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#146 1966 Netherlands Grand Prix

2021-12-18 00:00

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#146 1966 Netherlands Grand Prix

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The rules of the organisation states that minimal duration of a weekend in between Gran Prix events. This is made in order to avoid that the most important races are done in succession. The English have their race on Saturday and the rest of Europe on Sunday. Thus, it is possible for the Dutch to organize their Zandvoort event a week after the English one, with an interval of eight days. Therefore, the spectators will be able to enjoy both race in good weather conditions without infringing the rules. It also means that the teams will not have enough time to adequately prepare for the Dutch race, especially if they have to go back to Italy in between events. This tight programme has probably a certain influence on Ferrari. The Maranello team did not participate in the British Grand Prix that took place at Brands Hatch. Even if the race days are eight-days distant, the cars and the mechanics need to arrive at Zandvoort by Thursday evening. This way, they will be ready to take part in Friday morning’s free practice sessions. Despite this rush and the 18-hours work shifts for the teams’ mechanics, the Dutch Grand Prix can boast a good number of enrolments. Bandini and Parkes will race with the V12 Ferrari, with which they have already raced at Reims. The Italian cars have some modifications on the rear suspension struts. The new struts have extra cast fins on them for different positions for the arms of the superior radius. The windscreens have deflective fins that are adjustable on the superior side while the cockpits are coated in dark. The lower front side members have been plated.

 

Also, there are tubular protections around the rear of the gearbox in order to protect the fuel pump, the battery and the ignition coils. The Lotus Team is still limited to the use of a 2-liters Coventry-Climax V8, mounted on the R14 chassis for Clark. Arundell instead will use the R11 one, with B.R.M. side exhaust V8 engine and B.R.M. gearbox. Gurney will utilize a V-4 2.7-liters Coventry-Climax, installed in his Eagle car. The revs on the V12 Gurney-Weslake engine becomes more enthusiastic at the end of each free-practice sessions. The B.R.M. team only brings two Tasman cars for Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart that use a 2-liters with central exhaust engines. The cars with the H16 engine are not present at Zandvoort. They will remain at the Lotus base to bring forward improvements on the gearbox. Jack Brabham brings V8 Brabham-Repco car at Zandvoort, the same ones that had much success at Brands Hatch. The Cooper-Maserati team has enough engines and car parts to take part in the race. However, it is still unsure whether the team is ready for the Grand Prix. In fact, it stipulates a testing programme, that are hoping do between Friday and Saturday, in order to mainly to improve the behaviour of John Surtees’ car. John Surtees is the new n.1 driver in the team. Bruce McLaren’s team is a bit happier after being able to complete the Brands Hatch race. The English car still has the V8 Serenissima engine. The rest of the group is composed by privateer teams. Spence will drive the Parnell’s R3, with B.R.M. V8 engine. 

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Siffert will be at the wheel of the Walker-Durlacher car, which has the Cooper-Maserati V12 engine. Ligier will drive his own car whilst Bonnier will use the red and white Cooper-Maserati, which was reconstructed after the Spa incident, in Belgium. Anderson will race with the 4-litres Brabham-Climax. Least but not least, John Taylor will be at the wheel of David Bridges’ Brabham-B.R.M. V8. The first free-practice session, on Friday morning 22nd July 1966, does not last long due to the intense and heavy rain. As well as making the track slippery, the rain also dampens the ardour of all competitors. Last year, Jim Clark had set a lap record of 1’30"6 during the course of the race. The Scot once again seems to be in a competitive form setting the fastest time of 1’30"9 lap time, despite the difficult climatic conditions. Zandvoort seems to be one of his favourable tracks. On this track, it is possible to compensate the lack of competitiveness of a slow car. He only has a 2-liters engine at his disposal, with approximately 230 horsepower. In this track though, he can put into practice his driving skills. Surtees is 2nd fastest, only one tenth slower than Clark, despite driving a Cooper-Maserati that has a 3-litres engine. Mike Spence is also in great form, finishing the session 3rd fastest with a 1’31"6 at the wheel of Lotus-B.R.M. car that has 2-liters Parnell engine. In the afternoon, the weather improves. The track dries up and the second free-practice session can go ahead. Brabham and Hulme work hard during this period of time and, without issues or complaints, are able to go under the 1’30"0 limit. Let’s recall that, in 1965, Clark set a 1’30"6 lap time having a car that had 210 bhp and 1/2-liters.

