Often the more subtle ads are the most effective? From Automobile Year #10…
Archive for January, 2016
Tags: 1956 Australian Grand Prix, 1956 Australian Tourist Trophy, 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, Albert Park, Austin Healey 100S, Australian Tourist Trophy, Bib Stillwell, Bill Pitt, Cooper T39 Climax, Jack Brabham, Jaguar 'D Type', Jean Behra, Maserati 300S, Stirling Moss
Tags: 1958 LA Times GP Riverside, 1959 Sebring 12 Hour, 1960 Grand Prix Season, 1960 Le Mans, 1962 Sandown International, Chaparral 1 Chev, Chuck Daigh, Ferrari 250TR/59, Ford Thunderbird, Maserati T61 Birdcage, Scarab F1, Scarab Mk2 Chev, Scarab RE Buick
Tags: 2002 CART Championship, 2002 Monterrey Grand Prix Mexico, Adrian Fernandez, Christian Fittipaldi, Christiano da Matta, Dario Franchitti, Lola B2/00 Honda, Lola B2/00 Toyota, Reynard 02i Honda
Adrian Fernandez slices his Lola B2/00 Honda into the lead of the Monterrey Grand Prix from pole, behind is Dario Franchitti’s Reynard 02i Honda the first round of the 2002 CART Series on 10 March…
Such a picturesque location, the circuit used for this event between 2001 and 2006 was located at Fundidora Park, Monterrey the capital and largest city in the state of Nuevo León in the foothills of the Sierre Madre Oriental mountains, Mexico. The old buildings in shot are those of a disused steel mill which is both a nod to the past and indicator of the city as a current industrial centre.
2002 was ‘the start’ of the demise of CART, Penske Racing defected to the rival Indy Racing League at the end of 2001, starting a trend the net result of which was to weaken single seater racing in the US. A great shame as CART to me at the time was as interesting and exciting a category as F1 if not superior in its variety of circuits, circuit type (road, circuit, short and long speedways), chassis and engines. A story for another time.
The engine regs continued to mandate a 2.65 litre, single turbo-charged V8 for 2002, squabbling over the future engine specifications one of a myriad of issues causing the ‘stampede’ of teams and engine manufacturers from CART.
The 2002 CART championship was won by Christiano da Matta in a factory Newman/Haas Lola B2/00 Toyota, he also won this race. Fernandez finished 13th, Dario Franchitti was 2nd in a Reynard 02i Honda and Christan Fittipaldi 3rd in the other Newman/Haas Lola B2/00 Toyota.
All Photo Credits…
Tags: Alfa Romeo P3 '50003', Lex Davison, Rob Roy Hillclimb
This fine George Thomas shot of Lex Davisons’ Alfa Romeo P3 ‘50003’ is undated but is in the mid-fifties, its become exposed over time which adds to its patina and drama of the occasion…
This wonderful Grand Prix car had to ‘sing for its supper’ in Australia, events were few and far between in the early post-war years. Davison was a keen competitor who raced his cars far and wide in trials, rallies, circuit races and hillclimbs like this one at the ‘Christmas Hills’ in Melbourne’s outer east.
The venue is still used by the MG Car Club, perhaps one of their historians can help date the shot.
Tags: 1971 European F3 Cup, 1972 F3 Monaco Grand Prix, 1972 French Grand Prix, 1973 European F2 Championship, 1974 European F2 Championship, Alpine A360 Renault, Alpine A364 Renault, Elf2/Alpine A367 Ford, March 742 BMW, Patrick Depailler, Tecno TF71 Ford, Tyrrell 004 Ford
Patrick Depailler slices through the Thruxton chicane in his Alpine A360 Renault on 19 September 1971 during his victorious French F3 season…
At last really! He had been thrashing around in F3 since 1967; he was 5th in the ’67 French Championship won by Henri Pescarolo, 6th in the ’68 title won by Francois Cevert and 4th in ’69 when Francois Mazet won.
