Hockenheim, Germany, April 13th
The first Formula Two race of 1968 resulted in the death of Jim Clark, and the name of the Circuit will always be remembered in this connection: one year after his death, the same race was named in memory of Clark. But the drivers have little taste for the place and of those who appeared at Thruxton, Hill, Rindt and Stewart all declined to take part in the slipstreaming battles which inevitably occur at this fast and uninteresting German track.
The places of Hill and Rindt in the Winkelmann Lotus 59Bs were taken by Formula Three drivers, Pike and Rollinson, while Bell was not present to drive the third Ferrari. In the race, which was divided into two 20-lap heats, Pike’s clutch failed before the American had travelled more than a few yards and both Ferraris failed miserably, Regazzoni’s being disqualified while the mechanics were trying to tow-start it on the circuit, and Brambilla retiring officially with “distributor” trouble, although it was the distribution of oil and water which seemed to be giving the trouble. A queue of seven cars trooped nose-to-tail over the line at the end of the first heat in the order Pescarolo, Hahne, Beltoise, Ahrens, Courage, Servoz-Gavin and Rollinson with the two works Tecnos 20 sec. in arrears.
The second heat, decided that the issue of the race overall would be settled between Hahne and Beltoise when the two of them broke away from the pack. First Pescarolo, having chosen tyres more suitable for a soaking wet surface, fell back. The followers did not overhaul his slowing car quickly enough, allowing the Matra and Lola-B.M.W. drivers to pull out a safe distance on the rest behind, with Courage usually just in front of them. But the Englishman got too enthusiastic in the “mini-circuit” which wends its way around the stadium, spinning off. He quickly rejoined, but his hopes of winning the heat were gone.
On the last lap, Beltoise feigned engine failure in front of Hahne by putting on his brakes down the straight, forcing the German to pass. Beltoise tucked in behind, taking advantage of the leading car’s slipstream as they approached the stadium to pull out and lead across the line. Having scored equal points (see below), the timekeepers had to resort to the addition of times in order to separate the two, Beltoise winning in 0.61 sec. The crowds were naturally disappointed that their favourite had been outfoxed, but there will be other opportunities for the promising design.—M. G. D.