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#166 1968 Netherlands Grand Prix

2021-11-25 23:00

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#1968, Fulvio Conti, Transated by Damiana Iovaro, Sofia Piolanti,

#166 1968 Netherlands Grand Prix

Mentre in Belgio si svolge il quarto appuntamento del Campionato del Mondo di Formula 1, Ludovico Scarfiotti, considerato insieme con il tedesco Gerha

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While in Belgium takes place the Formula 1 World Championship fourth appointment, Ludovico Scarfiotti, cosidered with the german Gerhard Mitter the best uphill racing driver, loses his life short after 8:00 a.m. of 8th June 1968 near Berchtesgaden, in the south of Germany, on the border with Austria, while at the wheel of his Porsche 910 (8 cylinders and 270 horsepower) was trying the track of Premio delle Alpi, the second round of European Mountain Championship, whom he would have been partecipating on Sunday 9th June 1968. The disaster, such as the one happened two month ago on the Hockenheim circuit to the World Champion Jim Clark, is inexplicable: Scarfiotti went out of the road at one of the less dangerous point of the track, at the end of a short straight, before a sharp right curve, the forth from the start, at 2.4 kilometer of the track which have a 505 meters altitude difference and gradients untill 13 percent. No one assisted to the accident, which has been recostructed on the basis of the tracks left by the car on the asphalt. From this tracks has been seen that the italian driver, who was driving a calculated speed between 130 and 140 km/h, he full braked at 60 meters before the curve without leaving the pedal. A black line left by the tyres, straight, with no marks of skid, it interrupped at the end of the road, where the road turn right: there the Porsche came out as a fireball and flew on some trees growing up from 10 meters below the road level.

 

Scarfiotti was projected out of the car and went against other trees, some meter down the hill. When, fifteen minutes later, a doctor came with the ambulance, for the italian racer there was nothing left to do. Even though the protective helmet, Scarfiotti suffered serious injuries to the head and he died en route to the Berchtesgaden hospital. The race will start regularly, but fringe events (fire works and even a dance) have been suspendend, and flags have been put at half mast. Less than an hour after Scarfiotti's mortal incident, an other Porsche driver, Rolf Stommelen, who was driving an identical car to the italian, went out of the road almost at the same point, suffering some fractures and injuries. However, his health conditions does not seem serious. Stommelen also plunged down the montainside, hopefully ending up in the bushes instead of the trees. For technicians who came to the Rossfeld track, one of the most picturesque Bavarian Apls road, the incident was incomprehensible. Why - they were asking themselves - the expert driver (two times European Montain Champion, with Ferrari in 1965 and 1966), hard braked on the straight, instead of shift down before the curve? The road was dry, Scarfiotti knew very well the track, he had already run twice on it, he had confidence with the car. He had appeared fresh and rested. So what happened? The racing driver (such as Jim Clark, on 7th April 1968) took the secret to his grave.

 

"Now I do not race anymore, I can not keep doing the family son who has the racing hobby".

 

One day Ludovico Scarfiotti had said. It was July 1963, a few days before the young man had had a serious incident during France Grand Prix training, in Reims, and he was receiving treatment for a knee fracture. The previous month he had won the famed Le Mans 24-hour in pair with an other italian young driver, Lorenzo Bandini ( and as luck would have it within a year bring to each other to a tragic end, but sparing Scarfiotti to the excruciating agony of the colleague), and this statement which completely proved his skills was the difficult pass to achieve the wheel of the powerful Formula 1 cars, supreme goal and aspiration of all racing driver. Most of them, before him, the next day of a racing incident had advanced the same intentions of withdrawal; but a few was able to have placed faith in the intention. It would seem that the sport often dramatic for its immanent risk content is, as a kind of drug which is impossible to get rid of. Once healed, even Scarfiotti had been taken back from this passion which components are no easy to find. Benestant, owner in Porto Recanati, where he lived, of a prosperous cement factory, Ludovico Scarfiotti was not a professional racing driver in a narrow sense, but of this sport he has a vauguely romantic concept from heroics motoring times; in short, he was one of a few driver-gentlemen being part of that restrict enviroment that Sunday after Sunday moves from one part to the other of the world to create big car racing run.

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Ludovico Scarfiotti was born 18th October 1933 in Torino: if family tradictions mean somenthing in both spiritual and moral formation of each one, we remember that knight Ludovico Scarfiotti, grandfather of the late, was in 1899 one of the Fiat founder, and indeed the first CEO, alongside Giovanni Agnelli, Roberto Biscaretti, Emanuele di Brischerasio, Cesare Goria-Gatti and others. And to that times, car constructions and sport pratically identified themselves. Thirty years later an other Scarfiotti, Mr Luigi Scarfiotti, was a great amateur driver, until Ludovico’s birth. Then Scarfiotti family moved to Marche, but the fact remains that the young man lived his childhood in a specific environment, perhaps that is what has influenced both ideality and aspiration. At twenty years old, Ludovico Scarfiotti has first experiences in the sport at steering wheel, first with touring cars, then slowly on increasingly powerful cars, Fiat 8V, Osca, with which proved to have a special gift in uphill racing. In 1960 he is driving a Ferrari sport, he puts himself absolute fourth in Targa Florio: he metodically climbs the steps of notoriety, until being called in the Ferrari official team. He wins in 1963 the Sebring 12-hour and Le Mans 24-hour, and for two years in a row the 1000 km of Nurburgring.

