This round of the John Player Championship was one of the support races for the French GP and consisted of two heats on the Saturday with the final on the Sunday. The entry consisted of most of the usual French F3 Championship teams together with most of the front running British drivers, the only notable absentee being Damien Magee whose Brabham BT41 had been sold in Ireland.
The heats and final were held on the short circuit rather than the full GP track and at the end of qualifying it was Jacques Lafitte’s Martini that took the fastest time and the pole for Heat 1. The heats would consist of alternating practice times so pole position in Heat 2 went to the second fastest car, the Alpine-Renault of Alain Serpaggi. The rest of the runners lined up as below, of the other drivers Gerber was happier with his Brabham after a switch to Firestones, Alan Jones had float-level problems with his Vegantune and Russell Wood was suffering from a very poor Novamotor. Tony Brise was unusually far down for no apparent reason and poor Larry Perkins was a very disappointed non-starter when a puncture sent his GRD off the track and into the Armco, Perkins suffered bad bruising and a broken finger.
Pole man Jacques Lafitte led from the start of Heat 1 hotly pursued by Ian Taylor and the rest of the field. Lafitte immediately began to pull away from Taylor to the tune of a couple of seconds as Taylor in turn eased away from Rousselot, Paoli, Kuwashima, Gerber, Ethuin, Brise, Wilds, Henton, Andersson, Lewis, Tyrrell, Wood, Svensson, Dötsch and Zetterström. Lafitte continued to extend his for the remainder of the race, eventually crossing the line some 16 seconds ahead of second man Rousselot. Taylor had held second for the first half of the race but his engine began to loose power and he was gradually dropped back into the clutches of Rousselot, Paoli, Ethuin and Kuwashima. Taylor refused to give way and it was only on the penultimate lap that Rousselot and Ethuin managed to get ahead of the Baty March. Kuwashima and Paoli took fifth and sixth ahead of Johnny Gerber who complained of gearbox difficulties. Tony Brise and Mike Wilds finished a disappointing eighth and ninth with no concrete reason for their lack of form, Russell Wood took twelfth still in engine problems. Brian Henton finished second to last following no less than three spins after running as high as tenth, he would qualify for the final as a result of setting a fast lap.
Heat 2 was as uninteresting as Heat 1, Alain Serpaggi lead away at the start followed by his Alpine team-mate Michel Leclere and for the rest of the race the two cars, never more than a couple of seconds apart, pulled away from the rest of the field. Bernard Beguin, despite hitting Alan Jones at the start, moved up to third by demoting the ragged Ragnotti and stayed there to the finish. There was a five car battle for fourth between Ragnotti, Max, Dahlqvist, a slightly battered Jones and Albera, Jones gradually moved up through the group to take fourth three laps from the end which he held to the flag. Ragnotti and Max were next up ahead of Albera and Cudini who had passed Dahlqvist two laps from the end.
The 30 runners for the 30 lap final lined up as follows:
Alan Jones was in trouble before the race started when his engine refused to start on the dummy grid, he was push started but was late away. Serpaggi made the best start from his pole position and for the first two laps the Alpine led the rest headed by Lafitte, Rousselot, Beguin, Ragnotti, Kuwashima, Taylor, Ethuin, Paoli, Brise, Gerber, Albera, Max, Guitteny, Wilds, Cudini, Andersson, Lewis, Jones and the rest.
Lafitte took over the lead on lap 3, the Martini moving easily past the Alpine, Lafitte then, as in Heat 1, pulled away from the rest to win by a dominant 9.2 seconds. Rousselot was next to get ahead of Serpaggi moving up to second on lap 4 with Leclere and Beguin next up, these four ran nose to tail for most of the race but there was almost no positional changes. Leclere did get ahead of Serpaggi on lap 13 but a spin five laps later dropped him to fifth and another gyration finally saw the Alpine come home eleventh. Rousselot stayed in second for the rest of the race as Beguin began to fall away and Kuwashima and Paoli moved up
Kuwashima was going very well, he took fourth when Leclere had his first spin and three laps from the finish he passed Serpaggi and moved up to within less than a second of Rousselot at the chequered flag. Serpaggi held onto fourth with Beguin and Paoli in fifth and sixth ahead of Ragnotti and Albera. Johnny Gerber recovered well after spinning on some dropped oil when tenth at half distance, some quick driving saw him move up ahead of Ethuin and Leclere. Tony Brise had been ahead of Gerber but before the race the rear rollbar had been disconnected to increase understeer. This proved to be a disaster and Brise slipped down the field until he was hit by Jean Max which resulted in a split oil cooler and retirement, he was joined by his assailant. Mike Wilds had just passed Brise before his accident and on the next lap he found Brise’s spilt oil, Wilds spun dropping to sixteenth, some spirited driving saw him recovered to thirteenth at the flag.
Both Jones and Wood were in desperate engine woes, Jones spun out of fourteenth and then had to slow dramatically over the closing laps when his engine began to make odd noises, whilst Wood found that his engine was still just as powerless as it had been for the whole weekend. Ian Taylor had an awful race, a first lap incident saw the nosecone of the March badly damaged, bits of broken fibreglass wedged themselves in Taylor’s rear suspension causing all sorts of handling problems, he slipped down the field to finish nineteenth.