Heading the first heat was promising German newcomer Jochen Mass in his Brabham BT35 which was sporting a 1972 spec Novamotor engine rumoured to be giving about 130bhp, next to him were Mike Walker in the works Ensign LN1 and Peter Lamplough, once again going very well in the Palliser WDF3. Row two saw Bev Bond, who was delighted with his March 713M on its new Firestones, and Jody Scheckter who wasn’t happy with the handling of the Merlyn Mk21, he went out again in an unofficial session to try and sort the chassis out. Ulf Svensson (Brabham BT35) led the March 713s of Brendan McInerney and Tim Goss on row three while row four saw Wolfgang Bülow (March 713M) sitting next to Sandro Cinotti in the unusual de Sanctis. Terrance Peterson (Chevron B17B), Matt Spitzley (March 713M) and Jan Persson (Brabham BT35) were the row 5 occupants but Spitzley unfortunately had to withdraw from the race with low oil pressure so final runner Egert Haglund (Brabham BT28) gained a place.
Rikki von Opel went extremely well in his Lotus 69 to take the heat two pole from Colin Vandervell’s Brabham BT35 and the similar car of Conny Anderson who was also benefiting, like Mass, from a ’72 Novamotor. Row two occupants Roger Williamson (March 713M) and Steve Thompson (Ensign LN1) were both complaining of down on power engines although Thompson was much happier with the handling of the Ensign after a wheel problem had been diagnosed. Willi Deutsch and John Bisignano in their March 713Ms led Mimo Bertoni’s Brabham BT28 on row three with Peter Hull (Brabham BT28) in suspension problems and Manfred Möhr (Lotus 69) on the fourth row. Ian Ashley was further down than of late on row five with his EMC as it was handling very badly, next to him were Ingvar Petersson (Brabham BT35) and Bengt Radmyr (Lotus 69), also unusually low down were the two Chevrons of Chris Skeaping (B17) and Barrie Maskell (B18) who sandwiched Fabrizio Noe (Lotus 69). Maskell’s team claimed they had timed him at least two seconds quicker than the official timekeepers mark, they decided to do a precautionary engine change after practice as the fitted unit was smoking slightly. Final runners were the Brabham BT35s of Chris O’Brien and Max Bonnin ahead of Lee Kaye’s March 713S and Torsten Palm also BT35 mounted who was in dire engine and gearbox difficulties.
It was Lamplough in front at the at the start of heat one but the Palliser driver had received a 10 second penalty for a push start on the grid, Walker was next up with Mass falling back after a poor start, unfortunately the German left his breaking too late at Quarry and went off, rejoining just ahead of the slow Haglund. Lap 2 saw Walker’s Ensign take over at the front from the Palliser with Scheckter in third and Bond fourth, next was Svensson, Bülow, McInerney, Goss and Mass who was quickly making up for his earlier indiscretion. On laps 3 and 4 Scheckter made up a place per lap at Camp and so the Merlyn was now leading whilst Mass was now up to sixth and moving up on Bond and Svensson. The leading three, Scheckter, Lamplough and Walker, put on a great show at the front running three abreast along the straights and leaving their braking as late as they dared. On the penultimate lap it was Walker from Scheckter and Lamplough and then as they were closing in on the finish it was Scheckter in front with Lamplough trying to come through on the inside and Walker doing the same on the outside. Scheckter, deciding that Lamplough was the bigger danger closed the door on the Palliser, in a second the rear wheel of the Merlyn contacted the nose of the Palliser spinning Lamplough in front of Walker, the Ensign spun and hit the bank damaging a corner whilst the approaching Bond, with nowhere to go, removed Lamplough’s nose and radiator whilst he suffered damage to his own track arm and wishbone. Bond managed to cross the line in third behind Scheckter and Mass with Svensson fourth and McInerney fifth.Colin Vandervell led the first four laps of heat two with Andersson second and Williamson in third from Thompson and von Opel. Williamson seemed to be loosing contact with the two ahead of him but on lap 3 he suddenly appeared behind Maskell who was a lap down after having a disagreement with the EMC of Ashley, Williamson quickly hung onto the Chevron and used it to tow him up onto the tail of the leaders. Andersson had one lap in front before Vandervell put the Brabham ahead again, the three leaders and the lapped Maskell then fought it out until lap 8 when Vandervell’s car jumped out of gear at Camp causing the Brabham driver to drop to seventh. Andersson took the lead until for some reason Maskell decided to outbreak the Swede entering Camp, during the manoeuvre Williamson managed to get past Andersson and held onto win by 0.2 seconds, von Opel was third from Bisignano (despite a spin at Camp) and Hull.
Ashley had qualified for the final with the EMC but decided in view of its erratic handling it would be safer not to race. Williamson had an engine change to his March and lent Bev Bond some spares to get his 713 up and running.
Scheckter led away from the flag but at Quarry Williamson pushed his March into the lead ahead of the South African, Mass, Andersson and Vandervell, who had made a great start, followed. Scheckter moved ahead again for another two laps until Williamson pulled a great outbraking manoeuvre into Camp to put himself ahead of Scheckter, Vandervell and Mass. By lap 8 the field had split into two groups, the first consisting of new leader Vandervell, Williamson, Mass, Scheckter, Andersson, Bond, von Opel, Bisignano, Deutsch, Hull and Thompson and the second group was made up of the rest of the field. Up at the front it was Williamson and Scheckter doing most of the leading until lap 10 when Mass took his first turn at the front, the leading pack broke up a little when Bisignano made a mistake at Old Paddock which slowed down those behind him. This left Mass leading from Williamson, Scheckter, Vandervell and von Opel with a second group consisting of Andersson, Hull, Bond and Bisignano. Within a lap or two the two groups were back together again and swopping places all round the track, again it was Williamson and Mass doing most of the leading although it seemed as if any one of nine cars could win. On lap 19 the front runners lost Andersson who lost six laps having a broken throttle spring repaired, a lap later Vandervell lost a lap having overheating investigated, it turned out to be a plastic bag blocking the radiator. Lap 21 saw Mass ahead of Williamson, Scheckter and von Opel with Bisignano, Hull and Bond falling away slightly,
The last nine laps saw the front four continuing to fight it out although Mass and Scheckter seemed the most likely victors, coming into the last lap they came across Goss, O’Brien and Bülow having their own private battle, in the general confusion Mass got through to lead Scheckter home by 1.2 seconds with Williamson 0.2 seconds behind the South African. Bev Bond lost a couple of places in his March when, on the last lap, when he locked a wheel at Quarry.