Race Report: Thruxton, 15 November 1975
This Forward Trust F3 race was a non championship event but it still attracted a representative field as it was being televised by the BBC. Gunnar Nilsson was fastest, despite a couple of spins, in both practice sessions which were held in foggy, damp conditions which required wet tyres Second fastest was Eddie Cheever who was driving his Modus with new found confidence since being run by Ron Dennis, a win the week before at Hockenheim underlining his talent. Third spot went to Rupert Keegan who was running softer F1 wet compound fronts on the rear and F2 ones on the front. The second row consisted of two familiar faces in unfamiliar cars, fourth fastest was Conny Andersson in the March 753 normally driven by Alex Ribeiro and next to him was Patrick Neve in a works Modus. Larry Perkins was trying out some new tweaks on the Ralt and the car was set up for the dry which didn’t help his time, further back Bob Arnott was suffering from his engine cutting out.
Ingvar Carlsson was driving the GRD previously handled by Jac Nelleman, this was now listed as a Van Diemen GRD following Van Diemen’s take over of the GRD project. Geoff Lees was having his first F3 outing in the works Safir and finding the twin-cam Ford no match for the Toyota units. Next to Lees was the Modus of Dick Parsons which was fitted with the first Triumph Dolomite engine, Parsons was quite happy with the engine but found the changed weight distribution was making it hard to set the car up in the wet.
Non starters were Terry Perkins who couldn’t get the engine in his Ralt to fire up and Giordano Regazzoni who had to scratch with engine problems.
It was still wet for the race and it was Rupert Keegan who made the best start from the outside of the front row to lead from Nilsson and Cheever, Nilsson holding onto second despite a grassy moment at the complex. At the end of the first lap Keegan had built up a small gap to Nilsson, Cheever, Neve and Andersson, next up, a little further back, Perkins led Sullivan, Barnett, Parsons, Lees, Carlsson, Hamilton, Stokes, Lain, Hawkins, Pettitt and Arnott who had started late with continuing engine problems.
By lap 3 Keegan still had a short lead over Nilsson and the pair of them were slowly pulling away from Cheever who was suffering from oversteer. Neve and Perkins were fighting over fourth whilst Andersson had fallen away from them as his engine developed a misfire. The two leading Marches seemed to be well matched, Nilsson was faster into the chicane whilst Keegan was quicker on the exit, both cars seemed equal through the complex but Keegan was quicker on the fast bit around the back of the circuit.
For ten laps it seemed to be stalemate and then as the leading pair came up to lap some backmarkers Keegan was able to open out a small lead over Nilsson. It all went wrong for Keegan on lap 12 when he picked up a puncture, just as Keegan was going through the complex a rear tyre deflated sending the March into a spin and out of the race. Nilsson now found himself in the lead and despite some quick laps from Cheever in the dying moments the Swede took victory by 1.4 seconds. Neve came home an easy third after Perkins slowed in the closing laps with his tyres worn and his engine going flat. After Andersson retired on lap 6 with his misfire Sullivan moved up to fifth troubled by poor rear grip. Sullivan had been challenged by Parsons in the Modus Dolomite but Parsons had picked up some grass in his radiator which caused overheating and retirement. Geoff Lees followed Carlsson home in seventh place on his F3 debut despite having three spins during the race.