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#210 1972 South African Grand Prix

2022-02-08 23:00

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#1972,

#210 1972 South African Grand Prix

Risultato a sorpresa nel Gran Premio del Sud Africa, seconda prova del Campionato Mondiale di Formula 1: Stewart si è ritirato per il cedimento del ca

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Wednesday, February 2, 1972, the first tests begin in Daytona starting the second round of the 1972 World Sports-car Championship after the first race was held in Argentina on Sunday, January 9, 1972, in the 1000 Kilometres of Buenos Aires, an event that saw Ferraris triumph. The Daytona 24 Hours this time was modified into a six-hour race, a decision probably due to the energy crisis and taken following the judgements of the FIA. It will also be the second race to take place under the new 3-litre limit: since 1972, a new regulation for the championship comes into force that favours cars called Sport Gruppo 5, a prototype of racing cars with a limited displacement of 3 litres. This makes the cars much more similar than in the past to Formula 1 cars, with which they share some structural parts and engines. Little has changed since the opening round of the series in Argentina, as the JW Mirage team is not yet ready and Lola Racing Cars have not yet built any other T280s. The organisers immediately considered having many drivers, so the Florida branch of the SCCA received a huge request to participate in over fifty cars, many of which are difficult to fit for the race. There are only eight cars that can aim for victory: three Ferraris, three Alfas and two Lolas. After the victory in Buenos Aires, Ferraris are undoubtedly the favourites. The three cars after taking part in the Argentine race were sent back to Maranello, while three new cars flew to Daytona, brand new and each with a spare engine. Ferrari plans to alternate cars with each race, while a seventh car was built for practical tests. The trio from Buenos Aires is then dismantled and prepared for the next race on this occasion.

 

The combinations of drivers are always Ickx-Andretti (chassis 088), Regazzoni-Redman (chassis 090) and Peterson-Schenken (chassis 092). The six racing cars were all built with the same specifications, but once again a car, that of the Regazzoni-Redman pair, presents a new gearbox that is easier to use. The Autodelta team suffers another setback already during the Daytona tests: Andrea de Adamich crashes into the wall with one of the new TT33s following a puncture. The Autodelta team, however, has with it the three remaining TT33s, plus one of the 1971 single-seaters as an escort, just in case. With its 15-inch rear wheels, outboard-mounted gear assembly and less tidy bodywork, this old car looks much less decisive than the latest cars with tubular chassis. The three cars, chassis 004, 003 and 002 respectively, were registered for Galli-de Adamich, Elford-Marko and Stommelen-Revson. The American was included in the team starting from the race in Argentina, known for his experience over long distances after a period with the Ford GT40 of Essex Wire. Because of its contractual commitments, his car is equipped with Goodyear tires, while the other two have Firestones. The only other team with a chance of winning is the Lola T280, all British, with a Cosworth DFV engine that promises great potential from Buenos Aires. While the two Italian teams have arrived at Daytona with already experience of the track, Lola is instead at its first performance, a lack that will make the task even more difficult. The two T280s are essentially in the same set-up as the first race, apart from the addition of some quick-release fuel refuelling systems and some perforated ventilated discs to try. The pairs of pilots are still Bonnier-Wisell and Larrousse-Craft.

 

The Argentinean Nestor Garcia Veiga then presented himself, who after finding an agreement with Bonnier added strength as a reserve for the second car, immediately showing speed and the possibility of imposing himself as an important resource for the team. Lola development engineer Bob Marston is on hand to help Bonnier, but it's obvious that there is a long way to go before learning everything Ferrari knows about long-distance racing. The three remaining 3-litre cars are not at the same level. The North American Racing Team brings with it a 1969 V12 312P model that seems quite in order, albeit still being completed. Spaniards Jorge de Bagration-Juan Fernandez has a Porsche 908/3, while Tony Dean shows up with his old blue 908. The other Group 6 cars are all 2-litre but do not include the two British Red Rose Chevron B19s that had gone well in Argentina. However, there are two similar cars of the Marathon Racing Team, managed by Fred Opert, driven by Mexican Freddy van Beuren-Rodolfo Junco and Nick Craw-Bill Barber. There are also two Lola T212, an immaculate orange specimen for the McCaig Brothers from Canada and another for Florida drivers Hugh Kleinpeter-Tom Waugh. One of the Osella Abarth is the same as Argentina, that of the Merzario/Soler-Roig couple. The rest of the group is completed by Chevrolet Camaros, Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911 and 914, a pair of Ferrari GTB lenses and even a Broadspeed Escort. Thursday, February 3, 1972, the session has just begun when the rain, unexpected in the hot and dry Florida, begins to fall on the track. Despite the conditions of the asphalt Andretti is fast, at 1'49"9, with Larousse not much slower in his Lola.

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The track remains wet in the afternoon and the Goodyear riders (the Lola and Alfa Romeo in Revson-Stommelen) are forced to give up the tests, as the company has no wet tyres available. It's a black day for Autodelta, with Galli repeating the accident in the test tests previously done by his teammate de Adamich: an incredible accident that creates moments of suspense for the spectators, caused by the bursting of the right front tyre that leads to the car crashing into a wall. Fortunately, the driver comes out unharmed from the accident, while the car remains slightly damaged. Sunday, therefore, Galli and De Adamich will be forced to use Vaccarella's T33/3, a less powerful vehicle than the one originally supplied to Alfa Romeo drivers.  At first, it’s thought that the TT33 can be repaired, but the engineer Carlo Chiti and his men later establish that the chassis is not recoverable. Friday, February 4, 1972, there are only two hours to qualify: the cars quickly get into action for the start at 10:00 a.m. A cold wind blows slightly and many mutter: the climate is not what we would expect to find in Florida. Andretti proves once again that he is very comfortable at Daytona, driving the group with 1'44"2, although unlike the races of the Grands Prix there is not much attention paid to pole position. lckx is a little slower in the same car, while Regazzoni laps in 1'44'96. The Andretti-Ickx pair on the Ferrari 312 P thus obtains the new track record for three-litre cars, a time significantly lower than that recorded the previous day in 1'49"9. Peterson, the third fastest ever with 1’46’’’04, is among the Ferrari drivers, even if he and Schenken, only slightly faster than Wisell on the Lola, are experiencing gearbox problems.

 

The fastest of the Alfa drivers is Revson who, despite a long stop due to problems with the drive shaft, records a time of 1'46"77. This is the ranking of the times obtained in Friday's practice: in first place Andretti-Ickx 1'44"2, followed by Regazzoni-Redman with 1'44''9, then the third Ferrari of Petersson-Schenken with 1'46"04; first among the cars of the other brands the Lola 280T of Wisell-Bonnier with 1'46"1, followed by the two Alfa Romeo TT33 of the Stommelen-Revson pair with 1'44"7 and Elford-Marko 1'48"6. The rest of the qualifying top-ten sees Lola, Alfa, Abarth and the 8-litre Corvette sequentially, which also breaks the 2-minute barrier. At first glance, Ferrari should have a clear road to winning the race. Before Sunday, all three Maranello cars are equipped with new engines, as are the two Lolas that see the replacement of the Cosworth 12 series engine with two other brand new units. Saturday, February 5, 1972, the rehearsals that take place between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. confirm the impressions of the previous two days. Merzario and Soler Roig also stand out with an Abarth prepared by the Turinese Osella. Their car will start in the ninth position. It's hard to describe the enthusiasm that surrounds the race: it promises to be a huge crowd and Daytona has returned for a few days to a noisy summer weather station. On these beautiful and smooth beaches, the records of speed were once established, before the discovery of the salty surface of Utah. Not even the bad weather on Thursday and the icy wind on Friday kept fans away, but the organisation was slightly affected, creating some confusion. Italian mechanics, drivers and managers are still calm, while all the other competitors have the air of wanting to study and learn from the best. Engineer Giacomo Caliri, technical manager of Ferrari's sports car department, spends the morning in the garage finishing the preparation of the 312-Ps. Then stating:

 

"The three cars are new, our park has run out, in the future we will alternate those of Buenos Aires and these of Daytona. We have no technical news. Last night we replaced the three engines as a precaution because six hours of racing is many. Free practice allows us to run in".

