Ick­x­traor­di­nary

Bathurst 1977 win­ning co-driver Jacky Ickx has only been back to Aus­tralia a cou­ple of times since play­ing his part in ar­guably the Great Race’s most fa­mous vic­tory. So to hear his rec­ol­lec­tions we had to catch-up with him, fit­tingly, at Le Mans.

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle Memories -

It’s been 40 years but Jacky Ickx has clear mem­o­ries of the day he won the Bathurst 1000. The Bel­gian su­per­star, who raced in For­mula 1 for Fer­rari and went on to win Le Mans six times as well as the ParisDakar and more than 50 other ma­jor events, is pos­i­tively bub­bling.

“I re­mem­ber hav­ing driven the Fal­con and also that Al­lan Mof­fat was ex­tremely quick and per­form­ing so well with these cars,” he tells AMC.

“You can imag­ine, as a small Bel­gian, ar­riv­ing in Bathurst and win­ning with Al­lan Mof­fat. It was per­fect. It was good. And I like the idea it is still the case to­day.”

Jacques Bernard Ickx con­trib­uted to what is likely the most fa­mous vic­tory in Bathurst his­tory, shar­ing the Ford Fal­con hard­top that Al­lan Mof­fat led to the 1-2 for­ma­tion fin­ish at Mount Panorama in 1977.

His eyes are shin­ing bright as we sit in the Porsche hos­pi­tal­ity unit at Le Mans in France. Ickx is keep­ing a close eye on the Le Mans ac­tion in his role as a Porsche am­bas­sador, but his mem­o­ries are much fur­ther away as he be­gins to talk.

“You leave Syd­ney to fly over the Blue Moun­tains to Bathurst. And there was an un­be­liev­able crowd. It was the num­ber one race in Aus­tralia,” Ickx re­calls. “It’s a kind of Le Mans in a way. You camp for the week­end.

“It’s all about the at­mos­phere, like here at Le Mans. The peo­ple who come, they re­ally en­joy it. And there are many as­pects.

“Bathurst was not an easy track. I re­mem­ber a long down­hill with a jump, two 90-de­gree cor­ners then up the hill, some twisty parts up­hill, not so easy, es­pe­cially with the Fal­con, you never know where it will end – you know it’s the car that drives you, not you; you have no con­trol over it.”

So how did a for­mer F1 star come to be rac­ing with Mof­fat in a Fal­con in Oc­to­ber 1977, a few short months af­ter his third con­sec­u­tive vic­tory at Le Mans?

His mem­ory is a lit­tle hazy, but he re­calls meet­ing at a sports car event. “Maybe I met him at Le Mans. He said I would like Bathurst.

“He made the con­nec­tion that I was avail­able be­cause I was un­suc­cess­ful in For­mula 1. And it was not an easy pe­riod of time for me, with a lot of ques­tions and no an­swers.”

But Ickx’s trou­bles, and a time when it was pos­si­ble to race a wide range of cars, were good for Mof­fat.

“You know, on that pe­riod of time, most of the driv­ers were able to drive all sorts of cat­e­gories sim­ply be­cause there was a lot of free­dom. We were fairly ama­teur. Called pro­fes­sional, but am­a­teurs.

“You were able to drive Ford sa­loon cars and Fer­rari sports cars at the same time in ’68. We had huge free­dom. And not even any talk by any­one about be­ing ex­clu­sive.

“Every­body did it. And that’s why it makes that era so dif­fer­ent. Now, a young one, even if you do it well, you’re ex­clu­sively in your one cat­e­gory.

“I won more than 50 ma­jor races: Se­bring, Day­tona; I won Dakar; I did the CanAm. To­day you can­not do that any­more.” For Ickx, there was an­other Bathurst at­trac­tion. “Of course, I was flat­tered,” he smiles. Things changed when he drove the car, dis­cov­er­ing how dif­fi­cult the Fal­con could be and how quickly his team leader was able to lap at Mount Panorama.

“It was a big chal­lenge. It wasn’t easy for me to drive and cope with Al­lan Mof­fat. He was fast, re­ally fast.

“It was huge, it was a big car. It was like driv­ing a NASCAR car in a way.

“When you come out of a sports car, like the Fer­rari 312 I was driv­ing, it was fairly un­sta­ble and fairly heavy. And fairly hard to stop. You had to press the pedal, that I can tell you. “That’s why I say Al­lan was driv­ing very well.” There has been talk for decades that Ickx was too hard on the Fal­con, trig­ger­ing the brake prob­lems that al­lowed Colin Bond to close on his team leader in the clos­ing laps of the race.

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