he could not stay with the World Champion, he kept on the same lap throughout. Arundell was on his own, his 88-b.h.p. push-rod engine being unable to cope with the 115 b.h.p. of the SCA units, and though he drove a steady race he was lapped twice by his team-leader and once by Attwood. The Normand Team lads in their first single-seater event under Normand colours, were a bit over-exuberant, Hegbourne putting Hulme’s Brabham out of the race and Beckwith spinning on a number of occasions, during one of which he caused Beltoise to bend his Rene-Bonnet, and later gave Rosinski some anxious moments. Maggs might well have livened things up had not his starter solenoid shorted and flattened his battery during the opening laps, a pit-stop for a new battery putting him a long way behind, and Gardner was going great guns in his old borrowed Lotus, running on rather bald Goodyear tyres, but he “lost it” in a narrow part of the circuit and clouted a wall. Although all three Alpine-Renaults finished the race they were not really in the hunt, being well placed by reason of other people’s misfortunes rather than speed, and the Rene-Bonnets were even slower.—D. S. J.
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