 

Thus, it is fair to expect that every top driver could go under the 1’30"0 limit with a car that either a 2 or 3-liters engine. Gurney is on top form. Despite the limitations of the V4 Coventry-Climax engine, at the back of the Eagle car, the American drives with such fury that it is a joy to behold for the people in the grandstands. In the meantime, Clark does incredible things with a 2-liters engine. As usual, Rindt drives very fast whilst Surtees is experimenting with the car set-up instead of searching for fast lap times. Graham Hill does not seem to be competitive, despite the clear improvement of the car compared to last year. The V8 Brabham-Repco cars behave beautifully along the Zandvoort circuit. Brabham, in the meantime, is calmly sitting in the garage after setting some lap that are below the 1’30"0. Hulme sets a 1’28"7 time. After the time set by his teammate, Brabham promptly sets a 1’28"4, as to demonstrate who is the n.1 driver. Clark then sets a blistering lap that equals Hulme’s time. It is no surprise that Rindt sets a 1’29"2 time since he worked really hard in the car set-up. Even Gurney’s time of 1’29"4 does not need any comment. Within a couple of laps, the American demonstrates that the Eagle team lacks nothing in terms of cornering ability. The two Ferrari cars seem competitive but clearly lack the high-level driver. Even if both Bandini and Parkes do their best, the young Italian is able to set a time of 1’30"0. Saturday 23rd July 1966. It is time for the last free practice session at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

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Soon after the beginning, Bandini is the victim of a spin, after going through an oil patch that was deposited in the asphalt. The Italian damages his Ferrari with a slight injury on the right hand. Clark tries the Lotus-B.R.M., with the Arundell engine. Rindt, immediately after, goes out on track with the Cooper #3, which is the team’s reserve car. Surtees continues to work on chassis #6 in order to obtain likeable conditions. Parkes, in the meantime, compensates Bandini’s mistake by setting some good times with his Ferrari. Whilst the Ferrari driver set those times, Clark, Gurney, Brabham, Hulme, Stewart and Hill demonstrate their values by breaking the 1’’30"00 barrier. Gurney, with an exceptional performance, sets an impressive 1'28"8 time which is enough to start from the front row of the grid. Brabham is able to go even faster with a blistering time of 1’28"1. Hulme is with the throttle wide open, at the start/finish straight, when a connecting rod breaks and destroys the Repco V8 engine. The oil track, left on track, will require a bit of cleaning from the marshals. As time goes by, the general rhythm of the track becomes much faster. Surtees’ Maserati encounters a costly mechanical problem and so does the Serenissima engine at the back of the McLaren. Rindt, as well, was trying to set yet another fast time when the Maserati engine blew up. The result of this was that the oil starts to spills from the exhausts. In the last four minutes of qualifying, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart go out on track with their B.R.M. Gurney thus decides to join them and sets a 1’28"8 lap time, demonstrating the potential of the Eagle car.

 

At the end of the qualifying session, eight drivers lap below the 1’30"0 lap time. The drivers, who will line up in the first four rows of the starting grid, either equal or improve the previous existing lap record. However, the mechanics will have to work throughout the night in order to set the cars for the race. The Brabham and Cooper mechanics, in particular, will need to fit new engines. The Ferrari team will need to rebalance Bandini’s car after the spin. McLaren will have to resign to be a spectator in the race because there is no spare Serenissima-marked engine. Sunday 24th July 1966. The race will be 90-laps longs and will start at 2:30 p.m. Before the race, there is much work going on down in the pitlane. In particular, during the warm-up session, Rindt tests a new engine, as do the two Cooper drivers. Hulme also takes the opportunity to try the spare Repco V8 engine at the back of his car. At the end of the session, everything looks good on Hulme’s car. Although, in the minutes prior to the start, the reverse gear selectors get tangled up and block the Hewland engine. The broken bits make a hole on the carter side. The Brabham mechanics, including Hulme, quickly disassemble the gearbox and substitute the broken parts. They then create a pot-mender-type aluminium patch in order to close the hole. With these modifications, the car is completely repaired. In the meantime, the Ferrari mechanics are also trying to fix Bandini’s car as best as they can. Cooper team fixes the issues that emerged during the warm-up session.

