Round Five: SURFERS PARADISE
Date: 11th February 1968
50 Laps of 3.219kms (160.950kms)
After a welcome two weeks' break, the International drivers were soaking up the sun in Surfers Paradise, ready to meet the next four-week challenge in Australia. Chris Amon had a handy lead and only needed another win to put him in a hard position for anyone apart from Clark to catch. Graham Hill joined Jim Clark to make Team Lotus more formidable, and Richard Attwood arrived to team with Pedro Rodriguez in the BRM's.
Hopes were high in all quarters. BRM, flushed with success at Teretonga, were looking forward to a more trouble free run in Australia. The Gold Leaf Team Lotus (as they were now known) were confident their two-man team would improve their already excellent chances of picking up points for the series, and Chris Amon had a new four-valve engine flown out which produced more power and gave the rear of the car more streamlining, owing to its compact shape. The Alec Mildren team now had two cars as well, as they brought Sydney driver, Kevin Bartlett, into the series in their older Brabham-Climax to back up Frank Gardner. Then there were the loners, Leo Geoghegan in the Lotus 39 Repco V8 and Greg Cusack in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham Repco V8. And right in there too just to upset the apple cart were those troublesome two, Piers Courage and Denny Hulme in the Formula Two cars which had proved so fantastically quick.
Amon set the pace in practice by getting down to Frank Matich's outright record of 1:12.3, but Courage left everybody gasping by whipping the little McLaren around the 'power' circuit in 1:11.7. This really set the 2.5 drivers back a peg and Amon went back for another session and got down to 1:9.7 while Clark was only able to manage 1:9.9. Graham Hill joined Amon and Clark on the front row with a 1:10.3, and while Courage again lowered his time to 1:11.4, Gardner ousted him one spot by doing a 1:11.1. Geoghegan was the quickest Australian and faster than both BRMs and Denny Hulme with a lap of 1:11.6.
Throughout the practice, trouble was brewing with advertising on cars, and, also the colours of the drivers' and entrants' names on the cars. It came to a head when the Gold Leaf Team Lotus and BRM cars were refused admission to the track by scrutineers with all decals and advertising removed or covered, but without the style and colour of the entrants' names changed to suit the CAMS rule book. After much hoo-ha, payments of $50 fines by drivers (another argument) for not having proper race permits, and alteration of the regulations by CAMS, the cars were able to face the starter for the main race, albeit with ill feeling in some quarters at the pedestrian way in which everything was handled.
At the start, Clark got into stride and was first down the main straight heading for Dunlop Bridge, with Courage right up alongside after a very powerful start. Both Clark and Amon managed to squeeze by Courage in the big sweep towards Lukey Corner, but Hill couldn't make it in time and slipped back to follow Courage through. As Clark led out of Lukey Corner, Courage's engine died and he lost four places, being passed by Hill, Gardner, Geoghegan and Rodriguez.
On lap four, Clark and Amon were two seconds ahead of Hill, and Courage had already closed up on Rodriguez. The Lotus-Fords and Amon's Ferrari were almost equal in most respects, apart from the fact that the V6 had less power than the Lotus and Amon, despite having his nose alongside on the straights, wasn't able to get enough car in front to force the issue on a corner. On the next lap Bartlett took eighth from Attwood and on the next lap Geoghegan moved under Gardner to take fourth behind Hill. Courage, now able to see the yellow Alfa V8 Brabham, closed the gap and finally took Gardner on lap 10.
Amon got past Clark for the first time on lap 11 when Clark put a couple of wheels into the dirt, but down the straight Clark kept his foot buried and re-took first position as they went into Dunlop. At the same time, Courage rushed past Geoghegan and set his sites on Hill, with the McLaren-Ford only slightly slower on the straights but picking up time like mad on the corners. Clark wasn't able to open any gap on Amon, but the frantic slipstreaming by the red Ferrari was telling as it needed more cool air and was starting to blow out steam, getting ready to give its first trouble of the series. This was the engine Amon had tried in New Zealand, but had sent back for an overhaul after a couple of races.
