Race Report: Hockenheim, 30 November 1975
Round 13 of the German F3 Championship the “Saisonfinale Hockenheim” was held over 19 laps of the short 2.63 km circuit.
Round 13 of the German F3 Championship the “Saisonfinale Hockenheim” was held over 19 laps of the short 2.63 km circuit.
This Forward Trust F3 race was a non championship event but it still attracted a representative field as it was being televised by the BBC. Gunnar Nilsson was fastest, despite a couple of spins, in both practice sessions which were held in foggy, damp conditions which required wet tyres Second fastest was Eddie Cheever who was driving his Modus with new found confidence since being run by Ron Dennis, a win the week before at Hockenheim underlining his talent. Third spot went to Rupert Keegan who was running softer F1 wet compound fronts on the rear and F2 ones on the front. The second row consisted of two familiar faces in unfamiliar cars, fourth fastest was Conny Andersson in the March 753 normally driven by Alex Ribeiro and next to him was Patrick Neve in a works Modus. Larry Perkins was trying out some new tweaks on the Ralt and the car was set up for the dry which didn’t help his time, further back Bob Arnott was suffering from his engine cutting out.
Ingvar Carlsson was driving the GRD previously handled by Jac Nelleman, this was now listed as a Van Diemen GRD following Van Diemen’s take over of the GRD project. Geoff Lees was having his first F3 outing in the works Safir and finding the twin-cam Ford no match for the Toyota units. Next to Lees was the Modus of Dick Parsons which was fitted with the first Triumph Dolomite engine, Parsons was quite happy with the engine but found the changed weight distribution was making it hard to set the car up in the wet.
Non starters were Terry Perkins who couldn’t get the engine in his Ralt to fire up and Giordano Regazzoni who had to scratch with engine problems.
It was still wet for the race and it was Rupert Keegan who made the best start from the outside of the front row to lead from Nilsson and Cheever, Nilsson holding onto second despite a grassy moment at the complex. At the end of the first lap Keegan had built up a small gap to Nilsson, Cheever, Neve and Andersson, next up, a little further back, Perkins led Sullivan, Barnett, Parsons, Lees, Carlsson, Hamilton, Stokes, Lain, Hawkins, Pettitt and Arnott who had started late with continuing engine problems.
By lap 3 Keegan still had a short lead over Nilsson and the pair of them were slowly pulling away from Cheever who was suffering from oversteer. Neve and Perkins were fighting over fourth whilst Andersson had fallen away from them as his engine developed a misfire. The two leading Marches seemed to be well matched, Nilsson was faster into the chicane whilst Keegan was quicker on the exit, both cars seemed equal through the complex but Keegan was quicker on the fast bit around the back of the circuit.
For ten laps it seemed to be stalemate and then as the leading pair came up to lap some backmarkers Keegan was able to open out a small lead over Nilsson. It all went wrong for Keegan on lap 12 when he picked up a puncture, just as Keegan was going through the complex a rear tyre deflated sending the March into a spin and out of the race. Nilsson now found himself in the lead and despite some quick laps from Cheever in the dying moments the Swede took victory by 1.4 seconds. Neve came home an easy third after Perkins slowed in the closing laps with his tyres worn and his engine going flat. After Andersson retired on lap 6 with his misfire Sullivan moved up to fifth troubled by poor rear grip. Sullivan had been challenged by Parsons in the Modus Dolomite but Parsons had picked up some grass in his radiator which caused overheating and retirement. Geoff Lees followed Carlsson home in seventh place on his F3 debut despite having three spins during the race.
Round 12 of the German F3 Championship the “Rheintal Rundstreckenrennen” was held over 8 laps of the 6.788 km circuit.
The final round of the BP F3 Championship and it was the two works Marches that were on top after the two 30 minute practice sessions. Gunnar Nilsson was credited wit a 1:15.6 time which was felt to be faster than he had actually gone although he was clearly very quick as was team mate Alex Ribeiro who lined up next to him. Rupert Keegan was third fastest, once again showing a great deal of potential even if his driving style was causing some raised eyebrows. Of the other runners Patrick Neve wasn’t happy with his time after suffering various niggling problems with his Safir whilst Larry Perkins was hampered by a Novamotor Toyota that just wouldn’t pull. Terry Perkins was trying M&H tyres again but an off that damaged his Ralt’s steering rack limited his track time. Ingo Hoffman only did the first session and suffered engine problems that meant he ultimately withdrew from the race.
To counteract the tyre wear problems all the teams had been suffering from for most of the season March had obtained some older, harder Goodyear G52s which they fitted to the left rear of both works cars, they also had an even older G44 for the front left of Nilsson’s car. Danny Sullivan had a similar set up to Nilsson’s fitted to his Modus.
