TASMAN TALES: Clark’s dominant year delivers title
In the second season of Tasman Cup competition, Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jack Brabham won rounds and finished first, second and third overall, as Frank Gardner, Jim Palmer, Kerry Grant and Bib Stillwell were competitive against the Internationals.
Round one was with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe. Crowd estimates were at 27,000 with two heats preceding the GP. Clark won the first and Hill the second. Phil Hill was second in the latter and handed his Cooper/Climax to crowd favourite and teammate Bruce McLaren who crashed in the first heat.
Previous year-by-year Tasman Series reports
1964 – The First Summer Series
The GP itself also have various incidents. New Zealander Bruce Abernethy (Cooper T66/Climax) hit countryman Roley Levis (Brabham/Ford) at the start. Clark led, but on the second lap was tapped by McLaren and the Lotus 32B/Climax was out with suspension damage.
McLaren continued until gearbox failure when running behind Graham Hill, Lex Davison and Palmer. Davison’s Brabham was out with overheating. Gardner (Brabham) relegated Palmer to third and Hill won comfortably. Fourth was NZ’s John Riley (Lotus/Climax) from Rex Flowers (Lola/Climax) and Leo Geoghegan (Lotus/Ford).
Clark struck back from his early demise by winning at Levin. Second and third went to the Brabham/Climax pilots Gardner and Palmer with team-mates McLaren and Phil Hill next ahead of 1.5 litre’s best Levis. Several missed the weekend and had already moved onto Australia.
Victory in the Lady Wigram Trophy, round three made it back-to-back wins for Clark. He dominated and had ten seconds up his sleeve despite low oil pressure. McLaren was second as Palmer overcame Gardner to secure third. Behind them were Grant (Brabham/Climax) and Levis. Phil Hill was fifth for much of the race until a broken half shaft sidelined him.
Gardner missed Teretonga where Clark was again the winner, and led from start to finish. McLaren finished 12.4 seconds behind while the rest were at least one lap down. Third went to Phil Hill from Grant with Palmer.
Onto the Australian leg which began at Warwick Farm. Clark and Graham Hill were off the front row, but both were briefly out-pointed at the start by Matich. When the order settled it was Hill leading and Clark second, minus third gear.
Early casualties were Davison (steering), Phil Hill (suspension) and McLaren (blown piston). Then Gardner was out with a detonated engine as Clark and Brabham closed on Graham Hill. Clark took over the lead while Hill looked set for second until a final lap spin at Polo. He regathered but Brabham, Matich and Stillwell were through and finished ahead.
The Sandown round was marred by the death of Davison in practice.
In the race Clark and Brabham vied for the lead ahead of the two Hills, McLaren, Stillwell, Gardner and Palmer. Brabham soon passed Clark after which Gardner dropped out with a broken rotor button.
Brabham went on to win by almost five seconds from Clark. Graham Hill retired with overheating which left Phill Hill third, clear of McLaren, Palmer and Stillwell who was slowed with a bad misfire.
Longford would be the seventh and final round, and also hosted the AGP. Rocky Tresise was killed in a second lap accident in which photographer Robin D’Abrera also died.
McLaren led from the outset ahead of Brabham and Graham Hill. Clark was next but an engine misfire allowed Phil Hill to challenge him, and they swapped places on several occasions.
Matich chased them until his front suspension collapsed and he would join Grant (engine), Lyn Archer (engine), and Bob Jane (transmission) on the sidelines. McLaren went onto win but only by 3.3 seconds as he was clutchless in the later stages.
Contact while lapping Levis caused Brabham to make a cautionary pitstop which dropped him to fifth before he fought back to second. Phil Hill was third ahead of Graham Hill, Clark and Stillwell.
1965 Tasman Series
- Jim Clark (Lotus 32B) 35
- Bruce McLaren (Cooper T79) 24
- Jack Brabham (Repco Brabham BT11A) 21
- Frank Gardner (Repco Brabham BT11A) 15
- Phil Hill (Cooper T70) 15
- Jim Palmer (Repco Brabham BT7A) 15
- Graham Hill (Repco Brabham BT11A) 14
- Kerry Grant (Repco Brabham BT4) 5
- Bib Stillwell (Repco Brabham BT11A) 5
- Frank Matich (Repco Brabham BT7A) 4