 

Caliri then defined the mood of the drivers as excellent, also because the organisation of the Maranello-based company did not suffer a single hitch:

 

"Last year we had bad luck, this year we reap the fruits of a long, meticulous work. We are all satisfied".

 

But Caliri, like sports director Peter Schetty, refuses to talk about victory. Schetty was cautious:

 

"If it were a Formula 1 race, we wouldn’t hesitate. But the duration of the Daytona race can cause surprises".

 

Then Caliri added that both Alfa Romeo and Lola have made progress compared to Buenos Aires. The pilots, however, do not show identical modesty. Ickx declares in fact:

 

"Our opponents are improving, but the superiority of Ferraris seems out of the question to me".

 

Andretti, who on Friday set the record on the lap of the track for the three litres, thinks above all of referring to the misfortune of Buenos Aires: here he is at home, and he particularly cares about winning:

 

"But I want to emphasise the spirit of the body that animates us. Personal interests are subordinate to those of the team. We'll do what the leaders tell us".

 

There is hope in the Alfa Romeo team. Galli's accident on Friday seems to have left no trace. De Adamich and the Tuscan will use the T33/3 (the 1971 model), with a non-tubular frame, already driven by Vaccarella in Buenos Aires and brought to Daytona in surplus for safety. The sports director, the engineer Carlo Chiti, confides to beat (at least) the Lola:

 

"Ferrari is very fast, Lola is more or less like us. I don't think it's much different from Buenos Aires, while Alfa Romeo has improved".

 

Perhaps the most important detail is that Alfa Romeo, at the insistence of its drivers, has given up the extinguishing liquid in the safety tanks, thus getting rid of the extra weight of 50-70 kilos. Chiti observes in this regard:

 

"You can’t always penalise yourself".

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Sunday, February 6, the sun shines on the Daytona circuit, and while the huge stands seem empty, the official participation is 26,000 spectators, a larger number than usual. It is clear, however, that most local fans prefer to save money for the upcoming NASCAR Daytona 500. The predictions of technicians and fans are for Scuderia Ferrari, with Ickx and Andretti hoping for personal revenge after the misfortune of Buenos Aires. The prediction says Ferrari, but the characteristics of the track, the duration, the about 200 laps of the route (i.e. 1100-1200 kilometres), the high number of competitors (47 cars) and the quirkiness of the climate require some caution. The starting order sees two Ferraris in the front row, that of Ickx-Andretti, marked with the number 2 and that of Regazzoni-Redman, with 4. And in the second row again a Ferrari, the 12 of Peterson-Schenken, flanked by the Lola of Bonnier-Wisell. The two Alfa Romeo TT33s of Stommelen-Revson and Elford-Marko follow in the third row. It is estimated that the fuel supplies and rotations of the pilots will take place five times; At the start, of the hostilities, Ickx, Redman, Schenken, Wisell, Revson and Marko will open on board their respective cars. At 10:00 a.m., the official start of the race, the group runs behind a pace car, the car that precedes the competitors on the first lap of the race before a start is launched.

 

He doesn't join the Larrousse group, which can't start his Lola and is forced to turn off the engine again, with the car being brought back to the pits. The rest of the group follows the pace car for a lap and a half until it leaves the track, but the race doesn't start until the three Ferraris cross the finish line in perfect training, side by side, with Wisell chasing him, followed by the Alfa trio. The first quarter of the race is really exciting. Ferraris immediately start moving away with Ickx and Redman fighting for the lead followed by Schenken and then Wisell. Revson leads the Alfa group while Elford and de Adamich are having a rather frantic private battle. What was the theme of the eve is coming true: an almost all-Italian duel, with only one-third inconvenience. After only six laps there is a problem in the formation of Ferrari because Schenken arrives in the pits complaining about the slippage of the clutch. This is adjusted by allowing him to get out again after losing a lap. More or less at the same time, Larrousse climbs the Lola only to make her die completely on the circuit before completing a lap: it is suspected that the cause is an ignition failure. On lap 20 Regazzoni, now driving his car, has a slight advantage, while Wisell approaches the second place occupied by Andretti in an attempt to overtake him. On the twenty-fourth lap, the yellow car takes second place along the straight with a big roar from the crowd. Only two laps later and Wisell begins to put pressure on Regazzoni, while all the attention suddenly focuses on the fastest of the Corvettes, which has a problem with a tire, probably a puncture: the car crashes against the wall under the main grandstand, spreading a lot of debris in the surrounding area.

 

At the same time another Corvette catches fire in the pits while being refuelled with a ridiculously inefficient method, but fortunately, the flames are quickly appeased. Suddenly, on lap twenty-six, while Regazzoni leaves the shores before the pits, one of his tires deflates sending the car in a spin: the rear body comes off and hits Wisell's Lola just behind, breaking the front section. Wisell manages to reach the pits slowly, theoretically remaining at the top of the race until Andretti passes. Regazzoni meanwhile abandons his car and returns to the pits to tell the problem. Ferrari is transported to the pits by a tugboat, having remained half still on the track and partially blocking the way to the pits. Andretti then jumps to the lead, followed by the three Alfas and the two Porsche 908s, while the fast Abarth passing through a scrap of the Corvette suffers damage and is forced to make a long stop to repair the bodywork. Alfa Romeo unexpectedly threatens the superiority of the cars of the Maranello team. After a pit discussion, Ferrari Regazzoni is sent to retrieve his car along the pit road: The mechanics intend to repair the car and try to bring it back to the race, a goal successfully achieved. Regazzoni loses about 15 minutes from the moment of the accident to the restart. Wisell also resumes the run but is forced to stop again when the oil pressure resets, a problem apparently due to a defective pressure gauge.

 

At this point, Alfa protests what happened with Regazzoni's Ferrari, but any accusation heard by the organisers is rejected. Despite all this action, only an hour has passed since the start of the race. After just over an hour of running Andretti returns to the pits for a routine stop, leaving Revson in charge, even if only briefly. The next lap also returns to the pits together with Elford, so Ickx brings Ferrari back to the lead. Revson on car 7, Elford on 5 and Galli on 9 tenaciously press Ickx, who just changed Andretti. Andretti in the pits meanwhile tries to explain that Ferrari does not seem to be at its maximum, and the investigations of the mechanics show that the twelfth cylinder does not work, since one of the cables of the plug is damaged. On lap 40, the car of the Schenken-Peterson pair returns to the top five positions after wasting time in the pits in the very first laps, carrying on the comeback with their Ferrari. Ickx is doing a good job, but in second place Alfa progressively reduces the gap from 30 to 20 seconds, so when Ferrari makes its second routine stop Alfa resumes the lead with Stommelen, who together with Marko on the other car of the Milanese manufacturer has just resumed driving again after a new exchange between the drivers. The stop for them arrives on the seventieth lap, with the Schenken-Peterson car driving the standings at this point for the first time. A little later Ronnie Peterson suddenly slows down due to the drilling of a tyre in front of the pits; the Swedish rider is forced to complete another lap before he can enter to change the tyre. At this point, the Revson-Stommelen car could take a decent advantage, but the American also brings the car to the pits due to a problem with the alternator belt.