On the 19th lap Hill became another victim of Courage when the maroon McLaren ducked under as they accelerated out of Firestone. After 22 laps Clark led Amon by a mere 0.2 secs with another 10 seconds back to Courage and another 4.0 secs to Hill and Geoghegan. Hulme and Bartlett were having a good scrap while Rodriguez pulled the BRM into the pits to have a fuel pump kicked to ease a sticking valve.
Amon started to lose ground on Clark on lap 24 and eventually retired the Ferrari with a cooked engine just as Courage came past the pits with a spluttering engine which almost cost him second place before it cleared and he got properly under way again. Four laps later, with Clark still 10 secs away, Courage's motor coughed and spluttered again, causing him to lose the McLaren coming out of Lukey corner. The car did a smart 360 degree spin, but Courage caught it and set out after Hill and Geoghegan who had taken the opportunity to slip by. Geoghegan then decided that second spot was better than third and set after Hill. He placed the Lotus 39 inside of Hill on the approach to Lucas and forced the issue, but Hill picked him off again down the straight under full power.
Pluckily, Courage was back at it again. He chased and caught Geoghegan on lap 39, after which Geoghegan (suffering from gastric flu) decided not to push his engine any harder as it had started to go off song and resigned himself to fourth place and the first Australian home. Courage's thirst wasn't yet satisfied and he relentlessly pursued Hill. However, Clark was too far in front to be worried by anyone at this late stage and he eased off the pressure after lapping Hulme on lap 46 and coasted home 6.4 secs ahead of team-mate Graham Hill. Courage followed Hill by only 1.5 secs and Geoghegan followed through for first Australian honours while Kevin Bartlett proudly led Hulme over the line, both a lap behind the winner.
Tasman points after the fifth round were:- Amon 27, Clark 24, Courage 19, McLaren 11, Gardner 10, Palmer 7, Hill and Hulme both 6, Levis and Geoghegan 3, Bolton, Dawson and Bartlett 2, Lawrence, Stone and Rodriguez 1 each.
Grid: (* denotes pole)
Frank Gardner Piers Courage
Leo Geoghegan Pedro Rodriguez Richard Attwood
Denny Hulme Kevin Bartlett
Others were Glyn Scott, Malcolm Aldred, Greg Cusack and Brian Page.
|1||Jim Clark||Scot||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||50|
|2||Graham Hill||UK||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||50|
|3||Piers Courage||UK||McLaren M4A / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||50|
|4||Leo Geoghegan||Aust||Lotus 39 / Repco 2493cc V8||50|
|5||Kevin Bartlett||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl||49|
|6||Denny Hulme||NZ||Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||49|
|7||Glyn Scott||Aust||Lotus 27 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||45|
|8||Malcolm Aldred||Aust||Lotus 22 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||43|
|9||Frank Gardner||Aust||Brabham BT23D / Alfa 2472cc V8||42|
|10||Pedro Rodriguez||Mex||BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12||38|
|Ret||Chris Amon||NZ||Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6||24||Engine|
|Ret||Richard Attwood||UK||BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12||22||Mechanical|
|Ret||Greg Cusack||Aust||Brabham BT23 / Repco 2493 V8||13||Spun Off|
|Ret||Brian Page||Aust||Brabham BT6 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||22||Mechanical|
Round Six: WARWICK FARM
Date: 18th February 1968
45 Laps of 3.621kms (162.945kms)
Jim Clark and Graham Hill in the super-tough Lotus-Ford V8s drove a brilliant team race to completely overcome the opposition when the Tasman Series played to a crowd of over 35,000 at Sydney's Warwick Farm. Clark the 100 mile race from start to finish, and moved into the points lead for the first time since the series started seven weeks earlier.
