A good entry arrived at Zandvoort for this round of the Shell Super Oil F3 Championship although two clashing rounds of the Lombard North Central Championship at Oulton Park and Thruxton kept several notable runners in the UK. There were two practice sessions on Saturday, an hour in the morning when the track was very damp and forty five minutes in the afternoon when it poured down. The race would be decided on the aggregate times over two 20 lap heats.
Colin Vandervell used a set of two-year old Firestone wets on his Ensign F372 to set a phenomenal time some three seconds quicker than next fastest runner Roger Williamson in his new GRD 372, completing the front row was German runner Manfred Möhr’s Brabham BT35. The second row saw Mike Walker’s Ensign heading Peter Lamplough in the Merlyn Mk21. Tom Pryce (Royale RP11) was fastest of the row three occupants, next up was Tony Trimmer (Lotus 73) and Bob Evans (March 723), row four was the Brabham BT38 of Peter Hull and the March 723 of Wolfgang Bülow. Belgian Bernard Crenier was next
with his old Tecno from the March 723 of Stan Matthews. Row six had the Lotus-Renault 69 of George Witti and stunt man Val Musetti in his Royale RP11 whilst row seven had the year-old Ensign of Ken Sedgley, the year-old Lotus-Renault 69 of Freddy Link and the latest Lotus 73 of Bernard Vermilio who was in tyre difficulties. Final runners included the two Travisco Lotuses of Barrie Maskell and Roger Keele, the Travisco transporter broke down in England and the replacement had three punctures enroute to Zandvoort. All this meant the cars didn’t arrive until the afternoon and only managed a few laps in the very wet conditions, Keele was taking the place of Geddes Yeates who had been refused an entry for Monaco whilst Keele had been accepted and the team were leaving for the principality as soon as the race was over.
Although the morning started wet the sun broke through during the day and the track was dry for the first heat although a few drops of rain before the start led to some fluttering hearts and caused Stan Matthews to fit a set of intermediates and Roger Keele to go for wets. Colin Vandervell made a flying start and had a good lead half way round the lap, already in trouble were Peter Hull who was shoved into the sand dunes at Tarzan, Bülow who didn’t make the start (no petrol!) and Link who spun to the back of the field at Hunzerug. It was Peter Lamplough who was really moving and at the end of lap 1 he and Vandervell crossed the finishing line side by side, as they went behind the pits a shock absorber on Vandervell’s car broke and the Ensign was pitched into the catch fencing in a second with minor suspension damage. It was now the turn of Roger Williamson and Mike Walker to move to the front and for the next four laps the crossed the line as one.
Tom Pryce had passed Lamplough for third on lap 4 and by lap 6 he had caught the two leaders, Lamplough was soon out with a spin at the hairpin so moving up were Evans, Möhr and Maskell who was making great progress from the back of the grid. For the last half of the race Pryce, Williamson and Walker were inseparable taking it in turns to lead and on one occasion crossing the line three abreast. The racing was very clean, if a little hairy at times, and as they started the last lap it was Walker in front with Williamson and Pryce right behind, they continued their battle around the track and as they crossed the line it was Walker, Williamson, Pryce, so close was it that all three drivers were given the same time. Evans took a troublefree fourth after Maskell and Möhr collided on lap 8 at Hunzerug, the German was out with suspension damage and the Lotus driver had to pit to a few laps later to have the nosecone removed. Wood was in fifth place until he was slowed by Maskell’s now ill handling Lotus and Vermilio took advantage and moved the Lotus 73 up a place, team-mate Trimmer lost time with a pitstop to replace a punctured tyre.
Once again there was panic just before the start of heat two as it began to rain quite hard but by the time the cars had done their warm up lap it was dry again and most drivers started on slicks including the first three finishers (and thus the front row) from heat one. Non-starters were Freddy Link with minor accident damage and Peter Hull with a broken throttle cable. As the flag fell it was Pryce who made the best start and led at the end of the first lap from Walker, Vermilio and Williamson, making a phenomenal start from the back row was Colin Vandervell who was up to seventh by the start of the second lap. Walker and Pryce slowly edged away from Williamson until the penultimate lap when an inattentive (and unidentified) backmarker had Pryce off into the catch fencing, this left Walker to cruise home by 6 seconds from Williamson. Initially behind the three leaders and fourth placed Vermilio there had been a fight between Bob Evans, whose March was on wets, Colin Vandervell and Tony Trimmer until the Lotus lost a couple of laps in the pits after stopping to have a misfire checked on lap 6. Meanwhile Lamplough who was going very well in the Merlyn caught and passed the March and the Ensign on lap 17, Vermilio then lost fourth to the flying Merlyn on lap 18 and Lamplough found himself in third at the finish with the demise of Pryce. Bob Evans eventually spun, another to get involved with a backmarker, loosing several places allowing Vandervell to finish fourth.
On aggregate victory of course went to Walker from Williamson with Evans getting third ahead of Vermilio. Matthews and Wood took fifth and sixth benefiting from steady drives when others were less circumspect.