 

With Ferrari Dino he is uphill race Champion of Europe in 1965 and 1966. Almost by public demand the Modena-based costructor trust him once again - after far away Reims incident - with a Formula 1 car, and Sunday 4th September 1966 he feel in Monza his greatest day of glory, winnig the 37° Italian Gran Prix. Scarfiotti is now established, but the racing world is full of contradictions, he does not find himself in Ferrari anymore; compete again in Le Mans last year (where in 1966 was protagonist of an other dreadful accident - with slight consequences - while he was giving it to mighty Ford), then he left the Maranello team. This year he find place in Cooper for Formula 1 Grand Prix, and in Porsche for sport races. He begins with the first in Cape Town, but it had to be a marked season: breaking of water pipe gives him severe burns. He heals in two month, compete with Porsche in Daytona and Targa Florio, with no luck; then he takes up single-seater fifteen days ago in Monte-Carlo and puts himself in fourth place. It is his last race: he falls trying uphill hairpin bends of first round of the season for European Montain Championship, the most congenial ground to him. And in this way even Ludovico Scarfiotti is gone. He is the third, this year, after Jim Clark and Mike Spence. An endless chain, the relentless doom that mow down mercilessly these men who seem make the risk a thing to live for. Perhaps Scarfiotti was different. He said with his malincony smile between his light eyes, without having to resort common places that sometimes shows how dry are those that the ephemeral glory of the sport welcomes in her arms:

 

"I only race becouse I like it".

 

On Sunday 9th June 1968 Gerhard Mitter, European Champion of montain races, wins - as expected - the Alps Gran Prix, second round of this year championship, that takes place on a 6km track near Berchtesgaden, in south Germany. Before the race start, Mitter had said if he had won, his win would have been for Scarfiotti, dead on Saturday mornign during practice. The race takes place in a sad atmosphere. There is no crowd as previous 9 editions, making edges out of the road full of hairpin bends, there are no bands at both start and end line, under waving flags. Rains heavily, it is cold, flags are half-mast, in the place are a few thusand people without joy. One at time, the 122 registed cars run on a track almost empty. Lap times both of past editions and done on Saturday during practice, have not even come close to it. Gerhard Mitter (that last Sunday won in Barcelona, ahead of Scarfiotti) run with caution the first manche in 3’25’’19 and he pushes more only in second mache, because under threat of austrian Quester, on BMW, who takes 3.5 seconds more of him. At the end in two rounds Mitter passes the austrian for 7.01 seconds. During the time of the podium presentation, Mitter is saddest.

 

"This victory is for Ludovico".

 

Say the german driver, before leaving without adding anything else. Because of the public holiday, the investigation into the causes of the disaster that on saturday morning cost the italian racer life is postponed by one day. The magistracy will seek to assess if there are responsability of thirds, if, for exaple Scarfiotti braked because of an animal crossed the road. The car debris, end on a tree 10 metres from road, have been sequestred to be examinated by technicians. There is the sospect that the italian racer went out the road due to a mechanical failure: steering broke or brake locked. In Berchtesgaden is said the tragedy is misterious as the one occurred two month earlier to Jim Clark, who on he straight went out the track in Hockenheim. Clark do not release the throttle, Ludovico Scarfiotti, apparently, did not release the brake. Pehraps, to clarify the mistery, could help the other Porsche racer, the german Rolf Stommelen (who holds the records on Berchtesgaden track) that on Saturday morning, a few minutes later Scarfiotti, went out the road almost in the same place of the italian, even with a 910, after a long braking. Stommelen, who was taken in a hospital in Munich and with injures on arms, will be interrogated probably on Monday 10th June 1968 by magistrates and technicians, while in Italy, in Turin, are taking place Ludovico Scarfiotti funeral. The body will come in a van from Germany and will be exposed aroud 11:00 a.m. in the mortuary set up in torinese Automobile Club, at Giolitti n.15 street. The funeral cerimony starts at 4.30 p.m. in San Filippo parish, in Maria Vittoria street. The driver will be interred in the family chapel, in Turin cemetery.

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While the autority and german technicians investigate on causes of the tragic accident from what Ludovico Scarfiotti was the victim on Saturday morning during practice of the uphill race of Rossfeld, a dramatic hypothesis is advanced from bolognese sports newspaper Stadio, reports an interview released a few days before by Scarfiotti. According to the italian driver, Porsche type 910 with the one he was partecipating to the European Monatin Championship was not right. He noted during practice before the first session of the event, tooked place on 2nd June 1968 in Motseny, in Spain. This declaration by Scarfiotti to a newspaper editor.