 

They give to Surtees the #7 chassis with the engine of the #3 one whilst putting a new engine in Rindt’s #3 chassis. Seventeen cars are in the starting grid, ready for the formation lap. As the cars are lining up for the start of the race, there is slight feeling of panic down at the Cooper garage. Surtees asks the team to change the left front tyre because, according to him, it is not well balanced. Hence, the team borrows tyres from the Walker team. The British driver uses it in order to bring the car to the grid before the time limit. 7 cars have Firestone tyres, six with Goodyear and four with Dunlop. The oil companies divide the car entries. There are eight entry with BP, four with Shell, four with Exxon and one with Mobil. It is just after 2:30 p.m. when the 17 cars start to move toward the starting grid. Everyone is ready for the start, with the sun up high and a strong wind that inevitably blows from the sea. The circuit is rather rubbered up and slippery due to the excessive use of it during qualifying. The mover waves the flag. Smoke starts to pour out from the cars. The rumble of the engines starts to grow whilst the drivers, on the first couple of rows, accelerate off the line and into the Tarzan chicane. Clark does his best to ensure that the 2-liters engine can match the 3-liters performance. The Scot driver - despite his immense talent - is unable to totally equal the engine difference and gets in between the two Brabham-Repcos.

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Brabham is far behind but Hulme is unable to overtake Clark. The Lotus driver does not give an inch to his opponent. For three laps, he is able to maintain 2nd place. Hulme then is able to find a gap to overtake the Scotsman. Successively, together with Brabham, they work beautifully in order to stop Clark for 3rd place at least. It is crucial that the two Brabham drivers, with the 3-liters engines, are able to can keep Clark at arm’s length. In fact, despite the Lotus driver’s brilliant form, the two Brabham drivers are able to block him without affecting their race pace. This battle allows Graham Hill to close down on the leaders. In the first stage of the Netherlands Grand Prix, Brabham and Hulme lead the race closely followed by Clark and Hill. Behind the top-4, reliability problems and drivers’ mistakes start to emerge. In the middle of the 3rd lap, Rindt mixes up a gear change and ends in a spin in the sand dunes. Soon after, during the course of the 11th lap, Parkes makes the same mistake and the Ferrari violently hits against the stricken Cooper-Maserati, causing considerable damage to the scarlet car. The race situation does not change as the laps tick up. A mistake, from either Brabham or Hulme, can favour Clark’s overtake. In fact, the Team Lotus driver is not giving up and is only kept at bay by Hulme’s skilful defensive moves. Parkes will be able to maintain 5th place until he is forced to retire. Stewart and Gurney are behind him, just ahead of Surtees. Bandini is followed by Siffert, Spence, Anderson and Arundell whilst Bonnier is lapped by the leaders after just 11 laps. During the course of the 17th lap, the racing order suffers a major change. Hulme’s engine has ignition problems during the course of his pitstop and is forced to retire.

