Despite receiving in excess of 100 entries, more than enough for three heats and a final, for some reason best known to themselves the organisers accepted only 41 (35 to race plus 6 reserves) of which 39 arrived for this the supporting race to the British GP. This somewhat shortsighted attitude meant the very large crowd had to forgo the pleasure of seeing most of the best foreign drivers as well as many of the regular British runners.
Practice was held over two one hour sessions during the mornings of Thursday and Friday, the first session was generally a couple of seconds slower than the second due to oil dropped by the F5000 runners. Fastest of all, as is becoming his trademark, was Roger Williamson who suffered a blown head gasket on Thursday but after experimenting with different Dunlop compounds on Friday he was half a second fastest than the rest. Sharing the front row was Colin Vandervell and his Ensign, Vandervell suffered a slipping clutch on Thursday but was flying on Friday. Row two, unusually for Brands Hatch the organisers were using a 2X2 grid, consisted of Mike Walker’s Ensign and Tony Trimmer’s Lotus 73.
Tom Pryce headed row 3 with Stan Matthews who was having his best run to date in his March 723, next up were Jochen Mass in the works STP March, there was some problem with the car but the team couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was and Brendan McInerney who was delighted with his new Ensign. Peter Hull led row 6, he had been second fastest on Thursday but gear selection problems slowed him on Friday, his time was shared by Brise who was 400rpm down due to a metering unit problem, von Opel who felt he should have gone quicker and Evans and Wood.
Of the rest of the runners, Maskell was in handling difficulties as were Skeaping and Jones although Jones was very pleased with the service from the GRD team in trying to sort things out with his new car. Roger Keele had a spin at Stirlings as the result of a puncture and was hit by the closely following James Hunt, the Dastle flipped twice and ended up inverted on a barrier, Hunt was very lucky to crawl out uninjured. Damage to Roger Keele’s Lotus was restricted to a couple of bent radius rods that were replaced for the race although he was a nonstarter when his shock absorber broke on the warm-up lap probably as a result of the accident. Other drivers in trouble were Vermilio whose Lotus was in bad gear selection difficulties, Bev Bond who crashed the Ehrlich, Lamplough who only did one session with engine problems, MacDonald with clutch problems, Horsley who had a shunt and O’Brien who didn’t qualify after an engine blow up.
Colin Vandervell had the edge at the start with Trimmer trying to follow him through but by Paddock it was Williamson from Vandervell, Walker, Trimmer and Mass. Further back Maskell braked hard to miss those in front, spinning as a result, several other drivers including Jones and Matthews taking to the grass to avoid him. Walker and Vandervell had agreed a plan to work together to try and beat Williamson but entering Druids Walker got inside Vandervell and slid wide allowing Trimmer and Mass to get through as well as giving Williamson the break he needed. At the end of lap 1 Williamson had a huge three second lead over Trimmer, Mass, Vandervell, Walker, Brise, Hull, Pryce, von Opel, Wood, Rousselot, Vermilio, and Skeaping. At the back were a recovering Maskell and McInerney, the latter having found himself pushed off at Druids. Of the midfield runners Stan Matthews called into the pits with handling difficulties with his March whilst Bond and Harness were out with broken engine mounts and a faulty fuel pump respectively.
Williamson continued to pull away at an unbelievable three seconds a lap whilst behind him Trimmer, Mass, Vandervell and Walker were having a great battle until lap 4 when Vandervell and Walker got ahead of the other two and began to pull away. The Brabhams of Brise and Hull were already out, Brise hit the barriers at Stirlings when trying too hard on lap 3 and Hull was out three laps later with a broken throttle cable. Pryce was another retirement when he was helped off at Druids which left von Opel in fifth from Sutcliffe, these two were pulling away from a battle between Rousselot, Vermilio, Evans, Skeaping and Wood.
By lap 7 Williamson was 13 seconds to the good and he was shown the “Easy” pitboard, second was Walker who was edging away from Vandervell and Mass. Tony Trimmer dropped 12 places when he went wide at Druids and hit Pryce’s abandoned Royale, fortunately he didn’t damage the Lotus 73. MacDonald was out on lap 8 after spinning at Hawthorns and Matthews retired with a puncture although he would have been disqualified anyway for reversing in the pit road .
Walker reduced the gap to Williamson to ten seconds by half distance but it was obvious that the GRD driver had everything well under control, Vandervell had pulled away from Mass who was suffering engine problems, next up was von Opel who had a couple of seconds in hand over Andy Sutcliffe. By this stage of the race the main interest was in the battle for seventh between Rousselot, Vermilio, Evans Skeaping and Wood. On lap 11 Evans was out with a damaged nose but Alan Jones moved his GRD up to take his place, Skeaping was next to go when a wheel stud sheered on lap 14. Meanwhile Jones had now moved to the front of the seventh place battle on lap 17 despite the best efforts of Vermilio to get ahead.
With only one lap remaining Mike Walker was an unfortunate retirement from second place when the engine in his Ensign cried enough although he had some consolation with a new lap record. So at the end of 20 laps it was Williamson who coasted to an easy 17.2 second win over Colin Vandervell, Mass took third despite his engine problems with von Opel fourth ahead of Sutcliffe and Jones. Late retirements were McInerney who bent a steering arm after light contact with Lamplough, Musetti who was another to go off at Druids and Lewis who had engine troubles.