Run in 90 degree temperatures the race saw every Australian 2.5 litre car retire with mechanical failure, which gave local car honours to brilliant Italian-born Alfredo Costanzo in a 1.5 litre Elfin-Ford. During the race the circuit was awash with oil from the cars of such notables as Brabham, Geoghegan, Rodriguez and Gardner, but Brabham set a new outright record of 1:29.0 secs during a futile chase after pitting to replenish his oil supply. However, Australian Frank Matich broke Brabham's new record when he took his SR3 Repco V8 on to a greasy circuit two races later and set an incredible new record of 1:28.5 secs despite an engine miss that has haunted the car.
Practice saw Goodyear not their usual smiling selves as both Brabham and Gardner switched to Firestone because of a delay in Goodyear shipments, leaving Bartlett and Hulme as the only Goodyear equipped cars, while Courage, Rodriguez and Attwood went on to Dunlop. Brabham's hastily built Brabham-Repco, running under the Ampol banner, blew two engines in practice through oil loss.
Clark was fastest in the first practice session and pushed the Lotus around in 1:28.2 secs (Gardner's existing record was 1:29.9) followed by Hulme 1:29.5, Gardner 1:29.9, Hill 1:30.0, Cusack 1:30.2, Harvey (with the new Repco V8 in Martin's old car) 1:30.7, Bartlett 1:30.5, Amon 1:30.9 and nobody else under 1:31.0.
For the next session, everyone got cracking. Clark slammed around the track to grab pole with a 1:27.4 while Hill got alongside with 1:28.0 and Amon completed the front row on 1:28.2 secs. Piers Courage and Denny Hulme made up the second row with their fabulous Formula Two cars. Both had been timed at 1:28.6. Cusack and Harvey had both recorded 1:29.1 and Gardner's 1:29.3 made up the third row. The next row held Rodriguez on 1:29.4 and Brabham who managed 1:30.0 with oil spraying on to his rear tyres from a broken oil seal. Bartlett, Geoghegan and Attwood shared the fifth row with the 1.5 litre class setting up behind them, headed by Max Stewart on 1:32.9 and Costanzo on 1:34.3, both under the long-standing record of 1:35.1.
Repco engineers fitted a new engine to Brabham's car and he spent the Sunday morning at Oran Park testing for the dreaded oil leaks. He arrived at Warwick Farm with the car wearing Goodyears and there was frantic hovering around the Repco tent by both Goodyear and Firestone until Brabham chose to run Firestone again. Denny Hulme packed ice into his cockpit in an effort to combat the temperatures expected in the car during the race, but the heat didn't seem to affect the spectators as they lined the track itching to see good racing.
Clark won the start from Hill, Amon, Courage, Hulme, Cusack, Gardner, Rodriguez, Bartlett and Attwood. Brabham carved his way through the field after a bad start to lock into position eight on lap two, just as Cusack went spearing off the Causeway with brake fade which was to retire the car three laps later. On lap 3, Fred Gibson retired the Brabham-Climax and Geoghegan's Lotus dumped its oil at Creek the next time around. Brabham kept moving well and as he came up behind Hulme the order was Clark, Hill, Amon, Courage, Gardner, Hulme and Brabham. This seven-car flying wedge got away from the others, but on lap 8 Harvey slipped under Bartlett and started to haul in the eighth-placed Rodriguez at a second a lap.
By the end of lap 14, Gardner was crowding Courage, while Stewart retired the 1.5 litre car with a blown head-gasket. Courage, getting the hurry-up message from Gardner, was right up Amon's pipes on the next lap just as Harvey's chase after Rodriguez, he had closed to within 2.0 seconds, ended with a broken gearbox and he coasted to a stop coming out of the Esses.
On lap 17 Brabham, spraying oil from yet another engine and sending up plumes of dust all around the track, finally got through Hulme and set out after Courage for fourth. So hard was Brabham trying that on lap 22 he lost it and bounced high in the air over a dirt mound out of the northern crossing. Two laps later he dashed into the pits for more oil, leaving a cursing Hulme streaked with Ampol oil spray and spattered with dirt from Brabham's efforts to gain ground on the leaders. Brabham lost a lap and a half, rejoining the race 10th.