In 1970 Depailler did some F2 events in a Pygmee and Tecno and then stepped back to F3 in 1971 taking the French title from Jean-Pierre Jabouille also Alpine A360 mounted.
Just look at that roll call of French drivers at the time fuelled by a mix of the Volant Shell drivers program, Elf, Matra funding and talent!
The F3 event pictured at the articles outset is a team one ‘The European F3 Cup’ held at Thruxton won by a French Team comprising Pierre-Francois Rousselot, Jacques Coulon and Jean-Louis Lafosse. Depailler was in the second placed team along with Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Other future F1 drivers contesting the event representing their respective countries included Alan Jones, Vern Schuppan, James Hunt, Roger Williamson, Jochen Mass and Conny Andersson.
The individual finishing order of the talent filled Thruxton race was Rousselot in a Brabham BT35 Ford from Depailler with Brit Barrie Maskell third in a Chevron B18 Ford.
I tripped over the shot of PD researching an article on Dave Walker, an F3 contemporary of Patricks who took a similar length of time to break free from the F3 ruck, what a tough school of talent it then was. And has always been I guess.
Walker perhaps peaked in F3, noting the twice badly broken arm which impacted him from ’73 whereas perhaps PD never really peaked, he improved as time went on right until that fateful day at Hockenheim in 1981? James Hunt was another who was ‘thereabouts’ in F3 and peaked in F1. Conversely Jan Magnussen an example of unfulfilled F3 promise in F1 from a more recent era.
In 1972 Depailler contested the European F2 Championship finishing 3rd in a March 722 Ford, winning the Enna round. Mike Hailwood won that year in a Surtees TS10 Ford…but not completely done with F3 stepped back into an Alpine and won the Monaco F3 GP, the F3 race which matters beyond all others.
He also made his F1 debut with Tyrrell in the French Grand Prix at Clermont Ferrand in July.
He qualified the Tyrrell 004 16th of 24 starters and was non-classified with mechanical problems. It was a strong debut with Patrick invited to drive a third car for Tyrrell again at the season ending US GP at Watkins Glen, he finished 7th having qualified 11th with teammates Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert 1st and 2nd in a great day for the team, the Tyrrell regulars in the later 005/006 chassis.
Patrick stepped up to F1 full time in 1974 together with Jody Scheckter joining Tyrrell taking the seats vacated by Jackie Stewart’s retirement and Francois Cevert’s sad death at Watkins Glen in late 1973. An article about his F1 career is for another time.
As well as a full season of Grand Prix racing he scored one of the two prized works March F2 seats in 1974 having finished third in 1973 in an Elf 2/Alpine A367 Hart.
He and Hans Stuck in the other works March 742 BMW slugged it out all year with Hans taking the first two wins of the season and Patrick the better results from then on winning at Pau, Mugello, Karlskoga, Hockemheim, Vallelunga and with it the title.
Patrick Depailler was a personal favourite of the era; he was one of those guys who loved racing for its own sake, raced for the love of it, if championships came along then well and good but it was all about being a professional driver, racing and enjoying life with all of its elements.
Ken Tyrrell had this to say of the Frenchman;’ In a lot of ways Patrick was like a little boy all of his life. He was always wanting to go skiing or motorcycling or hang gliding. And he had this trusting belief in the end that everything would be alright; when he was driving for me full-time i had it written into his contract that he had to keep away from dangerous toys.’
A driver of another era perhaps, an incredibly talented and charismatic one at that…
Etcetera: Tyrrell 007 Ford, Nurburgring 1976…
Mike Fairholme, Rainer Schlegelmilch
Tailpiece: Renault Alpine Ad circa 1969
Tags: 1938 Le Mans 24 Hours, Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Le Mans, Alfa Romeo Through the Shafta Daisies, Clemente Biondetti, Raymond Sommer, Sue Steele Thomas
Sue Steele Thomas sharing ‘her unique visions of nature and automobiles with the piece ‘Alfa Romeo Through the Shafta Daisies’ which views a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Speciale Le Mans Touring through a bright botanical overlay’…
Only one of these cars was built for Le Mans 1938; the car driven by Clemente Biondetti and Raymond Somner had the most commanding lead at La Sarthe ever, 11 laps/1 hour or 100 miles depending upon your way of expressing it.
