Race Report: Brands Hatch, 22 October 1972


An excellent entry was received for this the final round of the Shell Super Oils Championship, a number of the top French F3 runners had travelled over to the UK to strengthen the field even more. Due to the number of runners the race would be held over two heats on Saturday and a final on Sunday.

GRDs were fastest for heat 1 with the familiar sight of Roger Williamson in pole position from the Multiglide car of Alan Jones, row two was an all Ensign affair with Mike Walker leading Mike Wilds. Of the other runners Alain Serpaggi and Jacques Coulon headed the French runners in their Alpine and Martini respectively while further back Barrie Maskell wasn’t happy after only managing 4 laps before his ever problematical Vegantune siezed requiring a replacement to be fitted. Bernard Vermilio was debuting a new GRD-Novamotor whilst making his F3 debut was Mexican F Ford ace Johnny Gerber who was having an outing in the ex-Andy Sutcliffe GRD.

Heat 2 saw the GRD of Tony Brise take pole from the number one Alpine of Michel Leclere with the Ensign of Colin Vandervell, who lost time with a broken throttle linkage, leading the March of Russell Wood on the second row. Down at the back of the grid Buzz Buzaglo was having his first F3 race in the ex-Mike Wilds/James Hunt March 713S as was F4 champion Nick Crossley in the ex-Stan Matthews March 723 Novamotor. Tony Trimmer qualified in von Opel’s car as his own car, a converted F2 chassis, wasn’t ready for qualifying. Randy Lewis and Mike Tyrrell were transferred from the first heat after missing practice and had to start from the back.

Qualifiers for the final would be composed of the first 15 from each heat plus the next 6 fastest laps, three from each heat.

Williamson made a superb start to lead Heat 1 and by the end of the first lap he already had a lead of two seconds over Bob Evans who had also made a great start from the third row of the grid. Williamson was in marvellous form and he gradually increased his lead so that at the end of the 10 laps he had six seconds in hand over the second placed finisher. Behind Evans at the end of lap 1 it was Jones from von Opel, Wilds, Walker, Jarier, Coulon, Serpaggi, Hull, Maskell and Skeaping. For the next 5 laps Evans held second despite constant pressure from von Opel with Walker and Coulon just behind, both Alan Jones and Jean-Pierre Jarier were next up although both were afflicted with their engines cutting out. On lap 6 Jarier’s engine cut out at the wrong moment and he left the track at Hawthorns and continued at the back of the field, he would qualify for the final via his fastest lap
Also in trouble was Hull who left the track at Southbank when his throttle return springs broke, he would also qualify via his fastest lap. Alan Jones found himself demoted by a couple of places when he was passed by both Wilds and Serpaggi. With only two laps remaining Evans finally lost second place to Coulon but still took a very good third, just behind the first three the two works Ensigns of Rikki von Opel and Mike Walker had a very tough battle, von Opel just got the nod although Walker was given the same race time.

Just to show Williamson wasn’t the only one who could dominate a race Tony Brise stamped his authority on Heat 2 in similar fashion, at the end of lap 1 he had a 3 second gap and he then held a confident 5 second lead to the end of the race. Leclere made a very poor start delaying most of the rest of the field as he moved across the track and Vandervell was able to get ahead into second place. Leclere slotted into third and began to harry the Potterton Ensign until he was able to slip through at Westfields on lap 5, the Frenchman was then able to ease away and take second at the finish by 1.8 seconds from Vandervell. Fourth place had been a battle between Pryce, Magee and Albera who were then joined by Wood on lap 5 and then on lap 7 Ethuin, Ginn and Serpaggi all joined in the fun. Magee moved ahead of Pryce who was suffering handling problems in his Royale and soon Wood and Albera also found a way past the Welshman.
Despite heavy pressure from both Wood and Albera Magee drove very calmly to keep fourth place at the finish,.Ethuin took seventh despite a barging match with Neil Ginn at Bottom Bend on lap 9. Next up, a couple of seconds adrift, were Guitteny and the disappointed Pryce, Conny Andersson had been with them but had to retire with engine difficulties leaving fellow Swedes Svensson and Nordström to finish tenth and eleventh.

About 40 minutes before the start of Sunday’s final it began to rain, although it stopped after 10 minutes there was general panic amongst the teams as wet tyres were readied. For most of the teams the choice was simply wet or dry, intermediates were not readily available. After the warm-up laps most drivers opted for slicks as although the club circuit was wet and slippery the rest of the GP track was reasonably dry. However conditions were obviously very tricky and no less than 12 cars spun at Druids on the warm up and Nelleman went off at Bottom Bend and was unable to start. As the cars took to the grid the majority were on Firestone slicks with the exception of Williamson and Skeaping on Dunlop slicks, Serpaggi, Musetti and Svensson went for the full wets, McInerney for semi-slick Firestone B33s and most interestingly Filipinetti team manager Vic Elford put Jacques Coulon on an old set of Firestone YB24 intermediates.

