This Forward Trust round would be the first race to be run to the new engine regulations with the air restrictor opened out to 21.5mm from 20.0mm, it was generally reckoned that power would increase from around 100-108 bhp to the 120-125 bhp range. Pole position was occupied as usual, by Dave Walker who set a 1:20.5 some 3.5 seconds under the lap record showing the bigger restrictors were certainly making a difference. Joining Walker on the front roe and setting an identical time was James Hunt in his March 713M followed by Steve Thompson’s Ensign and Chris Skeaping who was going very well despite a painful eye infection.
Alan Jones was next, complaining of a juddering front wheel followed by Roger Williamson who had engine problems and drove 171 miles to the Holbay factory to get a new engine on Saturday night, he arrived back at 3:30am on Sunday. Barrie Maskell was still not using slicks on his Chevron but it didn’t seem to hamper him too much as he out qualified von Opel (lotus), Scheckter (EMC) and McInerney in the works March who, like the other Vegantune users, was suffering from his engine cutting out on the corners due to incorrect settings on the float chamber. A new convert to the Vegantune camp this weekend was Colin Vandervell who had forsaken his usual Rowland mill. The rest of the grid lined up mostly as expected with the exception of a disappointed David Purley who found himself at the back after his clutch failed after just two laps.
Thompson, Williamson and Walker led away from Hunt with the unfortunate Skeaping stuck on the grid with a stripped first gear, before anything could be done he was struck by the similar Chevron of john Finch accelerating hard from the back row. Peter Hull was also in troubled requiring a push start with an added 10 second penalty. Meanwhile at the front Williamson was leading from Hunt, Walker and Thompson while further back Jones, Maskell and Vandervell were involved in a close battle. Positions at the front were changing all the time as the four leaders slipstreamed each other through Thruxton’s fast sweeping curves. Drivers in trouble included Peter Hull who was out with a broken throttle cable, von Opel who hit the Armco at Club, Scheckter who wrecked the EMC at Seagrave on lap 3 and Pinhol who did the same to his Brabham at Kimpton on lap 5.
Meanwhile up at the front Hunt made a desperate attempt to break free of the rest and it almost seemed as if he had done it but Walker dived inside the March at Club and the two cars raced for the line with Walker getting the verdict although both cars were given the same time. Similarly close was the fight for third with Williamson making a grassy excursion at Club but getting third from Thompson although once again both were given the same time. The next three, Maskell, Jones and Vandervell (who was plagued with his engine cutting out intermittently) had a relatively unexciting finish, separated by 0.6 seconds! The rest were a little more widely detached, Bisignano finishing with a heavily smoking engine and Sutcliife spinning on the last lap and being collected by Lee Kaye’s March.