A succession of mechanical maladies cost victory; a tyre blew on the Mulsanne, Sommner bringing the car to a halt but the tyre destroyed the mudguard. Biondetti went back out but the car retired shortly thereafter with either valve or gearbox failure.
The race was won by the Eugene Chaboud/Jean Tremoulet Delahaye 135CS from the similar car of Gaston Serraud and Yves Giraud-Cabantous with Jean Prenant and Andre Morel in a Talbot T150SS Coupe. The Alfa 8C 2900B completed 219 laps, more than the 4th placed car.
Five 8C 2900B chassis were modified for racing early in 1938, and whilst offered for customer sale the cars were road going versions of Alfa’s GP cars, very much in the best tradition of the Monza Series of cars. The cars were nearly identical to the 8C 2900A’s which won Le Mans in 1936 and 1937.
The 2.9 litre straight-8, boosted by two superchargers developed 220bhp in race trim and was the ultimate road going version of the 8C2300 originally built in 1931, click here for my article on the Alfa Monzas’ which covers the design detail of the cars;
Unlike the earlier Monza’s the cars gearbox was in unit with its differential shifting weight to the rear.
Bodies of all five cars were built by Touring with open bodies for the Mille Miglia for which four cars were entered, the Alfas finishing 1-3 with Biondetti and Ado Stefani crewing the winning car from the Pintacuda/Mambelli and 8C 2300A of Dusio/Boninsegni.
The Le Mans car, chassis #412033 had its Spider body removed to be replaced by a futuristic, slippery coupe designed by Touring’s Carlo Anderloni. The panels aft of the front wheels could be removed to allow access to Vittorio Jano’s mechanical marvels.
#412033 was repaired but not raced again, sold to a Roman it ‘disappeared’ but was found by collectors in the late sixties, passing through several hands before being re-acquired by Alfa where it is a popular exhibit at Museo Storico, and attractive to artists such as Sue Steele Thomas…
Chassis of light gauge box section steel. Front suspension; trailing arms coil spring/tubular shocks. Rear suspension; swing axles located by radius rods, semi-elliptic leaf springs and tubular shocks. Steering, worm and sector. Brakes drums all round. Weight circa 1100Kg.
Engine; DOHC, 2 valve, all alloy straight-8 of 2905cc, bore/stroke 68mm/100mm. Two Roots type superchargers fed by two Weber carbs giving circa 220bhp@5800rpm.
Gearbox 4 speed mounted at the rear in unit with differential
Sue Steele Thomas, conceptcarz.com
Tags: 1956 Isle of Man Senior TT, 1960 BARC Members Meeting Goodwood, 1960 Oulton Park Trophy, Cooper T51 Climax, Cooper T52 BMC, John Surtees, John Surtees First Car Race, MV 500
John Surtees smiles for the cameras with his Ken Tyrrell Racing Cooper T51 Climax in April 1960…
The much anticipated switch of the British multiple bike champion to four wheels took place when he contested the Formula Junior races at the ‘BARC Members Meeting’ at Goodwood on 19 March 1960.
Ken Tyrrell entered him in a Cooper T52 BMC, the ‘novice’ raced into second between the Team Lotus duo of Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor both mounted in Lotus 18 Fords, more competitive cars. The field also included other later GP drivers Peter Arundell and Mike Spence.
It was a great debut so why not jump into the deep end?
The Non-Championship F1 ‘Oulton Park Trophy’ took place at the Cheshire circuit on 2 April, with limited testing the talented Brit took on a field of some depth, starting the race from pole and again finishing second. Innes Ireland took the win in a Team Lotus 18 Climax with the very experienced Roy Salvadori third in another Cooper T51 Climax. The field also included Harry Schell and Chris Bristow.
