Recent Sports Car Races
Karlskoga (August 11th)
Although for the previous two years the Swedish G.P. was for Formula Two, for the 1968 event the organisers decided to run a race for Group 4, 6 and 7 cars, the latter category more to allow Bonnier to try out his new Can-Am McLaren M6B than anything else. There were no works cars present at this meeting but again there was Piper in the Ferrari, some very competitive Lola T70s including Bonnier's car for Rodriguez to drive, Alfa Romeo T33s, Porsches, Ford GT40s and Chevrons.
Bonnier's McLaren was brand new but he was easily fastest in practice. However, on the grid, the car developed a water leak and the race was held up for 30 minutes while it was repaired. But Bonnier spoiled his chances with a spin on the second corner and a subsequent pit stop to check for damage.
Piper by this time was well in the lead, and though Bonnier made up much of the lost time and reached second place he was unable to catch Piper in this short 24-lap race. Rodriguez stopped after holding an early second place with brake problems, and third place saw a race-long contest between Hawkins in the 5.7 Ford GT40 and the Belgian Pilette in a Team VDS Alfa Romeo T33. The Alfa was in front for most of the distance but Hawkins got the verdict at the finish. Although there was no official Group 4 class, the first such car home was the Ford GT40 of Nelson. Surprisingly in 72 kilometres, seven of the 17 cars retired—A. R. M.
Hockenheim (July 21st)
One of the more interesting aspects of the 1968 racing season has been the increase in sports-car racing. The popular 1,000-km. races and other events in the World Championship of Makes have been established for many years, but over the past couple of years several previously minor events have started to attract big and better fields, while some other organisers who have previously favoured Formula Two as the main race on their programme have decided to run sportscar events this season.
A new fixture on the calendar this year was the Solitude races, run now at Hockenheim as the road circuit at Solitude is no longer available. Porsche came in force with a 3-litre 908 for Hans Herrmann, while Elford and Siffert were in privately owned but obviously works-assisted cars, and the rest of the field consisted of powerful Lola T70GTs, Ford GT40s, and, in the smaller class, private Porsches and British Chevrons.
Much of the early lead was held by Jo Bonnier in his 5-litre Lola-Chevrolet but ignition trouble intervened and he was forced to make a pit stop. This elevated the battle for second place between the works Porsche 908 and Piper in his well campaigned 4-litre Ferrari P3/4 to the fight for the lead. Piper took command, set up an outright circuit record for the notorious German track, and finally took the flag just 0.4 sec. ahead of Herrmann. Hawkins, his Ford GT40 fitted with a 5.7-litre ex-Mirage engine, had been with the leading pair in the early stages but dropped back to take a comfortable third ahead of the Group 4 category class winner Norinder in his Lola T70. Elford and the Spaniard Soler-Roig in Porsche 910s had a terrific scrap for the 2-litre Group 6 honours and fifth place, with the Englishman just getting the verdict. German driver Bitter in a Porsche Carrera 6 easily won the up-to-2-litre Group 4 class.