Hulme nailed Gardner on lap 28 as Attwood retired the V12 BRM with gearbox trouble, although team mate Rodriguez was circulating smoothly in the older V8 BRM and holding seventh place. With Clark and Hill out in front on lap 30, Amon spun the Ferrari off the northern crossing letting Courage through into third. Hulme tucked right in behind Amon and began a big attack on the Italian car while Courage decided to give a little stir to Hill while he was there.
Kevin Bartlett's drive in the Brabham-Climax ended at Polo on lap 34 with a broken halfshaft and two laps later Hulme finally slipped by Amon for fourth. All this time, Clark was whistling along 6 to 7 seconds ahead of Hill who looked equally comfortable despite Courage's cheekiness. On lap 40, Amon blew off Hulme to retake fourth and Gardner expired the Brabham-Alfa V8 with a very oily-looking rear end. The order at that stage was Clark, Hill, Courage, Amon, Hulme, Rodriguez and Brabham.
And it was in that order the field took the flag with Clark 5.7 secs ahead of team mate Hill, and Costanzo 8th and first resident home clear of Ian Fergusson in the ex-Geoghegan-Howard Lotus 27-Ford. Ford engines, in fact, filled seven out of the top 10 finishers.
Points after this round were :- Clark 33, Amon 30, Courage 23, Hill 12, McLaren 11, Gardner 10, Hulme 8, Palmer 7, Levis and Geoghegan 3, Bolton, Dawson, Bartlett and Rodriguez 2, Lawrence and Stone 1 each.
Grid: (* denotes pole)
Piers Courage Denny Hulme
Greg Cusack John Harvey Frank Gardner
Pedro Rodriguez Jack Brabham
Kevin Bartlett Leo Geoghegan Richard Attwood
Max Stewart Alfredo Costanzo
Others were Ian Ferguson, Glyn Scott, Brian Page and Fred Gibson.
|1||Jim Clark||Scot||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||45||1hr 8m 17.2s|
|2||Graham Hill||UK||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||45||1hr 8m 28.9s|
|3||Piers Courage||UK||McLaren M4A / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||45||1hr 8m 37.2s|
|4||Chris Amon||NZ||Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6||45||1hr 8m 42.5s|
|5||Denny Hulme||NZ||Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||45||1hr 8m 46.1s|
|6||Pedro Rodriguez||Mex||BRM P261 / BRM 2136cc V8||45||1hr 9m 43.9s|
|7||Jack Brabham||Aust||Brabham BT21E / Repco 2493cc V8||44|
|8||Alfredo Costanzo||Aust||Elfin-Mono / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||41|
|9||Ian Fergusson||Aust||Lotus 27 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||41|
|10||Glyn Scott||Aust||Lotus 27 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||40|
|Ret||Frank Gardner||Aust||Brabham BT23D / Alfa 2472cc V8||40||Camshaft|
|Ret||Kevin Bartlett||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl||33||Halfshaft|
|Ret||Richard Attwood||UK||BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12||27||Gearbox|
|Ret||Brian Page||Aust||Brabham BT6 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||Engine|
|Ret||Max Stewart||Aust||Rennmax / Ford 1498cc 4cyl||14||Head-Gasket|
|Ret||John Harvey||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl||14||Gearbox|
|Ret||Leo Geoghegan||Aust||Lotus 39 / Repco 2493cc V8||4||Oil Line|
|Ret||Greg Cusack||Aust||Brabham BT23 / Repco 2493 V8||4||Brakes|
|Ret||Fred Gibson||Aust||Brabham / Climax 2499 4cyl||3||Engine|
Round Seven: SANDOWN 33rd Australian Grand Prix
Date: 25th February 1968
55 Laps of 3.103kms (170.665kms)
If conditions were warm at Warwick Farm, Melbourne's Sandown Park was absolutely scorching. The city had had a drought for some months and the five days before practice had all seen over the century temperatures. Chris Amon took the Ferrari out in unofficial practice and showed that times were going to be quick, but not quick enough to break Jack Brabham's race record. The circuit was slick, and dirt and dust embedded in it from the drought conditions made things rather dicey until some traffic had covered a few laps and helped clean the surface a little. The long straight from Peters Corner to Lukey's was bumpier than last year and drivers were finding the car's suspension deflecting to the maximum as they roared up the slight incline. Hill's car, well prepared but not quite the A1 machine of Clark's, wasn't handling up to par, but it was sorted out in time for race day.
