BRANDS HATCH, August 29th
THE International flavour of the August Bank Holiday meeting was barely discernible, but as a National meeting there was a very full entry. The main event was a two-heat sprint for Group 7 sports-racing cars and John Suttees’ private team of Lola 70 Mk. 2 cars had a good day, the owner winning both heats and Graham Hill in the second red Lola of the team finishing third in each heat. Invariably these events run in two parts result in a fiasco in the second heat because of retirements or a repetition of the first heat, and merely prolong the racing in an artificial manner.
Heat 1 was over 30 laps of the full Brands Hatch circuit. Surtees got into the lead at the start and from then on there just was not sufficient room for anyone to get past the wide, flat, Lola 70 Mk. 2, not that there was anyone in a position to get by, for the only competitor to keep up with Suttees was Amon in a works McLaren with Chevrolet engine. Graham Hill trailed along in third place and there was nothing mach to get excited about, though there was some interest in the machinery taking part. Mac Daghorn was driving the latest Felday, a 4-w-d Ferguson-system car with a 7-litre Ford -Galaxie engine in the back, but it was all brand-new and did not perform too well. Jim Clark was driving the Felday 4, again with Ferguson 4-w-d and powered by a 2-litre B.R.M. V8 engine and he won the 2,000 c.c. class easily though the opposition was not very strong. There should have been a 2-litre V6 Dino Ferrari to challenge him, driven by Parkes, but the Ferrari driver crashed the car in practice. In the big class Peter Sutcliffe drove his newly acquired open Ford GT40. Hawkins was out in a brand-new Lola-Chevrolet V8 belonging to Epstein, and Gardner was driving Alan Brown’s McLaren with 4.7-litre Ford engine. Bruce McLaren seemed to be on the wrong foot all day, starting Heat 1 on rain tyres, so that when it didn’t rain, he got left behind. Hulme in the successful Sid Taylor Lola-Chevrolet V8 was having an off day, the car having broken a brake disc in practice, which caused it to crash. It was hurriedly repaired and badly placed on the starting grid due to insuflicient practice so that Hulme could not get into the picture as he normally does with this car. Brabham in the Repco-Brabham BT17 failed before reaching the start; the 4.3-litre engine had given trouble in practice so a Grand Prix 3-litre unit was hurriedly installed but this had ignition failure as the car left the paddock.
After an interval the second heat was to be run over a further 30 laps and before the start there was a ridiculous “hoo-ha” among the big cars, most of whom were on Firestone tyres. It looked as though there would be rain so heavy-treaded rain tyres were fitted, then it looked as though it would be fine so “dry” tyres were put back on, then some drivers panicked and went back to “rain” tyres. In the end the Team Suttees Lolas were on “wet” tyres and the two works McLarens were divided. McLaren on “dry” tyres and Amon on wet tyres. It was all rather farcical and typical of this Group 7 Sports-car racing, which doesn’t seem to be heading along any clearly defined technical path. If racing is going to develop tyres then an all-Weather one is what is wanted, such as the Goodyear tyres that Brabham uses, instead of these high and low extremes which make the car uncontrollable if the wrong choice is made.
While the rain held off McLaren romped. away from the other cars, but when the rain come he ended up in the bushes at Westfield’s corner. The rains came in the form of a cloudburst so that the track was inches deep in water and after the organisers had seen something like sixteen cars spinning helplessly like boats without rudders, the red flag and the Chequered flag came out and the race was abandoned at 9 laps. By the time everyone had stopped the rain had stopped as well, but the only thing to do was to start all over again after the surplus water had gone from the track. Some extra practice laps were allowed and Surtees, Amon and Clark pronounced the track safe for racing once more, so everyone (except McLaren, whose car was bent) lined up on the grid in the order of finishing Heat 1 and Heat 2 started again, reduced to 20 laps, as time was running out. This was virtually a repetition of Heat 1, with Surtees leading all the way and Amon unable to find room to get past, while Hill hallowed discreetly in third place. Clark was leading the 2-litre category very comfortably until the B.R.M. engine in the Felday 4 started blowing out oil and it got so bad that the black flag was brought out and the car willidrawn, which left the class to the private-owners. The overall placings in both categories was decided by the addition of the times recorded in the heats.
