More archive gold - Unfair to Mclaren.


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This is a copy of an article published in the May 1968 edition of Motorsport Magazine and was originally written by respected motorsport journalist Dennis Jenkinson. Enjoy:

Unfair to Mclaren

I Quote "over paddock, with Bruce Mclaren, in the new Ford missing a gear and dropping back" Autocar; " and Bruce Mclaren hung badly just after the line as if he had missed a gear" Motor; "with Mclaren in the centre nosing ahead - until he changed into second, when he missed the gear" Autosport; "Bruce Mclaren belted the Ford into the lead for about 50 yards, then missed second gear and was engulfed by the pack" Motoring News.

From those quotes it would seem to be an indisputable fact that Mclaren made a nonsense of his start in the BOAC 500 race at Brands Hatch, as four qualified reporters agreed on what happened. That something did happen was quite definite, and Autocar published a fine photograph of the leaders going into Paddock Bend with the two Porsches driven by Siffert and Mitter side by side and the Ford driven by Mclaren some way back, having started on the front row between the Porsches. It is too far back to be easily recongnised as the Ford, but you could see the roof top rear view mirror quite clearly, and as the field sorted itself out on the opening lap the Ford was in sixth position. So, Mclaren fumbeled his gear change from first to second and lost all chance of leading on the opening lap, having started off well, except that Mclaren is not the sort of driver to fumbel gear changes and he was drving the second of the Prototype Fords, which has a Hewland gearbox, and Hewland gear changes are pretty foolproof. It was just possible that he had changed from first to fourth by mistake, but unlikely for such a cool headed driver as Mclaren, so I was a bit puzzled by it all. Talking to Eoin Young after the rae, he being the chap who does a lot of "ghost writing " for Mclaren, he mentioned in conversation that the Cosworth V8 engine in the Ford had died as it shot off the line on intial acceleration and that Mclaren being a knowledgeable type had switched on another fuel pump or someting, which got the engine going again. A somewhat different story from the generally accepted one bandied around among the "gentlemen of the press" and a more likely one.
A chat with Claren cleare upo the whole affair. The lucas fuel injection system on the Coswrhtt v8 enine operates at 110-110lb psi, and his is supplied by an engine driven mechanical pump. When stargin the engine this fuel pressure is supplied by an idnependant electic pump contolled by a spring loaded switch which the driver hodls down while pressing the starte buton. once the engine has fired the mechanical pump gets up pressure and he lets go of the electric swiech and as longsas teh enigine si running at over 6000 to 6500 rpm the injection pressure is maintained at 100-110 ;b psi, the engine peaking at over 9000 tpm.
What happened at the start at Brands Hatch was that the ford shot off the line with the wheels spinning and the engine rpm well up, with the mechanical pump doing its job, but as the wheelspins dissipated and the tyres gripped the enigne rpm dropped momenatrily to about 5000 rpm and at this speed the pressure from the mehanical pump was only about 70-75 lb psi and with the throttles wide open calling for full power from the eninge this was not enough pressure and the engine power "hung" and the car stopped accelerating. Mclaren had experienced this situation on his BRM engined Grand Prix car last year and kew the symptoms, so he quiclkly reached over and held down the electric switch which brought the seperate pump into action, boosted the pressure up and the cosworth engine came in on full song again and the Ford was away. All this took place while the cars was still in first gear and Mclaren did not change up into second gear untilt all the drama was over.
So why make a big issue out of such a small detail in reporting a race you mays ask. Because I think it is totally unfair to Mclaren, for among the racing drivers of today he is one of the most open minded, amiable and friendly, and unlike some he will give you a straight forward and honest answer to a query, and not fob you off with a load of rubbish just to get his name in print. I dare not mention drivers who do this sort of thing or I shall get solicitors letters by return post, professional racing being what it is today. In the tour de France there is a prize given on each day by the outpsan orange company, known as the Prix Outspan, and it is for the rider who in the opinion of the race reporters, is the most amiable , helpful, honsest, straight forward and genuine in his dealings with the Press. If there was a Prix outspan in motor racing I would have awarded it to Mclaren and numerous occasions over the past six or eight years, so that I find the injustice done to him over the starting bother at the BOAC 500 particualarly irksome. Mclaren just grins and says "Oh well, they can't get everything right can they". However, one wonders who started the idea of the "missed gear change" and who copied who?

Thought this would be of interest to you all.


C_A_T :goodday:
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