In the first official practice, held in temperatures of up to 106 degrees, Jack Brabham was quickest in the Brabham-Repco V8 fitted with the older 630 type heads which brought the exhausts up from the lower part of the engine. It was obviously a powerful arrangement, as Brabham had little effort getting down to 1:6.7 secs during his 10 laps. Hulme, very consistently, did 13 laps in practice and recorded four of these at 1:9.7 while Harvey ran only seven laps for a best of 1:8.9. Amon covered seven laps and slipped under the sevens once to record a 1:6.8 and Clark got a 1:7.4 in nine laps, but team mate Hill covered 20 laps for a best of 1:7.7. The second practice was better for some, but Brabham had garnered the pole position and he shared the front row with Amon in the four valve Ferrari and Clark on the outside, all only one-tenth of a second apart. A brilliant Leo Geoghegan and Graham Hill shared the second row with 1:7.0 and 1:7.3 respectively, while the third row was Gardner and Cusack on 1:8.2 and Rodriguez on 1:8.5. Piers Courage found the circuit a shade quick for the 1.6 McLaren-Ford and shared fourth row with 1:8.5 alongside John Harvey in the Brabham-Repco V8 with 1:8.9. Attwood, Hulme and Bartlett completed the grid with no 1.5's allowed.
The heat on race day was still intense with the temperature over the 100 degree mark by 10am. The drivers begged off the parade in sports cars and also the presentation of drivers to the stands. These were cancelled, along with the traditional warm-up lap. Jim Clark was first away followed by Amon, and Brabham made a complete botch of the start, getting away in fifth place as the field set itself up for Shell corner. Coming out of Dunlop for the first time the order was Clark, Amon, Hill, Gardner, Brabham, Geoghegan (already sounding off tune), Rodriguez, Cusack, Courage, Bartlett, Attwood, Hulme and Harvey making no impression at all.
Brabham settled down on the third lap and took Gardner while Cusack slipped under Rodriguez. Hill fell to the onslaught of Brabham on lap 5. Cusack again poured it on to get by Geoghegan (only running on seven cylinders with a broken plug insulator) and Courage got by Rodriguez on the following lap.
Hulme pulled into the pits on the fourth lap and stayed there until the eighth, replacing a blown spark plug, and on lap eight the order was Clark and Amon with Brabham closing the gap at a mighty rate. Then came Hill staving off Gardner, (he'd re-passed Courage), then a small gap to Courage, Cusack, Geoghegan, Rodriguez, Attwood and Bartlett.
On the 10th lap, Rodriguez blew the V12 BRM and coasted down BP Straight heading for the pits. The following lap saw Gardner finally nail Hill for fourth while Geoghegan nipped by Cusack for seventh. Brabham, by this time, was catching Amon and Clark at the rate of 0.5 sec a lap, and the chase was sending the crowd wild. Three laps later and Brabham had closed right up on Amon as they braked from Shell corner, and the crowd sensed him readying to move into second spot after the flying Scot. However, as the three leaders came into view again out of Peters corner Brabham was losing ground momentarily on Amon but he picked it up again on the back straight. Cusack's Repco V8 started to get fluffy and Hill re-took Gardner to get fourth again.
Clark, Amon and Brabham lapped John Harvey the 15th time around, and by the 18th lap Attwood was gaining on the sick Geoghegan Lotus by 0.5 secs a lap. The three leaders lapped Hulme on BP Straight as they flashed past on lap 19, while Gardner got past Hill again and Bartlett somehow blew of Cusack. The next time around, Brabham had again lost ground to Amon and Gardner was one second ahead of Hill. Then, as the leaders came from under Dunlop, there were only two. Brabham came into view a little later coasting towards the pits with a seized engine.
