Round Four: TERETONGA 12th Teretonga International
Piers Courage dominated the Rothmans Teretonga International 100 on 25 January when he grasped the lead from Chris Amon on the third of the 62 laps and increased it as he liked to bring home the Frank Williams 2.5 Brabham-Ford BT24 V8 at a race record 97.38 mph and 18.4 sec clear of Graham Hill, who turned out to be the sole Gold Leaf Team Lotus contender in the final New Zealand round of the Tasman series. Third, only 3 sec back, was Amon and next, a lap down, was Frank Gardner. A further lap behind came Derek Bell. Roly Levis was sixth with 59 laps. Having set a 99.48 mph lap record in the morning preliminary, Jochen Rindt looked the favourite in pole position, but he saw none of the action as a driveshaft broke when he let in the clutch at flagfall. Bell cleared the Lotus out of the way with three hard pushes, the last of which damaged a nose-spoiler; it was removed at the end of lap 1 and thereafter he drove magnificently from the tail of the field for fifth place. Courage made fastest race lap at 99.39 mph. As the 1968 race was two laps shorter, there was no basis for a winning speed comparison.
Courage (Brabham BT24)
passing Dawson (Brabham BT7A).
The only real change
from Wigram in the Teretonga entry was a new car from George Begg. It was a Begg-Ford twin
cam 1500cc that was entered for Barry Keen to drive.
Before the 1968 race the Teretonga Park circuit was modified and made faster, but heavy rain that year offset the advantage and so there was more than usual interest in lap times when unofficial practice began on Thursday afternoon. One of the first to fire up was Gardner who quickly returned 60.6 sec, 0.4 sec better than Jim Clark's 94.5 mph 1968 record. Rindt put in a few exploratory laps and was soon down to 58.9 sec. Courage, no stranger to Teretonga, was content with 59.3 sec, and Amon chipped away to 59.2 before the end of the session. With a gear-ratio change, a smiling Gardner improved to 59.4. Hill was a late arrival because the original ZF gearbox had been replaced during the day with a Hewland. He toured round quietly for 61.8 sec.
Business was brisker the following morning at the official trials, which were used to determine grid positions for the 16-mile preliminary heats. The wings came into their own and Rindt, Hill, Amon and Courage kept consistently below the minute mark. Rindt made 59 sec (97.71 mph) and the others soon followed and then moved into the 58/59 sec bracket. Then the top four were knocking on 57.5 sec and the final session ended with Courage on 57.2, Rindt 57.3 and Hill and Amon on 57.4, all over 100 mph, with Courage's speed 100.7 mph, something he found hard to believe. Bell had managed 58.0 sec and Gardner 58.5. Laurence Brownlie on his home track was next with 61.7 sec and Levis in the other 1.6 Brabham-FVA BT23C made 62.1 to be shaded by Graeme Lawrence who returned 62 sec. Graham McRae was well clear of the rest with 62.2 sec.
The Brabham's of Murdoch
and Hawthorne in close company.
proceedings opened with the two 10 lap heats, the first being for serious Tasman
contenders and the second the penultimate round in the National Formula series. Rindt had
pole position and shot off to win as he liked, with Courage tagging along in workman like
style. Amon held third place all the way, with Bell and Hill disputing fourth. Gardner was
content to keep with it and watch the action and must have been as surprised as Bell when
Hill, in the final round, faded badly; the trouble was lack of fuel. So the finishing
order was Rindt, Courage, Amon, Bell, Gardner, Hill and Lawrence and Levis. Rindt averaged
97.05 mph, established a 57.9 sec lap record, obtained pole position for the bit that
mattered and looked favourite, particularly after his Wigram win seven days earlier.
The second heat was another Graham McRae benefit. He led from start to finish and Bert Hawthorne, Ken Smith and Allan McCully never had a look in. All the same the winning average of 88.5 mph seemed puny compared with Rindt's 97.05 mph.
The grid for the main race looked as follows. Rindt, Courage and Amon; Bell, Gardner; Hill, Lawrence and Levis; McRae, Hawthorne; Smith, McCully and Dawson; Nicholson, Guthrie; Murdoch, Keen and Radisich; Oxton and Brownlie.
Amon trying to catch Hill
in the closing stages.
Rindt, with his pole
position for the final New Zealand Tasman round, saw no more than a convulsive shudder
from his Lotus 49B when the flag dropped. He had broken a driveshaft and
traveled only a
few car lengths. Courage, wheels spinning, went off in a cloud of smoke and was shadowed
Gardner was well away but Bell's path was blocked by the stationary Rindt. The Ferrari hit the Lotus once, twice and then a third time, riding up over its right rear wheel with the left front and damaging the nose spoiler on that side, but at least Bell cleared a path to join the race, although half a lap down. as Rindt was pushed off the track.