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From this moment on, the Alfa cars, which until now were the fastest among them Alfa, cannot resume the pace, forced to further stops: first for a flat tire and then due to a bad vibration. The other Alfas are also falling into trouble at this stage, with Elford-Marko delayed by a puncture and Galli's car wasting a lot of time with the front suspension, disassembled and rebuilt to replace a wheel bearing that has been damaged. Due to this problem at the front, the Alfa driver loses about 15 minutes, remaining practically cut off from the fight in the first place. Larrousse meanwhile takes the place of Wisell, with the Frenchman continuing the excellent work bringing the car to sixth position before Bonnier takes his place in this strange trio. At this point, however, the car seems to have ignition problems, stopping permanently in the inner section a few laps later. On lap one Ickx-Andretti perform a routine pit stop that brings the Schenken-Peterson car back to the lead, in what seems to be an advantage of the Maranello team that now appears easily maintainable until the end by controlling the lap standings and Ferrari's timing. In fact, in the official standings, the Ickx-Andretti car returns to the lead again on lap one hundred and twentieth, surpassing Schenken-Peterson. On lap one hundred and fifteen Revson stopped at the circuit because on his Alfa Romeo he irreparably damaged the engine, forcing a finishing courageous ride on him and his German teammate Stommelen, the pair that kept the race alive up to half a distance. Engineer Chiti declares:

 

"The engine split, there’s nothing left to do".

 

When it's about 1:30 p.m., two and a half hours before the conclusion, this mechanical failure seems to be the decisive moment of the thing, the moment in which the expected result is defined, that is, the triumph of the Ferraris. Now it's up to Maranello's cars to take home the race, despite none of the cars being in perfect condition, with Peterson-Schenken complaining about some problems with the gearbox.  After one hundred and forty laps, the race bulletin shows the official order Ickx-Andretti, Peterson-Schenken, then (two laps less) Elford-Marko. In fourth place, with another ten laps late, Tony Dean-Bob Brown's amazing Porsche 908, then Regazzoni-Redman Ferrari and de Adamich-Galli's Alfa Romeo. Then the two little Lola, and the Abarth. The Spanish Porsche meanwhile gives up, having lost most of its gears, while a Chevrolet Camaro climbs over the Aramco barrier in the inner section landing over a motorhome. This could have easily been a serious car disaster, but miraculously all the spectators run away in time and no one is injured. Scuderia Ferrari's team manager, Peter Schetty, is seized by a dilemma, having to decide whether to protest against the timing error that he thinks sees his two cars positioned backwards. There is huge confusion about the car in charge: according to the board it is that of Schenken, according to the Ferrari garage it is that of Ickx; as if to remove any doubt, the young Belgian rider covers the final phase of the route at a record speed: 1'46"0 per lap. The problem is solved just fifteen minutes before the end when Schenken rushes to make an unscheduled stop due to the puncture of a front tyre, and while this is changed Ickx-Andretti return to the top of the lap standings.

 

During the last hour, Tony Dean's Porsche retires due to a dropped valve. The spectacular comeback of Redman and Regazzoni provides the other dominant theme of the conclusion of this six-hour Daytona: spectators can follow the two drivers with enthusiasm, despite the uncertainty of whether or not they can reach Elford and Marko's, Alfa Romeo. In his run-up, however, Redman causes a thrill to the stands, losing the front of the cornering body and lifting clouds of smoke. Fortunately, nothing happens to him or to the other competitors, just a big scare for the way the car went in a spin right in front of the pits. Abarth makes a disaster just one lap from the end, the car is stopped in the pits to revive a fuel pump in difficulty. However, it doesn't restart, forcing the mechanics to push the car in an attempt to restart it, which is why it's disqualified. The finale sees Ickx lead the car to victory with 194 factory laps, ahead of the other Ferrari car from Schenken-Peterson, two laps behind. Elford-Marko is positioned two more laps away with Alfa Romeo. The next ones are Regazzoni-Redman with fifteen total laps behind. Fifth place for de Adamich-Galli's oldest Alfa, with the first of the two he drove for most of the route, nineteen laps away from the top in the standings. After that comes the Kleinpeter-Waugh pair on the Lola T212 who takes sixth place giving the brand some points in the championship that can come in handy later. Seventh place for Peter Gregg-Hurley Haywood's well-guided and prepared Porsche 911. Upon arrival, Ickx is carried in triumph while Andretti arrives from the garage, happy with the victory.

 

"We only raced for a while with eleven cylinders but we felt we had the victory in our hands".

 

Declares Jacky Ickx. The Belgian driver then congratulates his driver's partner:

 

"The best I’ve ever had".

 

And thank the mechanics and managers of their home for the magnificent organisation, while Mario Andretti emphasises the uncertainty of:

 

"Duel in the family, where we all love each other".

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Three Ferraris in first, second and fourth place, two Alfa Romeos in third and fifth. It's enough to leave the floor to the simple figures to make an arid but extremely effective final balance of the incredible triumph of Italian motoring in the 6 Hours of Daytona Beach, the second round of the world brands championship. Mario Andretti and Jacky lckx's Ferrari won, despite mechanical trouble that could have cost them the race and that they overcame thanks to the enormous power of their engine, in front of the sister car entrusted to the Swede Ronnie Peterson and the Australian Tim Schenken. In third place, the Alfa Romeo 33 was entrusted to the Englishman Vic Elford (who is a Daytona winner but could not repeat today his triumph of the past, ahead of the overwhelming power of Ferrari) and the Austrian, Helmut Marko. The Ferrari of the Ticino Swiss Clay Ragazzoni and the English Brian Redman took fourth place. Finally, in the fifth, the Alfa of Nanni Galli and Andrea de Adamich, an all-Italian crew that closed perhaps below his possibilities a race from which he seemed to be able to expect something more. The Ferraris of the little ones, since both Andretti and Schenken are known for not being very tall drivers, did everything themselves, limiting themselves to controlling the Alfa Romeo of Redman and Marko which ended up more than eleven kilometres from the cars of the winners, despite the American Italian and the Belgian having to give up a part of the enormous power of their twelve cylinders, which from the first races had denounced a slight failure.

 

After the race, Ickx and Andretti, who do nothing but congratulate each other, repeatedly emphasise the difficulties in which they found themselves. Andretti shows blisters in his hands, caused by the need to face the track with the great impetus to counterbalance the loss of power he would otherwise have suffered. The great defeat of the day, on the margins of the duel between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, is to be considered Lola Ford and above all Joakim Bonnier.  The Swedish ace, who had brought two personal Lolas, of a blinding yellow, saw one stay at the pole, finally leave, to stop again and definitively after nine laps. The other, driven by himself with Wisell, resisted Ferrari beautifully for 111 laps, before the engine burst. The other Alfa Romeo in the race, the one of the American Peter Revson and the German Rolf Stommelen, made a good race until the moment the engine betrayed it, after about 800 kilometres. He was behind the wheel Revson when the engine stopped, forcing the American ace to return to the pits a kilometre and a half away, on a very elegant electric golf off-road vehicle. The race saw no serious accidents. There was a very spectacular one and that just for the good star of some spectators did not turn into a tragedy. The American Tom Fraser's car, a Corvette, got off the track and ended up in a sector reserved for spectators, ending up against the camping chairs and blankets all around a caravan. But the occupants had just moved further to better see another point on the track. Mario Andretti, finally happy to have thrown behind him two years that he considers black, explains that the loss of power due to the shutdown of a cylinder was found from the very first laps.

