Rain and the Masta Kink: John Surtees and Ferrari, 1966
This is John Surtees with his Ferrari 312 on the exit from the Masta Kink at Spa-Francorchamps during the Belgian Grand Prix on June 13, 1966. The Masta Kink was a very fast, often flat in the dry, left-right midway down the long straight between Malmédy and Stavelot. Since it was lined with buildings and fences and approached at very high speed, the Kink was one of the most dangerous places anywhere, especially when the road was wet.
This was a truly dangerous and incident-filled race and it was perhaps a miracle of sorts that no one was killed. Surtees was fastest in practice and shared the front row with Jochen Rindt's Cooper 81-Maserati and Jackie Stewart's BRM 61/2. Rain was already falling on the lower portions of the long Spa course when the field was released from the grid.
It was quite a first lap. At Burnenville six of the cars spun and went off the road with no injuries but several retirements. At the Masta Kink halfway down the straight, Surtees went through in the lead then Rindt had a huge spin down the middle of the road but was able to continue. Stewart then also spun in the Kink, hit a post, went off the road and was trapped in his damaged car. Then Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant, both of whom had spun back at Burnenville arrived and spun again, Hill hitting straw balls and Bondurant going off and overturning in a ditch. Both Hill and Bondurant were able to go to the aid of Stewart and got him out of his car which was in real danger of catching fire.
Rindt had then caught up to Surtees along with Ferrari driver Lorenzo Bandini who in the wet conditions was not at a disadvantage with his older, lighter and less powerful 246-engined Ferrari 158. Surtees said afterwards that he was trying to drive only in the tracks other cars had left on the road, those wiped strips being less prone to aquaplaning. As conditions dried, Rindt was in trouble with his differential so Surtees was able to regain the lead, followed to the finish by Rindt and Bandini. There were only seven cars remaining at the checker of which the last two did not cover enough distance to be classified as finishers.
It was probably these events which led Jackie Stewart to begin his campaign for safety which transformed the risks of F1.
Photo by Ami Guichard ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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