Surtees had arrived in cars! He mixed racing two wheels and four in 1960 but focussed on cars from 1961…
Tags: 1975 Austrian Grand Prix, 1975 Italian Grand Prix, 1975 US Grand Prix, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Ligier JS5 Matra, Shadow DN5 Ford, Shadow DN7 Matra, Tom Pryce, Tony Southgate
Jean Pierre Jarier nips a front brake during qualifying for the 1975 Italian Grand Prix pushing his Shadow DN7 Matra ever so hard…
One of the revelations of the start of the 1975 GP season was the speed of the new Shadow DN5 Ford an evolution of the 1973/4 DN1 and DN3 designs penned by Tony Southgate.
Frenchie Jean Pierre Jarier rocked the socks off the established aces setting a time 8/10 clear of the rest of the season opening Argentinian GP grid.
There were mutterings of Shadow getting development Cosworth engines but the truth was an aerodynamic tweak which is indicative of the importance of aerodynamics over the coming years.
Tony Southgate; ‘ I spent half my life doing aero at Imperial College and DN5 was the first to use the new rolling road wind tunnel, as far as i know, the first in the world’
‘What we discovered was a massive split, front to back, in downforce. People always thought they had about 30-40% on the front. In fact it was no more than 20. And only we knew.’
Tony moved the driver forward 2.5 inches within a longer wheelbase (with removable spacer between engine and gearbox), developed deeper nose fins and placed springs and dampers inboard.
‘The car was an aero jump. We matched downforce to its static weight distribution-about 35/65 front/rear -and the spacer allowed us to tune the chassis to different circuits; we would find 1.25 seconds at Silverstone just by removing it.’
Immediately it was clear that our car had more downforce than the others and was very well balanced. In its short chassis specification Jarier was taking the fast bend after the pits at Interlagos, Brazil without lifting…’
Despite being on pole in Argentina, raceday was a disaster with a crown wheel and pinion failing on the warm-up lap; ‘I had been pursuaded to use Hewland’s latest TL200 gearbox instead of the FGA400, i think we and Copersucar did so. It was meant to be more reliable, with helical gears 20% stronger and more bearings in the pinion shaft, improper heat treatment was blamed for the failure’.
In Brazil Jarier was running away with the race from pole when the metering arm of the Lucas injection unit seized. In fact JPJ’s season was a mix of spins and mechanical failures, teammate Tom Pryce getting the better results with a win in the Race of Champions and 3rd in the Austrian GP after qualifying on pole for the British GP before retiring from the lead.
Southgate; ‘Our budget was tight and their was little development left of the car. It wasn’t good on fast circuits where we had to unbolt downforce so we weren’t swamped on the straights. Plus better funded teams cottoned onto what we were doing and were ringing Imperial College to ask if they could use its wind tunnel.’
‘Shadows Grand Prix results for 1975 were very disappointing , especially in view of the competitiveness of the DN5. Our finishing record was simply poor. The cars either broke down or crashed. Jarier only finished two Grands Prix for the year. Pryce’s statistics were better, but he still only finished six GP’s…I often think that, if the DN5 had been prepared and raced by one of the top teams it would have won the Championship’ said Southgate in his autobiography.
The Ford Cosworth DFV and Alternative Engines…
The diligence of team owner Don Nichols designer had given the team the ‘unfair advantage’ of which Mark Donohue spoke so eloquently with a car whose origins dated back to Shadow’s first year in GP racing in 1973.
Whilst Southgate pursued this approach Nichols eventually concluded discussions with Matra to use its glorious V12 in a modified DN5 chassis christened the DN7.