 

"I had managed to bring the engine to 11.000 rpm but in the race, I never went beyond 10.200. In the beginning, I thought there was a carburettor too early. We fixed it but there was nothing to do yet. We finally found out that we were going to eleven, with a cylinder completely out of order. We preferred to keep doing like this".

 

The strange thing is that despite having a comfortable advantage, Andretti and Ickx had to push hard like crazy, believing they were seconds. Andretti Explains:

 

"Even if the board gave us first, our signallers gave us Peterson and Schenken neighbours, and we had to keep pushing up to five laps from the end. Peter Schetty doesn't care who wins, as long as he's a Ferrari. But I cared I had to shake off the curse of 1970 and 1971".

 

Andretti had a show all to himself, after the race, because Ickx had to run to catch the plane to Belgium. In the American sports and automotive world, there is only talk of Ferrari. The test provided by the red cars and drivers of the Maranello-based company in the 6 Hours of Daytona struck the imagination of the technicians and fans, manufacturers and journalists. The Florida press states that since 1964, Ferrari had never made such an uninterrupted series of victories in the remaining nine rounds of the world title brands (The Times-Union) made such an impression and prediction.  Alfa Romeo's third and fifth place then helped give the day the appearance of an Italian saga. It was the Italian cars that made this year's edition of the gruelling race the most exciting and beautiful of all. At Daytona, worldly, folkloric, polemical motifs mixed with the underlying themes of the struggle between houses, cars and drivers. The 6 Hours seemed a bit like a party in the American Far West: the policemen wear wide-brimmed hats and belts with cow boys' guns, there are countless beauty queens, led by Miss Universe, who hastens to kiss the victorious Ickx and Andretti; hamburgers and Coca Cola are sold. But behind this facade, the results of the first world race in Buenos Aires and the predictions of the eve occur: for Ferraris, Alfa Romeos, and Lola it was a decisive day, psychologically as well as on that of engines. The exceptionality of the Maranello team's company is underlined by the following facts. Out of 56 starters, only 21 arrived. Ickx and Andretti beat all the records of the circuit, even those established by machines of much higher displacement. Lola, the great opponent of the Italians, collapsed. Above all, the Ferraris have overcome incredible obstacles, defeated a misfortune, and created a new legend. We spoke to technical director Schetty and the head of the Caliri category:

 

"We are satisfied, not only because the circuit was very difficult, the driving dangerous because of the large number of competitors and the slowness of some cars, but also because accidents and setbacks failed to stop us. It's clear that after this test, our hopes increase".

 

Schetty and Caliri refrain from judging the performance of rivals. They say of the Lola the car it's too new to already criticize it, and they congratulate Alfa Romeo on the progress made compared to Buenos Aires. But Ickx and Andretti, and especially the second, are not so reticent:

 

"We wanted to win, we knew we could succeed, and we did it".

 

Declares Andretti.

 

"I don’t see who can snatch us the world title brands. The secret of Ferrari's strength is manifold: the seriousness and meticulousness of the organisation, sometimes deficient in the past, the testing of engines and cars, the most experienced in the field today, and the harmony of the drivers".

 

Ickx and Andretti ran with 11 cylinders, not 12, due to a failure, and Andretti calculated that the car lost in this way on 25 km/h; they also had trouble at the carburetter. Yet they were in the lead for 162 of the 194 laps overall, and no one has threatened them in the last 84. In this regard, it should be noted that Ferrari did not agree with the judges: it saw Peterson and Schenken in the lead up to five laps from the end, and Ickx and Andretti, somewhat contravening the team's orders, pressed on the accelerator to beat their teammates. An even more spectacular undertaking, however, was in a sense that of Redman and Regazzoni. Their car was passed off four times, at first for the bursting of a tire, then for the loss of the rear bodywork, then for the fire of the brakes, then for a head and tail. Yet she finished fourth: and at the start, she had taken the lead with confidence. A positive note for Alfa Romeos cannot be ignored. The only one of the new cars that hold up to the end, that of Elford and Marok, came third. The other, with Revson-Stommelen, before abandoning due to engine failure took over the lead of the competition for six or seven laps.

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De Adamich and Nanni Galli got a great result in the 1971 car with fifth place: they too were targeted by bad luck. For the sports director Chiti, the 6 hours indicated not only weaknesses but also reasons for optimism for the future. Second, to today's Ferraris means almost a quality certificate. For the second time since the beginning of the racing season, Enzo Ferrari had the satisfaction of knowing his winning cars. A promising start, moving away from recent clouds and bitterness. In 1950, for just four years, Enzo Ferrari had been building cars - a few examples - for competition. But everyone knew his name, in the sports environment. He had been, at the end of the 1920s, a good driver of Alfa Romeo, and in 1929 he had founded Scuderia Ferrari in Modena, making Fior di champions compete on Milanese cars: Nuvolari, Varzi. Campali, Arcangeli, Borzacchini, Fagioli, Chiron, Moll, Trossi; all of these people who have entered the mythology of this fascinating and terrible sport. Then he collaborated for a few years with Alfa, directly taking over the management of the racing department, and divorcing just before the Second World War, still in time to set up two cars using Fiat material, for the 1940 Mille Miglia. They weren't called Ferrari yet, but Auto Avio Costruzioni. During the conflict, the Maranello workshop for the production of machine tools was born, but it had quite another destination in Ferrari's plans:

 

"I had always continued to develop racing car projects, and when you get out of the storm I quickly got rid of the machine tools".

 

So, in 1947, the first authentic Ferrari debuted in the race at the Piacenza circuit, a sport with a 1500 cc engine on 12 cylinders (technical and important notation: the 12-cylinder has forever remained at Ferrari a precise point of reference and inspiration, and for world technology a touchstone). After five years, Maranello's cars won their first World Champion title, with Alberto Ascari, snatching him from the Alia Romeo. And almost an epic began. Therefore, in 1950 Enzo Ferrari already had a sure reputation, but he had not yet become the character, in many respects unrepeatable, of the iconography that has been dedicated to him all over the world. Character for his unparalleled skills as a stimulator and driver of men, for the polemical stitching, for the episodic between reality and legend that he loves to let circulate, for his prose that a natural predisposition makes harsh or touching from time to time. After so many years of praiseworthy victories on the race fields, but also of ineffable pains (the death of his very young son Dino) and perhaps more second thoughts in the face of the sacrifice of so many men on the tracks, it seemed that the Ferrari star had begun that descending parable that human story often makes cyclical. Ferraris have never defected from major car tests.

 

But they were no longer winners with inexorable frequency; just as on an industrial level, with the reassuring presence of a complex like Fiat, the level of production of Ferrari cars was consolidated that reached the top of performance, technical and aesthetic beauty. But here comes the personality of the man, to whom the new company structure has left the responsibility for leading the racing department.  A year, two years of technical-organisational uncertainties; then, today, the comeback, starting with those races for Sports cars that on Formula 1 have the advantage of a more consistent adherence with normal automotive technique. Fate wanted the 1972 season to see Alfa Romeo and Ferrari again with ironies, protagonists, whose fate has so often intertwined in a sort of love rivalry. In January, with the start of the world brands championship, Ferrari was first and second in the 1000 Kilometres of Buenos Aires; in the USA, first and second in the 6 Hours of Daytona, still in front of the very valid Alfa Romeos. The experts talked about well-prepared cars, impeccable pit organisation, and prudently driven drivers. As in the best times. Ferrari Sport wins again, they will also win Formula 1 in this spirit. Someone alerts that Enzo Ferrari feels worn out by the forty-year battle fought for something in which he believed more than any other, that sport of the car that yesterday as today does not find everyone consenting, but that still deserves at least respect.

