‘XXXII Grand Prix de Reims’ F2 3 July 1966: 1 Litre Brabham Honda’s…

Posted: July 30, 2015 in Fotos, Who,What,Where & When...?
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Start of the race won by Jack Brabham’s dominant Brabham BT18 Honda, the little 1 litre car was the winner of the F2 Championship that year…

Jack won the title, ‘Trophee de France’ 1966, awarded for results in six championship rounds, from teammate Denny Hulme, similarly mounted with Alan Rees third in another BT18 powered by the Ford Cosworth SCA engine.

Brabham won the 3 July, 307 km ‘XXXII Grand Prix de Reims’ F2 in a little over an hour and a half from Alan Rees BT18 and Jean-Pierre Beltoise’ works Matra MS5 Cosworth SCA.

In a pretty good weekend for Jack, he also won the 400 km French Grand Prix on the same day in BT19 Repco, and of course in so doing became the first man to win a GP in a car with his own name and manufacture- together, Brabham and Ron Tauranac were partners in Motor Racing Developments, the manufacturers of Brabham cars.


Brabham’s BT18 Honda takes the Reims chequered flag from Toto Roche (unattributed)

Jack’s business acumen is demonstrated by his ability to form engine partnerships with Honda in F2 and Repco for his F1 and Tasman engines simultaneously, victorious in both F2 and Grands Prix racing in 1966…

Brabham and Ron Tauranac collaborated very successfully with the Japanese engineers, Honda learning much about engine installation and the need for torque as well as top end power during the first season of the partnership in 1965.

The little ‘S800’ 4 cylinder, fuel injected 1 litre engine developed around 150bhp @ 10000 rpm at the time the Ford block Cosworth SCA developed circa 138bhp and comprehensively blew off the opposition that year. 150bhp per litre for a normally aspirated engine was about as good as it got at the time, apart from Honda’s motor cycle engines anyway!

Honda acquired a Brabham F2 chassis in 1964, so Jack was well aware of Honda’s F2 plans, he first tested the car at Honda’s request late in 1964 at Suzuka and again in January 1965 at the conclusion of the Tasman Series.

He reported his impressions of the car in his ‘Motor Racing’ magazine column.

‘The Honda F2 is an all-alloy 4 cylinder DOHC, 4 valve engine with fuel injection…alongside an F2 Cosworth SCA , it is quite a big looking unit and there are some difficulties getting it into the frame…Since then modifications have been made to the unit so it can be mated to a Hewland 6 speed gearbox and sit in its proper position in the chassis’.

honda engine

Honda 1 litre DOHC, 4 valve fuel injected 150bhp ‘S800’ engine. Jack’s Brabham BT16, Pau GP 1965, DNF in the race won by Clark’s Lotus 35 Cosworth SCA. Electronic ignition take off of exhaust camshaft clear, large size of engine, neat installation and Goodyear tyres suggests 1966. Hewland ratio change in progress, lots of this with the peaky little engine! (Ian Gordon)

‘It runs smoothly and sounds very impressive, makes twice as much noise as the average F2 engine..there is useful power from 6000-9500 rpm, which is a nice wide band and makes the car comparatively easy to drive…Honda agreed to send two of their mechanics to be responsible for maintaining the engines during the coming season’. (1965)

In fact 1965 was a learning year for the new partners with Jack impressing upon the Japanese engineers the need for a wider band of power and torque, gearing of the car in 1965 was particularly critical.

Jack stepped out of the Honda powered chassis in June, forsaking it for Cosworth SCA power as the engine was developed. He returned to it at Albi in September- Jack took pole, set the fastest lap and finished second to Jim Clark’s Lotus 35 Cosworth SCA by less than a second after 85 laps…the lessons were well learned by Honda for success, make that domination in 1966.


Ron Tauranac and Jack Brabham discussing setup changes to Jacks BT21 Honda, #2 Hulme’s sister car, Monthlery 9 September 1966 (Popperfoto)



Jack Brabham with the victors garland, Monthlery 1966. Brabham BT21 Honda. Thats Clark’s 2nd place #3 Lotus 44 Cosworth SCA behind, Denny Hulme was third in the other Honda engined Brabham BT18. Note the Honda badge on the nose of Jack’s car. (unattributed)

The FIA introduced a new 1.6 Litre F2 class for 1967…

Honda were focussed on F1 in 1967 and 1968 before their withdrawal from top level single seater racing, they did not build an engine for the new European F2 Championship, but returned with Ralt to 2 litre F2 in 1980- the partnership of Honda and their old friend and collaborator Ron Tauranac was rekindled after all those years.

They were successful again too, winning the European F2 Championship in 1981/3/4, the Ralt Honda’s driven by Geoff Lees, Jonathon Palmer and Mike Thackwell to the title respectively before they returned to F1 with Spirit in 1983. That formative partnership was replaced with a longer term commitment to Williams in 1984 and the rest as they say is history.