 

"You know that in Montseny, in Spain, both Mitter and me during practice found ourselves with broken wheel? Crazy. Actually to me happenend downhill. Pratically the tie-rods cracked? What can I say? This story of lightening to all costs is becoming insane. Lighten here, lighten there, is a mad rush. Do not write that, indeed seems we have components of these executive bodies made of duralumin. Of course that are light, but of course they do not resist, even if uphill races are brifiest or nearly. Actually my brake fluid tank dislodged. When I ended the practice it was still attached for miracle. And do you want to know why? It was secured with a very small rubber belt. It brokes easily. A few more meters and I was also without brakes...".

 

These are words that cast a shocking shadow over incident causes, appeared inexplicable to who visited on the tragedy place. A straight section, a brake of 60 meters, then the slope. And even, Stommelen, Scarfiotti’s team mate, on a car of the same type flyes out otf the road in the same way. As Stadio reports, Scarfiotti said to his friends:

 

"For who see us from the outside we may seem reckless. But a good driver does not push over the limit, never burn the needing edge to face unexpected. The good drives is who race at nintyseven percent of his possibilities, that is who is as close as possible to his limit but always keep a certain security. Because the unexpected could came anytime. But the car can always betray you. You have to expect the tripping and to stay in condition so you are able to protect that, anytime. To race takes physical courage, that’s it, but also a perfect knowledge of your personal limits. What do you believe, that a driver when gets into the cockpit and is ready to start does not think to danger? Of course he thinks of it, I think of it. Perhaps if I does not think of it I could go harder than now, for how much time I do not know but I could go harder. But I also think that you never have to go against destiny. If something does not work, if you feel tired and reflex are slower, you need to stop. Sometimes even a stop could be a sign of courage".

 

On Monday 10th June 1968 Sate Prosecutor of Traunstein, in south Bavaria, end the technical investigation on causes of the tragedy in the afternoon in which on Saturday, near Berchtesgaden, lost life the italian driver Ludovico Scarfiotti. Porsche 910 spider debris, with the one Scarfiotti went out the road at fourth curve of Rossfeld track, during practice for second race of Montain Championship of Europe, are returned to costructor, after investigators did not find technical defects in the car. The mistery causes of the mortal incident thickness. The Porsche racing department director, Hunschke Von Hanstein takes a position against Scarfiotti’s interview published by bolognese sports newspaper Stadio, which is sad the italian driver would have complained about steering wheel defects of his car during practice on hairpin bends uphill Montseny, near Barcelona.

 

"Are declaration that does not match truth. Technicians have detected any failure on Scarfiotti car, who never broke down".

 

In addition, Von Hanstein deny any connnection between Scarfiotti incident which costed his life and, almost simultaneously, the one took out of the road, and to hospital, an other Porsche driver, Rolf Srommelen. It is incorrect when on Saturday was said by all, that racers went out road almost at same point. Between two places there is a distance of 3 km.

 

"Ludovico made a mistake. This is the only explanation you can give, after magistracy returned debris. Perhaps he felt too fit, too confident, and he went too hard, such as Stommelen. Personally, I think he braked too late. Then he had no lucky. Usually, in uphill races, who goes out of road is close to the wall and saves himself. Instead, Ludovico went down a slope full of trees, he made a mistake, just as Jim Clark, just as Mike Spence".

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Meantime, the wheel champion body fell on Saturday in Rossfeld arrives in a van from Germany around 10:30 a.m. There waiting is his wife Nicoletta, his children Luigi and Edoardo, his family, his friend and colleague of many races Mike Parkes and a little crowd of sportsmen, gathering in front of Automobile Club, in Giolitti 15 street, where was set up the mortuary. The coffin, covered of rhododendron, edelweiss and pine fronds, in tribute to the driver who many races had won on montain roads, is taken in council room. Watch it racers and stewards in turn. The room is full of flowers. On a wall lead a big Scarfiotti photography: the smiling face, the white tracksuit, a box as background. His habitat, his life, even if he often went to Porto Recanati, his adoption town, where lived with his parents and worked in the direction of a cement factory. Near the photography, the looped in italian flag. On the coffin are laid a big pillow of roses from his children, his mother's rosary and the racer's helmet, that one he was wearing in his last climb. Mike Parkes approaches, hold out his hand and gives a caresses to the helmet. The room fills of flower crowns, the huge one of red roses from parents, others from Automobile Club of Italy, Automobile Clud of Torino, sports commission, Automobile Club of Swisse, of Milan, of Autodromo di Monza, Fiat, Scuderies and fans. Thousands of people parade in council room of the Automobile Club of Torino. Mixed in the anonimous crowd of fans, there are champions of past and present, to pay their last respects to their colleague. Alongside Mike Parkes, who recentely raced with Scarfiotti the Le Mans 24-hour, Chris Amon, the new zealander champion number one of Scuderia Ferrari, torinese Carlo Maria Abate, stand out candid hair of Piero Taruffi and Luigi Villoresi. There is also Margherita Bandini, the widow of the racer who last year lost his life in Monte-Carlo. At 1:00 p.m. comes the Fiat president, Giovanni Agnelli, too who stays for long time, with head down, in front of the coffin.

