The oldest race in the world, the Targa Florio, was held in Sicily on a Sunday, the 14th of May 1967. This competition was born when motorsport was taking its first steps. Now, under the shock of the Monte-Carlo tragedy, the automobile racing continues. After all, the characteristics of the Monegasque competition and the Italian one are different: while sportsmen from all over the world mourn the death of Lorenzo Bandini and the inevitable controversy over races, their reason for existing and the moral considerations that should be the basis of every human activity explode, another famous race is about to start: the Targa Florio, in Sicily. To those who see things from the outside, this not allowing oneself not even a moment of gathering in the aftermath of the shocking disappearance of one of the best - even in the human sense - and most popular drivers, seems to be an absolute lack of sensitivity.
From a certain point of view it is true, but the ruthlessness of this sport is also manifested in similar aspects; there is a calendar of competitions established for some time, the organizations move forward (and they aren’t cheap), there are very respectable interests to safeguard. And so it doesn't stop, racing continues, right or wrong it might be; on the contrary, they help people forgetting the pain of the last fatal episode faster. Targa Florio: here is a race that goes back to the heroic days of motoring, when racing - bloody even then - was justified by the need to strengthen the dawning of the automobile. The great Sicilian competition was disputed for the first time in 1906 and was won by a great Turin driver, Alessandro Cagno, at the wheel of an Itala. The fiftieth edition of the Targa was celebrated last year, with the solemnity that befits the oldest race in the world, the only one still held in Europe on a road route: the circuit is called the Madonie because it unfolds in an endless serpentine up and down the namesake mountains.
The day following the 1957 Mille Miglia, when De Portago ran off the road killing both himself and numerous spectators, it was said that the magnificent era of great road racing was over. But the Targa Florio remained, which in truth, even though it’s very difficult, it remains one of the car races in which the fewest accidents have occurred. Perhaps because it is not possible to reach too high speeds, and also because the Sicilian public is singularly disciplined. Unfortunately, even Monte-Carlo was said to be relatively not-so-dangerous, given the not excessive average speed that the cars get. The Monegasque and Sicilian races however differ profoundly, both in the type of track, as we have seen, and in the cars that participate in it. Only the very powerful Formula 1 single-seaters are admitted to the Monaco Grand Prix, whose use would be absolutely impossible on the Madonie circuit. Instead, here are racing the cars of the Sport-Prototypes category (whose top class is just as powerful as the Formula 1 cars, but they require a different driving style, if only for their greater weight), the Sports in the displacements from 1000 to over 2000 cc and the Gran Turismo of 1300, 1600, 2000 and over 2000 cc. We are therefore, at least as for the last two categories, within quite reasonable limits.
The fifty-first Targa Florio should result in a duel between the Ferrari P4 of the Vaccarella-Scarfiotti duo (the participation of the Modenese manufacturer, so severely affected by the death of its number one driver, was not given for sure until a few days before the start of the competition, and the reasons can be understood, but it seems that at the last moment it was made the decision to participate), and the Porsches: the fast and manageable German cars that several times had taken the victory at the Targa. The Stuttgart factory brings together a group of leading drivers: Herrmann-Davis, Mitter-Siffert and Maglioli-Schutz, all at the wheel of cars of around 2200 cc. Due to their characteristics, the Ferrari Dino of Klass-Casoni and Ferrari 2000 of Williams-Venturi could still enter the battle for the victory; as well as the brand new Alfa Romeo 33.3, making their debut in Italy: in the group of the 8 cylinders in Milan, in addition to the normal 2 liters with De Adamich, Bonnier, Baghetti, Rolland, the larger one (2198 cc) also participates, entrusted to Geli and, it seems, to the promising Nanni Galli.
On Saturday the 13th of May 1967 Nino Vaccarella, the Sicilian driver who won the 1965 edition, sets the best time - at over 116 km / h on average - in the official qualifying of the Targa Florio. As anticipated, Vaccarella is behind the wheel of one of the Ferrari's official cars, to which the executives let the press know that they consider this participation as the best tribute to the memory of Lorenzo Bandini. Nino Vaccarella covers the seventy-two kilometers of the track in 37'12 "2, at an hourly average of 116.108 km / h. The driver from Palermo, for the first time, at the wheel of the P4, takes the car after his partner Scarfiotti on the same vehicle he had already made a first lap in 39'15 "1. On the first and only test lap Vaccarella sets the record.
As soon as Vaccarella returned to the pits, the Scarfiotti car resumes and he sets a time very close to the new unofficial record too: 37'53 "3. The previous record was held by Vaccarella himself, who had achieved it during the 1965’s edition of the race, that he later won at the wheel of a Ferrari P2. Thirteen drivers fall under the previous official record of Vaccarella, including all the favorites. A small accident disturbs the tests: the French Claude Lego goes off the road with his 4,000 cc Ford, damaging the car but fortunately reporting only minor bruises. Lego, however, will regularly be at the start of the race at the wheel of his car. The cause of the accident could be the lack of knowledge of the circuit of the driver, rookie in the Targa Florio. Claude Lego is a French industrialist, married, who lives in Sceaux S. Huisne. He has participated in numerous races with Mustang type cars and, since 1966, he has been part of the Ford Franco. The race of the French Jean Claude Kiley (Porsche), the famous ski champion making his debut in an important car test, is also followed with interest.