The Ford Cosworth DFV 3 litre V8 was the dominant engine of the 3 litre formula, by the end of 1974 it had taken drivers titles in 1968/9 and 1970-4 but Ferrari’s speed in 1974 gave pause for many team managers, Cosworth users, to find an alternative which allowed them to leap clear of the ‘garagiste’ pack as Enzo Ferrari christened the British Cosworth/Hewland hordes!
The DFV was a tough proposition to beat given its blend of power, packaging, weight, economy, reliability, price and Cosworth’s servicing backup.
The obvious alternatives were the Matra V12 and Alfa Romeo Flat 12 both 3 litre endurance engines and the venerable BRM V12.
The latter is easily ruled out as being way past its prime, the BRM P207 a sad joke in 1974/5 for all concerned, whilst the Matra and Alfa were successful endurance engines. In the event BC Eccclestone, then Brabham’s owner did a deal to use Alfa engines from 1976 whilst Nichols pursued the Matra option.
Whilst the French V12 last appeared in GP racing in Matra MS120’s driven by Chris Amon in 1972 the engine had been continually developed as an endurance unit and given Matra Le Mans wins from 1972-4 and a whole swag of other endurance events; so it was not too difficult to adapt Matra’s learnings to a ‘sprint’ spec of the engine whence it originated in any event way back in 1968.
Evolving the DN5 Ford into the DN7 Matra…
Whilst commercial negotiations dragged on between Nichols and Matra Southgate and his team focussed on keeping the DN5 competitive whilst concepting the DN7 which was a DN5 adapted to fit the longer, heavier, thirstier, albeit more powerful V12.
Major differences were increased fuel tankage and a longer wheelbase otherwise the key elements of both cars; chassis, body, aero and inboard front suspension by rockers, conventional outboard rear suspension and Hewland TL200 gearbox were the same, this gearbox developed by Hewland for endurance use was the ‘box used by Matra in their MS670 sports cars.
Tony Southgate spoke of the challenges of adapting the Matra engine to the DN5 in his autobiography;
‘In view of my V12 experience with Eagle and BRM the powers that be most likely thought I was a bit of a V12 expert and that I might be able to resurrect the old Matra engine and get it to the front of the grid.’
‘Fitting the Matra engine was not that straightforward and of course the V12 engine required a lot more fuel cell capacity. The engine ran at 12000rpm, about 30% more than the DFV, so extra tanks were fitted into the sides of the car alongside the existing seat tank.
Due to the extra engine RPM and horsepower the cooling system needed to be increased in size, so I fitted larger side pods and set the water radiators further forwards to maintain the weight distribution of the Cosworth engined DN5. The V12 was longer than the DFV, of course, so the wheelbase was increased a little’.
‘The end result was a longer, heavier but more powerful DN5 which we called the DN7. I thought that it would do about the same lap times as the DN5 and that proved to be the case’.
When finally completed the car was tested by ‘Jumper’ at Silverstone in July and made its race debut in practice for the Austrian GP on 17 August, Tom Pryce drove his usual Ford engined DN5 and offered a direct comparison, both drivers being more or less equivalently FAST.
The car was heavier than the DN5, it wasn’t bespoke, but still provided the team and of course Matra a sense of competitiveness of the package.
The Austrian GP was a horrible weekend, Mark Donohue crashed his Penske March 751 in practice as a result of a Goodyear tyre failure, dying in a Graz hospital several days later of brain injuries sustained in the high speed crash.
Half points were awarded to finishers of the rain shortened race won by Vittorio Brambilla’s works March 751 Ford, that teams first, long overdue win.
Denis Jenkinson in MotorSport had this to say about the re-appearance of Matra in GP racing; ‘Another welcome return was made by the Matra V12 engine, this time in the back of a UOP Shadow DN7, but somehow it seems to have lost that car-splitting scream that it used to have in the days of Beltoise and Pescarolo in the blue cars from Velizy. Perhaps the Ferrari and Cosworth engines have caught it up on the decibel scale, for they certainly have on bhp output. None-the-less it was nice to see and hear a Matra V12 in Grand Prix racing again’.
