), 3000 cc (normally aspirated)
500 kg (minimum)
Points - Driver & Constructors:
1st: 9, 2nd: 6, 3rd: 4, 4th: 3, 5th: 2, 6th: 1
The 1967 French ACF GP
won the 1967
French Grand Prix on the short 2.75 mile Bugatti circuit at Le Mans
, finishing 49.5 seconds ahead of team-mate Denny Hulme's Repco-Brabham V8. Both cars sounded and looked as healthy as when they started the gruelling 80-lapper, but they out-lasted and out-run the race favourites. Jackie Stewart was a lap back in third with a Tasman 2.1 litre V8 BRM. The two Lotus 49s had called the practice pace and led the race from the start, but the ZF crown-wheels packed up in both cars. After that it was a Brabham benefit in weather that wouldn't have been out of place at Warwick Farm, and Aussies on the terrace across from the pits drank beer from cans and shouted Goodonyer Jack from time to time ...
The pruned 24-hour circuit seemed all wrong for a Grand Prix. They used the straight past the pits, up over the right-hander to the brow under the Dunlop bridge but then swung right instead of left through the Esses to wind around through the car parks behind the pits and back out front again. The Le Mans
public also didn't reckon the mini-GP and stayed away in thousands. Friday's practice looked like a ghost town version of a motor race. There was hardly anyone there. Team Lotus was without cars, the mechanics having been held up at Dieppe while the French Customs pored over the paperwork. John Surtees
had decided that if his 3-litre V12 Honda heavyweight hadn't gone well at Spa
it certainly wouldn't improve its reputation or his if he took it to the little Le Mans circuit so he stayed at home mumbling about lack of development time to wait till Silverstone
sent two cars, but only Chris Amon
to drive one. Scarfiotti was well aware that his team had dwindled from four drivers to two during this season and the best way to make sure he wasn't the next to go was not to be there, so he retired (again) and went to the beach instead leaving Chrissey to swelter at Le Mans. BRM had hopefully brought its H16 3-litre for Jackie Stewart
and Mike Spence, but Stewart
soon discovered that the Tasman V8 suited the circuit better and settled down to steady practice in the smaller car, while Mike coped with the H16. Chris Irwin was driving Stewart's H16 for Tim Parnell, since the Tasman car Stewart was using belonged to Big Tim.
had the Brabham he raced for the first time at Spa, but Denny Hulme
had a brand new racer along the same F2-based lines as the Old Master. Dan Gumey had a pair of Eagles this time, one for himself and one for Bruce McLaren who is hitching competitive rides while he waits for BRM to complete his V12 3-litre engine. Coopers had a pair of Maser-engined monsters for Jochen Rindt
and Pedro Rodriguez
becoming more and more unsettled as Pedro
continued to equal his efforts in a similar car. Everyone was complaining about the circuit and saying why couldn't it have been at Rouen or Clermont Ferrand - everyone, that is, except the two Brabham drivers. This was probably because they were sitting pretty with fastest times after Friday's session on the oily circuit.
held the previous record with a 1-litre Brabham-Honda at 94.21 mph, but Jack was easily down to 101.04 mph (1 min 37.9 sec) with Denny just a tenth slower. Both Brabhams had small cowls ahead of the front suspension attached to the noses to break up the air stream and help air escape from behind the radiators. Temperatures were up over 100 deg and both cars and staff were feeling the heat. Gurney was third fastest at 1 min 38.1 sec, and Amon next at 1 min 39.3 seconds. But people knew, or thought they did, that things would be different on the morrow when Jim Clark
and Graham Hill
were mobile. Graham Hill was just getting over flu as he set off on Saturday, and McLaren was taking it easy with a new Weslake V12 on Saturday as Friday's one had digested a nut off an oil pump and had been sick all over the road ...
