Canadian GP 1970

IT WAS SWEET REVENGE FOR THE Belgian, Jackie Ickx, in the 4th annual Player's Grand Prix. of Canada. Two years ago, in the first visit of the Formula I circus to Quebec, Ickx failed to start after fracturing his left leg in a practice shunt. This year, however, after World Champion, Jackie Stewart; retired with a broken stub axle on the 32nd lap, the Ferrari team leader made no mistake as he calmly stroked his way to a convincing 15.2-second margin of victory over his team mate, the Swiss Clay Regazzoni. Suddenly, all the frenzied sights of Ferrari pit stops were forgotten, as the third victory in a row and the second 1-2 sweep in two of the last three races the, first being at the Osterreichring on August 16-signalled in no uncertain terms the return of Ferrari as a power on the Grand Prix scene. That it should happen at all made the prognosis for the future all the more attractive.

'It's the hardest track of the year', said Ickx, as he fielded a barrage of questions on the broadcast roof of the Press Building, 'but the second 1-2 finish has proved that our car is really competitive now and quite reliable. We never had any problem with the engines, this time, and I'm very happy for the future. We had no trouble at all nothing.' Ickx went on to compliment the work of the unsung heroes that staff the corners: 'It's one of the circuits where the marshalls work the best. They did a tremendous job.'

Right from the outset, Scuderia Ferrari proved that the previous two races were no accident~ Granted, you never really know when your mechanicals are going to let you down, but the manner in which the cars dominated the three days. of practice and qualifying was hardly encouraging to the rest of the 20 drivers gathered for the first event on the 1970 North American schedule. All of the major contenders entered full works teams with the exception of Gold Leaf Team Lotus for obvious reasons.

13 hours of timed practice were made available at the picturesque Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, 90 miles north of Montreal, during the three days prior to the race. 14 drivers took advantage of the opening day's bright sunshine to either familiarise themselves with the new layout (Cevert, Gethin, and Stommelen), or to call back fond and not so fond memories of the testing 2.65 miles (Surtees and Hulme). Within an hour, Ickx was well on his way to taming the circuit he never got a chance to beat, as he screamed to a 1:33.8 (101.71 mph) lap, to equal Rindt's qualifying mark set two years ago. By the end of the afternoon, he had improved to 1 :32.4 1(103.25 mph), which left as the only record to fall, Bruce McLaren's CanAm qualifying time of 1 :31.7 (104.03 mph), established in '69. Among those who failed to record a time were Graham Hill, whose Lotus 72 awaited stronger front axle shafts; Tim Schenken, whose Frank Williams De Tomaso-Ford lay in bits in the garage area and the STP March's of Chris Amon and Jo Siffert.

Eaton bent the nose of his Yardley Team BRM PI53 in an off-course excursion, as did Jack Brabham, only he resorted to Stommelen's car to do it, ploughing into the earth bank at the end of the course in turn 8. Stewart had been out in both his March Ford, as well as the new Tyrrell, but only managed a slow turn in the latter toward the close of the day.

Friday amounted to a period of settling in, as Peter Gethin led the first hour in a time of 1:34.6. The track owners had been prodded into adding additional guard rail and catch fences at a reported cost of $75,000. John Surtees took exception to the areas of so-called improvement, and was joined in his criticism by Jean-Pierre Beltoise. Both felt that it was silly to erect a chain link fence to protect an earth bank beyond which lay nothing but a marvellous run-off area!

Hopefully soon, some GP organiser will refuse to cater to the whims of the GPDA, and demand an official, final statement about just who is running things!

By mid-afternoon, Ferrari had thrown down the gauntlet, with Ickx timed in 1:31.6 (104.15 mph) to eliminate the last existing record for good and all, while his stable mate surged to within three-tenths, making an all-red front rowan imminent possibility. Stewart ended up third fastest for the day in the Tyrrell after a fine I :32.6, while Pedro Rodriguez did Tim Parnell proud with 1:32.7.