Nilsson made another of his patented great getaways to lead the field into the Complex, Keegan also timed things right to slot in ahead of Ribeiro. Eddie Cheever overheated his clutch as he left the grid and he had to take it carefully as it cooled, while he was doing this he didn’t make life easy for those trying to get past him. As the leaders entered Campbell South was late on the brakes and he made contact with Keegan, Ribeiro dived up the inside as he was anxious not to let Nilsson get away, to everyone’s surprise they all got through without mishap. At the end of lap 1 it was Nilsson, Ribeiro, South, Keegan, Sullivan, Larry Perkins, Hervé Regout, Neve, Chris Barnett, Cheever, Pierre Dieudonné, Bob Arnott, Richard Hawkins, Terry Perkins and the rest.
Lap 2 and Nilsson lost first spot when he locked a front wheel as he entered the Complex, Ribiero took immediate advantage and swept through into the lead. Behind the two leading Marches it was South and Keegan locked in a tense battle for third with Sullivan sitting just behind them. Larry Perkins and Regout had a wheel banging moment around the back of the track which lost the Belgian back several places, a couple of laps later a big spin at the chicane dropped him right to the back of the field. Neve then moved in on Larry Perkins moving past him shortly after although he wasn’t making any ground on the leaders. Keegan was next in trouble with a huge spin across the grass at Church Corner when he lost his March after it became unstable in South’s slipstream, Keegan made it back to the pits to have a new nosecone and tyre fitted.
Sullivan began to close in on South now that Keegan had disappeared from the scene whilst South himself wasn’t too far away from the two works Marches. Nilsson had just decided to have a go at getting ahead of his team mate when he had a repeat of the Keegan accident. The Swede’s March spun as he encountered Ribeiro’s turbulent air, he slammed his brakes on as he rotated and managed to gather it all together although he had dropped to eighth. Sullivan now tried to get ahead of South and after several abortive attempts he made it on lap 9, South immediately dropped away as he began to experience the same aerodynamic problems that Keegan and Nilsson had fallen foul of.
Sullivan tried everything possible on the last lap to catch Ribeiro but the Brazilian had enough of a lead to take the win by 1.6 seconds. South took a very good third with Neve holding off Larry Perkins and Chris Barnett, the latter two sharing the same race time. Others who suffered rotational problems during the race were Eddie Cheever who spun out on lap 6, Graham Hamilton with two spins following a broken wing stay and finally Terry Perkins in the second Ralt.
Practice for this BP Championship qualifier was an incredibly close affair with the fastest 12 of the 17 starters separated by exactly one second. Pole went to the ever improving Brazilian Ingo Hoffman who set his time before Larry Perkins and Gunnar Nilsson who equalled his time but later in the session. Further back Patrick Neve was trying some M&H tyres on the Safir and Graham Hamilton’s Ecurie Ecosse March 753 was now fitted with a Novamotor Toyota.
It began to rain as the cars lined up on the grid and after two warm up laps the majority of the drivers decided wets were the best option, those brave souls that stuck to slicks were Gunnar Nilsson, Pierre Dieudonné, Hervé Regout and Terry Perkins.
Gunnar Nilsson made a great start despite his slicks and led into Old Hall ahead of Ingo Hoffman and Larry Perkins, these three immediately opening out a gap from their pursuers led by the Modus of Eddie Cheever and the Marches of Alex Ribeiro and Stephen South. Nilsson was driving brilliantly on his slicks and it took Hoffman five laps to find a way past the works car, Hoffman timed his run from Lodge and got ahead on the exit from Deer Leap. Larry Perkins now tried to find a way past Nilsson but it was Ribeiro who was looking good, on successive laps he demoted Cheever, Perkins and Nilsson and set off after Hoffman. It took Larry Perkins until lap 14 to eventually get ahead of Nilsson, the Australian finding the Ralt less than happy in the slippery conditions, especially at Lodge. Nilsson now found Cheever behind him but the American was never able to get close the two second advantage that Nilsson held.
Despite Ribeiro’s best efforts Hoffman was driving smoothly and calmly over the closing laps and the two Brazilians were 1.8 seconds apart at the flag. Larry Perkins took third some 14 seconds down with Nilsson holding onto fourth. Cheever holding onto fifth despite heavy pressure from Stephen South that saw the Marchman crossing the finishing line nearly level with the Modus with two wheels on the grass.
Those with less luck included Regout who spun out of seventh at Clay Hill, Neve had to brake hard to avoid contact and was punted up the rear by Richard Hawkins. Hawkins was out with a damaged radiator whilst Neve continued but found he had a puncture. Danny Sullivan’s hopes of a good result were doomed when he found the works Modus just wouldn’t handle on the Dunlop wets and after running no higher than eleventh he retired after several fruitless pit stops to try and sort the handling.
