• Dutch Grand Prix

Rindt's win overshadowed by Courage death

ESPNF1 Staff
June 21, 1970
Jochen Rindt's win was overshadowed by the death of Piers Courage © Sutton Images

Jochen Rindt recorded his second victory of the season in the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, a result which took him to just one point behind leader Jackie Stewart in the drivers' standings. But the weekend was marred by a tragic accident in which British driver Piers Courage lost his life.

Courage died when his De Tomaso, entered by Frank Williams, left the track at 160mph near the East Tunnel and cartwheeled into a bank where it exploded. Firemen were quick to the scene but were unable to get him out of the burning wreck. So intense was the heat that trees nearby were set on fire. His wife, Lady Sarah Curzon, was in the pits at the time and was heartened by a PA announcement that her husband had escaped. But a marshal had mistaken a fireman, beaten back by the heat, for Courage.

Rindt was back in the Lotus 72 after reverting to the old Lotus 49 - in which he won at Monaco - after major handling problems emerged with the new car. He qualified second fastest but doubts remained as he managed only 12 laps and damaged his Lotus after leaving the track. On the same day Pedro Rodriguez, who had won a fortnight earlier at Spa, escaped a 150mph crash after his BRM disintegrated as it slid 300 yards through sand dunes.

Jacky Ickx took the early lead from pole, but was passed by Rindt on the third lap and the impressive Lotus was lapping tailenders before the race was a third through. Ickx, although consistently losing ground, remained in second until forced to pit on the 51st lap for new tyres, and that allowed Stewart through. Ickx held on for third, though, giving Ferrari their best result of the season to date.

Dan Gurney, who returned to Formula One after a two-year absence to help out McLaren, lasted a few hundred yards as he broke down on the first lap - even so, that was better than Chris Amon whose STP March suffered clutch failure as it started.

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