Modern Ron Tauranac/ Honda Partnership…

The successful Ralt Honda Team in 1981. They were victorious with the Ralt RH6 in the Euro F2 Championship, Geoff Lees won the title, he is to the right of teammate- the black-clad Mike Thackwell is on crutches thanks to a big testing accident before the 20 April Thruxton Euro F2 round, showing true grit he returned to the fray at Mugello on May 24.

Lees won the title with three wins, Thackwell took one, the season opener at Silverstone.

Ralt RH6/81- the aluminium monocoque ground effect car of the period used the Honda RA261E, 2 litre (1996cc) DOHC, 4 valve , fuel injected normally aspirated V6 engine as a stressed member, which developed circa 310bhp @ 10500rpm.

Ron Tauranc leaning on the wing of a Ralt at Silverstone during the obviously hot! British Grand Prix on 18 July 1981.

There was no F2 duties that weekend but rather an important F3 race to attend to- customer Ralt RT3 Toyota’s filled the first four slots in the race- Thierry Tassin won from Raul Boesel and Jonathon Palmer, the latter graduated to the works Ralt-Honda F2 squad. To underline the dominance of the RT3’s, they filled thirteen of the top fifteen places.

Ralt RH6 Honda (T Jufuku)


jb brabham honda 65

Jack not looking quite so happy with the car in its formative 1965 year with the new Honda engine. Here at Oulton Park for the F2 ‘Gold Cup’ in September. He qualified his BT16 with the peaky unit well, 6th, but clutch trouble meant a DNS in the race won by John Surtees Lola T60 Cosworth SCA. (Eddie Whitham)


jack and ron

Another Oulton shot, Geoff Brabham in the green jacket far left looking on, Ron Tauranac, Jack and the small team of Honda mechanics. (Eddie Whitham)


honda big exhaust

In the early stages much experimentation took place to get the power/torque mix right including exhaust lengths… 1965, paddock place and date unknown. (unattributed)


jack oulton

Jack preparing for the off in the Oulton paddock, 1965 Gold Cup. (Eddie Whitham)


jap techs b honda

Another unattributed paddock shot of the Brabham Honda. Roy Billington down the back. Conventional rear suspension and Hewland ‘box. Single top link, inverted lower wishbone, coil spring/damper unit, adjustable roll bar and rubber donut all in shot. (unattributed)


Brabham_Hulme BT18 Honda (F2) Pau GP 1966

Denny ahead of Jack at the Pau GP on April 17 1966. The tables were turned at the events conclusion, Jack and Denny in Brabham BT 18 Honda’s, Graham Hill 3rd in another Brabham, a BT16 BRM. The Brabham Honda 1/2 was achieved at Goodwood, Pau, Zolder, Crystal Palace, Karlskoga and Keimola, Finland that year. (unattributed)



Brabham victorious in the car at Pau with Graham Hill and Denny Hulme joining in the fun (INA)


reims f 2

‘Where’d they go?!’ Tailenders on the Reims ’66 F2 grid. (unattributed)


Eddie Whitham, Popperfoto , Stephen Dalton and Leigh McMullen for research assistance, ‘Motor Racing’ magazine May/June 1965, Ian Gordon, Takashi Jufuku









  1. Phanou says:

    The sixth picture from the Top is from the april “VI Spring Trophy 1965” at Oulton where Jack and Dennis race number where respectively 1 and 2, in the september “XII International Gold Cup 1965” meeting wich John Surtees won, they had numbers 8 and 9.

    The 1981 Ralt Team picture is probably from the XLI Grand Prix Automobile de Pau 1981, European Championship for F2 Drivers, Round 7 in june 81

  2. […] 1966 was the year the Brabham Hondas blitzed the Euro F2 title, Jack and Denny won most of blue-riband events with the best of the Cosworth SCA’s nibbling at their Goodyears- usually the Jochen Rindt driven, Roy Winkelmann entered Brabham. The Brabham Honda story is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/30/xxxii-grand-prix-de-reims-f2-july-1966-1-litre-brabham-hondas/ […]

  3. […] Honda entered F2 with Brabham that year, see here for an earlier piece I wrote about this topic; ‘XXXII Grand Prix de Reims’ F2 3 July 1966: 1 Litre Brabham Honda’s… | primotipo… […]

  4. […] The boys – Tauranac (or not?) in front of the partially obscured Denny Hulme and Jack – ponder a Brabham Honda as it’s loaded onto the transporter. See here for a feature on these jewels of cars, and engines; ‘XXXII Grand Prix de Reims’ F2 3 July 1966: 1 Litre Brabham Honda’s… | primotipo… […]

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