At the start of lap 22, Hill got tired of Gardner, re-took the Brabham-Alfa V8 and tried to open a gap between the two cars as Hulme took Bartlett under brakes going into Shell. John Harvey pulled into the pits on the next lap and retired the Brabham.
With Brabham out of the race, attention centred on the furious dice between Jim Clark and Chris Amon, and then back further to Graham Hill and Frank Gardner. Amon desperately needed the win to make up points on Clark and he was driving superbly to hang on to the tail of the more powerful Lotus-Ford. He started a series of maneuvers which were to last throughout the race of slipstreaming the Lotus, then switching to the side and trying to forge past on the straights. However, Clark had enough steam to just hold the red Ferrari and he managed to leave his braking slightly later than Amon on Shell and Lukey corners.
The leading battle really got tough when they were lapping slower cars, and Amon had to judge his timing and distances perfectly to avoid losing the Lotus. On lap 39, Clark whizzed by Courage going into the Esses, but Amon had to wait until after the corner and he hit Dunlop Straight 40 yards behind the Lotus. Cusack, who had pitted, rejoined the race 19 laps in arrears, but only circulated one lap and put the car away for good. By lap 43, Amon was looking into Clark's pipes again and no doubt feeling the hot breath of the Ford V8. Temperatures had tumbled during the race to a moderate 90 degrees which made things a shade easier all round.
With seven laps left in the 33rd Australian Grand Prix, Frank Gardner got the GO signal from the Mildren crew and roared after Hill. Amon had his nose over the finish line twice in the closing laps in a massive bid to snatch the lead from Clark, but he was out-braked each time. Gardner took Hill briefly at Lukey corner on lap 52, but Hill was in front again as they came under Dunlop Bridge.
And that's how they finished. It was probably the most exciting GP since the 1960 GP at Lowood when Alec Mildren won by a mere one 26th second from Lex Davison. Clark credited Amon with a wonderful drive, and it was obvious both men were as near to the limit as anyone for the whole 55 laps. Courage came home a lap down in fifth place while Attwood, Geoghegan and Bartlett all completed 53 laps in that order. Geoghegan received the honour of first Australian home for the second time and Bartlett was fuming because he had received no pit signal as to how close he was to Geoghegan.
Points after this round were :- Clark 42, Amon 36, Courage 25, Hill 16, Gardner 13, McLaren 11, Hulme 8, Palmer 7, Levis and Geoghegan 3, Bolton, Dawson, Bartlett and Rodriguez 2, Attwood, Lawrence and Stone 1 each.
Grid: (* denotes pole)
Leo Geoghegan Graham Hill
Frank Gardner Greg Cusack Pedro Rodriguez
Piers Courage John Harvey
Richard Attwood Denny Hulme Kevin Bartlett
|1||Jim Clark||Scot||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||55||62m 40.3s|
|2||Chris Amon||NZ||Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6||55||62m 40.4s|
|3||Graham Hill||UK||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||55||63m 39.6s|
|4||Frank Gardner||Aust||Brabham BT23D / Alfa 2472cc V8||55||63m 39.8s|
|5||Piers Courage||UK||McLaren M4A / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||54|
|6||Richard Attwood||UK||BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12||53|
|7||Leo Geoghegan||Aust||Lotus 39 / Repco 2493cc V8||53|
|8||Kevin Bartlett||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl||53|
|9||Denny Hulme||NZ||Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||50|
|Ret||Greg Cusack||Aust||Brabham BT23 / Repco 2493cc V8||21|
|Ret||Jack Brabham||Aust||Brabham BT21E / Repco 2493cc V8||21||Engine|
|Ret||John Harvey||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl||21||Gearbox|
|Ret||Pedro Rodriguez||Mex||BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12||10||Engine|
Round Eight: LONGFORD
South Pacific Trophy
Date: 4th March 1968
15 Laps of 7.242kms (108.630kms)
It was wonderful to think that Longford had a meaning this year, apart from being merely the fastest circuit in the country. Last year the Tasman Cup was decided before the visitors even thought about Longford with Clark so far in front he could have packed his bags and headed home after Sandown. This year Chris Amon was still in there challenging for the title with the V6 Ferrari as he was only six points behind Clark in the Lotus 49 Ford V8. Graham Hill could have overhauled Courage to tie third as well, so it really was on for young and old.