Temperatures were sizzling round the ton and Clark's Cosworth engine was well off song, spluttering and banging despite all Keith Duckworth's head-scratching and screwdriver-fiddling. But a sign of things to come was Clark
late in the session popping and banging, but passing McLaren's Eagle on the pit straight! Lotus blamed ignition and then fuel pressure and then gave up and admitted it had than stumped. Meanwhile Jack had gone out for a few "quiet" laps and came back with 1 min 36.3 sec which made everyone gulp. Hill's Lotus
had been made to fire on eight, and Graham was trying hard. Ferrari's had fitted a cut-back nose on Chris Amon's car to see if they could get the water temp 'back to acceptable proportions. Stewart's Tasman BRM came to the pits boiling like a Bourne kettle. Rindt had stopped out on the circuit when a header pipe burst on the Maserati engine, dousing the Austrian's private parts with embarrassingly hot water!
Then the big pit clock normally reserved for ticking up to 4 pm, motored round to 4.30 pm and people started watching Hill's pit boards. With five minutes left Graham Hill
was down to 1 min 36.4 sec - a tenth off Jack. Then as the chequer came out Graham arrived round the tight right hander at the end of the pits so far sideways you could read his number from straight ahead, and pipped Jack by a tenth to take pole at 1 min 36.2 sec (102.85 mph). The front row was Hill
and Gurney, with Clark
and McLaren behind them, then Hulme
, and Irwin and Stewart. Overnight Clark's engine was switched and for the race he had his "old faithful" Spa
engine. Amon was using Scarfiotti's car as it had proved quicker than his own. Last-minute panic in the Brabham camp saw mechanics juggling fuel tanks on Jack's car while they mended a leaking joint.
Stewart's Tasman BRM was having a last minute alternator
check. Spence's H16 was wearing a long trunk-like vent along the nose to cool him rather than it. After the practice heat the two Brabhams had little trumpets poking out behind the driver's left ear carrying air to the metering unit. Stewart's BRM was on Firestone R125s with 108 compound, while Irwin and Spence were on Goodyear. Clark was wearing Firestone R125s too, but with a new 115 mix, while Graham observed ruefully that he was left with the old 108 compound. Team managers had plenty to worry them really, because their elaborate precautions to combat overheating were nullified by an overcast morning followed by torrential rain. But in the early afternoon it looked like clearing. At half race distance there were spots of rain, but after that it blazed all afternoon.
As the French tricolor came down, the rear tyres of the front row were almost alight, but it was Hill's Lotus that bit first and Graham surged ahead of Dan and Jack. Streaming by the pits first time through it was Hill, Gurney, Brabham, Clark, Amon then a gap to McLaren and Rindt and Rodriguez and Hulme side by side. Next time round Brabham had leapfrogged the two leaders and was 'bowling along in front, while Clark had taken Gurney and was through to third. On lap 4 he was second ahead of Hill and on lap 5 he was out in front with his replaced engine sounding crisp as he pulled effortlessly away. Graham was nibbling at Jack's exhaust and then he too was past and motoring hard after Clark to set the lap record at 1 min 36.7 sec on lap 7. By the tenth lap the two Lotuses were running nose to tail 6.5 sec of Brabham and Gurney, who were 10 sec ahead of Hulme who had just taken Amon's Ferrari. McLaren had just been passed by Rindt.
Hulme had lost the knob of his gear lever on lap 3 and changing was going to be rather painful. Near the tail of the field was Irwin in the H16 being apparently unable to hold Bob Anderson's four-banger Brabham-Climax, but we learned later that Irwin's clutch had gone at the start and he was learning all over again! On lap 11 Hill was in front of Clark, but Jim gave a thumbs-up reassurance to the pits. It looked like a Mercedes-type walk-away. But Jim had third gear sometimes not at home and he wasn't pressing on too hard at this early stage, they also wanted to switch places so that the follower didn't overheat. Far in arrears, Frenchman Guy Ligier's Cooper-Maserati was lapped on lap 9! Spence's H16 was out with a broken half-shaft. Rindt had been holding seventh place from McLaren, but a spin at the pit corner dropped him down to tenth behind McLaren, Rodriguez and Stewart motoring confidently in the smallest car in the race.
