Dino of Tasmania

Dino of Tasmania

Life is really strange. Chris Amon went down in history for never having won a Formula 1 World Championship race, although he was close more than once and drove a Ferrari for several seasons. He did win two races that didn’t count towards the World Championship: the International Trophy at Silverstone in 1970 in a March and in Buenos Aires in 1971 with a Matra. However, he and Lorenzo Bandini won an Endurance race for Ferrari in the extraordinary 1967 edition of the 24 Hours of Daytona, which finished with a clean sweep for Maranello. The pair repeated the feat in the 1000 km of Monza. Again with Ferrari, but in a single-seater, the New Zealander won the Tasman Cup in 1969, after finishing second behind Jim Clark the year before. In those days drivers were not confined to a single series or category.

In addition to Formula 1 they tested themselves with sports prototypes or sometimes even F2, where they were enticed by big signing-on fees. The opportunity always presented itself: before, during and after the Formula 1 season. It was then customary to race in the Temporada Argentina in December, and then in the Tasman Cup between January and February. The drivers used the Formula 1 cars from previous seasons or an adapted single-seater F2 with engine capacity boosted to 2,500 cc. This was an important stage for the team, because they could sell cars, engines and spare parts for private drivers. Held in New Zealand and Australia, and taking its name from the Tasman Sea separating the two countries, and for 1969 it consisted of four races in first and three in the second, at both permanent and street circuits. Amon won two races in 1968, just missing out on the title, and was the favourite for 1969. He drove a Ferrari Dino 246 Tasmania, 246T/69, with a V6 engine with 4 valves per cylinder and an output of 290 hp. It was an evolution of the 166 Dino F2 with engine capacity increased to 2,404 cc.

Amon took pole-position and triumphed in the first race at Pukekohe (near Auckland), the most prestigious, so much so as to bear the title of Tasmanian Grand Prix. He was followed by Jochen Rindt, his greatest competitor, driving a Lotus 49 alongside team mate Graham Hill, Piers Courage (in the Brabham of Frank Williams Racing) and Derek Bell, in the second Ferrari. The two standard-bearers from Modena each had a spare engine available. The next race, in Levin, saw another win for Amon, while Rindt dominated at Wigram. Here the Scuderia Ferrari finishing third, while Bell was fifth.

Both drivers repeated these placings in the fourth round at Teretonga; Courage won, and Hill also began making up ground after two consecutive second places. Amon restored order at the Australian Grand Prix in Lakeside, on the Gold Coast, with the best time in practice and victory in the race. The next race at Warwick, in Sidney, went to Rindt, but a wonderful finish at Sandown Park in Melbourne saw Chris Amon secure the Tasman Cup, while teammate Bell finished fourth overall with two second places. Amon had won six times in two years. In 1970 his Ferrari was purchased by a private driver Graeme Lawrence, who won the 1970 edition with one victory and several podium finishes, in a series that now admitted F5000 cars and cut the engine capacity, thus excluding Formula 1 cars.

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The Ferrari Legacy
70 years of excellence
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