The fifty-first edition of the Targa Florio, the oldest car race in the world, will start from Cerda, the base point of that Madonie circuit which since 1906 has been the annual Romanesque appointment for fans of this relentless sport in its risk content and in its inexorable continuity. Departures will begin at 8:00 a.m., with intervals of 20 seconds between one competitor and another. The race consists in ten laps of the circuit, for a total distance of 720 kilometers. Lorenzo Bandini recently passed away, due to severe burns caused by the stake resulting from the accident that occurred in Monte-Carlo, yet the races did not stop even for a Sunday of recollection. The insiders, therefore, are present in Sicily with a weight on their hearts, remembering the unfortunate Italian driver.
"Poor Bandini, he didn't deserve to end up like this".
It is the phrase most commonly heard among insiders. It should be remembered that at last year's Targa Florio poor Lorenzo Bandini had miraculously emerged unharmed from a serious accident when, at the end of the sixth lap, to avoid the unexpected maneuver of another competitor, he went off the road and capsized against a tree; it makes your skin crawl to think today, after what happened last Sunday, that the driver was trapped in the cockpit while the gasoline began to drain from the tank. A year ago, the Italian driver managed to get out of the car by kicking and punching the Plexiglas of a door. Then the discussion immediately slips on Sunday's race, on the forecasts that unanimously want the Vaccarella-Scarfiotti duo to win in record time, the only official Ferrari crew. The two drivers are at the wheel of a 4-liter sports prototype. However, in order to win, the Maranello car needs to keep up to the race pace.
The fifty-first edition of the Targa Florio ends with a massive success of the Porsches, but what matters most in this moment of apprehensive tension for motorsport, is that it ends without any dramatic episodes. There is no shortage of accidents, and it would certainly be asking too much on a circuit like this one of the Madonie, which with its 800 curves and the uninterrupted succession of climbs and descents, doesn’t leave the riders a breathing space, engages them in exhausting fatigue ( not for nothing the regulation prescribe that the two drivers of each car must alternate at the wheel without covering more than five laps each); but luckily these are fairly minor things, without the slightest harm to people. Therefore the Porsches win, and it is the seventh time that the German cars have managed to conquer the Targa, placing the Australian-German couple Paul Hawkins-Rolf Stommelen in first place, Leo Cella and Giampiero B Caldoi in the second, Neerpasch and Elford in the third. T
he winners achieved the new record average of the race: 108,811 km / h, which exceeds the previous one, held by the Vaccarella-Bandini couple in a Ferrari, by more than six kilometers,. The very well-founded hopes on the eve of a Ferrari affirmation receive the first blow from the second of the ten laps of the race, when Vaccarella (who has Scarfiotti as teammate), starts like a fury and completed the first 72 kilometers in the lead, at an average speed of over 115 km / h, while crossing Collesano he skidded with the rear right part of his P4 against the wall of a house, and irreparably damaged the car. The news arrives immediately in the Ferrari pits, where the sporting director Franco Lini arrived just in time from Milan, after having attended the funeral of the poor Bandini; Scarfiotti, who is preparing to replace Vaccarella at the wheel of the car, walks away disappointed, murmuring:
"What a dark period for Ferrari".
However, the abandonment of the big favorites has the merit of suddenly reviving the competitive interest of running. Guichet-Muller unleash themselves, behind the wheel of a Ferrari P3 (that is the 1966 model) of the Swiss Filipinetti team, who, fourth on the first lap, leapt to the command. Muller sets the new lap record in 37'09 ", at an average of 116.265 km / h. The Franco-Swiss crew skilfully retains the first position for four laps, while behind them a fight without quarter between the Porsches and the new Alfa Romeo 33s (including that of De Adamich and Rolland) go on a rampage; for its part, the big Chaparral of Phil Hill-Sharp drives with great regularity, settling between fifth and seventh place. Attention is also drawn to the Cella-Biscaidi couple, who are second overall in the third lap, but no one notices that Hawkins and Stommelen are moving up towards the top after a fairly quiet start: ninth in the first lap, fifth in the second and the third, second to the fourth and fifth, immediately halfway through the race they are in command, taking advantage of the slowdown of Guichet-Muller, who on the seventh lap are knocked out by a transmission failure.
The residual hopes of the immense public crowded along the road - and perfectly disciplined - for the victory of an Italian car vanish definitively. Against the Porsches the Alfa 33 is still fighting, very validly, and at one point it has the pair De Adamich-Roliand third overall; then, one by one, the Bonnier-Baghetti couple and the De Adamich-RolIand themselves are eliminated, it seems, from trouble to the suspensions; only the Galli-Giusti crew of Alfa Romeo managed to complete the Targa. In the last three laps the positions of the leaders stabilize, with Umberto Maglioli-Sehuntz (still on Porsche) second, and De Adamich, Cella and Elford fighting for third place. But bad luck rages against Maglioli, betrayed by the suspensions (during the eighth lap) after climbing up behind the leaders, then against De Adamich; eventually also the Chaparral, which, with two laps to go, must abandon along the way.
