And Hill, fastest on both days, had proved the speed of the new Lotus and its Cosworth DFV. He had seen off Dan Gurney’s new lightweight Eagle-Weslake V12 and reigning champion Jack Brabham, whose 1965 ‘Old Nail’ chassis was fitted with the latest Repco V8. In-house BRM’s new ‘lightweight’ H16, meanwhile, was discouragingly slow. According to its disaffected driver Jackie Stewart, “it carried more fuel, oil and water than the Queen Mary.” The Lotus-Cosworth synthesis, in contrast, had paid fanatical attention to saving weight, improving mpg and reducing tyre wear. Theirs was the whole package, albeit as yet unproven over a Grand Prix distance and hampered by a jagged power delivery that caused Clark and Hill several pauses for reflection. And with neither a spare 49 nor spare DFV on site, Team Lotus was treading a fine line. Ford of Britain’s Walter Hayes and Harley Copp, fundamental to Ford’s £100,000 investment in DFV, felt it wise to keep a low profile.
Sure enough, Hill burst into the lead and held it at 2 seconds until his engine failed on lap 11. He coasted – pushing the last few yards – into the pits, where he gave DFV’s designer Keith Duckworth a consoling hug. It had been good while it lasted. Clark’s caution, meanwhile, had continued, his car featuring different springs and unscrubbed Firestones at the rear. His usual MO was to make a clean break and leave the chaos to others. Today, however, was different (although some observers had him almost level with the second row when the flag dropped). This time, car and race would come to him.
Gurney had retired because of fuel injection bother by the time Clark began his move, passing Jochen Rindt’s Cooper-Maserati for second place on lap 15. On the next lap, he passed Brabham for the lead and was never headed thereafter. As was his wont, he made it look easy. In fact, he was coping with tricky brakes and a dicky clutch – plus there was an “obtrusive ticking noise” emanating from behind his patriotic dark blue helmet-with-white peak. Wondering what had caused Hill’s retirement, he was doing just enough yet still pulling away. Clark was renowned for being easy on equipment.
Hill’s retirement had been caused by the loss of teeth from the timing gear. Luckily for Clark, his missing teeth were not consecutive and drive was maintained, albeit perilously. By the time Duckworth heard this ‘death rattle’, it was too late: Clark had won by 24 seconds, and Hayes and Copp were clinking celebratory bottles of beer on the return to their private plane. They were rightly delighted but didn’t want to go overboard. The reality of motorsport, they knew, is that it bites back.