 

Then Enzo Ferrari, the one who gave to the young racer cars with had gradueted champion of the uphill races in 1965 and 1966 and, in the same year, in Monza, he won the 37° Italian Gran Prix. Next to the coffin judge, stewards and drivers alternate between themselves in guard of honour. Two traffic police bring the city banner. Sit in front of the body, his wife Nicoletta with children Luigi and Edoardo. Pale, face contracted, the champion’s widow stays untill the last moment in mortuary. The children, still not conscious of the tragedy, get agitated restless. Sometimens the mother leans over them, whispering some words. Luigi and his brother look at her bewildered, then they tighten next to her. In the middle of the mortuary, on a wall, was put a big photograpy of the racer, in white tracksuit, on a familiar background of the boxes, a face open in a smile. A photography taked in Monza, before the race start of one of the many races that have seen him as a winner. But to Scarfiotti, tell his friends, does not only matter the victory. To him was essential to run, it was one of the last driver-gentlemen, he was part of that small category of drivers who still have a romantic view of these races where man skill melt with car power and where, it is case to say it, life is on the line. He could never give up to the thrill of racing, to the roar of engines that follows his wonderful exhibitions, to the cheering of the crowd. At 4:30 p.m. the sad procession moves between two wings of crowds toward San Filippo church. The coffin is taken in the middle of the nave by two Porsche drivers: Hans Herrmann and Gerhard Mitter, that on Sunday won in Berchtesgaden the race which would have to partecipate Scrfiotti too, and four mechanics. After the funeral oration, the funeral goes on in private form and the body is accompanied to the Generale cementery, where he will be buried in the family grave.

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Two weeks later, with the arrivals of the circus in Zandwoort the race weekend of Netherlands Gran Prix starts taking place. Both Honda and Brabham team are preparing to take a hard weekend: the first cause is the incessant rain over the dutch circuit during the week before the Gran Prix; the second cause is malfunction of pistons in Repco engines. On the other hand, McLaren team seems confident, thanks to tests recently performed on the circuit, in whicht drivers have scored times around 1'24"0. Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme have access to both singleseaters used in Spa, equipped with heavier and more resistant axle shafts. Lotus team arrives in Netherlands with their 49B for Hill and Oliver, still with the aluminium strips stuck on the back. Instead Brabham and Rindt have access of the two BT26 cars such as in Belgium Gran Prix, with wings positioned on the rear area and on the sides of the singleseater nose, and BT24 driven by Rindt in Spain Gran Prix, as backup car. The Gurney-Eagle engine is in a development phase too backwards because of Gurney and Weslake Engineering split, but the californian driver hopes, based on new cars performance, to drive the backup Brabham BT24. Both Cooper and Bianchi teams are forced to resort to use their original Type 86B after misfortune of the belgian weekend, while John Surtees, only Honda driver, finds himself dealing with a disappointing V12 engine. Even B.R.M. drivers are forced to go on the track with the old 12 cylinder cars with Hewland gearbox, in place of the new 16 cylinder car with new gearbox. Rodriguez has available his P133-01 while Attwood can choose between P126 car number 2 and number 3. Matra, looking for redemption after Beglium Grand Prix, relies on Stewart - with the two Tyrell’s Matra-Cosworth V8 - and Beltoise, driving the Matra V12 and waiting to be able to use the second car, updated with lighter components underway to the important France Gran Prix. Ferrari's single-seaters show to the dutch event with updated rear wing, repositioned vertically over the engine and with cars that mount 33 centimeters front wheels. Amon comes with cars 0007 and 0011, while Ickx with 0009.

 