Thus, the Ferrari Dino of Williams-Venturi finished fourth overall and first between the Italian cars, after a careful and safe race that highlighted the excellent preparation of the car. Remembering again the good test of Taramazzo-Bona, on a private Porsche, eliminated by a broken axle shaft when they are in ninth position, the tests of two Turin cars deserve the most heartfelt praise: the Fiat spider 124 sport of Sicilian Raffaele Restivo (son of the Minister of Agriculture) and another young man hiding under the pseudonym The Tortoise; the car, in its competitive debut and without any particular preparation (it was withdrawn a few days before the race), won the 1600 class and finished tenth overall at an average of almost 83 km/h. Seventeen cars, out of the sixty-two who started, are classified: the selection of this fifty-first Targa Florio is very strict, according to the tradition of the oldest race in the world. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it's only mechanical means that lose out.
However, Ferrari can console itself with the signing of Scottish driver Jackie Stewart, who will race for Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most spectacular test of the international prototype trophy, scheduled for June 10-11, 1967. The Scottish driver, who in the Formula 1 World Championship races for BRM, accepts the invitation of Ferrari, left without a man due to the tragic death of Lorenzo Bandini in Monte-Carlo. Stewart is a young man of value, who has proved himself over the past two years. His contribution to the sport competition, the one that will essentially decide the Ferrari-Ford duel, could be decisive. Four P4 model cars will make to the track at Le Mans. Ferrari sporting director Franco Lini has not yet decided on the crews. Amon, Scarfiotti, Parkes and Stewart are at his disposal, as well as the drivers of the North American Racing Team.
On Sunday the 21st of May 1967 Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes win ex-aequo the sixteenth edition of the Syracuse Grand Prix after taking turns leading the race behind the wheel of two red Ferrari single-seaters of 3000 cubic centimeters. The race, not valid for the world championship, is the first in Formula 1 after the Monaco Grand Prix on May 7, 1967, in which Lorenzo Bandini lost his life. The Sicilian competition is indeed dedicated to Lorenzo: the organizers are also giving away a special trophy, contested between seven riders, Scarfiotti, Parkes, Siffert, Irwin, Bonnier, Moser and Spence, who drive fifty-six laps of the circuit, for a total of 308 kilometers. The start is given under a cloudy sky. Parkes took the lead in first place, followed by Scarfiotti and Siffert, in the Cooper-Maserati, in turn followed by Spence. Bonnier, Moser and Irwin follow. Parkes lowers the average lap-time with each new lap; on lap five he is 186.37 km / h. On the twelfth lap the Swiss Moser retires. In the following laps a very light rain begins to fall, and the riders slow down. On the fifteenth lap, in fact, the average of the first drops to 182,701 km / h.
In the seventeenth round Irwin and Bonnier are lapped by the first four. At the 22nd Spence stops in the pits and announces his retirement due to mechanical problems. Ludovico Scarflotti takes the lead two laps later, overtaking Parkes, who has been leading the way up to now. A duel takes place between the two Ferrari drivers, which thrills the spectators. It seems that the Italian and the English, now sure of victory, undertake the task of creating a bit of suspense among the spectators, without however forcing the pace excessively. Halfway through the race, Parkes gets his head back, but the duel continues and on the thirty-eighth lap Scarfiotti, with a flash, overtakes Parkes right in front of the stands, in the middle of the enthusiasm of the fans. But after seven laps Parkes is again in the lead. In the last passages Parkes and Scarfiotti proceed side by side, in parade, repeating, in a certain sense, the performance offered in February in Daytona, in the United States. Thus, the two Ferraris cross the finish line together and stop in the pits. Then, after the congratulations, a minute of silence follows in memory of Bandini.
It is likeable that the simultaneous arrival of two cars in an “in-line” race - contemporary in the literal sense of the word, that is, with exactly identical times - never occurred before yesterday in Syracuse. Often, when two or more drivers of the same team dominate a race, it has become almost a practice for their sporting director to arrange the signals from the pits so that the cars reach the finish line in a group, so as to exploit their superiority as propaganda. Still recently, at the 24 Hours of Daytona, Franco Lini brought together the Ferraris of Lorenzo Bandini (winner together with Amon), Scarfiotti-Parkes and Rodriguez-Guichet; but it is also a constant rule that in these cases the finish line is left to the driver who was in command of the race in the last laps to cross the finish line first. Vice versa, it happened last year at Le Mans that the Ford executives, as they wanted the arrival of their cars in a group, involuntarily damaged the MiIes-Hulme couple (first to cross the finish line) in favor of the second couple McLaren-Amon but, according to the regulations, they were credited with the victory for starting thirty meters after the teammates. The Syracuse episode is not only exceptional, but probably also not foreseen by the Ferrari’s men. However, since the Sicilian Grand Prix is not a world championship test, fortunately there are no scoring issues that would have determined a case never contemplated.
