Practice for this BP Championship qualifier was an incredibly close affair with the fastest 12 of the 17 starters separated by exactly one second. Pole went to the ever improving Brazilian Ingo Hoffman who set his time before Larry Perkins and Gunnar Nilsson who equalled his time but later in the session. Further back Patrick Neve was trying some M&H tyres on the Safir and Graham Hamilton’s Ecurie Ecosse March 753 was now fitted with a Novamotor Toyota.
It began to rain as the cars lined up on the grid and after two warm up laps the majority of the drivers decided wets were the best option, those brave souls that stuck to slicks were Gunnar Nilsson, Pierre Dieudonné, Hervé Regout and Terry Perkins.
Gunnar Nilsson made a great start despite his slicks and led into Old Hall ahead of Ingo Hoffman and Larry Perkins, these three immediately opening out a gap from their pursuers led by the Modus of Eddie Cheever and the Marches of Alex Ribeiro and Stephen South. Nilsson was driving brilliantly on his slicks and it took Hoffman five laps to find a way past the works car, Hoffman timed his run from Lodge and got ahead on the exit from Deer Leap. Larry Perkins now tried to find a way past Nilsson but it was Ribeiro who was looking good, on successive laps he demoted Cheever, Perkins and Nilsson and set off after Hoffman. It took Larry Perkins until lap 14 to eventually get ahead of Nilsson, the Australian finding the Ralt less than happy in the slippery conditions, especially at Lodge. Nilsson now found Cheever behind him but the American was never able to get close the two second advantage that Nilsson held.
Despite Ribeiro’s best efforts Hoffman was driving smoothly and calmly over the closing laps and the two Brazilians were 1.8 seconds apart at the flag. Larry Perkins took third some 14 seconds down with Nilsson holding onto fourth. Cheever holding onto fifth despite heavy pressure from Stephen South that saw the Marchman crossing the finishing line nearly level with the Modus with two wheels on the grass.
Those with less luck included Regout who spun out of seventh at Clay Hill, Neve had to brake hard to avoid contact and was punted up the rear by Richard Hawkins. Hawkins was out with a damaged radiator whilst Neve continued but found he had a puncture. Danny Sullivan’s hopes of a good result were doomed when he found the works Modus just wouldn’t handle on the Dunlop wets and after running no higher than eleventh he retired after several fruitless pit stops to try and sort the handling.