 

This leaves Brabham alone against a very competitive Jim Clark, who was previously pressurized by Graham Hill. Behind the duo, Gurney is able defend against Stewart for 4th place until his engine starts to leak water and starts to overheat. The American driver pits to top up the water. Suddenly, during the course of the 26th lap, a fuel tube also breaks. The Eagle engine switches off, immersed in a cloud of smoke. Driving to the limit, Clark is doing everything he can in order to stay close behind Brabham. Within a couple of laps, the duo needs to start lapping the slower cars. This is a good opportunity to overtake the astute Australian driver. After 23 laps, Brabham and Clark are able to gain one lap over the squabbling Bandini, Siffert and Spence. On the same lap, the two drivers are ahead of Spence and Siffert. Whilst overtaking Spence and Siffert, Clark is able to get in front of Brabham. This move unleashes the joy of the Lotus fans. In the next two laps, the Scot driver makes the most of this opportunity to gain a good advantage over the Australian, who is still stuck behind the lapped cars. Surtees is lapped first but in doing so, Clark pushes the Cooper-Maserati car on the rough edge of the track. Clark is on top form. Despite having a 3-liters engine, Brabham can do nothing to contrast the Scot’s immense driving skills. Stewart is the next driver to be lapped. Clark does not waste any time to do so. Every single overtaking move allows him to gain even more ground to the more cautious Brabham. On lap 40, Graham Hill is the only one left to be lapped by Clark and Brabham. The Lotus driver has an advantage of half the start/finish straight over the Brabham-Repco. In the next lap, he is able to maintain this gap. Clark’s driving completely obfuscates all the other rivals.

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At this point of the race, the only real animated battle is between Spence and Bandini. Surtees’s race pace, after being lapped by his ex-teammate, is not getting any faster. It is then announced that Hulme’s problem is traced back to the distributor assembly, an electromechanically device that is used in spark-ignition internal combustion engine that have a mechanically ignition. This component is changed during the pit-stop, which lasts a couple of minutes. In the following laps, Spence is slowed down by Surtees’s Cooper-Maserati. This allows Baldini to build a small gap over. Not soon after though, a front brake locks ups on the Ferrari car. The Italian driver is thus promptly caught and overtaken by Spence. Despite the technical problem, Bandini continues with his race but is losing time over Anderson, Ligier, Taylor and Siffert, who are lapping constantly much faster. Siffert is forced to pit in order to top up water in the radiator. Bonnier is in last position. Hulme re-joins the track but is too far back to have a say in this race. Thus, during the course of the 33rd lap, he retires. On lap 43, Surtees as well has to retire due to the low battery and an alternator system. 2/3 into the race is gone. Clark suddenly loses control of the Lotus car before the last chicane. The Scot driver hears a violent thud and a terrible roughness. Therefore, one is led to think that the problem, that led to the spin, was due to a possible failure in the transmission system. However, as the Lotus driver accelerates to tackle the hill, everything seems to work fine. Clark continues to hear this strange roughness coming from the back of the car but still decides to continue the race. What he does not down is that the dumper at front of the crankshaft, which is located exactly behind his seat, is broken.

 

What is more dangerous is that the pieces of the dampers are flying due to the centrifugate effect and are damaging the exit of the water pump. As a consequence, the cooling fluids starts to pour out of the Lotus car. Brabham takes advantage of this situation to gain ground on Clark’s Lotus. The Scott is trying to postpone the inevitable moment of Brabham’s overtake through a more energetic driving style. On lap 65, there is a moment of confusion. Clark is lapping Hill but at the same time Hill is lapping Stewart, who at the same time is busy lapping Bandini. This moment does not cause any major drama. The race can go on without further problems but now, Brabham is right behind Clark. On lap 65, the Australian driver takes the lead of the race with an overtake on the Lotus driver. Soon after, the latter is forced to stop. Going back to the pits, the Scotsman puts on a superb display of braking to the limit, despite going at high speed. After he stops in the designated spot, the Team Lotus mechanics pour water over the engine. The stop lasts for a while. The tables have completely turned. Clark is now one lap behind Brabham but is still crucially ahead of Hill. Despite the long stop, the damage on the Lotus car is severe. The Climax engine, in the back of the car is almost at its wits end and can break at any moment. The only thing left for Clark is to continue to race and hope that the engine does nor blow up. Whilst this is going on, Anderson’s race is over due to an issue with the suspensions. On lap 83, Graham Hill overtakes Clark for 2nd place. Brabham is one lap closer to win his third consecutive race. Clark is, for the second time, forced to put to come back to the pits to let his mechanics top up water on the inside of the radiator. It seems unlikely that the Lotus will be able to finish the race.