The field rushed into the hairpin, Amon in front of Courage, Gardner, Hill, Levis, Lawrence, Hawthorne, Red Dawson, McRae, Brownlie, McCully and then David Oxton and Malcolm Guthrie in their 1.5 Brabham-Fords. This remained the order at the end of the first lap when Bell pitted to have the damaged spoiler removed. The order did not change in the next lap, but in the third Courage took Amon and these two began to draw away a little from Gardner, who was fairly clear of Hill. Levis, Lawrence and the other residents, already finding the pace telling, were drifting back. McRae visited the pits on lap 3 with clutch problems and could only manage two more laps before retiring. Keen also went out on lap 3 with overheating problems. With six laps gone the order up front remained unchanged, although Courage was now drawing away from Amon. Farther back Brownlie had forged ahead of Lawrence to be sixth.Courage made his ninth lap the fastest of the race at 58.0 sec and it was evident that the Frank Williams entered car was more than a match for the Ferrari. McCully was out on lap 15 when he found he could not select any gear in his Hewland. By the time 18 laps had been completed the gap between Courage and Amon had widened to 8 sec. Three laps later it was 11 sec, meanwhile Hill began to close on Gardner, but the Australian was not giving anything away and it was not until lap 33 that the world champion finally slipped into third place. On lap 22 Lawrence retired on the back of the track with no clutch. Courage and the other front-runners had begun doubling some of the better placed residents, including Brownlie who was filling seventh behind Levis.
Bell's Ferrari showing the signs of the contact with Rindt at the start.
The race became processional with Courage secure in front and obviously the quickest and smoothest on the twisty sections of the course. Bell's Ferrari was understeering badly for want of one nose spoiler. Nevertheless, Ferrari's new man was acquitting himself well for, from being at the back of the field on lap 1, he worked up to fifth place in 16 laps and then kept comfortably ahead of the rest of the pack.
With 44 laps gone, Courage was 21.2 sec ahead of Amon and Hill made his move. Under pressure Amon began to hurry up and whittled the margin to Courage, but Hill was not to be denied and moved into the Ferrari's slipstream around lap 47. Amon held on until the end of the 53rd lap when Hill finally took him. There was no question of Hill catching Courage, who proceeded to lap Gardner at the end of his 58th lap. Then the order was Courage, Hill, Amon, Gardner, Bell a lap behind the Australian, Levis now well ahead of Brownlie who had lost time in an off-course excursion. Oxton headed the rest, some way ahead of Hawthorne. That was the way they finished, Courage scoring his only Tasman win and, indeed, his last points in the series.
Rindt qualified on pole, but to no avail.
12th Teretonga International
25th January 1969
Venue: Teretonga Park
62 laps of 2.575kms (159.65kms)
|1||Piers Courage||UK||Brabham BT24 / Cosworth 2491cc V8||62||61m 14.4s|
|2||Graham Hill||UK||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||62||61m 32.8s|
|3||Chris Amon||NZ||Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6||62||61m 35.8s|
|4||Frank Gardner||Aust||Mildren / Alfa 2472cc V8||61|
|5||Derek Bell||UK||Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6||60|
|6||Roly Levis||NZ||Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1598cc 4cyl||59|
|7||Laurence Brownlie||NZ||Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1598cc 4cyl||57|
|8||David Oxton||NZ||Brabham BT18 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||56|
|9||Ken Smith||NZ||Lotus 41 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||56|
|10||Malcolm Guthrie||UK||Brabham BT21B / Cosworth 1598cc 4cyl||56|
|11||Bert Hawthorne||NZ||Brabham BT21 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||55|
|12||John Nicholson||NZ||Brabham BT18 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||55|
|13||Red Dawson||NZ||Brabham BT7A / Climax 2495cc 4cyl||55|
|14||Wayne Murdoch||NZ||Brabham BT10 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||54|
|15||Frank Radisich||NZ||HCM / Cosworth 1598cc 4cyl||52|
|Ret||Graeme Lawrence||NZ||McLaren M4A / Cosworth 1598cc 4cyl||22||Clutch|
|Ret||Allan McCully||NZ||Brabham BT18 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||15||Gearbox|
|Ret||Graham McRae||NZ||McRae S2 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||5||Clutch|
|Ret||Barry Keen||NZ||Begg / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||3||Overheating|
|Ret||Jochen Rindt||Aus||Lotus 49BT / Cosworth 2491cc V8||0||Driveshaft|
Fastest lap: P. Courage, 58.0 sec
J Rindt 57.9 sec in preliminary heat * *record
Return to 1969 Series Rounds 5 - 7 Australia