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#154 1967 Belgian Grand Prix

2021-09-19 00:00

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#1967,

#154 1967 Belgian Grand Prix

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Le Mans 24 Hours will take place on Saturday 11th June 1967 at 4 p.m. for a whole night and day. About sixty cars of different displacement and power (or to better say it, how many of them will be able to stay in the race) will follow each other in a crazy race and the fastest cars will round in the 13.461 meters of the flowing Sarthe ring at over 200 km/h. Le Mans is the most important race in the international calendar, the one which is seen as the most interesting by the Houses which dedicate themselves to the sport activity because of the propagandistic reflexes that an eventual affirmation could have. The 24 Hours was born in back in the 1923 to be a resistance competition reserved to private cars/tourism vehicles, so without any doubt its purpose was to promote, at the time, various technic progresses, it changes its regulation and aim to become a specialistic competition done with race cars in substance if not in form.   

Today the crazy international regulation with the creation of the Sport-Prototype category, give the constructors the freedom to do almost everything, these cars’ power is incredible, the limit for the Fords is 550 horses, their particular regulations try to limit the danger of the races because the average lap speed is much higher than 200 km/h. Unfortunately, in the past Le Mans has seen very sad days, such as in 1955 in which died the driver Levegh but also many spectators. After that many things were done to improve the safety of the circuit, in these past few weeks for example many devices were developed: about fifty safety vehicles, sixty-six doctors, two hundred nurses, one hundred and ninety-fine firemen all around the circuit with flame resistant suits, two hundred and fifty race commissioners. In the end all the drivers must wear flame resistant race suits and for safety reasons in every car there must be a sign to understand the material of the body of the car in order to help the rescuer choose the right things to extinguish the flames if it happens: red if it’s plastic, yellow for aluminium, blue for sheet metal and green for magnesium.

 

For the third consecutive year the most interesting element of the sports meaning of the Le Mans 24 Hours was the comparison between Ferraris and Fords and their official teams. The American power versus the Italian genius, it is written in a French newspaper. The commitment of the Modenese’s House is extremely big and in addition they lost their best driver, Bandini; but the efficient of their cars- the prestigious 330 P-4 that has already beaten the Fords in Daytona in the same distance as the 24 Hour- is exceptional and gives full trust. Ferrari’s couples of drivers will be Scarfiotti- Parkes, Vaccarella- Amon, Klass- Sutcliffe; others, less modern, will see talented drivers such as Rodriguez, Muller, Guichet. Non less fierce is the Detroit formation in which we see Foyt- Gurney, Revson- Donohue, Andretti- Ginter, Bianchi- McLaren, Gardner- Bucknum, Hulme- Ruby, four of them are in the newer MK IV, they can reach 340 km/h as a maximum speed.

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The Americans are the revolutionary but less consistent Chapparal, driven by Phil Hill-Spence and Jennings- Johnson. At 4:00 p.m. on Saturday 11th June 1967 the Le Mans 24 Hours begins, this is a beautiful car racing that every year let the drivers and their cars push the limits. Fifty-four cars begin the race, in these Henry Ford II and Giovanni Agnelli with his brother, the lawyer Umberto Agnelli. In the morning a little ceremony takes place in the square named after Pinifarnia, in front of the Museo dell’Automobile, in memories of the Turin coachbuilder who died last year, a passionate sportsman who also collaborated with Ferrari. Right after the start of the race, given by the French Youth and Sport Minister, Francois Missoffe, at the second turn it occurs a tangle of cars and Bucknum and Hawkins’ Ford Mark II takes the lead, it ends the first hour of the race over 229 km/h average speed, followed by Gurney- Foyt and McLaren- Donohue’s Ford Mark IV (1967 model), Hill- Spence’s Chaparral and Amon- Vaccarella and Rodriguez- Baghetti’s Ferrari.

 

After just a few laps Surtees’ Lola had to quit the race. Bucknum continued to lead past the first hour, up to the first pitstops. After all the leaders had pitted, it was Gurney- Foyt now leading, the Chaparral keeps the second place, the Fords of Andretti- Lucien Bianchi in third place, McLaren- Donohue in fourth place and Scarfiotti- Parkes in fifth. At 5:23 p.m. Salmon’s private Ford caught fire, two hundred metres before Mulsanne’s turn. The driver was able to stop on the bank of sand of the same turn and got out of flames, while firemen extinguished the fire. Salmon has light burns in his hands and face and is taken to Le Mans hospital. After a while Grossman’s Ferrari ends of the sand bank as well but without any consequences. Then, Dennis Hulme, one of the drivers of number 4 Ford with Ruby, does a few speed laps, the fastest in 3'23"671 equal to 238.014 km/h (the last record was set the year before by Gurney, a little more of 230 km/h).