With Scarfiotti's Dino forced to give up the start due to the unavailability of a spare piston and Phil Hill's seven-liter Chaparral and John Surtees' Lola knocked out by mechanical accidents, on Sunday 28 May 1967 the formidable Porsche team did not have rivals and asserts itself in the 1000 Kilometer of the Nurburgring, the sixth round of the international prototype trophy and the constructors' world championship, with the pair Schütz-Buzzetta, after the Porsche 2.2 entrusted to the German Mitter and the Italian-Belgian Lucien Bianchi is forced to stop in the pits right on the last lap, while he is in the lead. The latter is still ranked fourth. The success of the German cars, in a race held under the sun, is underlined by the conquest of the first four positions. Behind the winners, who ran 54'2"9 in six hours at an average of 145.5 km / h, the Porsches of Hawkins-Koch and Neerpash-Elford parade. Fifth is the Alfa Romeo 33 driven by the Italian De Adamich, who with this honorable placement he defends the colors of Italian motoring, compensating in some way for the unexpected forfeit of Ferrari. At the start, given at 9:00 am, the Porsches are ready to take the lead, while the Chaparral and the Lola, which thanks to the best times in practice have the first and second positions at the start, are slow to pick up the pace. Leading the way in the first seven laps it’s the Porsche 2.2 driven by the Swiss Siffert, while the Chaparral progressively recovers the disadvantage.
The Lola of Surtees, on the other hand, has to stop for trouble with the suspension. On lap 10, victim of steering problems, the Chaparral also retires immediately after a pit stop in which Mike Spence had replaced Hill at the wheel. The race thus takes on the aspect of a family fight between Porsches. Siffert had to abandon at the end of the eleventh lap, giving way to the Porsche 2.2 of Gerhard Mitter and Lucien Bianchi. In second place is the Porsche of the Germans Stommelen-Ahrens, followed by the smaller two-liter of Neerpasch-Elford. The most interesting technical episode, at one third of the race passed, is the impressive performance of the Forti-Mirage of the Belgian Ickx and the English Attwood. Thanks to the fewer stops for refueling, the American car recovered positions, moving to third place and then to second, following the withdrawal of Stommelen due to engine problems. On lap 27, Attwood's Mirage was only four seconds from Mitter's car, but three laps later he had to abandon the test due to tire problems. From that moment the race for the Porsche became a walk: no one could worry the drivers of the German company anymore.
The seventeenth Dutch Grand Prix, which will take place on Sunday 4 June 1967 on the sandy Zandvoort circuit, is distinguished by the large number of new cars that are ready for the first tests, and new models but with existing designs, modified versions or completely new designs. The Brabham team brings four cars to Zandvoort: a new chassis, with a 1967 Repco engine and a Hewland FT200 gearbox already used in Formula 2; the 1965 Brabham chassis used in Munich, with a 1967 engine and a heavy Hewland gearbox; and two 1966 Brabham-Repco V8s for Hulme. Scuderia Ferrari carries four cars too: the 1966 car with a long cockpit and a 1967 engine for Parkes, a new 1967 car for Scarfiotti and one of the cars used in the 1966 Italian Grand Prix as a reserve. The Lotus team starts off with pride, having two Lotus 49s with three-liter V8 Cosworth engines: one of the machines Graham Hill had tested in England and another completely new one, which Clark first sees when he arrives during the morning of the first day of rehearsals. Honda Racing brings to Surtees the two twelve cylinders cars it had in Monaco, both a little heavy and dated along with all the shiny new ones, while the B.R.M. arrives in Holland with the 1966/67 cars, with H16 engine, and a new lighter and thinner car in the whole cabin. Stewart will then be able to choose between the old model and the new one, while Spence will have the second old model.
Rindt and Rodriguez each have a Cooper-Maserati V12, but neither of them will be able to use the new 36-valve Maserati engine that appeared briefly in Monaco. Rindt's car is the lightest, with Hewland gearbox and it uses the new welded magnesium disc wheels, while Rodriguez has last year's cars. Gurney is the only driver of the Eagle team, because Ginther has decided to retire from racing after failing to qualify in Monaco and Indianapolis; obviously, his place on the team remains at his disposal, should he change his mind at the last moment. The team carries three Eagle-Weslake V12 cars, the two from Munich (even though one of them is unassembled), and a new car that is about a hundred pounds lighter. The overall design was not changed, but a great deal of use was made of titanium and magnesium, and this was the number one car that Gurney intended to use. The rest of the competitors’ group is made up of single appearances, including McLaren with its small and namesake Mclaren qith B.R.M. V8 engine, Irwin with Tim Parnell R3 Lotus-BRM V8, Anderson with his immaculate 4-cylinder Brabham-Climax and Siffert with Cooper-Maserati of the Walker team, although he didn't make it until the second day of testing. Courage was supposed to drive a second Parnell car, but couldn't be ready in time.