Saturday started slowly, but, at the close of the five hours allotted, 1.6 seconds separated, the pole sitter from the 10th grid position! The surprise, however, was the usurping of the number one starting berth by Stewart. On his very last lap of the afternoon, he took advantage of diminishing traffic to oust Ferrari with a sizzling 1:31.5 (104.25 mph), in the Tyrrell-Ford, after he had parked the March on the circuit and ran in-seemingly-for just this purpose. He was not fully content, however, as his team chief's newest creation wasn't all that he felt he needed. A decision was later made to run with his pole car and take his chances.

THE RACE

Early morning fog on race day gave way shortly before noon to bright sunshine. Stommelen broke a rear suspension member in the pre-race warm-up period, but this was expected to be repaired in time for the start.

From the green flag, it was Stewart who led into the first turn, now named after the late Bruce McLaren. Hard on . his heels were Ickx and Rodriguez, who performed a superhuman feat and jumped to 3rd from his 7th starting position. Immediately behind came John Surtees in his TS7, followed by the foursome of Franyois Cevert (Tyrrell March Ford), Regazzoni, Amon, and Jackie Oliver in the number two BRM. Strung out to the rear were Pescarolo (Matra), Gethin, Siffert, De Adamich (McLaren MI4A Alfa Romeo), Hulme, Ronnie Peterson (Antique Automobiles March-Ford), Rolf Stommelen, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Schenken, and George Eaton, whose start from the 9th grid position was delayed by an electric fault.

In no time at all, Stewart opened a measurable gap on Ickx, who later admitted that he just couldn't catch the Scot in the early stages, and had to settle for the runner~up spot to play a waiting game. Little change occurred until lap 7, when Surtees, suspecting a serious problem in the TS7, pitted for a quick examination. Finding nothing, he returned to the race, unhappy with himself for having lost 10 places in the process! Oliver had pitted a lap earlier with a broken axle joint, to rejoin at the tail end where he completed 52 laps.                .

By lap 20, Stewart had extended his lead to nearly a half minute, Ickx sat comfortably in second, but the spotlight fell on the four car dice involving Rodriguez, Cevert, Regazzoni and Amon. The BRM leader held fourth until lap 24 when he had to give best to Regazzoni. All the while Cevert and Amon were at each other's throats as this high speed quartet provided all the thrills one could demand in this, the ultimate form of motor sport. Little change took place when Stewart left on lap 32, except that Amon began to press Regazzoni, while Cevert, driving like one possessed, found his way past Rodriguez. Lap after lap, with Ickx now securely in the lead, Regazzoni had to stave off the March-mounted Kiwi, who was certainly putting on a great performance for the crowd who knew him so well from his Team McLaren days in the mid-sixties.

By the half way point, the race had lost first Siffert, out with severe overheating, then, one lap later, Stommelen, whose steering went awry in the BT33 Brabham. The matched pair of French racing blue Matras were running 10th and 11th, preceded by de Adamich, who could make no impression on Surtees, who, in turn, was finding the McLaren duo of Gethin and Hulme a hard nut to crack, finally succeeding on lap 50.

Lap speeds were consistently in the middle to low 30s, with Ickx being timed on lap 60 at I :32.6. Brabham left the race 4 laps earlier with suspension breakage, to be followed 2 laps later by Denis Hulme, whose clutch first succumbed to slow him down a bit, then the roof fell in when the flywheel came off. De Adamich became the final retirement of the day after completing 69 laps, when the oil pressure took a dive in the Alfa Romeo engine, indicating that some solution must soon be found for the eltronic oil system bothers presently plaguing the experimental power plant from Milan,

All that remained was for Ickx to wend his way to his second Player's GP win in a row, and Regazzoni sealed the fate of the 14 survivors by setting the fastest lap to stay ahead of a fast charging Chris Amon in the STP March.

He turned the trick on lap 75, nipping and tucking up-hill-and-down-dale to the tune of 1:32.2 (103.47 mph). All's well in Maranello! . .

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