A top class entry arrived at Crystal Palace to contest the two heats and a final of this Forward Trust Championship round.
Colin Vandervell led away from the grid in heat one and was ahead of the pack into North Tower but by the end of the lap it was Roger Williamson’s March 713M heading the field from Vandervell with Dave Walker’s GLTL 69 in third.Vandervell moved back to the front on the second lap but by lap five it was the familiar sight of Walker’s Lotus out front. However Vandervell wasn’t giving up and on lap 12, despite a misfiring engine, it was the Brabham in first place.
Walker was back in front on lap 14 when Vandervell was delayed when trying to lap Cavan Riley’s March at Ramp and it was Walker who took the chequered flag from Vandervell with Williamson, who also had problems with Riley, a fairly distant third. David Purley’s Ensign was fourth from Alan Jone’s in his BT28, Peter Lamplough’s Palliser should have been sixth but a one minute penalty for a jumped start dropped him to ninth.
Andy Sutcliife (Lotus 69) led away from the start of heat two hotly pursued by pole sitter James Hunt (March 713), Jody Scheckter (Merlyn Mk21) and Barrie Maskell (Chevron B18). Hunt moved into first on lap 4 whilst soon after Scheckter also passed the Lotus and started to challenge Hunt for the lead. Sutcliffe and Maskell fought over third until Sutcliffe’s clutch started to fail, finally packing up completely on lap 12. Scheckter was taking turns at leading but at the end of the fifteen laps it was Hunt first by two tenths from Scheckter, Maskell was a lonely third from the BT 28 of Brian McGuire. The Ensign of Steve Thompson came home fifth despite starting from the back of the grid with a ten second penalty. Hunt was in immediate problems when his engine refused to fire on the grid and he was left furiously waving his arms as the rest of the field started without him, a push start eventually getting him going. Vandervell took the lead from the start with Walker, Williamson, Purley and Scheckter queuing up behind and on lap 2 Walker took first with Scheckter moving ahead of Purley. Walker and Vandervell began to pull away from Williamson who was troubled by a down on power engine and on lap 5 Scheckter also passed the March and set off after the two leaders. Vandervell took the lead on lap 5 but it was Walker in front again almost immediately, the Brabham hit the lead again on lap 9 and stayed there for a couple of tours. Lap 12 saw Walker back in first with Vandervell and Scheckter, who had now caught them up, right behind, the three drivers keeping these positions until lap 19. Coming through the kink before North Tower Scheckter moved inside Walker who was second to Vandervell, as they entered the corner Walker moved out of Vandervell’s slipstream forcing Scheckter’s wheels onto the grass. The three cars were almost side-by-side with the Lotus and Merlyn interlocking wheels, all three cars made contact. Walker and Scheckter ended up firmly planted in the sleepers while Scheckter tried to continue but with his left rear wheel trailing at an odd angle he was forced to retire at New Link.
Behind these three Williamson had been battling it out with Purley’s Ensign and Jones in his BT28 but the Aussie was out after giving the sleepers at South Tower a hefty blow. Purley led going into the last lap but Williamson got ahead and took the chequered flag for a narrow and somewhat fortuitous victory, Purley was second from McGuire and Lamplough who had been squabbling over what became third for most of the race, Hunt finished fifth but his 10 second penalty dropped him to sixth. Retirements included Maskell who had to start on wets after puncturing a slick in his heat, he ended up in the sleepers after an incident with the Lotus of Richard Longman.