On Friday 2 June 1967 the rehearsals takes place in three separate sessions, and again on Saturday 3 June 1967 they rehearse in the afternoon. During the first tests the pace seems rather steady and cautious, with new cars being tested. Ferrari, B.R.M. and Honda tested their cars before qualifying and all claimed spectacular fastest laps, but the known standard remains the official record of 1'30"6 set by Clark in 1965 with the Lotus-Climax V8, a time that HuIme equals in 1966 with a Brabham-Repco V8. During the 1966 tests, with a car like Hulme's, Brabham set the best lap in 1'28"1, so it is obvious that any time above 1'30"0 indicates that the driver in question is not really trying, or that the car is not competitive. Drivers driving new cars are forced to running-in of components or get used to new cars, while others are able to dictate the pace immediately. During the tests Brabham's old chassis / new engine combination does not start, so the Australian driver is forced to practice with the new car. Meanwhile, the recalcitrant motor is removed from the old chassis, before being replaced.
Throughout the whole day the weather is dark and cloudy, also affecting the atmosphere on the Zandvoort circuit. Friday's rehearsals seem to be going rather gloomy. During the tests Graham Hill asks to modify the pedals of the new Lotus to adapt them to his feet, and Jim Clark is also committed to discovering the behavior of his new car. During the lunch break the gearbox is replaced on both cars, fitting similar boxes but with different ratios. Since it seems certain that Ginther will not participate in the race, his registration is given to the Scuderia Ferrari, giving Ludovico Scarfiotti the opportunity to have a definitive registration. Since the first tests the Brabham is fast and competitive, and the new Lotus with Cosworth engine is also starting to show its qualities. Surtees is satisfied with the time set with his Honda, because he achieved it with the race set-up, and Gurney also gives the idea of being in great shape. The American driver is very happy with his car. On the contrary, the Cooper proceed without any fuss, as the B.R.M. engine lacks acceleration at high speed, and even the Ferrari does not give the impression of being very competitive.
It is Gurney and Graham Hill who begin to attract attention towards the end of the afternoon, with the new Lotus 49 immediately showing itself extremely competitive on its first outing. Meanwhile, when Clark sets out to make a fast time, the Scottish driver perceives instability from his car. Back in the pits, the mechanics find nothing wrong; however, Jim is convinced that something is not as it should be. The only probable thing seems to be the front wheel bearing, which is new, and being tapered roller, it has probably fixed itself. If so, the latter would need to be re-adjusted. Friday's practice ends with Hill recording a time of 1’25"6, with Gurney following with a time of 1'25"8. Clark's suspension and steering are checked closely before Saturday's practice, and a slight play in the front wheel racing seems to be the only suspicious thing Jim may have sensed during the first practices. Gurney asks his mechanics to fit a different engine into his lightweight Eagle chassis, while Brabham has the good 1957 engine removed from its new chassis and installed in its 1965 chassis. The rest of the competition, hoping to keep the pace of the Lotus and Eagle, find excuses to justify their lack of competitiveness, such as the choice of tires or the wrong spring setting, reluctant to admit that the two Ford-Cosworth and Weslake engines are really powerful, being able to enjoy a power of 400 horsepower.
Shortly after the practises began, the problem that Clark had perceived, and which Chapman was unable to locate, is forcefully revealed; a ball bearing in the right rear hub breaks and splits the hub carrier. Shortly before, there was a certain sadness in Team Lotus because it seemed that it was a design error in the casting of the hub; but after the problem turned out to be a bad race, the sadness vanished. As a new set of hubs is being prepared and assembled, which takes up most of the afternoon, Clark is forced to watch Hill reject any attack on the fastest lap. Brabham is very happy with its old chassis, which is equipped with a really fast engine, as it manages to match Graham Hill's best time, while Gurney is not far behind, despite the engine leaking oil from the rear mounted main bearing. Hulme instead feels that he has no brakes, and his discs certainly seem fragile and puny compared to the discs of Lotus and B.R.M. Stewart is disappointed with the lack of horsepower of the H16 B.R.M. engine, which is also too bulky and heavy.
During the afternoon the engine in Hill's Lotus suddenly encounters a fault: but since it is an electrical fault, which is quickly resolved although no one is really sure how it originated, when the high-pitched screeching of the V8 rings strong again in the pit area, many rivals will show their unhappiness. Even the leaking oil seal on the Weslake engine fixes itself by chance, so Gurney's team smiles happily once again. With the practices almost over, there is a sudden increase of the activity on track: while everyone is looking for one last fast lap, the only two real challengers for the conquest of pole position are Gurney and Hill, who fight against each other, scoring times of 1'25"3. Gurney stops when he sets a time of 1'25"1, feeling he had done the best that could be done for Team Lotus; but Hill manages to match his opponent's time, making two or three laps at the same pace.