At the end Courage with his B.R.M. provided with a 12 cylinders of Tim Parnell team, Siffert with Lotus 49 of Walker team provided new motor ( following the terrible belgian Gran Prix), Bonnier his McLaren-B.R.M. V12 yellow-red and Moser at the wheel of Brabham-Repco V8 of 1966 belonging to Charles Vogele. Practice Friday is characterized by cloud and wind sky. In Belgium Gran Prix the starting grid has turned out falsed: drivers did not want push since the first practice and are remained victim of the unpredictable rain, that surprised them in the qualifying Saturday. Remembering what happened two weeks ago, in Zandvoort opposite happens and both McLaren and Hulme set pace right from the start. Last year all cars lined up to qualifying have set times under 1'30"0, then further improved during the race: 1'24"6 for Hill and his Lotus 49, 1'25"1 for Gurney and Eagle V12 and 1'25"6 for Brabham, to the wheel of his car with Repco engine and vertical valves. Afterwards Ickx, busy in Formula 2 Championship set a new lap record, as 1'27"9, with his Matra F2. The hope is that one year apart, with new update about tyres, chassis, engine and brakes, and experience owned by drivers, times will go under 1'20"0. Soon after he went on track, Denny Hulme runs easly under 1'25"0, followed by Bruce McLaren. A the end of the morning Hill, Amon and Ickx are able to be behind Hulme, setting times around 1'25"0; follow Rodriguez, Courage and Siffert, and close by Moser, Bonnier, Attwood and Bianchi, not able to set a time under 1'30"0 limit yet. None of cars powered by Repco go on track during morning, because of long and laborious work asked to mechanics to manualy increase the space over engine’s pistons. For this reason Gurney can not use the Brabham-Repco backup car. At end of the session the Hill’s Lotus 49 engine is monitored by mechanics: during free practice, infact, the driver complains about strange noises coming from the car, reached the maximum rpm. The problem comes from bad engine start, and not from wrong installation of rpm limitator, as was supposed in first istance.

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First session positive for Ferraris of Amon and Ickx, and for Piers Courage, with his B.R.M. 126 set faster times than official drivers. Troubles for Matra V12, that lose incisiveness because of both shorter exhaus system mounted on the engine and Jackie Stewart wirst condition, recentely injured. In afternoon session the first car on track is Rindt’s Brabham BT26-2, followed by Brabham and Amon with Ferrari 0007, which sets the same time registered in the morning with Ferrari 0011. The morning exploit of McLaren team warmed up the atmoshpere, allowing to set in afternoon lap under 1'23"0: however the british team set little progress and end the first day of practice in midfield. The Friday of practice end early for Courage, because of a failure to a ignition plug, while Jackie Oliver is busy to maintain firsts’ rhythm to giustify his seat in the Team Lotus. Practice end at 5:30 p.m., except to B.R.M team, which decide to stop the session earlier not making any progress in performances. Times registered durign the day are under 1'30"0, except to Dan Gurney who did not take part to practice. Is registered a progressive improvement for Beltoise and his Matra V12, that ends Friday practice with a great time of 1'26"76, after 1'29"75 recordered in the morning. Surprise are about Rindt and Brabham, protagonists of the battle to conquer pole position: infact, the austrian pilot set the second time of the day, in 1'23"75, taking himself only 0.25 seconds behind Chris Amon's time. Brabham goes on track at the end of the session and after a few tries set the time at 1'23"9, suggesting the Repco V8 engine potentiality. First day end with a relaxed atmoshepre in the paddock: the rhythm shown by cars is faster than anticipated, with first eight car under the time of the fastest lap of last year, the first fourteen are under the lap record of 1967 and the remaining four far below the limit of 1'30"0. The hope is that for 1969 it can be possible to make another step forward, allowing to run the dutch track with times under 1'20"0. The Saturday 22th June 1968 is characterized from both wind and rain coming from North sea, which darken the sky over the track and the town of Zandvoort.

 

The drivers decide equally to go on track, without any important times set. However, are reported various technical problems: Brabham Repco V8 engine undergoes an alternator block; Hill is forced to replace once again drive shafts of his Lotus, since new mounted drive shafts had not enought angular movement; Siffert mount a rod pressure on left side of chassis and Hulme’s new engine does not work correctly. Gurney finally manages to go on track with the backup Brabham, even if with many difficulties of adaptation in the car cockpit. Stewart skips the practice turn because of his wrist still swollen, while his team mate, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, goes on track with first of the Matra with the Cosworth engine, and with his car, with the Matra V12 engine. Dan Gurney is able to set a time of 1'25"0 thanks to a break of the rain. With the resart of bad weather the only drivers to go on track are Brabham and Surtees, who prepares themselves in view of a possible wet track race. However times are setted at last attempts at final part of the afternoon, thanks to strong wind that helps drying fast the track, but without bringing big performance improvement respect to the previous day. Without the rain, probably Jochen Rindt would be in codition to bring his Brabham-Repco V8 near the 1'22"0 limit, followed by Amon (Ferrari) and Hill (Lotus 49B). However, the weather does not save the Zandvoort town neither on Sunday 23th July 1968, the day chosen to the dispute of the race, causing a lot of uncertainty about the choice of the tyres. In this case, FIA provides a special autorization to K.N.A.C., Dutch National Federation Kart, allowing to six mechanics to intervene on Formula 1 car in case of pit stops, with two mechanics max per car. At 3:00 p.m., drivers are preparing to do the formation lap. There is a lot of uncertainty between mechanics of different teams on the tyre to use, due to the rain fallen on the track before, respect to the early forecast. In front row will start Chris Amon, with his Ferrari equipped with wing both on nose and back; in the middle Brabham’s Jochen Rindt, with wing front and back; while in the third spot will start Graham Hill, equipped with gold color wing mounted on nose sides of his Lotus 49B, and square back with the add of an aluminium wing on the side.