Practice for round 17 of the BP Championship was a complete lottery, held on Saturday morning it started wet and only began to dry in the last five minutes so grid times were very much a case of if and when you fitted slicks. It was Gunnar Nilsson who timed his tyre change to perfection and set a time over two seconds quicker than the next man who was Graham Hamilton who had to change to slicks when he had a puncture on his wets and it turned out to be just the right time. Third fastest another two seconds slower was Belgian Pierre Dieudonné ahead of Larry Perkins and Alex Ribeiro. Patrick Neve was unusually far back as a result of a broken differential (which might have caused his Brands Hatch practice shunt) and Richard Hawkins who didn’t officially qualify as a brake pipe broke after just two laps. Sitting right at the back was the new Anson of Garry Anderson who had a 10 second and 10 yards penalty for qualifying out of session, he missed the practice proper as the car was having a 2-litre Holbay twin-cam fitted.
Fortunately it was bright and sunny for the race but it wasn’t too bright for Hamilton when a connection on his fuel pump came off on the warm up lap and it couldn’t be sorted in time to make the grid. Also in difficulties was Bob Arnott when a screw came out of his coil, this could be repaired but he started after everybody else.
Larry Perkins took full advantage of the space left by the missing Hamilton and he rocketed his Ralt through from the second row and into the lead. He wasn’t the only one as Alex Ribeiro and Terry Perkins followed him, their cause was helped by Nilsson getting away a little slowly. Nilsson had decided that tyre wear was likely to be an issue so he had set his car up with minimum downforce to be quick down the straight and he decided not to push too hard in the early laps.
At the end of a hairy first lap it was the Perkins brothers in front followed by Ribeiro, Dieudonné, Nilsson, Regout, Neve (following an amazing first lap), Danny Sullivan, Eddie Cheever, Richard Hawkins, Rupert Keegan and the rest of the field. Next lap and it was Ribeiro up to second and Neve had pushed Regout down a place. Lap 3 and Ribeiro was now up to first with Larry Perkins down to second whilst brother Terry spun off at Club slightly damaging the nosecone of his Ralt. Danny Sullivan pulled into the pits at the end of the lap with a bad misfire, his team changed the plugs and leaned off the mixture on his Toyota. For a few laps it looked as if Ribeiro might edge away from Larry Perkins but the Ralt soon reeled the March in again, next there was a slight gap back to a battling Dieudonné and Nilsson. Neve was in fifth ahead of Regout, Cheever, Keegan, Hawkins, Stephen South and Chris Barnett.
Perkins began to apply pressure to Ribeiro and within a couple of laps he was through and he began to pull away. At the same time Nilsson got past Dieudonné and he began to reel in Ribeiro and on lap 8 he was up to third as the Brazilian began to fall back as his tyres started to grain. Nilsson was battling with Ribeiro and the B&O cars of Regout and Dieudonné but he gradually left them behind and Neve moved up to challenge them. Cheever was next up and dropping away as he too suffered from graining tyres, Hawkins was chasing the Modus followed by Keegan and Barnett. Stephen South had had a quick spin at the chicane but was now closing in again on Barnett as was Arnott who had also spun at Copse.
Larry Perkins had opened out quite a big gap to Nilsson but the Swede was going well and Regout had tagged onto his tail, both Marches seeming to be very quick in a straight line. Lap 14 and 15 saw the second and third place Marches dramatically close the gap on Perkins who was the latest victim of tyre problems, Perkins tried to speed up which resulted in some very sideways motoring. Nilsson was now sitting on Perkins tail and he slipstreamed the Ralt down to Stowe, the March dived out at the last moment and took the lead, Nilsson was slow out of the corner with his low downforce and Perkins had to momentarily slow to avoid contact and as he accelerated away the Swede had opened out an immediate gap.
Perkins tried to hang onto Nilsson but the straight line speed advantage of the March gave it the edge over the Ralt. Entering the last lap Regout decided to try and improve on his third place and he tried to slipstream Perkins into Stowe but it all went wrong and the B&O March spun off and hit the barrier. Nilsson continued to hold his lead for the rest of the lap despite Perkins being right on his gearbox and the works March took the win by 0.4 seconds with Dieudonné moving up to finish third after his team mate’s demise. Neve should have been next but a stone split a brake pipe on the Safir and the Belgian had a huge moment at Becketts which destroyed the nose on his car, Neve tried to continue but he had dropped too many places to score any points so he retired. Hawkins took fourth from Ribeiro and the fast closing March of South.
Most of the top runners arrived at Brands Hatch for the latest round of the BP Championship, the only notable absentees were Dick Parsons and Terry Perkins.
