Race Report: Thruxton, 26 October 1975
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.