His last lap, when the checkered flag ends practice, is truly remarkable, and many people time it exactly in 1'25"0. However, the official timekeepers even set a time of 1'24"6, pushing the Lotus supporters hastily pocketing their stopwatches, before letting themselves go to the applause. Even the opponents do not protest, being rather all bewildered. As this last minute excitement takes place, Clark's car is completely repaired and the Scottish driver is able to do a few laps, without however having the opportunity to go really fast. All seventeen participants managed to score times below the rather artificial existing lap record of 1'27"5; it remains difficult to understand why the two BRMs were slower than the Cooper-Maserati, however the front row of the grid boasts a trio of very different cars, as well as very different drivers. After testing is over, Team Lotus is forced to work all night to check all the rear hub assemblies of Jim Clark's car, because obviously you want to avoid a repetition of problems in the race.
The latest Brabham’s structure to appear during early trials is the BT24-1, a multi-tubular frame, with the pedals pivoting on a lower cross member instead of hanging from an upper member. A Hewland FT200 Formula 2 gearbox is being tested on a trial basis to save weight, as it is about 30 pounds lighter than the normal Formula 1 Hewland gearbox. A small plaque on the dashboard of this new car reads: Top speed no higher than 170 mph. The AAR Eagle No. 104 frame by Gurney is the lightest: the forks, spoke rods, pedals and pedal attachments are all made of titanium, a very expensive material that can replace steel in terms of strength, but much lighter. Welding titanium is no easy thing, and racing experts applaud the machining and welding of the new Eagle frame with admiration. The 1967 Ferrari chassis, to accommodate the central exhaust 36-valve engines, have taller side pillars alongside the engine, giving more space to the fuel bags. The 1966 type chassis that Parkes still uses has the lower sills alongside the engine, because originally, with the 24-valve engines and the 36-valve Monza engines, the exhausts were outside the heads and passed over the thresholds before turning backwards.
With the central exhaust 36-valve engine installed, the 1966 chassis has side panels attached by Dzuz fasteners to fill the space. The reserve car that Scarfiotti used briefly in Saturday's tests has a 36-valve Monza-type engine with side exhausts above the sides of the frame. This car is the 0011, while Parkes has the 0012, Amon the 0003 and for the race Scarfiotti will have the 0005. The lighter B.R.M. H16 is much thinner in the cockpit, and features internal water pipes, a safety cage designed into the cockpit structure and differently shaped front quadrilateral wishbones, while the sheet steel structure that carries the revised rear suspension is lighter and simpler. As for the reliability the H16 cylinder engines are tuned to give around 375 horsepower. If they can maintain this reliability and return to the original 420 bhp, the B.R.M. could be competitive, given that the handling and maneuvers are satisfactory. The two Lotus-Cosworth V8s are the 49/1 and the 49/2. Number one is the first completed car, tested by Graham Hill, which appears in all the publicity photos, while number two was not tested until the Zandvoort race. Team Lotus doesn't have any spare engines with them.
On Sunday the 4th of June 1967 the race takes place over a length of ninety laps of the Zandvoort circuit, for a distance of 377.37 kilometers. Competitors are allowed to do a warm-up lap starting from the pits, before reaching the starting grid. For the race, Brabham decides to use the new center exhaust engine, mounted in the old chassis, while Hulme has a complete car from 1966. Amon rides a 1967 Ferrari, with the latest 36 valve center exhaust engine, as well as Scarfiotti, while Parkes' car is an experimental car, with a long cockpit from 1966. Clark drives the Lotus 49/2 and Hill the 49/1. Surtees leads the more recent of the two Hondas, Stewart and Spence drive the first B.R.M. H16 with external water pipes, Rindt and Rodriguez continue to use the same cars driven during the tests and Gurney uses the lightweight Eagle. The rest of the competitors have no choice, except that Irwin is forced to use a B.R.M. 1930 cubic centimeter V8, as a camshaft broke in final testing on its 2,070 cubic centimeter unit. Before starting the race, the most careful teams wrap all suspensions and steering joints in cellophane and adhesive tape, to keep out the sand that impregnates the circuit.
When all the drivers have their engines running and 2:30 pm is approaching, the fictitious starting grid is cleared of strangers and the seventeen cars calmly move forward towards the starting line, with Clark making his way in the second row. Thirty seconds to go and with the engine notes rising, an officer is seen wandering among the cars, trying to get Rodriguez to move back a little. As he turns to Rindt's car, the flag is lowered and Hulme and Surtees try to avoid the man, blocking the competitors behind them. More by luck rather than judgment, the man is not run over and joins the other race officials on the side of the track. The inevitable strong wind blowing from the north sea and the gray sky influences the day but everywhere it is dry, at least for the initial lap. Hill leads Brabham into the first corner, with Rindt, Gurney, Amon and Clark right behind. The Scottish driver is at the bottom of this group because he needs to be able to get some practice with his new car, having lost all Saturday practice. Also, in light of Hill's times, Clark's car was equipped with several springs and rear tires. Unlike Clark, Gurney's Eagle got off to a good start because, as the driver accelerates, gasoline is sprayed out of the obviously overfilled tank and runs straight down the engine intakes, causing a rich mixture. Otherwise, Hulme's Brabham appears to be running out of petrol or oil during the opening lap.
