A healthy entry of 31 cars arrived at Silverstone for this Shell Super Oil/Motor Sport encounter, the numbers being bolstered by the addition of several French and Swedish runners.
Practice was split into two sessions on the Friday morning although the first session was somewhat disrupted by several cars being late onto the track due to scrutineering delays. Whether or not a driver got a good time was dependent on being able to find a decent tow so for much of qualification there was the sight of large bunches of cars touring round waiting for someone else to take the lead.
As usual by the end of practice it was Dave Walker on pole in the GLTL 69 although he lost an engine in the process, a bitsa would have to be made up overnight from two engines awaiting rebuilds.
The other front row sitters were Rossi, von Opel and Palm who was delighted with his new Brabham. Next up was Vandervell’s Brabham which was handling more to the drivers liking although the new titanium Rowland engine was not living up to expectations. Next to the Brabham were Maskell’s Chevron, proving very quick in a straight line, and McGuire’s BT28. The Aussie was pleased with his first serious F3 run but his car needed a clutch change as did the other two AIRO cars of Jones and McCully.
Thompson and Purley led a misfiring Williamson who also had handling problems whilst next up was F3 new face Jody Scheckter who was looking very impressive in the EMC which was a development of the previous year’s car as driven by Ray Allen. Randy Lewis led the two clutch troubled cars of Jones and McCully with Svensson ahead of Lamplough whose BRM engine was again causing him problems. Also not happy with their engines were McInerney and Goss, both of whom felt their Holbay’s weren’t performing as they should. Lawrence was another with BRM woes and Qvarnstrom wasn’t pleased with his Sportscars of Sweden engine which apparently had its air restrictor pointing in a direction other than forwards.
Radmyr was next up ahead of Lagier and Longman who was suffering from blocked fuel injectors. The final runners were Deutsch, O’Brien, Sedgley (who went home after practice for reasons unknown) and a disgusted Bev Bond whose engine had blown up after 5 laps.
It was almost inevitable that this would be a Silverstone slipstreaming special and at the end of the first lap the field came round as one multi-wheeled bunch. Palm led from Walker, Purley, Vandervell, Maskell, McGuire, von Opel, Shepard, Williamson, Thompson and Jones. Rossi had lost his front row advantage when his car jumped out of gear and Bond was already starting to cut through the backmarkers with his Ensign now running properly with a freshly installed Holbay. Positions continued to change all round the circuit lap after lap but it was clear that the man on the move was Bond who was already up to twelfth by lap 3 and was catching up with McCully, Jones and Thompson. Vandervell took the lead for a few laps but then his Rowland went off song and he quickly fell back through the field. By lap 5 Bond was an amazing second behind Maskell and on lap 7 he took the lead but no one could make a break and the first 21 cars were all in one group, the order depending on where you were standing on the circuit.
There was a second group of backmarkers behind the top 21 of Deutsch, Radmyr, Lagier, O’Brien and Goss. Lawrence was a lap down after a pit stop to look at a damaged throttle cable whilst Anderson had retired with no fuel pressure and Longman was out with a terminal misfire. The field had begun to split into three groups, in the first group were Thompson, Maskell, Bond, Walker, Jones, McCully and Palm. The next group was headed by Lewis, Scheckter, Williamson (who had terrible oversteer), Shepard, Lewis, von Opel and Rossi. Rossi then spun at Stowe taking Lewis and von Opel with him.
The leading group lost Alan Jones when his engine blew a head gasket and at the head of the squabbling bunch Palm and Bond were trying to get away at the front but then two laps from the end there were yellow flags at Copse where Lewis had taken Skeaping off badly damaging the Chevron although the driver was unhurt. McCully was now in the lead but the rest hadn’t given up and Bond, Walker, Maskell and Palm drafted past on the last lap, Walker and Bond made contact but both kept going and at the line it was the Lotus by a hairsbreadth from the Ensign with Maskell, Palm, McCully and Thompson a blink of an eye behind. First to sixth were covered by exactly 1 second, yet another Silverstone thriller for the record books.