 

"The reasons why we run, the reasons why we manufacture racing cars are four: technical, sports, political, moral. I'm not saying they're good reasons... but they're still the reasons why racing cars have been built all over the advanced world since the beginning of the automotive era".

 

But it must be said that wear and tear have not affected the will to win of this man whom rhetoric calls indomitable. Rhetoric sometimes simply serves to give flavour to reality.

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The names of the drivers change (in Buenos Aires Peterson and Schenken, in Daytona Beach Ickx and Andretti), but the car that wins is always the same: Ferrari, which is identified by the initials 312-P, that is three litres, 12 cylinders. A car that has reached maturity after a difficult year of experimentation and that is bringing the Maranello team back to that world title brand already won eleven times (the last in 1967). In Argentina the three 312-Ps of Ickx-Andretti. Regazzoni-Redman and Peterson-Schenken finished the game with a one-two by Peterson and Regazzoni and a tenth place by Ickx. Ferrari has improved even more in the United States. The common denominator of the two tests is this: three machines at the start, and three machines at the finish line. It's an impressive demonstration of reliability, beyond the exciting events of the 6 Hours of Daytona. Speaking to Ickx in Buenos Aires, the Belgian said:

 

"I respect all the opponents, from Alfa Romeo to Lola, but I consider our car superior to the others. The team is strong, with at least five out of six drivers of substantially identical value. Ferrari should impose itself, but not always with the same men. There will be a selection caused by mechanical inconveniences or accidents. But the important thing is that the battle is won by Maranello".

 

Ickx's judgement is confirmed in reality. A new wind blows on Ferrari. This time in Maranello there was a good seed and the raising was even better. The memory of the Porsche years begins to fade in the name of the Italian red spider and its men. At the base of the two consecutive Ferrari one-two are many factors. The value and homogeneity of the drivers, with five Formula 1 axe and a passer (Redman): the indications collected in the 1971 season; the different structuring imposed on the sports department, with three mechanics - always the same -For each car and with the rotation of the specimens from race to race, to have them rested on the eve of each competition: The perfect organisation at the garage, directed by Peter Schelty and Giacomo Caliri. Ferrari is therefore proving to be the dominatrix of this championship open to cars of 3000 cc, with a minimum weight of 650 kilos. What about Alfa Romeo? The Milanese team fought well, certainly better than in Buenos Aires. In Argentina the fight had ended in ten minutes, at Daytona it continued for two and a half hours, so much so that at a certain point - even if briefly - an Alfa Romeo was in charge of the race. This should incite the Hatch team in search of revenge. This time Lola didn't cause any annoyance. The three-litre Englishman had aroused amazement in the 1000 kilometres of Argentina for the speedy performance offered and for the tightness of the Formula 1 Ford-Cosworth that propelled it. It seems that the American adventure has downplayed the ambitions of the small English brand, which has neither the drivers nor Ferrari’s organisation.

 

Alfa Romeo, on the other hand, is struggling with a new car and the results, for now, are disappointing, so they simply can't equal Ferraris. Something is wrong, the new TT33s are starting to cause doubts. Since the engine is the same as the successful 1971 season, other parts will need to be revised. Maybe the chassis, maybe the weight distribution, or the defect in the handle: the car is too heavy. Strange rumours are already spreading during the races: Alfa Romeo is said to be thinking of withdrawing from the world championship brands, betting his cards on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The official reason would be the question of fire tanks, the confirmation of the negative answer of the drivers of the Milanese brand to safety fire tanks has arrived. These containers, developed by Alfa Romeo and so far used only on TT33s, have the inconvenience of weighing too much. It’s estimated that the handicap is around 70 kilos. It's no small feat because the minimum weight of sports cars is 650 kilos and all manufacturers have tried to get closer to this minimum limit imposed by the regulation. The news had aroused controversy and reactions, especially from those who had impetuously pushed the managers of the House to publicise the device, against the same wishes of the technical director, the engineer Carlo Chiti, who would have preferred to experiment with more peace with the tanks he designed. Nanni Galli, already after the first round of the season in Argentina, it was decided:

 

"I don’t want these tanks anymore, and almost all my colleagues agree".

 

The goodness of the solution devised by Chiti is not discussed. Any device that increases the chances of saving a driver after an accident is welcome. It's probably the timing and ways of implementing the project that ended up making Alfa Romeo's team uncomfortable. It should be added, however, that the Milanese company has made considerable progress in a month and for a few minutes has even given the impression of being able to grasp a resounding statement. In Argentina the fight ended in ten minutes, in Daytona it continued for two and a half hours. This should start the Portello team to continue in the world championship, in search of revenge. The greater fragility of his cars and the lower ability to react to bad luck, however, have dimensioned his values in the Daytona race. Lola, on the contrary, seemed like a big unknown: one of the two cars stood still in the pits at the start, and the other retired after a series of failures. He will hardly be able to pay the price of his tender age in time. The three-litre English had aroused amazement in the Argentine 1000 km for the speedy performance offered and for the tightness of the Formula 1 Ford-Cosworth that propelled it. But the small English brand currently has neither the drivers nor the organisation of Ferrari. The next challenge of the 1972 World Sportscar Championship will be held on Saturday, March 25, 1972, in Florida, in the Sebring International Raceway, for the 12 Hours of Sebring. The beginning of 1972 is therefore a happy moment for Italian motoring. After Ferrari's triumph in Buenos Aires and Daytona in the world brands championship, and after Lancia obtained an exciting victory in the Monte-Carlo Rally, Fiat also imposes itself with a victory. Such a lucky start hadn't been recorded in years. If the Maranello team, in early March, succeeds with Andretti, Ickx and Regazzoni to beat Stewart in the South African Grand Prix, this first positive balance sheet of 1972 will be complete.

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In this regard, on Monday, February 10, 1972, Scuderia Ferrari goes to Vallelunga to carry out tests, in which Clay Regazzoni is the protagonist of an accident while behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. The Swiss are slightly injured in one hand, while the car remains damaged. During the morning Regazzoni began on the track of the Roman racetrack the tests of the 312-B, given the South African Grand Prix, scheduled for March 1, 1972. Around noon, while it comes out at a low speed from the corner to them to enter the straight edge opposite the stands, the car defects on the left going to bump the external guardrail with the front. A moment of fright, then, while mechanics and track workers rush towards the car, the Swiss leaves the cockpit. Regazzoni, as mentioned, is slightly injured in one hand. More serious damage to the car, which manages to gain the pits with difficulty, losing gasoline, having damaged the radiator and suspension. Wednesday, March 1, 1972, the first official tests begin in South Africa, where the second round of the 1972 Formula 1 World Championship will be held on Saturday, May 4, 1972, after the first Grand Prix held in Argentina on January 23, 1972. For several years now, the race will take place on the Kyalami circuit, halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Although Kyalami has always been considered one of the safest circuits, further changes in this regard are completed shortly before the Grand Prix. The various vertical embankments on the ground are replaced by concrete slabs considered safer by the GPDA and further fences have been added.

