Thursday, 22 July 2010

Citroen letdown

Surprising really for Citroën to be caught out by hydro-pneumatics twenty years ago, when they had been working on them for twenty five years, but there you are. There were some DS saloons wafting about at the Le Mans Classic a couple of weeks ago but not many. Their hydraulics, like those on the XM I was testing simply weren’t up to the rough and tumble of running on roads. You don’t see many Cars of the Year XMs about, but I was right about the Mercedes, “a speed machine for the connoisseur.” Still is. Prescient comment too about how speeding drivers are regarded and the promising state of the old Goodwood racing circuit, as used by Peter Gethin for his driving courses.
I watched Gethin win the 1971 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. It was one of the most exciting grands prix ever, when Monza was a slipstreaming circuit and the lead changed several times every lap. Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari), Ronnie Peterson March), Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell), François Cevert (Tyrrell), Mike Hailwood (Surtees), Jo Siffert (BRM) and Chris Amon (Matra) all led at one point, Gethin only briefly on laps 52, 53 and crucially 55, the last. He won at an astonishing 150.75mph by 0.1 sec from Peterson. It was 2003 before Schumacher went faster on the changed track. The redoubtable Peter Kenneth Gethin took part in 30 grands prix; Monza was his only win. He was 70 on 21 February.

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