An excellent 28 starters made it for this round of the Shell Super Oil/ Motor Sport Championship with all the top of the table contenders ready to battle it out on the fast, open Silverstone spaces.
The first session on Friday was held in damp/wet conditions so nearly all the fast times were set in Saturday’s dry session. Fastest in practice was Bev Bond in his usual Ensign LN1 who lead Dave Walker by a third of a second, Walker was trying some trick FSV Firestones on his Lotus but was complaining of handling difficulties. A superb third fastest was Barrie Maskell in his new Chevron B18 that was running in F2 trim except for the removal of its wings which would have been too much for F3 power levels. Fourth was Sandy Shepard who got a handy tow from Bond and announced that Silverstone reminded him of Sebring, next up was Kottulinsky who was doing everything possible to ensure his BMW mill was airtight to avoid a repeat of his Brands Hatch problems. James Hunt was next but had a new Holbay installed in his March overnight after feeling the original was down on power, Brabhams filled the next three positions with McInerney ahead of Vandervell and Rossi. Ertl was next followed by Williamson who had set his time early in the practice session before spinning off at Copse and suffering minor
suspension damage, unfortunately Mike Tobitt also lost his Chevron in the same place, left the track and hit the abandoned March to the detriment of both cars. Williamson’s team immediately packed up the mangled remains and left for the March factory in Bicester, an all nighter by Roger, his father and two mechanics saw them return to Silverstone the next morning with a new chassis built around the few salvageable parts from the wreck.
David Purley followed Williamson, pleased with his time as his engine was now getting a little tired, Ertl in his Alfa powered Lotus was next ahead of Hannelore Werner and Jose Ferreira. Sutcliife took the next grid slot despite severe engine problems due to incorrect timing, Möhr’s Lotus had gearbox problems, at least they were better off than Steve Thompson who broke a piston in his Lotus after five laps rendering himself a nonstarter. Longman and Bülow were ahead of Skeaping who only went out in Friday’s wet session due to a broken gearbox adapter plate on Saturday. Final runners were Goss, Hoffman, Lamplough (engine problems), O’Brien (broken petrol line), Joy (wrong gearing), Tobitt (accident), Hull (jammed throttle) and Evans who missed qualifying altogether due to serious problems with his BRM unit.
At the start everyone got away cleanly and Bond led Shepard into Copse with Maskell, Walker and Vandervell who had made a particularly good start right behind. At the end of the first lap everyone was closely bunched together with Maskell now leading from Bond, Walker, Shepard, Vandervell and Hunt. As is usual at Silverstone positions were changing all round the circuit but the field was soon split into two groups when Rossi spun in the middle of the pack delaying Sutcliffe badly and in the confusion a second group led by McInerney lost the main tow and began to fall away. On the next lap O’Brien also span at Copse and this time Sutcliffe got taken off as well badly damaging his Lotus.
Up at the front of the field the leading ten were were going at it hammer and tongs with cars passing and repassing all the time although Bond, Maskell and Walker were doing most of the leading with Hunt starting to move forward ahead of Vandervell, Shepard, Ferreira, Purley, Kottulinsky and Williamson, next up were McInerney and Ertl with the rest lagging further behind. Skeaping retired with a sticking throttle and clutch problems and Bülow stopped along with his engine. Maskell was still taking turns in the lead despite his engine misfiring slightly and Purley was now starting to show at the front until a spin at Club ended his hopes. Ferreira also managed to lead briefly before Bond pushed him back down
On the last lap Maskell fought back to the front entering Woodcote with Walker, Hunt, Bond, Ferreira, Kottulinsky, Williamson and Shepherd all in with a shout of victory. Vandervell had fallen away fro this group as a loose engine cover was costing him 200rpm on the straights. As the field came under the Daily Express bridge Bond led, taking the inside line, Maskell tried to get further inside the Ensign whilst Walker tried the outside approach. Bond held it to the line with Walker and Maskell dead-heating on time although Walker got the nod for second place. All hell broke loose behind these three with the other cars jostling for position, Hunt touched Ferreira and both cars became airborne and flew off the track into the sleepers, Ferreira’s car was badly damaged, Hunt’s less so, Kottulinsky, Williamson and Shepard crossed the line but Vandervell was stalled in the middle of the track where he had stopped after braking heavily to avoid the Ferreira/Hunt accident, he managed to restart and cross the line in seventh. The rest of the field made it to the finish without dramas.