 

At the end of the third hour Gurney- Foyt’s Ford is still in pole, second place is occupied by Hill- Spence’s Chaparral, in third place there is McLaren- Donohue’s Ford, fourth Scarfiotti- Parkes’ Ferrari and fifth Amon- Vaccarella’s Ferrari. The average speed is higher than 224 km/h, also thanks to the quite low temperature, which is great for the resistance of the tyres. Maybe it is also because of this that by the end of the day we can see just four DNFs: very few considering the years before. At 8:00 pm, after four hours of race there are a few changes in positions: behind Gurney- Foyt there is still Andretti- Bianchi’s Ford (but lapped); the Chaparral is in third place, McLaren in fourth in front of Scarfiotti. The average speed of the first places is still rising: 225.656 km/h.

 

After a little while the effort begins to weaken the drivers but also the cars: there are seven DNFs, Guichet- Muller’s Ferrari as well. At 10:00 p.m., after a quarter of the race, the team Gurney-Foyt is still in first place (average speed 223 km/h), followed by McLaren- Donohue, Hill-Spence, Scarfiotti-Parkes and Amon-Vaccarella lapped of one lap, Andretti- Ginther and Schlesser- Ligier (on a Ford) two laps lapped. Sometime after Amon- Vaccarella’s Ferrari, while driven by the New Zealander, went out on the straight because of a small fire. Another version of the story is that the driver would have gone out on the straight on purpose to go out of the car before the fire extended. The driver is fine. The 24 Hour has lost one of the most brilliant protagonists. At about 11:00 p.m., Scarfiotti- Parkes attacked, they got over Hill’s Chaparral and Andretti’s Ford: the Italian team is one lap behind Gurney- Foyt but nothing is already decided. At 12:00 p.m., Scarfiotti- Parkes went back in third place, two laps behind Gurney and one lap form McLaren; other two Fords are in fourth and fifth place.

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In the meantime mechanic struggles take out of the games other cars of big or small engine capacity. In these, during the nineteenth hour, Klass- Suteliffe’s Ferrari, caused again by an explicable sagging of a tire, with the consequence of a transmission failure; and the Chaparral as well, stopped because of an oil leak form the automatic transmission. The Porsches came through the first group even though they don’t have any chance of winning because of the relatively limit of their engine power, just 2000 cc but extremely regular. The last few hours are full of suspense. Gurney and Foyt’s Ford looks okay but at some point it stops in the pit lane to try to repair a door that doesn’t want to stay in its hinges (it would have meant to be disqualified). In Ferrari, during the morning they received the visit of the lawyer Giovanni Agnelli, Fiat president, nobody gives up: Scarfiotti and Parkes keep chasing and gain other two laps from Ford. Everyone wonders if this American car will resist.

 

It has by now and even without slowing down too much like safety would tell, at 10:00 a.m. the general average drops of just two km/h. At the end, there is a big party on the podium specially build up foe the winners. Cork of champagne bottles jumps everywhere; Foyt (winner of the Indianapolis 500 just two weeks before), Gurney, mr Ford, the sport director Carrol Shelby, can’t stop hug each other.  In the meantime a mechanic at the Ferrari box waves an Italian flag almost to assert the right of the poor ones to have a little consideration. Ferrari deserves this consideration. It has lost with honor and big dignity. For the second time in a row the Ford wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans: the team was formed by the no more young Dan Gurney and by the Indianapolis wizard A. J. Foyt who finishes the exhausting race with an average speed of 218.038 km/h and improves Ford’s last record (McLaren- Amon) by over 16 kilometers. So no doubts: American cars have dominated form the first to the last hour of the race and the advantage of the winner was about four laps- 52 kilometers- over Scarfiotti- Parkes’ Ferrari.

