Sufficient entries arrived at Mallory Park to justify running two heats and a final for this Shell Super Oil/ Motor Sport Championship event although non-starters meant that qualification for the final would not be a problem.
The track was damp for both practice sessions which meant that times were 2 to 3 seconds away from the lap record but this didn’t stop Dave Walker assuming his accustomed place at the front of the grid for heat one. Second fastest was another Lotus, that of Andy Sutcliffe whilst third was Colin Vandervell’s Brabham. Going well was Swedish visitor Conny Andersson who headed the second row and should have sat next to James Hunt but the March driver managed an off at the hairpin wiping off a couple of
wheels, the car was repaired in time for the second heat but the grid was full so Hunt missed the race. The third row was led by Claude Bourgoignie’s Lotus from Alan McCully who was returning to F3 with the ex-David Purley BT28, completing the row was the amazing front engined U2 of Ray Mallock. Row four was an all Ensign affair with David Purley leading Steve Thompson, while row 5 boasted Jorge Pinhol and Ulf Svensson in their Brabham BT35s and the Chevron B17 of John Finch. Final runners were Richard Longman’s Lotus 69, Ingvar Petersson’s Brabham BT35 and Wolfgang Bülow’s March 713M.Other non-starters from this heat in addition to Hunt were Ronald Rossi who damaged his BT28 at the hairpin, Peter Lamplough with suspension damage from an off at Gerards, Tim Goss who had a metering unit seize and Freddy Kottulinsky who had a huge off at the Esses from which he was lucky to escape with just bruising. Brian McGuire’s BT28 had all sorts of problems and didn’t run and the new Alexis Mk20 of Allan Taylor didn’t get past scrutineering as there were no crutch straps fitted in the cockpit.
The track was a little drier for heat two and it was the March of Roger Williamson that took the fastest time from promising newcomer, German Jochen Mass, in his Brabham BT35, completing the front row was the Palliser of Derek Lawrence. Going very well was Bengt Radmyr’s Lotus 69 which led row two from the similar car of Rikki von Opel. Third row occupants were Barrie Maskell’s Chevron, and the two March 713Ms of Bev Bond and Hannelore Werner. Next up came Peter Hull (Brabham BT28), Chris Skeaping, using a works Rowland mill, (Chevron B17) and Willi Deutsch (March 713M). The fifth row was made up of Chris O’Brien and Jan Persson in their BT35s and Cavan Riley’s March 713M, the sixth row was John Bisignano after an off at the Esses and Terrance Peterson (Chevron B17. Final starters were John MacDonald’s March 713M and Alan Jones who missed most of practice with his BT28, non-starter was Torsten Palm after an off at Gerards
By the time the cars came out for heat one the track was almost dry and everyone could safely run slicks. As the flag fell it was Vandervell and Walker who jumped into an immediate lead, Sutcliffe stayed with them until lap 4 when his engine cut out at the hairpin, by the time it had picked up again he was down in sixth spot. Vandervell led lap 1 but Walker moved to the front on lap 2 and Vandervell seemed content to remain second but on the last lap the Aussie entered Gerards a little too quickly and ran wide on the exit, in a flash Vandervell was alongside Walker and the Brabham outdragged the Lotus to the line. Sutcliffe managed to regain third after his engine problems and finished ahead of Thompson, Purley and and Bourgoignie. McCully, Svensson and Pinhol ran into each other at the hairpin. McCully continued to finish last whilst the other two were out on the spot.
There was a four way battle for the lead at the start of the second heat between Williamson, Maskell (who made a great start), Mass and Lamplough who quickly pulled away from Hull, Radmyr and Bond. Williamson was doing most of the leading although Maskell kept putting the nose of the Chevron ahead out of Gerards, ultimately however Maskell found himself baulked twice by backmarkers so it was the March driver who took the win with the Chevron driver as runner up. Mass and Lamplough took third and fourth whilst Bond had a run in with Werner at the hairpin and fell away to seventh.
The heavens opened once again before the final and although it had stopped raining by the time the cars formed up on the grid it was still damp enough that everybody ran wets, most using the Dunlop wet although Walker and Sutcliffe used Firestone’s knobbly wet and Lawrence and Mallock opted to us F Ford Firestone Torinos whilst Radmyr had to use slicks as he had no wets.
Williamson got the best start and at the end of the first lap the March driver led from Mass, Maskell who was unhappy with the Chevron in the wet, Vandervell, Lawrence, Walker, Bond, Hull, Thompson, Sutcliffe, Purley, Jones, McInerney, Radmyr, Longman, Mallock, O’Brien, Bisignano, Persson and Bourgoignie. Williamson and Mass soon built up a gap over the rest who were getting bottled up behind Maskell whilst Sutcliffe and McInerney took each other out at Gerards. Lawrence managed to get past Maskell on lap 3 but in vain as his gear lever broke the following lap forcing him into retirement. Walker was next to take third on lap 5 but he was already a huge 16.5 seconds behind Williamson and Mass but not deterred the Lotus driver put his head down and started to claw back the deficit. As he passed the pits on lap 8 Williamson was pointing at his engine and it could be heard misfiring, possibly due to water in the electrical system.
Despite his engine problems Williamson was driving as fast as he could and Mass was only making small inroads into his lead and by lap 14 the German was still 3 seconds behind the leader although the amazing Walker was now right on the tail of the second placed Brabham. However Walker found it very hard to get ahead of Mass as although the racing line was by now quite dry it was still very wet everywhere else making outbraking very tricky. Eventually on lap 20 Walker made it into second place by getting past Mass at Stebbe but it took him 8 more laps to catch Williamson whose engine was now running cleanly again. Lap 29 saw Walker take the lead into the Esses and in the remaining laps he pulled out a 4 second gap over Williamson in what was a very impressive victory.
Maskell had slipped right back as his brakes disappeared and it was Bond who had moved up to fourth, but he had to give way to Vandervell and Purley in the dying laps although he just managed to fight off Thompson who was also suffering from wet electrics. Maskell’s unhappy weekend finished on the last lap when he came round Gerards to find Radmyr and Persson sideways across the track which resulted in all three cars suffering damage. Bisignano also did his March no good at all with his second accident of the meeting at the Esses.