‘Particularly pleasing was to see the enthusiasm with which JPJ was tackling the job of driving the DN7. It was not a half-hearted attempt, with one eye cocked over the Cosworth powered DN5 standing in the paddock, or a dickering between the two cars. As far as Jarier was concerned there was only one car for him and that was the DN7. With that approach in the cockpit the Shadow Matra V12 project could get somewhere. It certainly started well by being ahead on the grid of Pryce in the Shadow Cosworth V8, even if it was only 0.2 sec ahead’
Jarier qualified the DN7 13th, one grid slot in front of Pryce, Tom had a great race finishing 3rd whilst the Matras fuel injection system malfunctioned causing JP’s retirement on lap 10.
It was an ok start for a car with limited testing, the Shadow boys prepared the same mix of cars for the Italian GP held on 7 September.
In between the Osterreichring and Monza the Non-Championship Swiss Grand Prix was held at Dijon, France, there being no circuits in Switzerland, with Jarier putting his Shadow on pole. He lead the first 23 laps until retirement with gearbox trouble; but he was back in his Ford engined DN5 whilst the DN7, the team only built one chassis #DN7/1A, was readied for Monza.
Clay Regazzoni won the event in his Ferrari 312T and then doubled up also driving to victory at Monza.
The Shadows qualified in Italy exactly as they had at the Osterreichring, the results similar as well; Jumpers Matra failed, this time with fuel pump failure and Pryce was 6th after a good mid race battle with James Hunts Hesketh.
Niki Lauda won his first drivers championship, his 3rd place in his Ferrari 312T assuring him of the championship.
At the season ending Watkins Glen race both Shadows were very fast; Q4 for Jarier and Q7 for Pryce but both were in DN5’s, the Matra experiment was, sadly for the sport, over.
‘Jean-Pierre Jarier was fighting hard with the Shadow V12 during the first session, a revised fuel system and some titanium exhausts from the sports car endowed it with appreciably improved performance at the top end of its rev band. Alas, Jarier’s enthusiasm would be channeled into the Cosworth powered DN5 after it was calculated that the engine would consume fuel at the rate of 4mpg under racing conditions, and the French engined car was sadly pushed away for the remainder of the weeekend’ (therefore the car would not hold sufficient fuel to complete the race without a stop) said Denis Jenkinson in his MotorSport race report.
It may be that that was the case or simply that Don Nichols had learned that Matra engines would be used exclusively by the new Ligier Team for ’76 and simply put the car to one side to focus on the quicker DN5 Cosworths.
Lauda won the race, both Shadows well down the field despite qualifying times which showed just how quick a package the car was on a circuit which was a great test of a cars medium to high speed handling characteristics.
Both Nichols and Ligier wanted exclusivity in terms of engine supply, from a ‘France Inc’ perspective the choice of the well connected former rugby international’s team made more sense than the American owned British based concern; French car, team and driver.
From Matra’s viewpoint it makes more sense to me, given the aerospace conglomerates immense resources to supply two teams in 1976 especially given Shadow’s speed, if not reliability in 1975.
Ligier were an unknown 1976 quantity, Shadow were. Both Shadow drivers had shown prodigious speed in 1974/5, one was French and Southgate did a neat job integrating the Matra V12 into an existing chassis designed for a different engine. His bespoke 1976 Matra chassis would have been lighter overall and designed around the engines architecture rather than an adaptation of what he had based on the Ford Cosworth.
Ligier were to be a one car entry in 1976 so Matra very much had ‘all their eggs in one basket’.
Ligiers JS5 1976 car was a horrible looking, bulky thing, mind you it delivered the goods in a a way Shadow did not that year.
Jacques Laffitte was 8th in the drivers championship, Pryce 12th and poor Jarier didn’t score a point in the lightly updated 1976 Shadow DN5B’s and new DN8. Matra finally achieved a GP win when Laffitte won the ’77 Swedish Grand Prix in his Ligier JS7, the whole paddock were delighted for him, Ligier and Matra.