 

Detroit’s colossus, with over 2.000.000 manufactured cars in a year, in the most prestigious car grand prix of the world, was right on Enzo Ferrari’s artisan company; the power of the means have suffocated, without humiliate them, the genius resources of a little factory relegated in the Emilian plain. Maybe, it is in the order of things, maybe behind all this there is a bitter logic, inevitable, but no need to dramatize; since when Henry Ford II (who even now, like last year, is in Le Mans with his wife to enjoy this thrilling moment pf satisfaction) has decided to enter in the field of competition with the purpose of benefit, it was easy to think that he would have achieved his goals. It took its time, you can’t improvise technique, but the reality of the balance and of the organization has crushed human values that maybe belong to an unrepeatable romantic era. So, first place for Gurney-Foyt’s Ford, second place for Scarfiotti-Parkes’ Ferrari, third place for Mairessa-Beurlys’ Ferrari and fourth place for McLaren-Donohue’s Ford. It’s not a bad result for the Italian cars, whose drivers fought until the last minute with incredible courage, with no resign.

 

It must be said that Ferrari had to fight against Ford with a valuable team but after the loss of Lorenzo Bandini who has already won in Le Mans, and in the first practice in April did the higher averages. The Ford, beyond the win, got the record of the 24 Hour doing 5232.900 kilometers, at the incredible average speed we said before (it’s the first time in Le Mans history that somebody goes over 15.000 kilometers and this is a record Ferrari broke as well by being in second and third place), Hulme and Mario Andretti’s fastest lap, 238.014 km/h (before it was Guney’s 230.103 km/h). All this say enough on the inevitable technical progresses of the American cars of the new type  Mark IV of the category Sport prototype. It's a hundred percent an American win, for the car but also for its drivers, that Gurney and that Foyt whose have dominated the race from the second to the twenty-fourth hour. Dan Gurney, Californian, it’s not an inexperienced driver: he is 36 years old, and he races in the European circuits form 1956. He was an official driver for Ferrari, for Porsche and for Brabham; at the moment he is racing in Formula 1 for the Eagle and in sport races for Ford.

 

He has raced in Le Mans several times and he is a great experienced driver even though he maybe lacks the sprint of a Clark or a Surtees. Anthony Joseph Foyt is thirty-two years old and was born in Houston, Texas, he is new in the European scene but in the USA he is a little bit less than an idol: four-time American champion, has won the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, 1964 and this year, twelve days ago, driving the Coyote-Ford, earning more than 100.000.000 of Italian liras. In Le Mans he has earned very less: 1.200.000 Italian liras and has to divide them with Gurney (in addition to 500.000 Italian liras for the win in the energetic index, which is calculated based on the fuel consumption, on the kilometers done in the twenty-four hour and on the weight of the car). The big crowd in Le Mans didn’t forget to cheer for Ferrari and his men. After the race, in the Italian box everyone is calm. Anybody curse on bad luck, because where there was it took Ford and Ferrari impartially. Quite everyone was conscious to have done everything they could, from the director to the mechanics to the drivers.

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French newspaper all agreed to say that the Ford was dominant at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but they also agreed that Ferrari was a great rival for them, they also underline the enormous difference between the equipment and possibilities of the Detroit giant over the Emilian garage. In Le Figaro it is written:

 

“The power of the dollar has won, but we should discuss which of the contendents is the bigger over the human resources".

 

It is embedded it itself the fact that, outside rivalry and moral consideration, the technic shines the big race. Over the 5230 kilometers done by Gurney and Foyt’s Ford during the Le Mans 24 Hours, at the incredible average speed of 218 km/h. We also should remember that the effective average speed was even higher, because between refueling pit stops, tires changes (about twenty, mainly front tires), replacement of brake pads and various mechanics checks the winning car has lost more or less an hour of the race. So, the 5230 kilometers of the race were done in twenty-three hours and the average speed was 226-227 km/h. It was an impressive performance as well as the crazy top speed detected on the long Hunaudieres straight: 340 km/h for the MKIV Ford. This means doing nine meters per second, landing speed of a jet plane. These numbers let spontaneously born a question, admiring their technic meaning: what could be the benefit, of the car racing, exasperated to the limit of the mechanic and human possibilities, have or could have a valid utilitarian excuse.

