Matra Djet 1967
One came through
Dutchman David van Lennep is the driving force behind the entry of three Matra Djet 5S in the 1967 1000 km race.
Author: Udo Klinkel - It is the most elaborate of all the entries of this small GT car that year. Under the promotion of Matra Team Benelux - as van Lennep called his racing team - the three Djets are sent to the demanding Nordschleife. Particularly extensive racing experience is not behind the entry, the car ran in a smaller GT race at Zandvoort and the 1000 km race at Spa, where it did not get beyond practice, however.
The 1300cc GT car class features just two competitors for the Matras: The two Glas 1304 GTs of Gerhard Bodmer/Dieter Schmid and Friedrich Noenen/Manfred Herbertz.
So the chances of taking a class win are not bad at all, especially as the German privateer Nikolaus Killenberg is fielding a fourth Djet, for which he has signed up Nürburgring warhorse Georg Bialas as second driver.
The driver line-up of Team Benelux is quite respectable. David van Lennep shares his car with Francis Polak, the other two cars are driven by Gustave Gosselin/Erik de Keyn and Georges Hacquin/Yves Deprez, who are all excellent connoisseurs of the Eifel circuit.
And it is David van Lennep who posts the fastest Matra time in practice: the stopwatches stop at 11'12.3 minutes. However, it is not enough to beat Gerhard Bodmer in the glass, who with 10'56.3 is the only one in this class under the eleven minutes.
The second glass of Friedrich Noenen is slower than the other two Matras, which posted times of 11'20.3 (Gosselin/de Keyn) and 11'30.1 (Hacquin/Deprez).
But the race is just five laps old when the Matra squad is already down by 50%. The first to be hit was car number 116, which Eric de Keyn had to park on the third lap with a technical defect. The situation is not much better for number 114 with Hacquin and Deprez: retirement after five laps due to a broken suspension.
This means that all hopes are focused on David van Lennep's car, but he struggles to keep up with Gerhard Bodmer's pace in the glass.
Nikolaus Killenberg and Georg Bialas follow at a considerable distance, but only get as far as lap 28, when a capital engine failure ends their race.
Francis Polak in car No. 115 has great problems to keep the pace set by van Lennep. He does not succeed in keeping the second glass at bay, so that the men of Matra Team Benelux reach the finish line in the end, but are relegated to third and last place in their class by their two German competitors.
Van Lennep came within 30 seconds of the Noenen/Herbertz car, but in the end the time was not enough. But at least one of them got through.