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The race start under the incessant rain and Jochen Rindt comes out of the first turn in first position. Becomes fundamental in this condition the control of throttle pedal, which allows to maintain the control during braking. Nevertless the brilliant star, the austrian driver is passed by Hill and then by Stewart. At the end of first lap Hill is in front Stewart and Rindt group, followed by Amon, Ickx, Rodriguez, Siffert and Beltoise. During the second lap Hill and Stewart are able to come off from the rest of the group, while Rindt takes the lead of followers until the third lap, when he is passed by Amon, Ickx, Beltoise, Rodriguez and Siffert. At the end of the fourth lap Stewart overtakes Hill at the height of the braking of the hairpin, at the end of the straight. Meanwhile, Beltoise overtakes the two Ferrari, gaining the third position and taking the Matra single-seat at the lead, as happenend in every Formula 1 Gran Prix disputed until now this season. Stewart drives excellently on wet, with Beltoise that has his back separating Ferraris and approaching Hill. The british driver, in fact, is not confortable driving his Lotus 49B on slippery track, and Ferraris suffer the leak of pace. Amon (on 0011) enjoys a better control of the throttle than Ickx (on 009), fundamental fact in theese difficult condition. Already in first laps is denoted as the choice of the tyres could be crucial towards the final results: Matra team, infact, opted for Dunlop new tyres, while Lotus and Ferrari mount Firestone tyres. Rodriguez and Gurney, both with Goodyear tyres, come back lap after lap, following a disappointing start; two McLaren, even them with Goodyear tyres, recede; lastly Attwood, with Dunlop, is not able to improve. At fifth lap Piers Courage end in a spin at Hunzerug curve, and is forces to pit to substitute the damaged nose of the car, coming back on track in last position, with a lap down. Given the lack of grip because of the incessant rain, lap time are stable under 146"0.

 

Siffert recede gradually the leaderboard and Hulme finds himself at the end of the group as a result of an engine problem that forces him to retire. During the tenth lap Stewart stretches along the group, always keeping in front to Hill and his Lotus 49B/5. These are followed by Beltoise on Matra V12. Far from first three, follow Ferraris of Amon and Ickx, under pressure by Rodriguez and Gurney, while Rindt starts to adapt to track conditions and manges to keep behind McLarens of Hulme and Bruce McLaren, Honda of Surtees and Brabham of Jack Brabham. To follow, come - by order - to finish line Siffert, Attwood, Oliver and Moser, with Bonnier and Bianchi to close the list, except to Courage that is last because of the forzed pit stop. During the eleventh lap Beltoise is in second place, overtaking Hill that does not resist to the overtake. Surtess pits to change tyres while Bianchi is not able to complete the lap: blinded by the water cloud rised by Bonnier car, the belgian driver of italian origin hit a kerb and goes out of track. The amount of water poured out on the circuit is clear, and the track conditions are getting worse. During tenth lap Denny Hulme is forced to stop because of ignition system malfunction. At the end of qualifying Brabham mechanics had been called to make last minute changes on cars, because of the jamming of Rindt’s engine bearing. But just the austrian driver, during the fourteenth lap, stops at box as a result of an apparent problem caused by the contact with the water on track with fuel-injected motor. Mechanics take action, but after just two laps the austrian driver is forced to pit again to change the battery, in addition to complain alternators malfunction. John Surtees does not obtain benefits from changing tyres and soon he spins, with no damage on the car. Surtees and Rindt are now at the end of the group, with the two Matra completely controlling the race. In the midfield a compact group is formed by Siffert with his Lotus 49 of Walker's team, Attwood with B.R.M. V12, Oliver on the second Lotus 49B and the swiss Silvio Moser, on the Brabham-Repco 1966 of Vogele. During the nineteenth lap Stewart doubles Brabham that is in nineth position.

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During the next lap the scottish driver prepares himself to double Bruce McLaren, but the new zealander prevents the overtake, forcing the brake at the end of the straight and going out of the track at the entrace of Tarzan curve. As result of extreme condition of the track, every brake is dangerous. During the twentyoneth lap Jean-Pierre Beltoise goes out of track while is preparing to face the Tarzan curve. The cause looks attributable to a throttle problem, probably due to contact with water and sand. Beltoise is miraculously able to take the car back on track and after an other problem at braking of the next curve he pits. The french driver comes back on track placing himself at seventh place of leaderboard, almost a complete lap behind his team mate Jackie Stewart. Meanwhile, Jack Brabham is forced to retire because of a spin that sees him as protagonist during the twentyoneth lap, while Rodriguez overtakes Ickx’s Ferrari, bringing himself in fourth position. At this point start to be clear the choice of the Dunlop tyre of Matra team, even though two car mount different kind of tyre, result winning. The french team is able to take advantage compared to Lotus, Ferrari, B.R.M., Brabham and Honda. Just the car of the japanese team is in great difficulty, since Firestone tyres does not look any benefit, at the cost of expert drive of Surtees on wet. From seventh position, as a result of the pit stop, Beltoise climb the leaderboard until second position: the french driver easily overtakes Gurney, Ickx - who at twentyoneth lap spins - and Amon. Beltoise struggled to overtake Rodriguez, but the superiority in acceleration of Matra V12 takes back the french driver in third position, 20 seconds behind Hill.