Pole position went to Rupert Keegan who was continuing his recent run of form and showing a new found confidence. Hervé Regout was second although many felt his time might have been a little optimistic, winner of the last Brands round, Larry Perkins lined up third. Further back seventh fastest man Patrick Neve non-started after he crashed his Safir at Paddock, the Belgian was unsure what had caused the accident. In eighth Gunnar Nilsson was still running the narrower 2.5 inch track on his March 753 but was slowed by a misfire caused by a faulty battery. Of the others Danny Sullivan complained of handling difficulties as did Graham Hamilton whilst Tim Brise lost time when his gearbox stripped its ratios.
Larry Perkins Ralt led the rest of the field away at the start but entering Paddock it all went wrong as Eddie Cheever and Brise both tried to get between the Marches of Pierre Dieudonné and Richard Hawkins. Immediately there were cars all over the track and all four men were out as was Ken Silverstone whose March got caught up in the chaos. Cheever’s car was blocking the track and the marshalls posts were showing either a red flag or crossed yellow and oil flags, the errant Modus was very quickly removed as was the red flag but the yellows weren’t. There was general confusion as some drivers raised their arms and slowed whilst others travelled on at unabated speed. Those who slowed and had their races ruined included Keegan, Sullivan and Chris Barnett whilst those that sped on included Perkins, Alex Ribeiro and Gunnar Nilsson.
At 5 laps it was Perkins in front with Ribeiro and Nilsson next up, there was a big battle for fourth between Keegan, Sullivan, Bob Arnott and Ingo Hoffman. Stephen South had been with this group but a spin at Bottom Bend dropped him back to just in front of Chris Barnett, the two pulled back up the field but eventually found themselves caught behind the slowing Regout.
Sullivan eventually found a way past Keegan who then dropped another place to Arnott whilst Keegan, who had been troubled by a lack of any clutch, spun out at Clearways on lap 15 to finish off an unhappy race. Sullivan and Arnott, despite suffering from graining tyres as were most of the other runners, were flying and began to close in on Nilsson but there weren’t enough laps left and Sullivan missed out on third by 0.2 seconds. So it was that Larry Perkins took a relatively untroubled win 1.6 seconds ahead of Ribeiro who was another to suffer from no clutch.
The general competitiveness of the racing can be judged by the fact that no less than five cars (and three manufacturers) shared a new lap record.
An excellent entry of 40 cars arrived at Casale in Northern Italy to take part in the two heats and a final event. Conny Andersson was once again in excellent form and he took the fastest qualifying time with his March 753 from the older March of Rupert Keegan.
Unlike practice the first heat was held in wet conditions with victory going to Luciano Pavesi ahead of Piercarlo Ghinzani in the CRS, Keegan took fourth after a spin. Andersson won the second heat after getting ahead of Gaudenzio Mantova.
Andersson took the lead from the start in the final pursued by Pavesi, Mantova and the rest of the field. Mantova moved up to second and began to challenge Andersson closing to within two seconds until a spin dropped him away. Mantova quickly recovered and began once again to close on Andersson but at the finish he was still a second behind the Swede who recorded his sixth successive victory. Eddie Cheever spun out and crashed at the corner before the pits whilst Keegan had several more spins and finished down the field.
Round 11 of the German F3 Championship the “Rundstreckenrennen Ulm Mengen” was held over 20 laps of the 2.86 km track.
Although this wasn’t a championship round Polydor Records had put up a £1000 prize fund which assured most of the usual front runners were in attendance. Pole position went to the works Ralt of Larry Perkins from the Swan Song Records March of Bob Arnott. The two works Marches of Gunnar Nilsson and Alex Ribeiro were languishing back on row three with handling problems.
Arnott found himself in trouble before the start with a misfire, a quick plug change failing to cure the problem. Dick Parsons made the best start chased by Perkins and by lap 5 the two of then had opened out a gap on Rupert Keegan and Danny Sullivan. Arnott was in fifth but his misfire was worsening and on lap 9 he pulled into the pits, he went out again without any change, he pitted again and the problem was discovered, a rotted fuel line.
Keegan had just been advised he had a ten second penalty for a jump start so he was trying to open out a gap to Sullivan. On lap 14 Perkins took the lead at Paddock and immediately began to edge away from Parsons, by the finish he was 4.8 seconds ahead. Keegan’s efforts to get away from Sullivan came to naught when his clutch began to fail on lap 21, he soon began to fall back through the field and on the last lap he pitted and retired. Ribeiro and Nilsson took fourth and fifth behind Sullivan with Chris Barnett next up. Barnett had been having a good battle with Pierre Dieudonné until the Belgian spun off at Clearways. Donald MacLeod did well to finish seventh in his GRD 375 after starting last on the grid.