NOW THAT WAS A RACE

Peter Wind­sor re­mem­bers the 1965 Bri­tish GP

F1 Racing - - CONTENTS -

He strolled onto the grid for the 1965 Bri­tish Grand Prix at Sil­ver­stone wear­ing a fawn cardi­gan over his blue Dun­lop over­alls. His name, ‘Clark’, was em­bla­zoned in big let­ters on the side of the pole-set­ting Lo­tus 33B-Cli­max. On the red-up­hol­stered seat lay his dark-blue Bell Mag­num hel­met, with its white peak. And for this race he chose tan kan­ga­roo skin ‘Jim Clark’ driv­ing gloves, from a range that also in­cluded red and black.

Clark led the race from the start but Gra­ham Hill, in the works BRM P261, pushed him hard, his trade­mark, grace­ful, op­po­site-lock slides thrilling the crowds. It wasn’t un­til three-quar­ter dis­tance that the race seemed to be re­solved in Clark’s favour. Hill, with fad­ing brakes, be­gan to drop quickly away. But as it hap­pened, the real race was only just be­gin­ning.

Jim’s nor­mally rock-solid Cli­max V8 en­gine be­gan to lose oil pres­sure – rst at Stowe, then at Club and Wood­cote. On the straights, the nee­dle would icker back to the cen­tre. With each pass­ing lap, the plunges grew ever-worse; a blow-up – a rare blow-up in this nal year for Coven­try Cli­max in For­mula 1 – seemed in­evitable.

WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO? Jim had no help from the pit­wall. With no ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Colin Chap­man was obliv­i­ous to the prob­lem. They could hear re­ports over the PA of what seemed to be a misre, but on the pit straight the Cli­max en­gine sounded strong.

And so Jim con­ceived a cure: he de­cided to kill the en­gine through all the fast cor­ners, thus min­imis­ing the pis­ton or main bear­ing dam­age when the surge was at its great­est and the lu­bri­cant at its thinnest. He would ap­proach Stowe in top gear, brake and change down to fourth – and then nd neu­tral at around 190km/h be­fore switch­ing off the en­gine. He would have no throt­tle to help him bal­ance a slide; he couldn’t ap­ply any power un­til the 33B was straight. In­stead, Jim was go­ing to have to at­tempt an ear­lier-than-nor­mal ap­proach; a ro­ta­tion at ex­actly the right mo­ment and then a de­clutch to bring it all to life. All this with­out los­ing too much time to Gra­ham Hill.

With his head tipped back, his body lan­guage giv­ing no out­ward sign of the press­ing prob­lem, Jim set about the task in hand. Prior to the di­min­ish­ing oil pres­sure, Jim had been lap­ping around 1min 33s/34s. Now, in switch-off mode, his lap times, in­cred­i­bly, were only two sec­onds slower.

Three laps to go. Two. Once or twice the en­gine had sput­tered be­fore scream­ing back into life. Jim could now see Gra­ham loom­ing in his mir­rors. The crowd, in his pe­riph­eral vi­sion, was a wav­ing sea of arms. “I never thought I’d live to see this!” boomed Peter Scot­tRus­sell over the PA. “One car won’t stop and the other won’t go…”

Jim re-lit the Cli­max one more time. Third. Fourth. Abbey Curve. Fifth. Down to Wood­cote. Fourth. Ex­tend the straight. De­lay the lat­eral load. Power on.

Che­quered Flag. Last lap: 1min 36.8s. Enough for Jim Clark to win by a mar­gin of 3.2 sec­onds – and to take a de­ci­sive, bril­liant step to­wards his sec­ond world cham­pi­onship.

From left: Clark, Hill, Ginther, Ste­wart and Sur­tees com­mence bat­tle at Sil­ver­stone in 1965

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