Timing is all


I would concur with Shaun Campbell (Going Downhill Fast, August) that the singular talent possessed by Jim Clark was not sheer speed, but his ability to put in startlingly fast laps at the right time. Of his outright speed there can of course be no doubt (eg Monza 1967), but time and again he gained both real and psychological advantage over his rivals by careful timing. You would see him go out in the last seconds of practice and drive in that outstandingly smooth manner (like Fangio, Stewart and Fittipaldi he always looked smoothest and slowest when going quickest) to set a pole time just as the flag fell. This must have left the others demoralised.

Having gained the upper hand in this way he would then time after time be able to put in some blindingly fast early lap times, opening up a gap which would stay fairly constant for the remainder of the race. I believe that his rivals must often have thought that he was simply uncatchable.

I do not know whether Clark and/or Colin Chapman deliberately set out this strategy, or whether it just happened. Whichever, I am sure that this uncanny knack of Clark’s was a major factor in many of his outstanding victories.

I am yours, etc

W J Torrance, Cheadle, Greater Manchester