“Champion: Surtees” (Duke DVD Video 2004)

?????ǣChampion: Surtees?????? (Duke DVD Video 2004)John Surtees: Tip-top bloke whose stunning and unmatched achievement doesn’t get talked about often enough.

That being the unique feat of winning both motorcycle and motor-car world championships.

This Duke video in the ‘Champions’ series provides opportunity to see this great, under-rated British champion at work.

I refer to Surtees as ‘under-rated’ and some would take issue with that. For he won his championship, in 1964, by a single point from Graham Hill. Hill had to drop two points under the ‘best six scores count rules’.

John Surtees, A1 Grand Prix, Taupo, 2007Also Surtees had won ‘only’ two times to Jim Clark’s three – indeed, up until the penultimate lap of the final race Clark look set to be champion, before his seventh mechanical failure of that year (from ten starts) cost him the victory.

But all of this takes nothing away from Surtees and his mighty achievement – one which Valentino Rossi might match ifOther he ever decides to make his long-anticipated switch from two wheels to four.

Other detractors cite Surtees’ low number of wins – six from 111 starts. But, as this DVD shows, a serious injury disrupted Surtees at a crucial point in his career.

John Surtees, Honda, Monza, 1967He was also a victim of the usual political intrigue at Ferrari, for whom he won his championship. Eugenio Dragoni endeavoured to undermine Surtees in the eyes of the Italian press and Enzo Ferrari. Surtees was eventually squeezed out with young Italian Lorenzo Bandini taking up the leading position in the Ferrari squad – which would ultimately have terrible consequences for Bandini.

Substantial portions of the DVD are narrated by Surtees who gives fascinating insight into his later work with Honda and victory for them at Italy in 1967 – their last until Jenson Button’s win at Hungary last year.

If the DVD has two weaknesses they are the relative lack of material from early in his career – which is understandable given how long ago it was – and that the later stages of his career are covered in less detail.

Katherine Legge, John Surtees, A1 Grand Prix, 2005Of course, as this DVD was published in 2004 it is not up-to-date with Surtees’ involvement with the emerging A1 Grand Prix series as leader of the British team.

But it is a good addition to the ‘Champions’ range and a useful introduction to the career of John Surtees.

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1 comment on “Champion: Surtees” (Duke DVD Video 2004)

  1. John was far better than anyone appreciates. He was a Ringmeister in the days when the Nurburgring really was the ultimate test. In 1963 he beat them all, including Clark, at the ‘Ring in a Ferrari V6 that was down on power in comparison to the new Climax V8s. Unfortunately and like so many others, he also had a talent for choosing the wrong team at the wrong time…

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