Don Nichols retained ownership of Shadow but his company, United Oil Products was no longer the teams major sponsor and the ‘slippery slope’ of progressive loss in competitiveness began, whilst noting Alan Jones, lucky 1977 DN8 Ford, Austrian GP win.
If only Nichols ‘jagged’ the Matra deal or the Velizy concern supplied both teams he may have stayed more involved and we would have had the chance of seeing Tony Southgate designed, bespoke, Matra engined cars driven by two of the fastest chargers around at the time.
It’s an interesting ‘mighta been’ I reckon?!…
Shadow DN7 Matra Technical Specifications…
Chassis; aluminium monocoque using the Matra MS73 V12 as a fully stressed member. Front suspension by lower wishbone and top rocker actuating inboard mounted coil spring/damper units. Rear suspension twin parallel lower links, single top link, coil spring/damper units and twin radius rods. Adjustable roll bars front and rear. Front and rear disc brakes, inboard at the rear. Rack and pinion steering. Wheel sizes front/rear 9.2/20 13 inch in diameter, 16.2/26/13 inches.
Wheelbase 2667mm, front and rear tracks 1473/1549mm. Weight 612Kg.
Engine; Matra MS73 3 litre, DOHC, 4 valve, Lucas fuel injected, all aluminium 60 degree V12. 2993cc, bore/stroke 79.7/50mm. Circa 500bhp@11600rpm.
Gearbox; Hewland TL200 5 speed transaxle.
Tony Southgate on ‘Jumper’ Jarier in ‘MotorSport’…
‘He had such fantastic car control and speed but just didn’t have the commitment. I’m sure he could have been World Champion if only he could have been bothered. Jean-Pierre got bored very easily and in practice or testing he would adapt himself to the car and do the same times after you had made adjustments. He was a typical French driver in that he was more interested in going out of an evening, eating a good meal and chasing the ladies. It soon became clear that he wouldn’t go on to the next level’.
Etcetera: 1976 Ligier JS5 Matra…
The Ligier JS5 Matra was a sinfully ugly car, it had the looks only a mother could love but its ‘fugliness’ was only skin deep!
Gerard Ducarouge and his team had the aero spot on, the enormous airbox which lead to the cars nickname ‘The Flying Teapot’ chanelled air beautifully over the car and ‘smoothed it’ onto the rear wing. 8th in the drivers title for Laffitte and 6th for Ligier in the Constructors race in a one car team entry was an exceptional first years performance.
The pictures are of the JS5’s first test at Paul Ricard in December 1975 with Jean Pierre Beltoise up.
JPB had been announced as the cars driver, perhaps via sponsor Gitanes but Guy Ligier was not convinced and organised a drivers test over two days, Jacques Lafitte the quicker of the two in a car which had been ‘tweaked’ by JPB who tested on the first day.
There was disquiet in France in some quarters over the choice of Laffitte, JPB at the time France’s only ‘contemporary’ GP winner. But Ligier’s choice was sound. Jacques in Frank Williams Ford engined Williams FW04 and Martini Mk16 Euro F2 crown ahead of the March BMW hordes in 1975 made it fairly clear that he was the better choice, JPB, fine driver that he was, ‘ultimate speed’ had been shown over the years to be not in the ‘Ace’ category whereas Jacques potential, relative novice that he was, was pretty clear. It was an astute choice if not an entirely popular one.
MotorSport January 2015, Denis Jenkinsons MotorSport Austrian and US GP reports 1975, GP Encyclopaedia, Tony Southgate ‘From Drawing Board to Chequered Flag’
LAT, Car Blueprints, Alejandro Saldutto
Tailpiece: ‘So waddya think of the engine Jean-Pierre? is perhaps the question Jacques Lafitte is asking JPJ on their way back to the Monza paddock’? He knew full well of course as an Ex-Matra sports-car driver…