 

For a short period of time the rain stops and dry marks show on track. During the thirtythreeth lap Stewart doubles Gurney, while Moser is able to take his car in front of Attwood and Siffert. The queue of the leaderboard remains composed of Rindt and Surtees. In complete control of the race, Jackie Stewart continue his run undisturbed and followed by his team mate Jean-Pierre Beltoise who takes his car near the Hill’s Lotus. At half race Stewart doubles all the cars on track, except to Hill and Beltoise, with this last that in the meantime time reduced the gap to the british driver, taking him to only 4 seconds. Follow Rodriguez, Amon, Gurney, Ickx, Moser, SIffert and Attwood, with the last three that continue to run in group. Close the group Oliver, Courage, Bonnier and Surtees, with Rindt meanwhile retires during the thirtynineth lap as result of the previous problems about ignition system. At the end of the fiftyth lap Beltoise overtakes Hill, and simultaneously Ickx overtake Gurney. Silvio Moser, just doubled, appends to Dan Gurney’s Brabham and is able to break away from Siffert and Attwood, his chasers. The restart of the rain induces errors to Piers Courage, who is victim of a spin that forces him again because of a problem to the protective glass. Meanwhile Jackie Oliver pits to allow the engine - waterlogged of rainwater - to dry, followed by Amon, ready to do a tyre change. During the fifthyseventh lap Jackie Stewart doubles Graham Hill, already far by the second place, and Jean-Pierre Beltoise.

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The rain creates many vision problems and Gurney is forced to drive without protective glasses. Meanwhile, Jo Siffert goes back to the pits and retires during the fiftyfiveth lap as a result of a gearbox problem. The tyres situation, that seem to result best performing for his Ferrari, forces Chris Amon to come back on track in eighth position, behind Moser. During the sixtyoneth lap Hill looses control of his own car at Tarzan curve, goes out of track and hits the wall, reporting damages to the nose and on side left of the car. The british driver is able to return on track, even being aware of the damage to the wheel. In mean time Rodriguez occupies the third position but without the possibility to challenge cars of Matra's team, that holds the first two positions. Durign the sixtythree lap Dan Gurney goes out of track and, because of the sand come in throttle pedal, goes back to the box and retires. With John Surtees’ retire during the fiftyth lap, because of the malfunction of the alternator, at the end of the seventyth lap remain only 10 cars to compete for the victory. Given the track conditions, and having already doubled all the cars on track, which some more than one time, Jackie Stewart decides to raise the foot from the throttle and take some rest to his injured wrist, leaving Jean-Pierre Beltoise to undouble. Pedro Rodriguez follows calm in third place, ahead of Graham Hill, fourth, in front of Ickx and Moser, author of a great demonstration of drive on wet track; then Amon, Attwood, Bonnier and Oliver. In following laps Jackie Stewart slows more, but still maintains a gap over one minute and half. Hill goes out of track again in Tarzan curve, this time reporting various damages on the car.

 

By rule, cars have to cover ninety percent of the race to be included in the final leaderboard: this allows to Hill to maintain, bitterly, the nineth position in the ranking, waiting further retirements that can take him in the first six classified. Meanwhile, two Matra cross the finish line at same number of laps, while others competitors are forced to do the same but with one or more lap in disadvantaged. The Hill’s mistake allows Moser to conquer the deserved fifth position. At the end of the ninety laps planned, the Netherlands Gran Prix marks the Matra first victory, by the hand of Jackie Stewart, after a positive streak of results that show french equipe progress. The second position is achieved by Jean- Pierre Beltoise and french car, provided of a V12 engine, is a fundamental fact, to show the great work of the team in development of the new car born only six month before. Closes in third place Pedro Rodriguez, with his B.R.M., followed by Jacky Ickx (Ferrari), Silvio Moser (Brabham-Repco) and Chris Amon, unlucky with his Ferrari. The only rival of two Matra drivers has been Graham Hill with his Lotus, that remains at the lead of the world championship with 24 points, followed by Jackie Stewart who goes up to 12 points, Denny Hulme still at 10, and Pedro Rodriguez, even him at third place with 10 points. Instead, the hostile season of Ferrari continues: technicians of Maranello's team charge to tyres the poor performance of cars, but their drivers remain behind in the standing: Jacky Ickx is only eighth, with 7 points, while Chris Amon is twelveth, with 4 points. The event to continue the run to the World Champion title go on 7th July 1968, in Rouen, where take place the France Gran Prix, sixth event of Formula 1 World Championship.

