The Lotus Ford 72/5 is one of the greatest cars in the history of Grand Prix Racing. It was built at the end of August 1970 already on the base of the C-specification of the 72 model, that had been originally designed by Maurice Phillippe in autumn 1969. Winning four Grand Prix in a row in Holland, France, Britain and Germany with his regular 72/2 (and in Monaco with the 49 type before) Jochen Rindt was on the way to win the 1970 worldchampionship in a superior manner. The Austrian was able to become champion three Grand Prix before the end of the season when winning the Italian round at Monza with his only rival left, Jack Brabham, not coming home better than fifth position. Team Lotus had brought three 72s to Monza. The 72/2 as ever was driven by Rindt and the 72/3 by his team mate John Miles. The 72/4, the re-built 72/1 chassis, was a semi-works entry for Graham Hill by the team of Rob Walker in their tradtional dark blue Scottish livery. The brandnew third works car, the 75/5, that had been built in a day and night work shortly before Monza had got some important modifications. The fuel tanks had become stronger for better fire protection. A re-designed fuel system should avoid problems with the engine`s supply with petrol, often difficult at Team Lotus since the time of Jim Clark. Also the front brakes, at the 72 lying inside the chassis, had been modified, the fan driven by a generator, that had come into action when the car stopping in the pits after a series of laps, was no longer necessary. When the 72/5 had come to Monza, the car was not completely ready to compete. The mechanics, who had worked on it throughout the week before, were exhausted and tired, not only by the lack of sleep, but also by the fact, that they had been stopped at the border by the local authorities caused by a missed carnet. So it took until late Friday afternoon to get the 75/5 ready for leaving the pits for the first time. The third driver of Team Lotus, Brazilian novice Emerson Fittipaldi, had got the task, to make a first roll out and then to give the brandnew car a provisional set up for the high speed track of Monza, still without chicanes in 1970. After the successfull first run of the 75/5 under Fittipaldi, Rindt was scheduled to enter it´s cockpit to make his choice between the new car and his regular 72/2 for the Gran Premio on Sunday. The chassis chosen by Rindt would have been supplied with a stronger version of the Ford Cosworth DFV engine for final qualifying and the race. But the young Brazilian was sitting in the 72 model for the first time, in the Grand Prix of Britain, Germany and Austria before he had driven the older 49, that had been 15 km/h slower on the straights. For this reason he made a big mistake shortly before the end of the Friday session. When braking for the Parabolica too late, he rammed the third Ferrari of Italy´s new local hero Ignazio Giunti, a back wheel of the Ferrari became a springboard for the 72/5 making it fly into the trees. Fittipaldi remained unhurt, but the new Lotus Ford 72/5 had been too much damaged to be used in the 1970 Italian Grand Prix again. On Saturday afternoon, during the final qualifying session, Rindt had lost control of his 72/2 when braking for the Parabolica, because the right brake shaft had broken at high speed. The Austrian crashed very heavily into the safety barriers and was killed immidiately. Colin Chapman withdrew the cars of Team Lotus from the Italian Grand Prix and also Graham Hill did not take part in it in the Rob Walker entered 72/4. Team Lotus also left out the Canadian Grand Prix at Mont Tremblant, while Hill in the Walker Lotus was competing. John Miles had declared his retirement from Grand Prix Racing, the new drivers of Team Lotus were Emerson Fittipaldi with only three Grand Prix taken part in and another novice, Reine Wisell from Sweden, now driving the 72/3 while the 75/5 had become Fittipaldi´s regular car. Returning to the business Team Lotus showed an excellent performance with Fittipaldi winning and Wisell finishing third in the 1970 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. One month after his death at Monza the charismatic Rindt had become world champion. Emerson Fittipaldi used the Lotus Ford 72/5 during the 1971 season scoring some fine positions, but no wins. Team Lotus were troubled by internal problems and the Brazilian was suffering under injuries sustained at a road car accident in France in that year´s summer. For 1972 Team Lotus switched from Gold Leaf to John Player Special sponsorship, the livery of the cars changed from red, white and gold to black and gold. Fittipaldi won the non-championship races of Brands Hatch and Vallelunga in spring of 1972 with the Lotus Ford 72/5 before switching into the 72/7 with the 75/5 becoming his spare car. But with the 75/5 he won in Austria and Italy to become the youngest world champion ever. He also used the 75/5 for scoring the 50th victory of Team Lotus in the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix taking place at Barcelona-Montjuich. In 1974 the 75/5 was handed over to Rindt´s 1970 worldchampionship rival Jacky Ickx, who meanwhile had joined John Player Team Lotus at the side of Ronnie Peterson (Fittipaldi had gone to McLaren for 1974). The Belgian, called The Rainmaster scored an excellent victory in the Race of Champions at the wet Brands Hatch over rising star Niki Lauda in a Ferrari. After Ickx had to leave Team Lotus the following year, the Lotus Ford 75/5 was driven by Brian Henton and Jim Crawford, who both had been considered being the greatest British talents of that time. In contrast to other cars of the 72 series, the 72/5 never had been sold to private drivers and remained in the ownership of the Chapman familiy.

Klaus Ewald

 

Model Designation: Lotus Ford 72/5 (C - F Specification)

Drivers: Emerson Fittipaldi (BR), Dave Walker (AUS), Tony Trimmer (GB), Brian Henton (GB), Jim Crawford (GB)

Grand Prix: 43

First Grand Prix: Italy 1970, Monza, with Emerson Fittipaldi (practice accident, did not start)

Last Grand Prix: USA 1975, Watkins Glen, with Brian Henton (12th)

Wins: 4 (USA 1970, Austria 1972, Italy 1972 and Spain 1973, all with E Fittipaldi)

Non Championship Wins: Race of Champions 1972, Brands Hatch (Fittipaldi), Gran Premio d`ella Republica Italiana 1972, Vallelunga (Fittipaldi), Rothmans 50 000 1972, Brands Hatch (Fittipaldi), Race of Champions 1974, Brands Hatch (Ickx)

2005 Owner: Classic Team Lotus

2005 Driver: Dr Keichii Murakami

 






 

EMERSON FITTIPALDI, LOTUS FORD 72/5,___WATKINS GLEN 1970

EMERSON FITTIPALDI, LOTUS FORD 72/5,____LE CASTELLET 1971

EMERSON FITTIPALDI, LOTUS FORD 72/5,________KYALAMI 1972

 

 

 

Exclusive technical images by Klaus Ewald from the 2005 Jim Clark Revival at Hockenheim

 

 

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