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Tasman Series: Warwick Farm 1968

Sydney Trophy

Date: 18th February 1968

45 Laps of 3.621kms (162.945kms)

Jim Clark and Graham Hill in the super-tough Lotus-Ford V8s drove a brilliant team race to completely overcome the opposition when the Tasman Series played to a crowd of over 35,000 at Sydney’s Warwick Farm. Clark the 100 mile race from start to finish, and moved into the points lead for the first time since the series started seven weeks earlier.

Run in 90 degree temperatures the race saw every Australian 2.5 litre car retire with mechanical failure, which gave local car honours to brilliant Italian-born Alfredo Costanzo in a 1.5 litre Elfin-Ford. During the race the circuit was awash with oil from the cars of such notables as Brabham, Geoghegan, Rodriguez and Gardner, but Brabham set a new outright record of 1:29.0 secs during a futile chase after pitting to replenish his oil supply. However, Australian Frank Matich broke Brabham’s new record when he took his SR3 Repco V8 on to a greasy circuit two races later and set an incredible new record of 1:28.5 secs despite an engine miss that has haunted the car.

Practice saw Goodyear not their usual smiling selves as both Brabham and Gardner switched to Firestone because of a delay in Goodyear shipments, leaving Bartlett and Hulme as the only Goodyear equipped cars, while Courage, Rodriguez and Attwood went on to Dunlop. Brabham’s hastily built Brabham-Repco, running under the Ampol banner, blew two engines in practice through oil loss.

Clark was fastest in the first practice session and pushed the Lotus around in 1:28.2 secs (Gardner’s existing record was 1:29.9) followed by Hulme 1:29.5, Gardner 1:29.9, Hill 1:30.0, Cusack 1:30.2, Harvey (with the new Repco V8 in Martin’s old car) 1:30.7, Bartlett 1:30.5, Amon 1:30.9 and nobody else under 1:31.0.

For the next session, everyone got cracking. Clark slammed around the track to grab pole with a 1:27.4 while Hill got alongside with 1:28.0 and Amon completed the front row on 1:28.2 secs. Piers Courage and Denny Hulme made up the second row with their fabulous Formula Two cars. Both had been timed at 1:28.6. Cusack and Harvey had both recorded 1:29.1 and Gardner’s 1:29.3 made up the third row. The next row held Rodriguez on 1:29.4 and Brabham who managed 1:30.0 with oil spraying on to his rear tyres from a broken oil seal. Bartlett, Geoghegan and Attwood shared the fifth row with the 1.5 litre class setting up behind them, headed by Max Stewart on 1:32.9 and Costanzo on 1:34.3, both under the long-standing record of 1:35.1.

Repco engineers fitted a new engine to Brabham’s car and he spent the Sunday morning at Oran Park testing for the dreaded oil leaks. He arrived at Warwick Farm with the car wearing Goodyears and there was frantic hovering around the Repco tent by both Goodyear and Firestone until Brabham chose to run Firestone again. Denny Hulme packed ice into his cockpit in an effort to combat the temperatures expected in the car during the race, but the heat didn’t seem to affect the spectators as they lined the track itching to see good racing.

Clark won the start from Hill, Amon, Courage, Hulme, Cusack, Gardner, Rodriguez, Bartlett and Attwood. Brabham carved his way through the field after a bad start to lock into position eight on lap two, just as Cusack went spearing off the Causeway with brake fade which was to retire the car three laps later. On lap 3, Fred Gibson retired the Brabham-Climax and Geoghegan’s Lotus dumped its oil at Creek the next time around. Brabham kept moving well and as he came up behind Hulme the order was Clark, Hill, Amon, Courage, Gardner, Hulme and Brabham. This seven-car flying wedge got away from the others, but on lap 8 Harvey slipped under Bartlett and started to haul in the eighth-placed Rodriguez at a second a lap.