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In parallel, in Italy, car racing do not spare further dramatic emotion. On Autodromo di Monza, during the Lotteria Gran Prix Formula 2 sigle seater cars, seven car hit at the exit of the Parabolica curve and one flies, falls and burns, while others end their run at track side. The fortune, once in a while, helps drivers: six unhurt, only one, the french Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, 32 years old, is hospitalised with a left knee fracture and abrasion. The episode happens during the twentythreeth of the fourtyfive laps of the race: protagonists are, in addition to Jaussaud who drives a Tecno, the british Derek Bell, the milaneses Ernesto Brambilla and Giancarlo Baghetti, all three driving Dino-Ferraris; Vic Elford, on Brabham, the german Kurt Ahrens and the british Peter Westbury, even them on Brabham. The race, the first with Formula 2 cars with 1600 cc disputed at Monza, is held on the edge of average 200 km/h, in an atmosphere of fierce fight. None of the drivers is able to outdistance rivals, lap after lap on the finish line pass a group of seventeen of the twentyone car that had started at 4:30 p.m. The values in both technical and human field are equal, neither the autodromo track, very fast and with a few corners, allows a selection. Every time that from grandstandings are seen cars exiting from Parabolica wheel to wheel, the crowd hold their breath. It is a moment, then cars go on the straight and disappear in the next big curve. But at 5:10 p.m., sudden, brutal, the show changes. The group of slim red, white and blue cars waves, a car flies into the air, almost vertically, and falls in middle of the track, while others goes out of the track in a scary confusion. Fly pieces of sheet metal and tyres. The crowd explode in a single scream, of dreadful dismay. Are seen, far, in the grass, tens of spectators moving toward the curve, which is threehundred and fifty metres from the grandstandings. Then raises a big dust, endless seconds, mechanics moving from the box toward the tangle. The car in the middle of the track starts to burn, in a minute becomes fire where raises a dense cloud of black smoke. It is, as said, the Jaussaud’s Tecno, but the driver was thrown out in the flight and fell faraway from the scraps. The wife, Frangoise, who is in the Tecno box, can not know: screams and passes out. Drivers exit from cars’ cockpit and come slowly back to the finish line on foot. Giancarlo Baghetti tells:

 

"We were all very close, in front of me two cars have touched, one puts on a side, I grazed it, I felt two or three hits on the sides of my Dino, and in the rearview mirror I saw flying on me Jaussaud’s Tecno. The car raised behind me, flipped over in the middle of the air and Jean Pierre was thrown out. This has been his fortune. I stopped on guard-rail side, nearly I have not the time to be scared".

 

Derek Bell, the twentyfive years old british racer in practice at Ferrari, added:

 

"The first to put himself trasversal on the track was me: the reason? Someone touched me, but I do not know who was".

 

Vic Elford, the british racer that with Porsche won this year in Rally and Prototipi races, confirm this version. It is clear, a driver made a mistake, but colleagues do not want to say who he is. An understandable attitude, a mistake, in such circumstances, can happen to anyone. In the meantime, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud is admitted to Monza infirmary, then taked by elicopter to the Niguarda hospital in Milan, from where comes comforting news. Firemen and mechanics remove scraps of cars; one of them, Vittorio Tramonti, 47 year old, on behalf of Marelli company to the assistance of Ferraris, cut wires of the electrical system of the three Dinos; Baghetti one was still pumping fuel, the action avoids the rising of another fire. Meanwhile, the race continue: the race direction had done expose yellow flags of danger and the remained drivers snake their way slowly through bodies of cars protagonists of the incident. The scene is shocking, especially in first moments after the terrible massive accident, when still are not known racers condition. The french Henry Pescarolo, on Matra, and the swiss Clay Regazzoni, on Tecno, enter in Parabolica too fast while feverish emergency operations are on and stewards decide to take them apart from the race, stopping them at the boxes. The two protest, considering unfair the decision. Remains the fact, however, that Pescarolo and Regazzoni, instead of maintain strictly the position that occupy at the moment of exposing the first yellow flags, as says by rules, they overtake eachother more than once. Rather, someone points out, before the incident, would be better to stop Ernesto Brambilla, he bump and had his Dino’s nose crumpled. Pieces of plastic and aluminium sheets hang from the front not in the right way. Few spectators follow with attention the final stages of Lotteria Gran Prix: the crowd calm down gradually, seeing drivers unhurted, but the fear has been a lot. From a long time seems fate is against motorsport: this time it was favorable and peraphs it has solved to human errors. The track of the autodromo is too fast, many technicians consider that would be good change something in the circuit. Unfortunately, when for twentythree laps seventeen cars stays together wheel to wheel, it is logic than soon or later an incident happen.


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