The day had started with a 20-lap saloon car race run on a wet track and Clark showed his virtuosity by leading all the way with a Team Lotus fuel-injected Lotus-Cortina. His driving on a wet and slippery track was a joy to watch and a real lesson to all. He was chased very ably by Jack Oliver in a Ford Mustang and towards the end of the race the track dried appreciably which reduced Clark’s advantage over the more powerful cars, but he kept ahead to the end. At one point in the race there were variants of Ford in the first seven places, in the order Lotus-Cortina, Mustang, Falcon, Galaxie, Lotus-Cortina and two Anglias.
In the interval between the heats of the Guards Trophy there was a 20-lap race for Group 4 sports cars and in this David Piper in it newly acquired Ferrari LM led from start to finish, chased by Ford GT40 coupes driven by Salmon, Ireland and Liddell, while de Udy got his green Porsche Carrera 6 in amongst the Fords very effectively, and recorded the fastest lap.
At the end of the day when darkneSs seemed to be falling there was a 20 laps Formula Three race which was completely spoilt by continuous rain. There was a star entry but all they could do was to circulate the track and try and avoid spinning off under the treacherous conditions.
GUARDS TROPHY – Group 7 – Two seater racing cars
Heat 1 – 30 laps – 127.9 kilmoetres – Dry
1st: J. Surtees (Lola-Chevrolet V8) 49 min. 23.4 sec – 153.430 k.p.h. (96.58 m.p.h.)
2nd: C. Amon (McLaren-Elva-Chevrolet V8) 49 min. 23.6 sec.
3rd: G. Hill (Lola-Chevrolet V8) 49 min. 52.6 sec.
4th: B. Redman (Lola-Chevrolet V8) 49 min. 59.0 sec
GUARDS TROPHY – Group 7 – Two seater racing cars
Heat 2 – 20 laps – 85.3 kilmoetres – Damp tack
1st: J. Surtees (Lola-Chevrolet V8) 34 min. 34.4 sec. – 148.028 k.p.h. (91.98 m.p.h.)
2nd: C. Amon (McLaren-Elva-Chevrolet V8) 34min. 34.6 sec.
3rd: G. Hill (Lola-Chevrolet V8) 35 min. 05.0 sec.
4th: F. Gardner (McLaren-Elva-Chevrolet V8) 35 min. 31.0 sec
EDWARD LEWIS SHOES TROPHY – Saloon cars – 20 laps – 85.3 kilometres
1st: J. Clark (Lotus-Cortina) 38 min. 23.8 sec. – 133.2876 k.p.h. (82.82 m.p.h.)
2nd: J. Oliver (Ford Mustang V8) 38 mibn. 28.4 sec.
3rd: P. Arundell (Lotus-Cortina) 39 min. 15.6 sec
BRITISH EAGLE TROPHY – Group 4 sports cars – 20 laps – 85.3 kilometres
1st: D. Piper (Ferrari 275 LM) 35 min. 26.6 sec. – 144.391 k.p.h. (89.72 m.p.h.)
2nd: M. Salmon (Ford GT40) 35 min. 46.0 sec.
3rd: M. de Udy (Porsche Carrera 6) 35 min. 59.4 sec.
LES LESTON TROPHY – Formula Three – 20 laps – 85.3 kilometres
1st: P. Courage (Lotus-Ford) 39 min. 23.2 sec. – 129.939 k.p.h. (80.74 m.p.h.)
2nd: C. Irwin (Brabham-Ford) 40 min. 07.0 sec.
3rd: M. Beckwith (Brabham-Ford) 40 min. 09.0 sec.
4th: J. Oliver (Lotus-Ford) 40 min. 09.6 sec.