A close race
Despite an almost complete lack of pre-race publicity, a good crowd turned up at Oulton Park to watch this year’s Gold Cup, which had been demoted from F.1 to F.2., the first time that a Formula Two race had been run at the Cheshire circuit. Most of the regular F.2 entrants and drivers turned up, with three Ron Harris Lotus 32s for Clark, Stewart and Spence, Jack Brabham and Denis Hulme in works Brabhams, Graham Hill in John Coombs’ Brabham, with other Brabhams being driven by Jochen Rindt, Alan Rees, David Prophet, Frank Gardner and Brian Hart. Lola were represented by two Cars from the M.R.P. team for Maggs and Attwood, with a Willment car for Paul Hawkins, and the field was completed with David Hobbs’ works Merlyn, Rodney Bloor’s Lotus and John Taylor’s Cooper, the latter having the only push-rod engine in the field, the remainder having the Cosworth-Ford SCA engine.
Brabhams are currently dominating F.2 and in practice Jack Brabham did a lap in 1 min. 43.6 sec., which compares well with the previous F.1 record of 1 min. 39.2 sec. held by Jim Clark. Graham Hill was next fastest at 1 min. 43.8 sec., Denis Hulme came next with 1 min. 44.0 sec., and the best that Jim Clark could do with the Lotus 32 was 1 min. 44.2 sec., but sufficient to get him on the outside of the 4-car front row of the grid. The second row consisted of Hobbs, Rees and Rindt, all having identical times of 1 min. 45.6 sec., and at the start this row almost shot through into the lead for the front-row drivers all made poor starts. However, Clark led into Old Hall, followed by Hulme, Hill and Brabham, and at the end of the first lap he still held this lead, but it was obvious that the three Brabhams were handling better and would give the World Champion a lot of trouble. Frank Gardner spun off on the first lap but was unhurt.
The four leaders began to pull away slightly but Alan Rees held on grimly, while David Hobbs took sixth place away from Brian Hart, who led a big dice consisting of Maggs, Stewart, Spence and Attwood. Stewart, who had had a bad practice period with fuel pump trouble, made short work of this group, but he had lost contact with the leaders and he was unable to make much impression on Rees. The first of many pit stops occurred on lap seven when Graham Hill came in with one of the rubber drive shaft “doughnuts” of the Brabham chewed up; it was changed and he rejoined the race many laps down, only to retire later on with engine trouble. Rindt also retired with clutch trouble, having done a hasty engine change overnight.
Hulme took over the lead from Clark and Brabham also passed the Lotus for a lap or so, but the Scotsman re-passed them both for a couple of laps. Further down the field Hart lost control of his Brabham at Cascades and overturned, fortunately without damage to self or car, and both Maggs and Bloor retired with tappet damage, a fault which has been rather prevalent lately in the Cosworth engine. Soon afterwards Hobbs lost sixth place with the same trouble and Denis Hulme stopped out on the circuit with collapsed suspension.
In the absence of Hulme. Clark and Brabham continued their battle for the lead, with Alan Rees still third ahead of Stewart, but not gaining much because of engine misfiring at high revs. The race continued in this state almost to the end of the 40 laps, but on lap 35 both Rees and Attwood retired, more victims of the tappet trouble. Brabham and Clark kept up their struggle to the end but Brabham always had the upper edge and he beat Clark to the line by a yard or two, given officially as 0.2 sec. Stewart finished third, with Spence a lap behind in fourth place.
Only two supporting races were run, a F.3 race and a saloon-car event. The F.3 race looked like an upset win, for Chris Irwin in his Merlyn led by a long way for the first few laps, but Jackie Stewart made up for a bad start and went on to win comfortably. In practice he had overturned the Tyrell Cooper, resulting in the need for a new body for the car, but fortunately not for the driver. This car was modified considerably, with a front radius arm like the Cooper F.1 cars and modified rear suspension, which is expected to be incorporated onto next year’s Cooper F.2 cars.
The saloon-car race looked like a runaway win for Jack Sears in the Willment Galaxie, but he was pressed hard by Jim Clark’s Lotus-Corona and the Galaxie eventually expired with a blown engine. Jack Brabham in Alan Brown’s Galaxie made a slim start but moved up into second place on Sears’ retirement, but lost it to Bob Olthoff’s Cortina when he suffered clutch and gearbox trouble.
Oulton Park Gold Cup – Formula Two – 40 laps – 110 miles
1st: J. Brabham (Brabham) 69 min. 23.0 sec. – 95.50 m.p.h.
2nd: J. Clark (Lotus) 69 min 23.2 sec.
3rd: J. Stewart (Lotus) 70 min. 29.4 sec.
4th: M. Spence (Lotus) 39 laps
5th: P. Hawkins (Lola) 39 laps
6th: D. Prophet (Brabham) 39 laps
Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus), 1 min 43.0 sec. – 96.50 m.p.h.