On the second lap McLaren swerves off the track and damages his car, but luckily the New Zealand driver remains unharmed. This episode entails the entry on the track of an official car, which goes around the circuit with a white flag; which allows to understand how the Zandvoort circuit lacks any road communication system. Meanwhile, Hill continues the race leading the pack, with Brabham vainly trying to keep up, while Gurney overtakes Rindt on lap three, followed by Amon and Clark. Hulme recovers ground very quickly, after hesitation on the starting line, and on the fourth lap he is behind Clark, who has already passed Amon, while he regained the third place on Gurney. The situation in the top positions does not present a very realistic picture, because Gurney's Weslake engine does not work well; the injection mixture is incorrect. Thus, Rindt manages to keep pace mainly because he manages to manage the car well despite the slippery surface of the circuit, while Clark continues the path of adaptation to the changes made to the car. Apparently the pace seems fast, but in reality it is rather slow; the leaders’ laps are around 1'33"0. During the seventh lap Gurney returns to the pits. The American driver makes a brief stop to adjust his fuel dispenser, before rejoining the race just as Surtees passes.
But during lap eight the Weslake engine makes a horrible sound and the car stops behind the pits with a broken injection carburetor. Gurney's race is over. In the following laps Hill fails to clear himself from Brabham, who follows in second place, and the gap still remains two seconds after the first ten laps, with Rindt (Cooper-Maserati), Clark (Lotus 49), Hulme (Brabham) and Amon (Ferrari) to follow. At intervals Rodriguez (Cooper-Maserati) also approaches the leading group, followed by Stewart (B.R.M.), Parkes (Ferrari), Surtees (Honda), Scarfiotti (Ferrari), Spence (B.R.M.) and Irwin (Lotus-B.R.M.), while Anderson is already lapped and Siffert is in the pits; the suspension of his Cooper-Maserati is observed by his mechanics. During the eleventh lap the consternation rises in the Team Lotus garage because Graham Hill's car stops a few tens of meters from the stand reserved for the British manufacturer and the mechanics, with too much precipitation, push it forward, a gesture not contemplated by the international regulations. As it is well known, only the driver can push his car out of the area reserved for refueling and repairs.
As the race continues, a crowd of mechanics swarms around the Cosworth V8 engine, which after a few ignition tests gives off a short, flat-sounding blur, and is then taken to the paddock with the car. On Hill's engine one of the camshaft drive gears is broken but in reality, even before the engine could finally fail, Hill had heard a clicking noise. In any case, Colin Chapman, manager of the team, had already preferred to stop Hill in order not to incur an official disqualification. For five short laps Brabham holds the lead, but it is clear that Clark has had enough practice and is now about to start racing seriously. On the fifteenth lap the Scotsman conquers the second place against Rindt, and on the sixteenth lap he takes the lead overtaking Brabham; this comeback coincides with the drying of the track. While Clark continues undisturbed at the head of the race, Rodriguez also stops on lap 39 with a broken gearbox, and on lap forty-first Rindt also retires, due to a broken suspension.
In just twenty laps Clark manages to create a gap of two seconds on Brabham, but he doesn’t stop here: with the passage of time the gap becomes wider and wider, and it does not take long before it can be measured at one second per lap. Without much effort, the all-new Lotus-Cosworth V8 turns at just over 1’28 "per lap, and there is no need to go faster to outpace the rest of the pack. Even if none of the positions will change until the finish, there will be no lack of action from the drivers, because for example Chris Amon, in fourth place, will try to overtake Hulme, but will have neither the surplus of power nor experience to overtake the New Zealander. Shortly before halfway through the race, Rindt gradually slows down until he's joined by Stewart, even though the excited commentator reporting the race on the circuit seems to think that it is Stewart who’s accelerating. At the bottom of the group, among the riders who have not yet been lapped by Clark, Scarfiotti keeps pace with John Surtees, visibly unhappy in his Honda. These two seem to be able to gain ground on Rodriguez, but in reality the Cooper-Maserati is slowing down, until it stops behind the pits with the gearbox broken during the thirty-ninth lap. Rindt takes his Cooper-Maserati to the pits and retires because he can't cope with the way he behaves; at first, since the problem is not visible, in the absence of an explanation it is thought that the ZF differential has had an anomaly.
Meanwhile, Irwin and Spence are lapped by Clark. On lap forty-fourth Clark also lapps the powerful Honda and takes the advantage over Brabham to eleven seconds, while Hulme in third place is still chased by Amon, in the first of the Ferraris. During the forty-fifth lap also Jackie Stewart, fifth ahead of Parkes, stops in the pits due to an anomaly that prevents the use of the front brakes. This is because the fluid that is used in the brake system came out of the tank during the race, and most of it slipped between the pedals. In a short time the container is topped up and Stewart can resume the race. But the Scot only completed six more laps before retiring for good in the pits. Clark's driving on board of the new Lotus continues undaunted and unchallenged: his driving is smooth and effortless, while the Cosworth V8 engine never misses a beat, so Parkes is lapped in due course and Irwin and Anderson will be lapped one more time. During the sixty-first lap also Brabham lapps the Honda of John Surtees. As mentioned, in the meantime Amon does not give up the battle and waits for any opening that Hulme may inadvertently grant him. But the Monaco Grand Prix winner makes no mistakes. This unsuccessful pursuit for third place tends to overshadow Clark's good performance, who stands in front of everyone and drives with such ease and style, even if the clutch mechanism doesn't work well.