By the end of lap 14, Gardner was crowding Courage, while Stewart retired the 1.5 litre car with a blown head-gasket. Courage, getting the hurry-up message from Gardner, was right up Amon’s pipes on the next lap just as Harvey’s chase after Rodriguez, he had closed to within 2.0 seconds, ended with a broken gearbox and he coasted to a stop coming out of the Esses.

On lap 17 Brabham, spraying oil from yet another engine and sending up plumes of dust all around the track, finally got through Hulme and set out after Courage for fourth. So hard was Brabham trying that on lap 22 he lost it and bounced high in the air over a dirt mound out of the northern crossing. Two laps later he dashed into the pits for more oil, leaving a cursing Hulme streaked with Ampol oil spray and spattered with dirt from Brabham’s efforts to gain ground on the leaders. Brabham lost a lap and a half, rejoining the race 10th.

Hulme nailed Gardner on lap 28 as Attwood retired the V12 BRM with gearbox trouble, although team mate Rodriguez was circulating smoothly in the older V8 BRM and holding seventh place. With Clark and Hill out in front on lap 30, Amon spun the Ferrari off the northern crossing letting Courage through into third. Hulme tucked right in behind Amon and began a big attack on the Italian car while Courage decided to give a little stir to Hill while he was there.

Kevin Bartlett’s drive in the Brabham-Climax ended at Polo on lap 34 with a broken halfshaft and two laps later Hulme finally slipped by Amon for fourth. All this time, Clark was whistling along 6 to 7 seconds ahead of Hill who looked equally comfortable despite Courage’s cheekiness. On lap 40, Amon blew off Hulme to retake fourth and Gardner expired the Brabham-Alfa V8 with a very oily-looking rear end. The order at that stage was Clark, Hill, Courage, Amon, Hulme, Rodriguez and Brabham.

And it was in that order the field took the flag with Clark 5.7 secs ahead of team mate Hill, and Costanzo 8th and first resident home clear of Ian Fergusson in the ex-Geoghegan-Howard Lotus 27-Ford. Ford engines, in fact, filled seven out of the top 10 finishers.

Points after this round were :- Clark 33, Amon 30, Courage 23, Hill 12, McLaren 11, Gardner 10, Hulme 8, Palmer 7, LevisĀ  and Geoghegan 3, Bolton, Dawson, Bartlett and Rodriguez 2, Lawrence and Stone 1 each.


Result Driver Nat Car Laps Time
1 Jim Clark Scot Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8 45 1hr 8m 17.2s
2 Graham Hill UK Lotus 49T / Cosworth 2491cc V8 45 1hr 8m 28.9s
3 Piers Courage UK McLaren M4A / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl 45 1hr 8m 37.2s
4 Chris Amon NZ Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6 45 1hr 8m 42.5s
5 Denny Hulme NZ Brabham BT23 / Cosworth 1600cc 4cyl 45 1hr 8m 46.1s
6 Pedro Rodriguez Mex BRM P261 / BRM 2136cc V8 45 1hr 9m 43.9s
7 Jack Brabham Aust Brabham BT21E / Repco 2493cc V8 44
8 Alfredo Costanzo Aust Elfin-Mono / Ford 1498cc 4cyl 41
9 Ian Fergusson Aust Lotus 27 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl 41
10 Glyn Scott Aust Lotus 27 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl 40
Ret Frank Gardner Aust Brabham BT23D / Alfa 2472cc V8 40 Camshaft
Ret Kevin Bartlett Aust Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl 33 Halfshaft
Ret Richard Attwood UK BRM P126 / BRM 2493cc V12 27 Gearbox
Ret Brian Page Aust Brabham BT6 / Ford 1498cc 4cyl Engine
Ret Max Stewart Aust Rennmax / Ford 1498cc 4cyl 14 Head-Gasket
Ret John Harvey Aust Brabham BT11A / Climax 2499cc 4cyl 14 Gearbox
Ret Leo Geoghegan Aust Lotus 39 / Repco 2493cc V8 4 Oil Line
Ret Greg Cusack Aust Brabham BT23 / Repco 2493 V8 4 Brakes
Ret Fred Gibson Aust Brabham / Climax 2499 4cyl 3 Engine

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