Race Report: Thruxton, 30 July 1972


A large entry of 76 cars was received for this round of the Lombard North Central Championship including many of the top French teams, regrettably industrial action at the docks meant that several of the foreign cars never made it to the track. Due to the number of cars the entry was split into two 10 lap qualifying heats for the 20 lap final.

Roger Williamson made a superb start from pole position in heat one and by the end of the first lap he was a second to the good over the rest of the pack, he continued to pull away at a few tenths per lap to win by four seconds. Initially Rikki von Opel had slotted into second place but at the end of lap 1 Mike Wilds outbraked the Ensign into the chicane to take second, Jochen Mass also tried to get past but couldn’t quite make it. The works March of Mass was wearing a new nosecone, based on the old bulbous design it now had a slot added for the newly relocated front radiator. Wilds began to pull away from the battling von Opel and Mass on lap 3 but almost immediately he was struck by fuel surge problems and von Opel and Mass towed themselves back onto the Ensign’s tail.

Lap 6 saw von Opel make it ahead of Wilds into second place which he held to the flag despite concerted efforts from both Wilds and Mass to get ahead especially under braking into the chicane. Alain Serpaggi closed right up to the battling trio in front but was 0.2 seconds down at the finish, Tony Trimmer had been next until a spin at Segrave on lap 6 left the Lotus well down the field. Peter Hull finished in sixth, the Brabham had been right with Serpaggi but the spinning Trimmer caused the New Zealander to loose the tow and fall away.
Mike Walker had taken pole for heat two with his Ensign sporting a raised roll centre, revised pick-up points and a longer wheelbase. Chris Skeaping should have been next but a hub failed in practice sending the works Chevron heavily into the bank at the chicane, the car was hastily repaired for the race but on the warm-up the cockpit bodywork flew off, with no spare the Chevron was out.

Japanese driver Masami Kuwashima took advantage of the empty space resulting from Skeaping’s withdrawal to put his GRD into the lead ahead of Jacques Coulon at the start, however over-enthusiasm saw a kerb clipping moment at Church causing Kuwashima to spin off into the infield loosing a couple of laps before he regained the track. This left Coulon in the lead but Walker was soon ahead and despite several good efforts from the Frenchman Walker eventually pulled away to a 3.2 second victory. Sutcliffe and Leclere had a tremendous battle for third with Sutcliffe being hampered with wrong gearing, at the end they crossed the line almost together and were credited with the same time. Neil Ginn, Alan Jones and Jean-Pierre Jarier had a great dustup for fifth with Ginn coming out on top, the three cars being separated by 0.4 seconds at the finish. Next up was Damien Magee having his first run in the ex-Alan McCully Brabham BT38, the Irishman dead-heating on time with the similar car of Tony Brise.

A few drops of rain had fallen at the end of the second heat so the grid for the final was made up from the first fifteen in each heat in alternating grid slots with Williamson in pole. There was some doubt about the engine in Williamson’s car has it had been emitting rattling noises during the first heat but it was decided not to change it for the final.
Once again it was Williamson who made the best start and at the end of lap 1 he led from Walker, von Opel, Mass, Sutcliffe, Leclere, Serpaggi, Wilds, Jarier, Coulon, Jones, Hull, the Brise brothers, Vermilio, Magee, Harness, MacDonald, Tyrrell, Trimmer and the rest. von Opel locked up at the chicane on lap 2 and dropped a couple of places which allowed Walker to break away from the rest of the pack. Mike Wilds was soon out with bad fuel surge after a float chamber had been adjusted to try and cure the surge he had suffered in his heat.
Now clear of the other cars Walker began to home in on Williamson and on lap 4 he took the lead at the chicane, Williamson stayed on the tail of the Ensign for a lap but then Walker began to edge away and at half distance he was leading by a couple of seconds. However Williamson wasn’t beaten and he gradually began to close the gap again, the GRD was quicker under braking and through the corners whilst the Ensign had the advantage down the straights. On lap 14 Williamson was right with the Ensign and he made a couple of efforts to get by on the straight only to drop back again, the GRD lost ground again on lap 16 and it seemed as if Walker had the measure of his fellow competitor. Williamson put his head down again and on lap 19 he put the GRD back into the lead albeit briefly but then a moment at the complex at the last lap seemed to be the end of his chances. At Church Williamson began to close up again on Walker and as they went into the chicane the Ensign moved wide to block the outside line and Williamson immediately dived to the inside and as the two cars braked it was Williamson on the absolute limit that took the lead and as they crossed the finish line the GRD was 0.2 seconds ahead of the Ensign.
Behind the first two finishers third had initially been a fight between Leclere, Serpaggi, Coulon, Sutcliffe, von Opel, Mass, Hull, Jarier, Tony Brise, Jones and Tim Brise. von Opel’s problem at the chicane broke the group a little and left Mass leading Leclere, Sutcliffe and Serpaggi. Tony Brise went straight on at the hairpin on lap 7 which delayed both Alan Jones and his brother. Mass had dropped to the back of the third placed group by lap 11 along with Sutcliffe as both were suffering from down on power engines whilst von Opel had moved up to challenge the three Frenchmen. Leclere and Serpaggi worked together to pull ahead of von Opel and Coulon and by the finish they had a four second gap over Sutcliffe who lead Coulon by 0.4 seconds.



Race Report: Thruxton, 30 July 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