Lap 14 saw Clark appear on to the straight alone in the lead. Graham's car had ground to a halt with several teeth missing from the ZF crown-wheel. Now the race began to settle down and we wondered what would happen next as Clark pulled out his lead to 13 sec on Jack who had Gurney behind him waiting to pounce. In fourth and fifth place Hulme and Amon were playing cat and mouse, with Amon tailing more often than he was leading to complain afterwards that Hulme's 325 bhp Repco V8 could out-drag his 380 bhp Ferrari V12 in a straight line. Rindt had been making up ground after his spin and Rodriguez was motoring harder trying to stay as far ahead of his Austrian team-mate as possible. Then came lap 23 and the Lotus threat vanished as Jimmy trundled into the pits with teeth off his cwp as well. Suddenly the follow-my-leader race between Brabham and Gurney turned into a race for the lead, but both Brabham and Gurney had been round long enough to know that there was no point in going hammer and tongs until the closing laps.
McLaren was out of seventh spot on lap 26 with a mangled ignition drive on the back of the Weslake cams. Rindt had closed up to Rodriguez now, but the extra work involved in making up time after his spin was too much for the Maser V12 and it blew asunder on lap 34 leaving the Mexican in a lonely fifth place half a minute ahead of Stewart's Tasman BRM. Then it was Gurney's turn for trouble and the normally sweet Weslake V12 beat turned rough, Dan started dropping back, and on lap 40 (half distance) he was in the pits with a fractured fuel union in the metering unit allowing the fuel pressure to escape along with rather a lot of fuel. This left the Brabhams running first and second with Amon's Ferrari now 4 seconds behind Hulme. Lap 48 saw both Amon and Rodriguez stopped.
Amon's Ferrari had broken the throttle cable (the same thing that put Bandini out in the French GP last year) and Rodriguez had broken a fuel pipe in the Cooper, a fault which was repaired after the little Mexican had pushed the heavy Cooper into the pits. The race order, with 30 laps left, was Brabham and Hulme well in the lead, Stewart third in the Tasman BRM, Siffert in the Walker Cooper Maserati and Irwin who had got the hang of running the H16 without a clutch. Anderson's Brabham had expired. Take-it-Easy signs were going out to the Brabhams as they came up to lap third man Stewart. Siffert's Cooper was now well off-song in a race he only had to finish to place fifth! The battery was going flat. Then Irwin, who had passed the slowing Siffert for fourth place, started blowing clouds of smoke out the back of the H16 and he slowed letting Siffert pass him. On the last lap the H16 gave a death rattle and Chris switched off.
A scavenge pump had gone wrong and was spraying oil everywhere. And that's how the GP finished, with the handful of French spectators wondering why on earth they'd bothered to come, and the Aussies on the terraces making more noise than all the Frenchmen put together. Britain's RAC rep at the race, a background man all through the meeting, clambered up on the dais with Jack for some reason, making his presence distinguished only by knocking the magnum of champers out of Jack's grip. Several French damsels tried to pour champers into Jack at once, while JB valiantly tried to maintain a commanding grip on the giant Esso tiger, his magnum, laurel wreath, and his composure under that big grin.
RESULTS. French Grand Prix, 2.75 Bugatti circuit, Le Mans, 80 laps: Jack Brabham <Repco Brabham V8) 2 hr 13 min 21.3 sec 98.9mph, 1; Denny Hulme <Repco Brabham V8) 2hr lit min 10.8 sees, 2; Jackie Stewart, (BRM V8 2.1 litre) 79 laps, 3; Jo Siffert (Cooper Maserati V12) 77 laps, I,; Chris Irwin (BRM H16 3-litre) 76 laps, 5; Pedro Rodriguez (Cooper Maserati V12) 76 laps, 6; Guy Ligier (Cooper Maserati V12) 68 laps, 7. Fastest lap: Graham Hill, 1 min 36.7 sec.