From time to time Amon joins his Ferrari to Hulme's Brabham but never manages to complete the overtaking, because the New Zealand driver always makes sure he is in the right place at the right time, thus preventing the tactic of diving into corners or cutting his young opponent. In the rear Spence's car shows some failure of the B.R.M. 16 cylinders, as it always holds the gear lever in place. At some point the Swiss driver will be forced to pass Irwin far away who is driving very well and without hitches. Surtees' Honda continues undaunted to lose power, until the British rider is forced to surrender during the seventy-third lap, due to a problem with the accelerator pedal. Back in the pits, John also mumbles to his mechanics about the malfunctioning of the differential gears, which are not working properly. This retirement saves Honda from the embarrassment of being lapped by the green and yellow Lotus for the second time, making its debut in this Grand Prix. With fifteen laps still to go the situation sees Clark run completely uncontested at the head of the race, with Brabham keeping second place but easing the chase, allowing the Hulme / Amon duo to get closer.
Clearly, if no one has any more problems, the race will end with the positions unchanged: Team Lotus obviously shows some anxiety, as the mechanics know that Hill's Cosworth engine has failed. But certainly Clark can’t know that, and having no idea what happened to his teammate's car he continues his race, just hoping that whatever it is, it does not show up on his car as well. With seven laps to go, Hulme and Amon overtake and double Parkes; at this stage the Ferrari engineer does his best to cause some confusion hoping that the young Amon would pass, but it takes more than two Ferraris to ruffle Hulme. Meanwhile, the gap between Brabham and Hulme drops to six seconds. But as the Aussie slows the pace, realizing he can't do anything to catch up with Clark, the Brabham mechanics suddenly realize that Jack is unaware that Hulme is being pursued forcefully by Amon, having only signaled that Hulme was several seconds behind. So they display a sign to Brabham indicating:
"Hulme and Amon - 6sec".
At which Brabham quickly opens the gap to ten seconds and so the race ends, with a jubilant Team Lotus, which includes Chapman, Duckworth, Lotus engineers and mechanics incredibly happy with this exceptional victory with a completely new car design, and Clark who once again shows his true skills as a Grand Prix driver. Brabham is well satisfied with second and third places, and Ferrari must realize that all they need is one of the best five drivers in the team to achieve success. Jim Clark returns to win after a rather dark period. The Scottish driver made a name for himself on the Zandvoort circuit at the wheel of the Lotus equipped with the brand new eight-cylinder Ford engine. Clark improves the record of the Dutch Grand Prix, covering the 377 kilometers of the race at an average of 168.087 km / h. In second place comes Jack Brabham, followed by teammate Denis Hulme, both on Repco-Brabham. Amon, Parkes and Scarfiotti, all the three of them driving 12-cylinder Ferraris, finish fourth, fifth and sixth.
Clark, who last year and in the first two rounds of the championship had to race with a car less equipped than its rivals due to the lower engine power, has found the right means to express all his qualities as an ace of the steering wheel. The lightweight single-body chassis of his Lotus is equipped with the Ford-Cosworth V 8 developed by the Germans of the Detroit company, which seems to want to definitely take an interest in Formula 1 races after having already challenged Ferrari in the field of powerful prototype cars. The Lotus weighs less than 600 kilos, the engine delivers a power of nearly 400 horsepower: an ideal ratio to maximize the performance of the car, which in Zandvoort proved to be very stable, easy to handle and capable of exceptional acceleration. Clark, who has won the Dutch Grand Prix for the fourth time in five years, took the lead in the sixteenth of the ninety laps and was never threatened after that, he even finished the last two laps with a certain peace of mind. The leaders of Ford (England), present at the circuit, were able to see that the money for the production of their racing engines was well spent, given the results obtained by Team Lotus.
Overall, the test of the Repco-Brabham and the Ferraris was discreet, confirming their good “distance holding” qualities. Hulme, who won last month in Monte-Carlo, has consolidated his position at the top of the world championship standings, while the placings of Amon, Scarfiotti and Parkes are more than honorable, considering that they are in their first experiences in Formula 1 Grand Prix. At the end of the race Brabham blames his tires as the reason why he couldn't catch up with Clark; his fatigue made him think he had a slow puncture, but that was complete imagination. As for McLaren and Surtees, these were minor spectacular crashes. The New Zealander slipped on the second lap in one of the sand dunes surrounding the circuit of Zandvoort, a seaside resort a few kilometers away from Amsterdam, damaging the front of his McLaren with B.R.M. engine. The British, a few laps from the end, swerved in a turn touching the protective barriers. He reached the pits, but there was no more time to repair his Honda. Stewart, Rindt, Gurney and Rodriguez had to retire due to mechanical problems. The next championship round will take place on June 18, 1967 in Spa, for the Belgian Grand Prix.