As usual Williamson made a great getaway hotly pursued by Brise and Leclere, everybody made it up to Druids but immediately several cars spun, notably Tony Brise and Alan Jones, a number of cars were badly delayed waiting to get through the mayhem. Brise was an immediate retirement while Jones made it back to the pits to retire with damaged bodywork. At the end of lap one it was Leclere from Williamson, Coulon, Evans, Magee, Serpaggi, Vandervell and Pryce all running together, Musetti was next up on his own with a gap to Nordström, Guitteny, Walker, Wood, Vermilio, Lacarrau, Svensson, Hull, Jarier and Trimmer. The rest of the field were someway back with Wilds the worst casualty in 32nd place. Everybody was driving with great care as so many parts of the track were very treacherous but the leaders were managing to keep their cars on the track.
Leclere managed to pull out a lead of a few hundred yards from Williamson who was suffering the close attentions of Coulon. These three had opened up a gap over Magee who had got ahead of Evans, Serpaggi was right behind Magee but he was soon passed by von Opel and the Brabham and the Ensign then began to pull away from the others. By lap 5 is was still Leclere just ahead of Williamson and Leclere, Magee and von Opel were fighting over fourth just ahead of Serpaggi, Pryce and Evans with Vandervell all on his own in ninth. In tenth place Tony Trimmer was making excellent progress from his start at the back of the grid and he had Hull and Walker for company. Other retirements to join Brise and Jones were Russell Wood who was out on lap 6 with bad handling and Rousselot a lap later with a bad misfire.

By now lap times started to fall dramatically as a dry line began to appear and Williamson began to close the gap on Leclere and by lap 14 he was sitting on the Frenchman’s tail, entering Clearways on lap 15 the Alpine ran wide and in a flash the GRD was in the lead to the cheers from the grandstands. Coulon was still third although his intermediates were starting to be a handicap on the drying track and von Opel was catching him despite a lack of brakes and a damaged nose fin. Behind these two there was a big battle between Magee, Evans and Serpaggi whilst Pryce had fallen back after a spin. On lap 14 the nose of Magee’s Brabham made contact with Evans rear tyre causing a puncture and the March was out. The impact dislodged the nose of Magee’s car and on lap 19 the car aquaplaned along the main straight and the Irishman made heavy contact with the pit barrier, he was lucky to escape injury.

Suddenly on lap 18 the rain began to fall again and immediately cars were spinning most notably at Druids and Bottom Bend. Leclere found himself going wide at Druids on lap 20 and Coulon was immediately ahead of his compatriot, immediately Coulon was reeling in Williamson the Martini’s intermediates now ideal for the conditions. On lap 21 Coulon was in the lead but Williamson was hanging on and on lap 23 the Martini nearly spun at Bottom Bend and Williamson was back in front again. Coulon recovered rapidly and was soon quickly closing the gap to the leader again, on lap 24 they were running side by side through Hawthorns, Westfield and Dingle Dell. Coming into Clearways Coulon’s extra grip gave him the advantage and he was back in front, Williamson tried everything he could to get the lead back but Coulon held on to take victory by a second, Leclere finished third a few seconds further back. von Opel brakeless Ensign managed to hold off Serpaggi for fourth, Pryce finished a lonely sixth from Walker and Hull who was lucky to escape from a last lap incident at Stirlings.



Race Report: Brands Hatch, 22 October 1972

Race Heat 1

1 Vittorio Brambilla

Birel Alfa Romeo 20:09.40

2 Fabrizio Noe

Lotus-Ford 69 20:09.50

3 Luigi Fontanesi

Tecno-Ford 20:13.10

4 Carlo Franchi (Gimax)

De Sanctis-Alfa Romeo 20:23.40

Race Heat 2

1 Giovanni Lo Voi

Brabham-Ford BT28 15:05.00

2 Adelmo Fossati

Brabham BT28 15:05.00

3 Patrice Compain

Martini-Ford MW7 15:21.00

4 Manfred Möhr

Lotus-Ford 15:34.10

5 Marcello Gallo

Brabham BT28

Race Final

1 Vittorio Brambilla

Birel Alfa Romeo 30:44.30 144.318

2 Marcello Gallo

Brabham BT28 30:44.34

3 Fabrizio Noe

Lotus-Ford 69 30:45.10

4 Adelmo Fossati

Brabham BT28 30:55.40

5 Patrice Compain

Martini-Ford MW7 31:08.00

6 Carlo Franchi (Gimax)

De Sanctis-Alfa Romeo 31:11.50

7 Manfred Möhr

Lotus-Ford 31:59.60

8 Giovanni Lo Voi

Martini-Ford MW7 31:08.00