On the 1st of April 1970 the press were invited to see the Lotus 72 for the first time. The clean wedge shape was a return to the theme from the 1968 Lotus 56 Indy Car and Lotus 58 Formula 2/Tasman car.
When the car was first tested by works drivers Jochen Rindt, John Miles and John Walkers driver Graham Hill they all reported the cars innovative front anti dive and rear anti squat suspension which aimed to reduced suspension travel under braking and acceleration was difficult to drive on the limit.
As a result of this Jochen Rindt got his 1970 championship campaign under way with a fortuitous win in Monaco driving an updated four year old design in the form of a Lotus 49 C.
At the 1970 Dutch Prix Lotus arrived with the second 72 chassis #72R2 updated to C-specification, with the anti dive and anti squat features of the suspension removed, for Jochen Rindt to drive which he found much more to his liking and proceeded a sting of four successive wins in Holland, France, Britain and Germany which gave Jochen what would become an unassailable lead in the World Championship.
Unfortunately during practice for the 1970 Italian GP when he was testing #72/R2 without any wings, under braking an inboard front brake shaft broke, sending the 28 year old Jochen into a crash barrier post with fatal results.
New team leader Emerson Fittipaldi won the last race of the 1970 season driving a new 72 C. Jochen Rindt became the only posthumous World Champion and Lotus won their 4th Constructors Championship. For 1971 the Lotus 72 C proved to be not quite so competitive against Jackie Stewart and the Tyrrell Team, but otus would bounce back with the upgraded Lotus 72 D in 1972.
Lotus 72 #72/R1 is the only remaining 1970 spec car left, it was the car shown to the press on April 1st 1970 and subsequently entered and raced for Jochen’s team mate John Miles in original and B spec with only the anti squat removed from the rear suspension. John’s best result was a 7th place finish in the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix.
Today’s Grand Prix and Indy cars all fitted with side radiators in side pods can all be said to be descendants of the Lotus 72.
Note the cockpit surround of #72/R1 has a shallow perspex screen from a later post 1972 Lotus 72.
Thanks for joining me on this “April Fool ?” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !