Here is a superb portrait photo of Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari 156F1 as he turns into the La Source hairpin at Spa-Francorchamps during the Belgian Grand Prix on June 17, 1962. Spa was the home circuit for Mairesse who combined his talent at the top level of F1 racing with the almost limitless bravery that driving fast on this challenging circuit required.
Mairesse had qualified on the third row almost three seconds slower than pole man Graham Hill in a BRM 57 – who was almost two seconds up on the rest of the field – and behind his teammate Phil Hill and next to another teammate Ricardo Rodriguez. After the start as the field began to sort itself out, Mairesse came through to begin a challenge for the lead against Trevor Taylor’s Lotus 24. Soon, Jim Clark with the new Lotus 25 came through past both of them on the ninth lap to take over as the battle between Mairesse and Taylorle, now for second, continued. Clark would set fastest lap as he pulled away, a new record and 1.5 seconds faster than Hill’s pole time.
Clark would hold his lead position until the need of the 32-lap Grand Prix, but the duel between Mairesse and Taylor continued for lap after lap.
On the 26th lap as the duo came through the super-fast Blanchimont bend, Mairesse who was very close behind the Lotus tapped the back of Taylor’s car popping its transmission out of gear. As a result, the Lotus slowed and Mairesse rammed into it, spinnng both cars off on the left side of the road at the exit of the bend. Taylor’s car struck a telephone pole, knocking it over while the Mairesse Ferrari rolled over along the side of the road and caught fire. It was not a pretty spectacle. The Ferrari of Mairesse, upside down and still burning, is seen at the left.
Both drivers had been thrown from their cars. Taylor was uninjured and Mairesse suffered light burns and many cuts and contusions. Fortunately, medical help was there almost immediately with Mairesse being taken off in an ambulance. Grahm Hill would finish second, having been close behind Taylor and Mairesse, with Phil Hill third, both a long way behind Jim Clark.
Photos by Yves Debraine and Robert Daley ©The klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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