 

The race in Le Mans, with its crazy speed, luckily ended with no big incidents, if we don’t count the burns on Salmon’s face and hands, Amon’s Ferrari fire with no consequences and the contusions on Andretti because of the rip of the seat bells after the multiples collision that on Sunday night has taken out the game three Fords. In the same weekend, 32 drivers died in French streets and 215 were injured, if this means that the tracks are safer than roads. But the topic is different. The people in charge of the international motor sport are in front of an extremely dangerous reality; give absolute freedom to the car’s constructors of the category sport-prototype (the ones that have competed in the 24 Hours) about displacement, took to the current absurd limits, to the 7000 cubic centimeters and to the 550 horsepower of the Fords Mark IV and also to the almost 350 km/h of maximum speed. On their part, the Ferraris 330 P4 have 4000 cubic centimeters engines and can reach 450 horsepower, their wight is almost 200 kilograms lower compared to the American cars.

 

All this is unreasonable and everyone wonder where it all will end, if it is not an authentic challenge to the dynamic laws with all the consequences that may arise. To be honest, between the engineers some worries can be sensed, if the propose to set a limit to the displacement next year is true, hypothesis that will find the Americans hostile because, at the basis of their technique, they have huge engines. To go back to the Le Mans race, a confirmation of the beautiful performance of Ferrari, which finished in second place with Scarfiotti and Parkes, we can see that the distance from Gumey- Foyt’s Ford was fifty-two kilometers, which is not that much, after twenty-four hours of race. Both the cars of the English- Italian couple and the Ferrari which finished in third place with Mairesse- Beurlys, have improved their records, getting over 5000 kilometers of distance. It has not been a defeat but an honorable defense of a prestige that the two wins of Ford in Le Mans cannot delete. After the race it has been asked to Henry Ford II if next year he will come back to play his cards in the most prestigious motor racing.

 

"It’ll depend on factors unrelated form my will, if for example the displacement of the engines will be limited, we won’t be there for sure. In second place, I can’t take decisions by myself: I have to account to my board of directors, in which there is somebody who thinks that the outgoings from the factory to the sport sector are excessive".

 

It seems verify that just to participate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford has spent something like two billion of Italian liras. We don’t know if business and advertising benefit compensate this effort, but now more than ever the difference of means with Ferrari seem enormous, we believe that for Ferrari that amount of budget is distributed in the management of at least three years of races. The imbalance explains a lot of things.

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Unlike the French, German and English national clubs, the Belgian Royal Automobile Club has no doubts on the status and the place where they want the Grand Prix to take place. The latter one will take place in the magnificent International Circuit of Francorchamps, in the wooded hills of the city of Spa. The list of the enrolled is similar to the one done for the Holland Grand Prix. Ferrari brings the same three cars and drivers, Amon, Scarfiotti and Parkes, Honda calls Surtees with his two 12- cylinder cars, the B.R.M. shows up with Stewart, a H16 and a Tasman V8, and Spence with a V8, Parnell with a Lotus-B.R.M. V8, a H16 B.R.M. for Irwin, and in the end the Team Lotus with two Type 49 for Clark and Hill. Brabham team has with them the car that he has already tried in Holland, in which is set an F1 Howland gearbox, a 1965 chassis and a 1967 engine, with these set in Hulme’s car Brabham has ridden in Holland. Cooper took to Spa the same three cars used in Zandvoort for Rindt and Rodriguez, while Gurney can use the Eagle number 104, a light titanium car and a further reserve car and engine.

 

Anderson, Bonnier and Ligier race with their cars, and Siffert races with the same Rob Walker’s car as always. McLaren should have to race with an AAR-Eagle but the team don’t have a reserve engine. Free practice will take place on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th June, from 4:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m. Jim Clark will dominate the scene on his Lotus-Cosworth (Ford) V8. If that’s true that everyone expected the Scottish driver to be that competitive at Spa, just a few were prepared to see the incredible speed he is going to reach during the practice. Last year John Surtees was the faster, going around in 3’38’’0 without too much effort with his 1966 Ferrari, so it was quite natural that a time of 3'40"0, was the minimum time for a complete lap for every official driver this year. Jim will also overcome the expectations going around in 3'28"1. In May the Chaparral driven by Phil Hill made a lap time of 3’35’’6 (average of almost 146 mph), so Grand Prix three liters cars could have easily beated this time. But nobody could have ever expected a time this fast.

