Enna, Italy, August 24th.
The European Formula Two Championship of non-graded drivers took an interesting turn when a large contingent of F.2 cars arrived at the Sicilian lakeside circuit of Pergusa for what was expected to be an exciting slipstreaming race. At the head of the table was the German Hubert Hahne, while Johnny Servoz-Gavin was trailing by six points. The Frenchman’s Matra is regarded as ideal for this type of fast circuit, being slim and aerodynamic, and with support from two similar cars entered by the works, there seemed to be a good change of a win. Hahne’s BMW used the “Auto Union” type of full-width bodywork, as seen for the first time at Reims this year, and there was another car entered by the Bavarian factory for Joseph Siffert, who tries to make a habit of winning at least one race at this circuit every year.
But Hahne was destined not to start in the race, having had a long and thought-provoking moment in practice when his car got away from him and walloped a barrier with a resounding thud. Hahne was lucky to escape with a broken foot.
Nine of the surviving 18 runners detached themselves from a pack in the first heat and there was a typical place-swapping carve-up for the entire 31 laps as they circulated at enormous velocity, the eight Cosworth engines and one BMW making more noise than a steam train at full chat.
When the flag came out, it was Courage who had done his sums properly, and he won by a whisker from the Matras of Servoz-Gavin and Beltoise, with the Tecnos of Cevert and Regazzoni fourth and fifth.
There were again nine cars in the leading group when the second heat started Graham Hill, who was on holiday nearby and couldn’t resist the lure of racing, joined in the fun although handicapped by the poor top speed of the tubby Lotus. But Hill’s experience proved to be a considerable asset and the 1968 World Champion simply put his food down at the last 140-m.p.h. bend while the others were still shuffling about. He was rewarded with an excellent second place behind Courage.
Albi, France, September 14th.
Rain on the second day of practice surprised all those who had gone practised in the wet and demanded new brake pads to replace those which had got wet. Although a short practice period was allowed before the race began, Rindt lost confidence in his brakes and had several off-course excursions while trying to get ahead.
Jackie Stewart demonstrated the Matra’s competitiveness in the car’s last race on French soil by taking the lead from Rindt at the first corner and dominating the race until his engine suddenly stopped working on lap 44.
Graham Hill went into the lead and stayed there for the remaining 31 laps, but there was excitement not far behind him as Rindt struggled to get past Servoz-Gavin in a desperate battle; Rindt closed on the Frenchman time and again, only to spin or disappear down an escape road, Servoz-Gavin keeping his head and his second place.