A huge entry of 75 cars arrived at Monza to try and win the latest round of the BP Championship. Due to the size of the entry there were four qualifying sessions which would decide the runners for the two 10 lap heats, the fastest 25 would make the final.
Larry Perkins set the fastest overall time one second under the circuit lap record, second quickest was the works March of Alex Ribeiro. Gunnar Nilsson was a disappointed non-starter, on a quick lap the Swede’s March clipped a kerb and was launched in the air, the 753 flipped over several times. The chassis was written off and Nilsson was lucky to escape with no worse damage than having the paint scraped off the top of his helmet. Conny Andersson’s team-mate Gianni Savoia also wrote off his March 753 in an end-over-end accident on the day before qualifying so the March factory would be busy making some new tubs.
Ribeiro took the win in Heat 1 from the similar March-Toyota 753 of Italian Gianfranco Brancatelli with the year old March of Richard Hawkins third. Savoia didn’t endear himself to his team by writing off a second tub at one of the chicanes, Pierre Dieudonné had to spin his B&O March in avoidance and fell to the back of the field and missed the cut for the final. Also involved in the aftermath of Savoia’s accident was the second works Modus of Swiss Fritz Stehlin who was struck by some of the wreckage which broke his shoulder. Amazingly Stehlin struggled to the finish holding the steering wheel between his knees and his uninjured arm, he didn’t qualify for the final although even if he had his injury would have precluded him from starting. Others in difficulty were Patrick Neve having a one-off outing in the ex-works Lotus 73B now run by Dr Joseph Ehrlich, he started 21st and a down on power engine saw him finish 15th. The usual Ehrlich of Tony Rouff retired after contact with a chicane tore out a radius rod from the chassis.
The second heat was a walkover for Larry Perkins as the works Ralt lead from start to finish, to add to the bad day at the office for Modus Danny Sullivan who had qualified seventh fell back through the field with a misfire and failed to make the final.
The final was initially a battle between three men, Larry Perkins, Alex Ribeiro and Fernando Spreafico (GRD 374). Perkins soon began to draw away from the other two men who then became embroiled in a particularly hairy battle for second. As the March and GRD had their final run to the flag Ribeiro administered a huge chop to Spreafico and the unfortunate Italian found himself crossing the line sideways and on the wrong side of the marker cones that delineate the new track from the old. For his pains Ribeiro found himself disqualified for dangerous driving after the organisers had viewed the incident on closed circuit TV. Of the other runners Richard Hawkins spun out whilst Graham Hamilton had been running well in sixth in the Ecurie Ecosse March until he too gyrated off the track. Conny Andersson (March 753) and Monaco winner Renzo Zorzi (GRD 374) were both retirees with engine bothers. Fastest lap went to Italian Luigino Grassi who had hired the Ralt RT1 normally driven by Terry Perkins for the day.