 

At Spa the Lotus set up some little air deflector on the sides of the nose fairing, because when they get to 190 mph there is the sensation that the front could suffer of aerodynamic lift; team Brabham also try some similar deflector. The B.R.M. team come to Spa with low expectations regarding the cars with H16 engine performances so therefore decides to lend one to team Parnell, but before the ending pf the practices the British team decides to take back the car and give it to Spence, because they are nicely surprised by the way the cars look incredibly competitive. Stewart try a V8 and a H16, like Spence, and they both decide to use the cars with 3 liters and 16 cylinders engine, that they seem competitive down to the fast downhill to the Masta-ess-bend, even though they lack a little bit of power in the long straight form Stevelot to Francorchamps. Irwin does the practice with team Parnell’s Lotus-B.R.M., before he drives the H16, and in the end he finishes with the Tasman V8 that the team used in Monaco. At 5:00 p.m., times begin to go under 3'40"0 for many drivers, but team Brabham is not happy because Hulme thinks that the old Brabham is undrivable and so he doesn’t do any lap.

 

 For this reason, the New Zealander driver doesn’t have any official lap time. Brabham, instead, seemed happy in his car, but neither of the two Repco engines have enough power to think they can challenge Cosworth engines. Towards the end of the second hour of practice team Lotus drives begin to use the 400 horsepower of their engines, all the insiders are amazed when Clark does a time of 3'31"5, while Hill does a time of 3'32"9. A watchful eye was given to Dan Gurney also, who does a time of 3'34"1 despite he slows down to go back to the box. After that, Clark does two incredibly fast times, in 3'31"2, followed by a time of 3'29"0, at an average speed of 242.870 km/h (almost 151 mph). right before the end of practice, Gurney responds to the Scottish driver doing an impressive time of 3'31"2. But because of Colin Chapman isn’t fully satisfied of the Lotus’ chassis performance, in the box- between the insiders- they ask themselves what would have happened while he and Clark would have considered it in line with the expectations.

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The next day the drivers will find ideal meteorological conditions. However, during the first hour of the race there won’t be much activity. Irwin tries his best with his B.R.M., Amon impresses the public driving his Ferrari and Stewart takes to the limit his B.R.M. H16, obtaining good results. Surtees, with his Honda V12, isn’t even able to improve the time he did in 1966 with Ferrari, and he is even slower of the slowest Ferrari, driven by Scarfiotti. The Walker Cooper-Maserati has gear problems, so Siffert is forced to borrow the reserve Cooper-Maserati for a certain number of laps, with its magnesium wheels. Right after 5:00 p.m. the rhythm increases, and all the drivers must make an ultimate effort to get better times. Clark is about to finish his quick one when he finds Amon and Scarfiotti in his tow, so he decides to slow down and let them pass, to have free track and do a lapn in 3'28"1, at the average speed of 243.921 km/h (over 151 mph).

 

Saturday 17th June 1967 Gurney matches the time did during Friday, 3'31"2, taking the second spot on the grid and demonstrating that the time did during the previous day wasn’t just luck, while Brabham was able to obtain a good time, 3'35"0, thanks to some clever slip-streaming. Hill’s Lotus 49 was competitive but leaked oil from the Cosworth engine, so the British driver does not improve the time set during the first day of practice. Rindt and Stewart are both in good shape and, not by chance, they respectively set the fourth and the sixth overall time. Attending the practices, it is always more evident that the Grand Prix cars are overcoming their grip capacity, something we didn’t see from 1951. The Lotus also don’t behave very well, when taken to the speed at which Clark and Hill do the curves in the extremely fast Belgian circuit. The on rail curved style we’ve been used to is disappearing, now that the real 3 liters and 400 horsepower engines are in action.

 

Sunday 18th June 1967 the Belgian Grand Prix, which lasts 28 laps, it’s starting at 3:30 p.m. Before, however, as always the drivers are asked to take part on a parade of cars driven by the members of the RACB club, after that they have to do a warm-up lap in their racing cars before they get ready on the grid. The first row is impressive, with Clark, Gurney and Hill, in the order, on board of their Lotuses 49 (in which neither of them use the front air delfector) and Eagle-Weslake. For the start of the race is chosen the dummy-grid deployment. At the lowering of the mossiere’s flag, Graham Hill cannot turn on the Cosworth V8 engine of his Lotus and is forced to retire at the start, while the other seventeen cars sprang regularly. Clark leads the group going up the hill after the Eau Rouge first, followed by Rindt, Stewart, Parkes, Amon, Surtees, Rodriguez and Gurney, whose seem to have grip problems in his Eagle and so he goes off the ideal trajectory.