Chris Amon blew the sealing rings in the Ferrari again in practice and this gave his crew a tidy bit of work to do on the Sunday between practice and race day, while Rodriguez had blown yet another engine to keep his boys in business. Piers Courage bashed the nose of the little McLaren when the flag marshals got so wrapped up in watching the cars they forgot to signal oil on the track, but Piers decided for the last race he'd bandage the nose rather than do it properly and look all suave again. In the Lotus-Ford camp it was merely a matter of checking everything for wear and tear, and rub the polishing cloth over the two cars as we've seen them do so many times while everyone else is concerned in teardowns and rebuilds.
Practice times were little indication of what was coming as most teams were concerned with setting the cars up for the high-speed circuit. In the first sessions, Clark had fastest time on Firestones with 2 m 17.4s. Gardner was close with 2:19.6 and Amon kept them in site with 2:20.6. The second session wasn't much livelier. Most of the Internationals were saving the high-speed work for the preliminary race on Saturday. This 12-lap event was to count for grid positions. However on the second session of practice Clark got down to 2:12.8, Hill to 2:13.6 and Amon to a fine 2:13.8. Clark was under Jack Brabham's record set last year, and won 100 bottles of champagne.
In the 12-lap preliminary race on Saturday the grid formed up with Clark on pole. Hill comfortably won the prelim from Clark and Amon.
Only a couple of supporting races had been run on the Monday morning when the heavens opened up and heavy rain fell. No one took much notice, expecting the weather to clear well before race time of 2:15pm. But as the rain got harder it was obvious that some sort of decision would have to be made whether to hold the race. The track was almost under water at some points around the circuit where hay bales had broken and straw was blocking the drains, but efforts by track officials soon had most of the drainage system under control.
Although crews brought the cars out in front of the pit counter and stood huddled under umbrellas and hastily found capes and pieces of tarpaulin the drivers went into a huddle with the promoters of the meeting and the CAMS stewards to determine if the race should go on. First it was decided that the cars should do a couple of exploratory laps then report their findings. Geoghegan, Amon, Clark, Hill and Attwood went out and, after looking like motor boats ploughing through the water, delivered their thoughts to the meeting. Longford, wonderful circuit as it is, has nowhere to go in the wet should a driver lose control or suffer a bad attack of aquaplaning, and this was the main point in contention. Greg Cusack had left the road that morning as he went over the hump approaching the viaduct in practice, destroying the Brabham, and while he lay in hospital for the night with small broken bones in one leg and severe shaking-up, the drivers were trying to put across their point that this could well happen, but more so, in the wet.
Stewards finally ruled the race would be shortened to 15 laps of the 4.5 mile circuit, and put the starting time down at 4pm, again hoping the rain would ease off to make driving somewhat easier. But the rain beat down steadily and at 4.15pm the sodden cars and their game uncomplaining drivers were facing the soggiest start flag seen for many months at Longford.
Clark got the Lotus away, somehow finding traction with the wide Firestones, and he was followed into the right-hander before the viaduct by Amon and Hill. All drivers were taking the opening laps cautiously under race conditions and each car was leaving a gap to the other so they could see through the flying spray.
At the end of lap one the order was Clark, Rodriguez on Dunlops, Gardner on Goodyears, Courage using new narrow-section 970s, Hill on Firestones, Attwood on Dunlop, Amon back in seventh owing to a run down the escape road on Newry corner, then John Harvey, John McCormack and Mel McEwin.