 

While in South Africa Jackie Stewart inspects other circuits and it seems that Cape Town will have to be modified considerably before it can be used again for international races. The arrangement of the circuit garage is further improved in Kyalami and all cars and equipment can now be housed in enclosed garages adjacent to the garages. Most cars fly directly from Argentina, and this allows you to start testing early. The lap record is 1'20"0 by local champion Dave Charlton, so when Fittipaldi laps in 1'17"2 and then Stewart in 1'16"4 during tyre tests, the information quickly arrives in England. Before the start of official practice, the vast majority of the teams have already carried out a few miles of testing. The group of riders has changed very little compared to Buenos Aires. The Elf-Team Tyrrell offers a formidable challenge with the usual cars for Stewart and Cevert plus the new spare 004. The latter is the car that first appeared at the London Motor Show and is built according to the same specifications as the previous two. Cevert's car is equipped with some new front pillars that were part of the disc brake calliper in a similar way to that used for some time by the Matra. They offer a weight-saving advantage and have proven effective in operation. March Engineering Ltd. brought with it its two 721s for Peterson and Lauda, as the new 721X with its inboard gearbox and special safety features is not complete. Both March sports' new sections in the front are different from the previous unicorn type. Ferrari presented itself with its three normal B2 models for the 1971 winner Andretti, Ickx and Regazzoni.

 

All three cars also have new sections in the final part of the nose, very similar to those of Tyrrell, although Andretti's is not available until race day. The John Player Special Team Lotus also has cars very similar to before, with the two well-used Lotus 72Ds for Emerson Fittipaldi and Walker. Fittipaldi's car, born in September 1970, is perhaps about to play its last Grand Prix since a new 72 is under construction for the Brazilian. Marlboro-B.R.M. is reduced to four cars for this race, with Soler-Roig and Wisell being excluded and Beltoise taking the place as team leader. His car had been severely dented in Buenos Aires by Soler-Roig and was then rebuilt on a new monocoque section still with the P160 design. There are similar cars for Gethin and Ganley, while Helmut Marko can only choose between two of the older P153s. Back in England, the team had tested the first of the new P180s with a rear radiator but, due to lack of development, decided not to bring the car to South Africa. After the good performance in Argentina, the Yardley McLaren team seems in a confident mood and brought with it the two regular and now well-proven McLaren M19As. Hulme has the most recent of the couple while Peter Revson takes the car that had previously been driven by Hulme, Gethin, Donohue and Hobbs himself. After the disastrous start of the season in Argentina, the Matra Team hopes to make a good impression and is again focussing on only one MS120C for Amon. The oil tank is moved to the rear to allow better circulation, but otherwise, the car remains unchanged. Amon reports that Matra has now begun to design a new chassis that should appear at the French Grand Prix.

 

Surtees is present with his team, directing and supervising the efforts of his three TS9Bs with side radiators. Two are in the blue and white colour scheme by Brooke Bond Oxo-Rob Walker for Schenken and Hailwood, while a third car, red and white, is registered by Ceramica Pagnossin for de Adamich. The Brabham team remained unchanged with the white-yellow Brabham BT34 for the Argentine Reutemann and the older BT33 for Hill. The team should have new cars in time for the Spanish Grand Prix. Team Williams-Motul for the first time deploys two Formula 1 car at a World Championship event. Patron Frank Williams acquired the services of a former designer and director Brabham Ron Tauranac to act as a race engineer for this event. Williams cars, designed by Len Bailey and known as Politoys in deference to a sponsor, are not yet complete, so the Team brings with it its new March 721 for Pescarolo, plus the oldest March 711 for the Brazilian Carlos Pace, who is still building his own.  The latest made his debut in Formula 1, which arrived on the European scene in 1970, in Formula 3, moved to F2 in 1971 and has now found enough sponsorship from his homeland to compete in Formula 1 in 1972. Yet another team at its debut is Eiffelland Caravans, with its sports body redesigned by Luigi Colani on behalf of the German sponsor. Some of these designs are discarded during the tests, but the special interior design is confirmed, with its centrally mounted mirror and the front air intake for the engine. Stommelen is the driver, with previous experiences with Brabham and Surtees in Formula 1, while the rest of the crew is completely new to this racing class.

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Eifelland wants the car to be known by its name and even replaces the license plate of the chassis of the car with one of their production, claiming that the car has the 21/1 chassis even if, in reality, it is a March 721/4. To complete the list of twenty-seven participants there are three local pilots. Much of the attention was focused on Charlton, a member of the official Lotus team for the British Grand Prix. After the English race he returned to South Africa with the car he raced with on that occasion, the 72D/R3, and with it he won his second South African championship. Charlton is strongly sponsored by the local cigarette company Lucky Strike and their promotional activities have been a lesson for many well-known companies in Europe. They say they have seen a direct increase in sales since they connected to Charlton and announced that they will send him, and Lotus, to three European GPs in the summer. The other two local entries were made by Team Gunston, for veteran John Love, who deploys a Surtees TS9 with a front radiator, and the little-known William Ferguson with the Brabham BT33/1 that he just bought and used in a local race. Incidentally, Gunstons are one of Lucky Strike's main rivals. Jackie Stewart and his Tyrrell dominate the first official practice session on Wednesday. The driver shoots a shot that throws everyone in despondency already in the first half hour: many of the opponents have not even taken to the track and he already turns in 1'17"0, a time that in the initial perspective would have been necessary to earn the pole position.

 

At the end of the afternoon, Carlos Reutemann is credited with the second fastest time at 1'17"3, although many think of a probable mistake in timing, having little confidence in the driver. Gunther Hennerici, a well-known German caravan manufacturer, already financially supported the career of the promising German driver Rolf Stommelen, so much so that he financed his climb to Formula 1, starting from the preparatory categories. In 1971, to give a further chance to his protégé veteran from a positive season with Brabham a podium won in Austria, Hennerici decided to engage directly in the construction of Formula 1 cars and bought a March 721 with Ford Cosworth DFV engine and Goodyear tires, then remodelled by Luigi Colani. The car, renamed E21, has a rather futuristic shape, with a large air intake placed in front of the passenger compartment, whose purpose is to reduce the resistance to the advance given by the enormous periscopes in use. Above this socket there is centrally a single rearview mirror, fixed to showy central support that rises beyond the cockpit line. When Eifelland is presented to the German press, Colani says that the other designs had nothing to do with aerodynamics compared to that designed for its new creature. However, while in the initial tests the car proves quite fast, it soon emerges that the futuristic design does not allow it to obtain the right level of downforce despite the very large rear wing capable of an area of 2.5 square metres. To these troubles are also added those related to the cooling difficulties propitiated by the generous dimensions of both the front and rear ailerons. The chassis, as mentioned, is that of the March 721.

 

Already on the occasion of the Race of Champions, held at Brands Hatch, Eifelland presents itself on the track with news related to the size of the wing surfaces, reduced to improve cooling. Waiting for the time to be revised, the third fastest time is assigned to Jacky Ickx, with 1'17"8, followed by Emerson Fittipaldi with 1'17"9, then Denny Hulme with 1'18"1, while Jackie Stewart even finds the opportunity to record the sixth fastest time with the training car. The next group is all around 1'18"5. Several drivers faced difficulties from the beginning of practice: Revson after a couple of laps suffered an engine burst on his car; Charlton's brand new engine did not work properly due to an electrical failure; Pescarolo's engine also burst on the first lap, while his teammate Pace had problems with the wheel bearings; Ganley clutch broke on his first lap. Thursday, March 2, 1972, on what was expected to be a slightly slower day, Jackie Stewart sets the pace again with a time of 1'17"0, but mid-session he is the protagonist of a frightening scene from which he is lucky enough to escape. In the fast corner at the end of the straight before the pits, the wing supports of the Scottish driver's car break and the rear wing profile almost detaches from the car, sending it into the spin and making it uncontrollable. Fortunately, Stewart regains control and slowly returns to his garage, pale in fear. Emerson Fittipaldi proceeds well after his mechanics have managed to solve the brake problems encountered on his car. The Brazilian manages to get very close to Stewart, scoring a time of 1’17’’4 and positioning himself firmly in the front row. Peterson, Ickx and Regazzoni all shoot in 1’17’’8. Cevert turns 0.1 seconds slower, while Beltoise asserts himself as the fastest of the B.R.M. drivers, although none of them shows an optimal shape comparable to that of the 1971 season. Revson and Charlton climb to the standings with a time of 1’18’’5.

