It was at a recent historic F1 meeting, at Donington Park, where I was reunited with the car I consider as my greatest racecar; ignoring the fact that I had issues with the engine which, even though I designed the car, was completely out of my control. Now looking back, the P160 was the car that I have the most affection for. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to sit in the cockpit. When designing the car—for that matter any of my racing cars—I always designed cars to fit me. I felt I was the ideal, or rather an average-size bloke, for a racing driver. If a driver was bigger than me, it was a little more “comfortable” for them, a bit tight. The car fitted like a glove. I felt I could drive it very comfortably. Parked next to this Peter Gethin model of the car, resplendent in its Yardley livery, was a bright blue and yellow Osca. The first racecar I ever remember in my life. As a young boy, I had a book about the Osca, which I constantly read and had a picture of it on my bedroom wall. The car was raced by Prince Bira; in someway, it was the Osca that got me interested in the design of racing cars, which has been my life’s work. I read the book about Prince Bira racing the car at Silverstone, many times. I took in every detail to the point that I almost believed that I was actually at the races watching him. I knew every inch of the car.
In 1971, Peter Gethin drove the P160 to a famous victory at Monza. Jo Siffert had become the number-one driver after we had lost Pedro [Rodriguez]. He was running in the top two or three during the race. As the cars came by the pits—in those days the track was really wide and there was no chicane—they would come by like a snake, eight cars nose to tail. The one at the front would move around to try and break the tow. You would end up with this first car weaving from side to side and all the other cars following, as I’ve said, like a snake. This went on for a few laps and Jo dropped out with a problem, and we had Gethin and Ganley still in the race. Gethin was quite a way back, which would be about half distance. He started to rev the engine a bit more; we didn’t have rev limiters so he could. Instead of staying at 11,200 revs, he pushed it to 12,000; that wouldn’t have any use in top gear as it is fixed; in all other gears, it gave him extra speed. The engine seemed quite happy, so he kept going. One by one, he overtook the cars in front of him and, before he knew it, he was up with the leaders. By three or four laps from the end, he was leading. He knew though, he didn’t want to be in the lead out of the last corner on the last lap, because everyone would slipstream him and he would lose. On the next-to-last lap, he came out of the last corner in 2nd or 3rd place. On the last lap, he took Peterson out of the Parabolica, just slip-streamed past. Peterson tried to get back, but as they crossed the line, Gethin held on to win by just 3 feet!
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