Attwood found he had more traction on Dunlops than Hill had with the wide Firestones and he slipped under the Lotus for fifth place on lap 2. Both Attwood and Rodriguez had hand-cut drainage grooves in their tyres. A lap later Courage really got his foot in it to take Gardner on lap 3. He then jumped past both Rodriguez and Clark on the next lap while Gardner followed him through and waited for another lap behind Clark before taking the plunge and heading for second. Amon had taken Hill and now, on lap 5, the order was Courage 9.6 secs ahead of Gardner, Clark, Rodriguez, Attwood, Amon, Hill and Harvey. McEwin and McCormack were already in danger of being lapped by the flying Courage.
Courage, driving like a young Stirling Moss in the blinding rain, somehow gained another 9.5 secs on lap 6, putting him 16 secs ahead of second man Gardner in the Brabham-Alfa. Rodriguez had pulled past Clark and on the next lap Attwood whizzed past Clark to take fourth. On lap 9 Courage was 32 secs ahead of Gardner and having a ball out on his own, right foot hard in it. Gardner was 3.5 secs ahead of Rodriguez who was followed by Attwood, Clark, Amon, Hill and Harvey losing a lot of ground.
Rodriguez started to close up on Gardner in the closing laps, but nothing could touch Courage. This was his day, it was he who had the best gear on his car and he was darned sure he was going to make it a race to remember. He had pulled 45.5 secs on Gardner by lap 12 while Rodriguez had got within 2.5 secs of Gardner. Hill challenged Amon on the same lap and finally squeezed past in a daring effort on the greasy track to make the Lotus-Fords fifth and sixth.
As Courage screamed down the straight heading for the flag he was over 55 secs ahead of Gardner and he came past the pits jubilantly waving his hand. Gardner by this time, heading for the braking area at Mountford, had Rodriguez looking right at the Alfa V8 pipes. There seemed no way that Rodriguez could slip past, but suddenly a gap appeared as Gardner went a shade wide on Mountford and Rodriguez poured on the power into the short straight and took the flag about 25 yards ahead of the Alec Mildren car. Attwood finished his race fourth after a very steady drive, followed by Clark, Hill and Amon.
Of course, had the day been dry, it would have been an entirely different story. But Courage had the rubber, just the right amount of power for the job, and he had the ability to keep the car straight on a very dicey and greasy circuit. He finished the Tasman Cup series in third place, which speaks for itself.
Final Tasman Cup points were :- Clark 44, Amon 36, Courage 34 , Hill and Gardner 17, McLaren 11, Rodriguez and Hulme 8, Palmer 7, Attwood 4, Levis and Geoghegan 3, Bolton, Dawson and Bartlett 2, Lawrence and Stone 1 each.
|1||Piers Courage||UK||McLaren M4A / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl||15||41m 47.5s|
|2||Pedro Rodriguez||Mex||BRM P261 / BRM 2136cc V8||15||42m 43.4s|
|3||Frank Gardner||Aust||Brabham BT23D / Alfa 2472cc V8||15||42m 44.0s|
|4||Richard Attwood||UK||BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12||15||42m 46.0s|
|5||Jim Clark||Scot||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||15||42m 52.8s|
|6||Graham Hill||UK||Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8||15||42m 54.1s|
|7||Chris Amon||NZ||Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6||15||42m 56.8s|
|8||John Harvey||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl||14||IC-4-64|
|9||John McCormack||Aust||Brabham BT4 / Climax 2495cc 4cyl||12|
|Ret||Mel McEwin||Aust||Lotus 32B / Climax 2495cc 4cyl||7||Mechanical|
|DNS||Denny Hulme||NZ||Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl|
|DNS||Kevin Bartlett||Aust||Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl|
|DNS||Leo Geoghegan||Aust||Lotus 39 / Repco 2493cc V8|
|DNS||Greg Cusack||Aust||Brabham BT23 / Repco 2493cc V8||Accident|
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