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Friday, March 3, 1972, after a lot of rain, fell on the circuit during the night, Mike Hailwood recorded a time of 1'17"4 in the morning after skipping the Thursday session completely due to a gearbox problem. When the official session begins in the afternoon, the former motorcycle champion immediately gets on track and records at the same time positioning himself close to the leading group. His time remains the fastest of the day until the last half hour of the fight, when Jackie Stewart repeats his 1'17"0, putting himself back at the head of the group of riders and proving to deserve the pole. Clay Regazzoni scores a rather dubious time of 1’17"3. It should be remembered, in this regard, that even Reutemann's Wednesday time seemed unrealistic, so much so that it was double-checked and finally cancelled. Fittipaldi's Lotus loses the right front wheel and spectators prepare for the worst, but fortunately, the driver manages to maintain control of the car, which stops at the side of the track without damage. He is then credited with the time he scored the previous day. Hulme and Fittipaldi are therefore both positioned on a time of 1'17"4, while the winner of the 1971 edition, Mario Andretti scores a good 1'17"5. Ronnie Peterson also scored a good time of 1'17"8, then equalled by his Ferrari sports car partner, Tim Schenken, who does not want to let Hailwood do better than him with the Surtees. After breaking his only engine, William Ferguson reluctantly retires, but only after showing some promise by qualifying eleven seconds behind John Love.

 

The South African Grand Prix will also open under the motto: everyone against Stewart. The Scotsman has already won the first round of the Formula 1 World Championship, held on January 23, 1972, in Buenos Aires, and is now the fastest in the various practice sessions of the race in South Africa. A look at the grid shows that half of the drivers are within a second away, an incredibly narrow margin that gives clues to the level of competitiveness of the upcoming Grand Prix. The margin is even narrower if you look at the top positions: Stewart in pole position, followed by Regazzoni and Fittipaldi, in fourth place Hailwood with his time recorded in the morning, then Hulme and Andretti. These six pilots are within a margin of only 0.5 seconds. Analyzing even better we find eight riders in 0.7 seconds, five with cars equipped with eight-cylinder Ford-Cosworth engines and three with 12-cylinder single-seaters. On the theme of the battle between eight and twelve cylinders, Ferrari looks brighter than Chris Amon’s B.R.M. and solitary Matra. The English house got its best time with Beltoise, who is eleventh in this indicative ranking with a decent 1'17"9, while Ganley, Gethin and Marko are further behind. Amun is thirteenth with 1'18"0. The Maranello team tests a new, more aerodynamic type of front wing that partially fairs the front wheels in the style launched in Formula 1 by Stewart’s Tyrrell. March also modifies the front, but Ronnie Peterson does not go beyond a time of 1’17"8, which is the ninth time in the standings.

 

Disappointing, once again, is the test of the only Italian present at the South African Grand Prix, Andrea de Adamich. With the Surtees-Ford, the Milanese driver gets a very modest 1’18”9, which places him in twentieth place in the ranking of the best. On Saturday, March 4, 1972, despite a heavy thunderstorm that fell during the morning, the sky is clear when the crowd begins to pour into Kyalami. There is no racial segregation on the circuit although the price, at £2 for entrance to the gate, is of course quite high for different South African ethnicities. There is a full schedule of events, including Formula Vee races (which will be won by an 18-year-old girl), Formula Ford and sedans, and a fun race for South African-made Ford Cortina pickups, which will be won by British Formula 3 driver Roger Williamson, who came to Kyalami to test a Formula 2 car for March. By 3:00 p.m., Grand Prix start time, a record crowd of over 80,000 people spread across the stands, many encouraged by the enormous support given by local newspapers, which crowded every available vantage point. As always, road accidents occur until the last minute. And so, in the further test session, carried out in the morning, Denny Hulme’s engine develops a leak in a rear engine oil seal, forcing the mechanics to repair it a quarter of an hour after the end of the time allowed for the presentation of the cars. Carlos Pace’s debut also seems in jeopardy: the electric fuel pump stops working while the car is warming, so the car needs mechanical intervention while opponents are already lining up on the grid. Graham Hill is another driver who finds himself in trouble: his ignition box needs a last-minute change. De Adamich's car also receives attention from mechanics just minutes from the start.

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At exactly 3.00 p.m. the South African flag is lowered, kicking off the South African Grand Prix, and the twenty-five cars (Carlos Pace is not on the grid) start with engines roaring furiously. Hulme attempts to escape, with Stewart and Fittipaldi vying for third place. Regazzoni leaves slowly. The New Zealand driver’s McLaren, taking an internal line, overtakes the two opponents ahead of him through the open space they left, taking the lead already at the first corner. Further back, Schenken miscalculates the start and blocks Revson, behind him on the grid. Charlton’s engine is damaged immediately due to a seized mechanical fuel pump, forcing the rider to a disappointing retreat after just two laps. Hulme maintains the lead until the completion of the first lap of the race, but entering the second lap Stewart jumps to the lead. In the flash of colour of the various riders crossing the finish line, Fittipaldi is third followed by Hailwood, Cevert, Andretti, Peterson, Beltoise, Hill and then everyone else. Once in the lead Stewart quickly starts moving away from the others and on lap 10 opens a gap of about five seconds on Hulme, meanwhile tormented behind him by Fittipaldi and Hailwood. Cevert is battling Peterson, risking being overtaken. Then there is Beltoise, followed by Reutemann, who is not in shape as Argentina is not doing badly. Regazzoni and Amon are on the heels of the Argentine, followed by Andretti and Revson. The others are in order: Ganley, lckx, de Adamich, Hill, Pescarolo, Lauda, Marko, Walker, Stommelen, Love and Pace, who started from the pits three laps late. Schenken is already out of the game on lap ninth, when his engine explodes, while Gethin's B.R.M. is also in the pits for electrical system checks, causing the driver to lose twelve laps.

 

Fortunately for viewers, Stewart does not increase his lead and indeed has to fight to maintain it, as the Hulme-Fittipaldi-Hailwood trio approach dangerously. Meanwhile, the hopes of the B.R.M. team collapse when Beltoise, briefly in sixth place, rushes to the pits complaining about the loss of power. The valve spring(s) is suspected to break but team manager Tim Parnell sends him back to the track, causing him to resume the race in the twenty-first position. Cevert also enters the pits with engine problems, restored by a completely new ignition unit; however, the driver, while returning to the race in twenty-second place, finds problems putting the third gear. The battle for second place brings the trio closer to Stewart. Hulme is at the bottom of the trio because his engine begins to show signs of overheating, while Hailwood overtakes Fittipaldi. On lap 25 the former motorcycle champion is on Tyrrell's heels, with Stewart making it very difficult to overtake Hailwood. The challenge stirs the audience because Fittipaldi is only a few lengths away from Hailwood, which only adds further excitement. On lap 29 Hailwood's car suddenly steers, due to the breakage of a bolt mounted in the rear suspension. The driver manages to control the car and bring it to the pits without further damage, but the exciting challenge for first place is over. Hailwood’s disappearance momentarily lifts Stewart’s pressure, but Fittipaldi is still dangerously close. Hulme drops to third place, while Peterson climbs back to fourth, followed by Amon and Revson, who after a slow start managed to rise from nineteenth place to the end of the first lap until reaching sixth place.

