Row two belonged to two drivers who had been going very well recently, Peter Hull in his Brabham BT28 and Peter Lawrence in the Palliser WDF3, next up were Brian McGuire’s BT28, Rikki von Opel’s Lotus 69 and and Bev Bond’s March 713M. McGuire was a non-starter after extensively bending the Brabham with an off during practice and Bond needed a clutch change. Richard Longman’s Lotus on the next row was another driver in clutch trouble, next to him was Brendan McInerney in the works March 713M. David Purley (Ensign LN1) was quickest of the fifth row ahead of John Bisignano and Wolfgang Bülow both in their March 713s, the sixth row was made up of Swedes Ingvar Petersson and Jan Persson in their BT35s. Next up was a surprise face, Alan McCully in the works Alexis Mk20, McCully found the car very unsorted but felt it had promise, next to him was a new face, Max Bonnin in a BT28 and finishing the row was a new car to British F3 a de Sanctis driven by Sandro Cinotti, sadly the de Sanctis was to be a non-starter with a broken driveshaft. Final runners were Roger Hurst in a March 703 and another debutante, Fernando Natividade’s Lotus 69 who non-started after an off at the Esses on his second lap of practice.
Two notable non-starters from the second heat were James Hunt who had a torn arm ligament after an off caused by a broken shock absorber in unofficial practice and Alan Jones who was caught out when another car braked unexpectedly in front of him and his BT28 was flipped up into the air fortunately without personal injury. Pole sitter was, as expected, Dave Walker’s GLTL 69 which needed an engine change after a cam broke in his Novamotor during unofficial practice. Surprise second quickest was Ian Ashley who was having an outing in the EMC 606 formerly driven by Jody Scheckter, final front row occupant was Pierre-François Rousselot’s BT35. Andy Sutcliffe, his Lotus suffering from a bad misfire and Barrie Maskell whose Chevron was wearing intermediates made up row 2 with row 3 consisting of Manfred Möhr (Lotus 69), Peter Lamplough (Palliser) and Steve Thompson (Ensign). Ulf Svensson took the next spot from Chris Skeaping who replaced his problematical Rowland engine with his original lump. Conny Andersson was disappointed to be so far back with his BT35 but he led Matt Spitzley’s March and Fabrizio Noe’s Lotus. French visitor Lucien Guitteny (Martini) was followed by Tim Goss (March), a group of Brabham BT35s were next, Chris O’Brien headed Portugal’s Jorge Pinhol followed by newcomers Hannu Stroh and Mimo Bertoni. Richard Mallock had taken over from brother Ray in the U2 but broken cam followers meant a non-start. Final runners were Stan Matthews who had fuel pump bothers with his BT28 and Cavan Riley in his March.
Vandervell took an immediate lead at the start of heat one, opening up a small gap to Williamson and Mike Walker with Lawrence, Hull, Purley and McInerney forming another group behind the three leaders. At the front the lead was constantly changing all round the track but on lap 7 Williamson took over in the lead as Vandervell began to drop back with a broken valve spring and Walker found himself embroiled in a battle with Lawrence until the Palliser spun and retired with no oil. At the finish it was Williamson from Walker with von Opel in third after a good drive, Vandervell held onto fourth from Hull and Purley who had a last lap puncture. Bev Bond was another to suffer a puncture which caused his retirement after 6 laps but he had already been suffering from a slipping clutch.
Dave Walker was slow away from the grid so it was Rousselot and Ashley fighting for the lead at the start of heat two, sadly for Ashley he beached the car on the bank at the Esses when trying too hard to pass the Frenchman. Dave Walker moved up to second ahead of Sutcliffe, Maskell and Lamplough and on lap 2 the Walker’s GLTL 69 took the lead he would hold to the finish. Rousselot, Sutcliffe, Maskell and Lamplough battled it out for second place with the French BT35 taking the position at the flag from Sutcliffe and Lamplough, Maskell fell back to sixth when his nosecone dropped off on the final lap. Chris Skeaping was going well in eighth when his engine cut out on the last lap causing him to finish well down the field in 16th place.
The final was made up of the first 15 cars in each heat and with one non-starter Chris Skeaping should have been allowed in as first reserve but apparently this was too complicated for the officials who wouldn’t let the unfortunate Skeaping on the grid. As the cars were forming up on the grid a heavy mist began to fall and it started to rain, this caused a certain amount of consternation amongst the drivers not to say confusion and a several teams changed their tyres. When the music stopped of the front runners, Dave and Mike Walker, Sutcliffe and Lamplough were on slicks, Williamson, Rousselot and von Opel chose intermediates and Vandervell opted for full wets.
With the track still only slightly damp Sutcliffe led away on his slicks and was in front at the end of lap 1 but for the next four laps it was Williamson’s March ahead at the line, behind these two there was a scrapping group of Purley, Lamplough, Mike Walker, Rousselot and Dave Walker. By the sixth lap the track had dried out and Williamson began to struggle on his unsuitable tyres, his cause made even more difficult by the fact that the tyres were fitted to 10 inch wheels all round, whilst Sutcliffe and Lamplough took their turn to have a go at leading the race with the two Walkers and Purley in close attendance. Lap 11 saw Lamplough out with a puncture and the the two Walkers both having a time in the lead, the Aussie leading for lap 11 to 17 and then the Brit having his turn. The GLTL 69 moved back to the front again after a lap with Sutcliffe, the other Walker and Purley right behind. Williamson was falling even further back on his intermediates and Vandervell had the ignominy of being lapped in second from last position on his wet tyres.
Suddenly the pattern changed as Dave Walker spun falling to fifth well behind the leaders but he immediately started an amazing charge catching the leaders by as much as 4 seconds a lap, he was helped by Sutcliffe being put off at Ritches by a backmarker, Williamson was also involved in the accident and he found himself being spun round by Tim Goss. The next lap saw the rain return this time quite hard which wasn’t good news for leaders Mike Walker and David Purley or the hard charging Dave Walker in third, all of whom were slick-shod, Williamson and Maskell, the next two runners, were now well down on the leaders. Mike Walker was the first to be in trouble when he went straight off at the hairpin and on the next lap David Purley aquaplaned uncontrollably in front of the pits and a potentially very serious accident took place, I can do no better than quote from the Autosport report;In all the confusion Dave Walker retook the lead while round the circuit cars were spinning everywhere and yellow flags were waving at every corner, Walker spun again but the officials decided to wave the chequered flag and the Lotus driver was the winner. The rest was mostly confusion but the final results as they were declared are shown below, Williamson’s low position being explained by a pit stop to fix a lose wire.