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At the chequered flag, a triumphant Jack Brabham wins the race ahead of Hill and Clark. The Lotus driver was in end able to finish on the podium despite driving very slowly to the chequered flag. Stewart finishes in 4th, a couple of seconds behind Clark. It will take more than one hour for the timekeepers to decide who will stand on the podium, out of Clark or Stewart. Spence and Bandini round up the top-5. In the last couple of days, Siffert was forced to retire. In the end, Bonnier was able to get ahead of Ligier even if the timekeepers were firstly convinced that the latter was also over overtaken by Taylor. Everyone is happy to celebrate yet another victory of the V8 3-liters Brabham-Repco car.  Even if Jack Brabham had to dug deep in order to obtain this result. Clark is without doubt the moral winner. At least, he has the satisfaction to know that he is still the n.1 driver in the world, despite not having the best car at disposal. Let’s also think that Jack Brabham, was jokingly mocking the media and its critics who consider him way too old for this sport. He was pretending to have a limp before taking the beard off to smile to the cameras before jumping on board of the Brabham-Repco car. With this race over, let’s look at the Cesana-Sestriere edition. Ludovico Scarfiotti, at the wheel of the 2000 horsepower Ferrari Dino, breaks Porsche’s domination by winning the 6th edition of in the European mountain championship. Scarfiotti sets an overall time of 10'26"7, within two qualifying session, and an average speed of 119.483 km/h. It is three-seconds faster than Gerhard Mitter’s time. The German Scarfiotti’s most dangerous driver drives the 8-cilinders Porsche. Hans Herrmann is 3rd fastest, 22 seconds slower than the Italian. The overall time though is set by Mitter, who took advantage of Scarfiotti’s spin. In the second qualifying session, the Italian driver crosses the line with a 5'09"6 at an average speed of 121.930 km/h.

 

This is an incredible result for two reasons. Firstly, he went over the average speed 120 km/h considering that he was at an altitude of 10.400 meters in the Colle hill. Secondly, this time demonstrates Scarfiotti’s awesome driving skills but also the qualities of the Ferrari Dino car in comparison to the other more-powered cars (the Porsche deliver approximately 240 horsepower against the 225-230 of the Dino). Scarfiotti thus has to win the Cesana-Sestriere Trofeo Amoco race in order to stay in contention for the European mountain title. He was already able to take this title in 1962 and 1965. Mitter previously won the first three races (at Rossfeld, Mont Ventoux and Bondone). On the other hand, Ludovico - 2nd place finish at Rossfeld - was unable to go to the last two races due to Ferrari’s momentary suspension in motorsport. Considering that the championship regulations considers the best five results of a driver (including the last four races at Cesana-Sestriere, Friburgo, Ollon Villar and Gaisberg), Scarfiotti has no other choice. In order to be crowned champion, the Italian needs to win the next three races. The Cesana-Sestriere race starts at 11:00 a.m. It is an amazing sunny day, enlivened by a light breeze. It is the perfect time. More than 15.000 spectators have come to see this race. They are scattered all over the race tracks but kept off the streets by the perfect orderly service provided by Doctor Farrito. As part of the tradition of the Torino Automobile Club, the organisation is impeccable. The days start with Formula 3 race, followed by the Prototypes Sport and the Gran Turismo. The cars that are participating in the GT race are the only ones that will not do the mountain climb twice. Then it is time for the 2nd Formula 3 race. The motorsport days end with the Gran Turismo show. During the course of the evening, the drivers receive their awards by Engineer Fiodi, president of the sportive commission of A.C. Torino and by Doctor. Marcello Farina-Sansone, who is the director of the institution. With this win, the Marche drivers climbs to 3rd place in the standings with 15 points, behind Mitter (33) and Herrmann (20).

 

Simone Sabatini

 

translated by Ylenia Lucia Salerno


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