 

The two Ferrari, particularly Ickx’s one, do not show the expected shape, although Regazzoni and Andretti are seventh and eighth, with Andrea de Adamich following them. Further back is a funny crash between Hill and Lauda, who has moved away from Pescarolo, himself forced to look into the mirrors, followed dangerously by Dave Walker. Reutemann's name is added to the list of retreats when a high-pressure fuel hose bursts on his engine, forcing him to retire at the entrance to the corner of the Clubhouse during lap 27. As we approach the middle of the race, Emerson Fittipaldi begins to intensify the attack on Jackie Stewart. For ten laps or more the two turns close to each other, with the Brazilian just waiting for the opportunity to pass. Further back Chris Amon passes Ronnie Peterson and takes the fourth position, while Andrea de Adamich returns to the pits in a blanket of smoke caused by a brake calliper that loses oil. The Italian driver is sent back to the track with the annoying front calliper blocked, but now he is excluded from the fight for the most important positions. On lap 45 Emerson Fittipaldi overtakes Jackie Stewart just before braking for the corner after the pits, but the Scottish driver comes out of the cornering first. Suddenly, however, Stewart slows down by struggling with the gearbox gears: a bolt fell from the Hewland box, gradually losing lubricant and causing the gearbox organs to overheat. Stewart returns to the pits to retire at the end of the forty-fifth lap. Emerson Fittipaldi becomes the leader of the race.

 

The new order of the ranking sees Denny Hulme in second place and Ronnie Peterson in third place, with the Swede having oversteer problems caused by the rear wing that has meanwhile loosened, altering his angle. Chris Amon can then fight for third place. Peter Revson, on the other hand, is fifth, ahead of his compatriot Mario Andretti, whose Ferrari has an engine problem and apparently - as well as inexplicably - lost 1.000 rpm. Clay Regazzoni is in the same situation, with Graham Hill behind him overtaking Jacky Ickx, in turn, followed by the fast Austrian driver Niki Lauda. Lotus Team undoubtedly hopes that Fittipaldi can achieve his second ever victory in the championship, but the race is far from over and Hulme is encouraged both by his position, not so far from the Brazilian driver, and by the fact that the high water temperature is not having any negative effect on the performance of his car, so he starts to approach Fittipaldi. The black and gold Lotus begins to have difficulties with obvious oversteer that, due to the load of the car, with the lightening of the fuel load, becomes more and more visible. During the fifty-fifth lap, Hulme quickly recovers the distance that separates him from Fittipaldi, until he reaches it. The Brazilian offers a symbolic opposition but the New Zealand driver snatches the lead without too much trouble during the fifty-eighth lap. On the fifty-ninth lap, Revson challenges Peterson, taking third place. On the same lap, Beltoise gives up the fight, with the B.R.M. engine emitting unusual noises, while Regazzoni stops at the pits to replace a soft tyre, falling to twelfth place.

 

During the sixty-third lap, Amon's Matra-Simca suddenly develops a bad vibration, forcing the New Zealand driver to return to the pits to investigate the problem: probably the vibration is caused by a malfunction of the clutch or flywheel, but the mechanics cannot intervene and Amon is invited to return to the track, continuing to the bottom of the group. Denny Hulme has a nice advantage over Emerson Fittipaldi, while Peter Revson maintains a good third place and Ronnie Petersen is challenged for fourth place by Mario Andretti. Graham Hill climbs to sixth place despite still having Niki Lauda a short distance away. François Cévert is about to reach the ninth place, positioning himself in front of Dave Walker, after getting the better of Henry Pescarolo. At the end of the seventy-third lap, a large cloud of dust rises along the main straight, broken by the arrival of a Lotus, while the crowd begins to gather on the pits for the finish line. Team McLaren members hold their breath for a few moments, fearing a problem for Hulme and the consequent overtaking of Lotus in second place. But the dust is caused by the exit of John Love, who crashes into the fast corner before the pits. Lotus instead is that of Dave Walker, who is about to be voiced by Denny Hulme. The New Zealand driver concludes the race by driving carefully and crossing the finish line at the end of the 79th lap first, ahead of Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus, Peter Revson's other McLaren, Mario Andretti's Ferrari, Ronnie Peterson's March and Graham Hill's Brabham.

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Surprise results in the South African Grand Prix, the second round of the Formula 1 World Championship: Stewart retired due to the failure of the gearbox of his Tyrrell-Ford while he seemed launched towards yet another affirmation, the Ferraris of Ickx, Andretti and Regazzoni did not shine and the veteran Denny Hulme imposed himself at the wheel of the new McLaren M 10 with an 8-cylinder Ford-Cosworth engine. McLaren's excellent performance was completed by the third place of the American Peter Revson, the wealthy industrial owner of Revlon cosmetics. The ranking of this race sees Emerson Fittipaldi with the John Players Special Lotus. The Brazilian came second. Mario Andretti, with his fourth place, was the best of the Ferrari trio (Ickx placed eighth and Regazzoni in twelfth). The Italian-American preceded the Swede Peterson, who led to the debut of the March-Ford model 721, and the old Graham Hill, on the Brabham-Ford. In nineteenth place, we find the only Italian in the race, Andrea de Adamich, who was on a Ford Surtees. For Surtees, the South African Grand Prix was a meltdown: in addition to de Adamich, Schenken and Hailwood had to stop at the pits. For the small English manufacturer, a reason for consolation came from Hailwood, who obtained the fastest lap (4103 metres on 18.6, at an average of 187.200 km/h, setting a new record) The B.R.M. also peaked, which saw the failure of three out of four cars (those of Beltolse, Gethin Hulme returned to victory after three years. His last success in a Grand Prix dates back to 1969 when the New Zealander imposed himself in Mexico.

 

Overall, this is his sixth statement in a World Championship race. Hulme, who is 35 years old, had finished second in Argentina. Six points there, nine here, and here he is at the top of the standings with 15 points. It's not a new fact to see McLaren offer good exploits in the early stages of the season. Technicians can carefully prepare Formula 1 cars because they don't have to dedicate themselves to the big cars destined for Can-Am. When this event begins (full of dollars), McLaren neglects the Grands Prix and the necessary updating of the cars. Moreover, the British workshop lives with the prizes of American races and not with those, much scarcer, of Formula 1. However, Hulme, Revson and McLaren could not have beaten Stewart and Tyrrell if she had not blamed the gearbox glove. Ferraris have never managed to emerge. Andretti, Ickx and Regazzoni have always travelled to the centre positions, without entering the heart of the battle. It seems that Ickx's car complained of inconvenience to the brakes, while Regazzoni could not reach the maximum number of revolutions. The Swiss also had to stop in the pits to change a tyre. This year it seems that it must be the world championship of brands, in which Maranello excels with the sport 312-P, which brings satisfaction to Italian sportsmen. For the 312-B 2 of Formula 1, the times are not yet ripe. The next race should be the Coca-Cola Grand Prix, on the US Road Atlanta circuit, Sunday, April 9, 1972; if it is not played. The calendar subsequently includes the Spanish Grand Prix in Jarama, Sunday, May 1, 1972.

 

Carlo Poddighe

 

Translated by Valentina De Sanctis

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