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Driving the Surtees

Tim Schenken at the wheel of his Surtees TS9B (chassis 006) during the 1972 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. Schenken and the Surtees ran up front with the likes of Hulme, Gethin and Beltoise, ultimately finishing in 5th place. Photo: Ed McDonough Collection
Tim Schenken
Tim Schenken

I came from the Brabham team in 1971 into the Surtees team for 1972 to partner Mike Hailwood. The year 1971 had been a mixed season for me. I finished in the top 10 and had a really good 3rd place in Austria behind Jo Siffert in the BRM and Emerson Fittipaldi in the Lotus 72. The Brabham BT33 could be quick but had a lot of non-finishes with things that shouldn’t have broken. I finished 14th in the Championship.

When I went to Surtees, I first thought it would be a two-car team for Mike Hailwood and me. There was, in fact, a third car for Andrea de Adamich who was a paying driver and brought some income into the team. At times there were even four cars at a race. The TS9B was a good car, an easy car to drive, and it reminded me a lot of the Brabham which was an easy car to drive. If it had any problems it was in putting the power down on the road. The start of the season was really good. That was in Argentina and I qualified 11th and worked my way up to finish 5th. I had the gear lever come off during that race so I threw it to the pit crew on the way past. That was pretty good because the race was won by Stewart in the Tyrrell, then Denny Hulme was 2nd in the McLaren ahead of the two Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni. It made me feel hopeful about the rest of the season, but in fact that turned out to be my best Grand Prix result in the Surtees. In South Africa, the team was trying to run our cars and there was the earlier car for John Love. The Race of Champions at Brands Hatch was a good one, and at the end there was only a second between Hulme, Gethin, me and Beltoise, all fighting for 4th place.

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