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The unhappy Hill, in the meantime, goes back to his box where is set up a new battery and he join the race when the others are at the Stavelot turn. At the fast and tricky Blanchimont left turn Parkes’ car slips and crashes badly. Ferrari driver is thrown out of the car while it keeps turning on itself. The leaders complete the first lap: Clark keeps the leading of the race, followed by Stewart on a H16 B.R.M. which seems very competitive, and he arrives at the finish line- in front of the box- Chris Amon, a bit depressed after he has seen that his teammate flew out of the car, Rindt, and Gurney catches up after a non-happy start of the race.

 

On the way back from Stavelot, in the opening lap, the crankshaft broke on surtee’s car. The British driver was therefore forced to pit, briefly stopping on Ferrari’s lay-by to talk to the mechanics and reassure them on Parkes’ health conditions. Irwin was forced to pit too due to a break in the valvetrain of his B.R.M. V8 engine. Clark kept going closing his lap in 3'35"9, progressively distancing himself from Stewart, who, in the meantime, fought hard not to lose too much ground in favor of the Scottish driver and in order to keep gurney behind, in third place. Amon, Brabham, Rodriguez and Rindt follow in order, forming a pretty disciplined group of drivers fighting with one another. A bit behind, Spence, manages to keep his B.R.M. H16 ahead of Scalfarotti’s Ferrari, who, just like Amon, got pretty disheartened from the image of Parkes’ crash. During the second lap Graham Hill pitted, and then again in the third lap, retiring his car a bit later due to clutch a gearbox issues.

 

As the first five laps were completed, the audience got the chance to witness a percent exhibition of the current Formula 1 racing situation and the high-speed driving at this best form, having the chance to see Clark (Lotus), Stewart (B.R.M.) and Gurney (Eagle) in action. These three drivers are moving at a higher speed than their rivals, making them look as amateurs. This situation perfectly represents the wonderful picture of driver, car, engine and team combined all together. Hill and Surtees are the only two drivers missing from in this incredible exhibition as they are both in their boxes. In the meantime, Parkes is transported very efficiently at the ambulance station, set up behind the box, and luckily, in the eight lap a Ferrari mechanic displays an encouraging sign to Amon and Scarfiotti, the sign showed the words PARX OK, since his wounds were limited to a leg and a broken wrist. In the following laps Chris Amon rhythm is not the best, because the New-Zealander, is stuck behind Rodriguez and is in some way hinders by the oil getting out of the Cooper-Maserati’s engine of the Mexican driver.

 

Clark is implacable: with a record lap of 3'33"3, during the tenth lap he gains twenty-one seconds of advantage on Stewart. Gurney, who’s in third place, tries to close the gap between him and Stewart but he can’t reduce it fast enough to worry the Scottish driver. However, at the end of the twelfth lap Clark turn on the hairpin of the La Source and goes back to the box, in the consternation of the presents, with the Cosworth engine working on seven cylinders instead of eight. Stewart goes on pole, followed by the blue and silver Eagle-Weslake, but just for a few meters, because Gurney moves away and goes back to box. The America driver shouts to his mechanics, telling them that the pressure of the fuel is low, and then he goes away with a roaring engine. In the meantime, at the Lotus box the found that a sparkplug is disintegrated, probably because it has been close with too much strengths; it will take a long time before Clark is able to go back in the race.

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Therefore, at the beginning the thirteenth lap Stewart (B.R.M.) is leading the race, followed by Gurney (Eagle), Brabham, Rodriguez, Amon, Rindt and Clark who goes back on track at the seventh place, before Scarfiotti, Spence and Hulme, while Bonnier has to retire during the tenth lap with a great relief of the number two Brabham driver; the other three, Siffert, Anderson and Ligier are all lapped. Gureny follows Stewart at fourteen seconds, at the end of the fourteenth lap, but he doesn’t seem to gain rapidly. In P3 follows Rodriguez, but very behind, whose precedes Amon and Rindt of a few seconds, and Brabham a lot behind them. In the next few minutes is clear that there’s a problem in the V8 Brabham-Repco, not only because Jim Clark is forced to go back in the box again with another broken candle, caused by a flaw in its structure, but also because during the fourteenth lap Hulme has to stop, because the recovery system of his V8 Repco engine doesn’t work properly and the combustion chamber is being filled of oil. We will see the same problem in Brabham’s engine, who will have to retire from the race during the fifteenth lap.

 

After the change of the yet another candle, Clark goes back on track but the clutch doesn’t work properly, making difficult the gear change. After the struggle with the lever the working mechanism goes out of phase, making possible the movement in one direction only. Clark can only use the third and fifth gear, but the Scottish keeps going, even without hoping in some exceptional results. In the meantime Stewart keeps under control Gurney’s possible assault. The B.R.M. H16 engine is working regularly at the end of the seventeenth lap, Stewart has a twelve second advantage on the American driver who follows him. But after a while, without any warning Stewart begins to have issues in the connection between the gear shift in the cockpit and the mechanism of the gear shifter in the back of the car. When the Scottish was able to put the lever in the right place, the mechanism in the back goes out of phase, and in neutral the engine speed keeps going higher, over 12.000 rpm. While Stewart has to do the rest of the race keeping a hand on the lever and the other on the wheel, Gurney gains four seconds every lap and at the twenty-first lap the two contestants pass in front of the boxes next to each other. Gurney takes the lead on the hill of Burnenvile, while Scarfiotti stops at the box because of a broken hydraulic hose of his back brakes.

 

In the meantime Amon could finally take over the two Cooper-Maserati and goes far from them. While the gear issues on Stewart’s car keep getting worse, Gurney keeps the lead of the race undisturbed, with a magnificent looking and sound V12 Eagle-Weslake engine. The only defect is that the oil sprays form the collection tank on the drain pipe and does an unsettling blue smoke. This is not that worrying but the fact that there was so much oil in the collection tank is. At only four laps to the end, the Maserati engine on Rodriguez’s Cooper explodes, which is not a big surprise because the young Mexican has done a pretty vibrant race, keeping Rindt at fourth place. During the second last lap is being told to Chris Amon to turn on the reserve fuel pump in order to keep safe his third place. Among many celebrations in the Eagle box, and without any doubt with so much satisfaction at Westlake Engineering in Sussex, Dan Gurney wins the Belgian Grand Prix at a record speed, and with a new record on the lap done while he was following Stewart. The B.R.M. team is well fulfilled of the performances of the H16 cylinder cars, because both could arrive at the finish line, while Stewart feels that he could have hold of Gurney if his gear wouldn’t have broken.

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The American Dan Gurney, driving an Eagle American car, won the Belgian Grand Prix, which can worth the drivers World Championship. Gurney precedes in order the Scottish Stewart (B.R.M.) and the New-Zealander Chris Amon (Ferrari). In the World Championship drivers standing, the New-Zealander Denis Hulme is always leading 16 points ahead of the Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and Chris Hulme has 11 points, while Jim Clark is in fourth place with 10 points. The winner of Francorchamps is fifth with 9 points. Ferrari has no luck this year. Even at the Belgian Grand Prix one of the drivers from Maranello was affected by an accident, since the first lap, also affecting the race of the other two cars. Mike Parkes, the English engineer who is also the test pilot for Ferrari, smashed the car at Blanchimont turn, while after a very fast start he was right behind Gurney and Clark’s tread.

 

Mike Parkes cans say he has been, in the misfortune, quite lucky, because the incident could have been a lot worse. His car has slipped on the oil left from other cars at Blanchimont turn, bumping into the outside protection of the track at 160 km/h. The conditions of the British driver are not serious: he had a compound fractur on his left leg and a simple fracture on his right wrist, but after all his conditions are not worrying. Right after the incident the media went to his bedside in the super modern mobile installation built at the circuit: Parkes, although suffering, talks to the doctors, and after the first treatments he is moved to the Liegi hospital in helicopter, where he undergoes a surgery lasted an hour, and the doctors will assure that in a few months he should be able to drive again.

 

Parkes’ accident, at the beginning of the race, has certainly negatively affected the performances of his teammates, which let the others space them out during the first laps, honestly very fast. Amon did a great comeback, and ended in P3, while Scarfiotti has been slowed down by a broken brake tube and couldn’t be classified, despite the work of the mechanics to let him resume. Parkes’ incident lets seriously think about the possibility of not doing races on Formula 1 tracks before, with dozens of cars that inevitably lose oil and leave tire traces on the tarmac. Here in Fracorchamps there were in fact, as a vaudeville, a race of Formula V cars, (little cars with Volkswagen engine), and the track at the start of the Grand Prix, certainty wasn’t at ideal conditions for cars which speed was over 230 km/h.

 

Flavia Delfini

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