Imola and Hockenheim
The final two races of the European F2 season kept the battle between Clay Regazzoni and Derek Bell for the non-graded European Trophy wide open. Replacing the penultimate round, planned to take place at the Roman Vallelunga circuit (which is presently being rebuilt), was another at Imola, used occasionally in the past but not for races under the present F2 regulations. Discounting her classic road circuits, Italy is distinctly short of permanent tracks, and Imola is new to the list, the local club having invested a great deal of money. The AC Bologna has now acquired much of the park through which the circuit runs and also erected the necessary guardrails. The circuit has been renamed the "Autodromo Dino Ferrari", dedicated by Enzo Ferrari himself to the memory of his son.
Formula Two drivers who have competed at Monza and Enna-Pergusa are unanimous in their opinion that Imola is Italy's best permanent circuit. For the Tecno team it is particularly convenient, being situated within easy reach of the Bologna factory, and after practice it hardly seemed possible that Regazzoni could fail to win the two-heat race and go back into the lead of the Trophy. Gear selection troubles, however, hampered Regazzoni in the first heat, when he was beaten by Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus. The Swiss made no mistake about the second 28-lap part, in spite of desperate last-minute work on the grid, and this time he had the satisfaction of beating his Formula One team-leader Jacky Ickx, who had retired his works BMW during the first heat. Close behind Ickx following a race-long second-heat battle was Bell, who had completed the first heat without a clutch, but it was Fittipaldi who was credited with second place, in the overall results and Bell third, narrowly beating Ronnie Peterson's March. Fifth was Rolf Stommelen (Brabham) and sixth in his first-ever F2 drive was the American Mike Goth, previously a Formula A competitor with a Surtees TS5 but now the owner of John Coombe's Brabham BT30, as used this year by Stewart and Brabham.
Gran Premio Citta di Imola – Formula 2 – Aggregate of two 28-lap heats – Imola – 281 km. – Sunny
1st:G. Regazzoni (Tecno 70-Cosworth FVA) ......................... 1 hr. 30 min. 50.3 sec. – 185.569 k.p.h.
2nd:E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 69-Cosworth FVA) ............................ 1 hr. 30 min. 58.2 sec.
3rd:D. Bell (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .......................... 1 hr. 31 min. 12.3 sec.
4th:R. Peterson (March 702-Cosworth FVA) .......................... 1 hr. 31 min. 12.8 sec.
5th:R. Stommelen (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) ................ 1 hr. 31 min. 21.8 sec.
6th:M. Goth (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) ......................... 1 hr. 32 min. 49.2 sec.
Fastest lap:J. Ickx (BMW 270), 1 min. 35.5 sec. – 189.122 k.p.h.
22 starters – 10 finishers
* * *
The last gathering of Formula Two cars at the famous Hockenheim Motodrom had an unusually exciting flavour. Derek Bell, whose Wheatcroft Racing Brabham BT30 has finished every round of the Trophy in which it has been entered so far this year, had only a slim chance of retrieving the Trophy from Clay Regazzoni: both had hurried back from Watkins Glen to take part in the race, around a circuit for which neither has any particular liking. But Bell's chances looked even slimmer when his car failed to arrive for first practice, its transporter having shown rather less reliability than the racing car it carried.
The BMW team came to the Englishman's rescue, lending him one of their radial-valved cars, but again Bell was out of luck and narrowly escaped injury after a few reconnaissance laps when a tyre came off a wheel at high speed and the car struck a barrier. Happily, shortly afterwards his own Brabham arrived and he was able to carry on, in a somewhat subdued mood. There was yet more disappointment and near-avoidance in store for Bell. At the first of the new artificial ess bends on the first lap an incident delayed all but the leading six cars and split the field into two. The leading group contained the Tecnos of Cevert and Regazzoni, Fittipaldi's Lotus, Peterson's March, Quester's BMW and Reutemann's Brabham. Being a one-part race, there was no chance that Bell could make up lost time and, although Cevert retired with a blown engine, the best Bell could hope for was a place behind the escapees from the first-lap shambles.
Regazzoni and Quester detached themselves from the others in an intense slipstreaming battle, the BMW yet again proving both fast and reliable. Entering the stadium section on the last lap the two of them became involved in a wheel-tangling match, spinning off with bent suspensions and deranged wheels. Quester struggled back on to the track fractions before Regazzoni and both cars were limped across the line a full half-minute ahead of Peterson, who beat Fittipaldi to record the best works March result of the year. Whatever the reason for the last-lap tangle, both Quester and Regazzoni were all smiles on the victory rostrum. Quester had achieved a long-held ambition by finally winning a Formula Two race, becoming the fourth and last of the team's regular drivers to do so this season, while Regazzoni had become the winner of the European Trophy. It could be regarded as an achievement which was superfluous after his recent highly creditable Formula One performances, but the fact that competition between himself and Bell throughout the latter part of the F2 season has been so intense shows how highly regarded the Trophy is regarded on the Continent.
ADAC Preis von Baden-Wurttemberg – Formula Two – Hockenheim – 35 laps – 236.880 Km. – Sunny
1st:D. Quester (BMW 270) ................................................. 1 hr. 16 min. 34.4 sec. – 186.17 k.p.h.
2nd:G. Regazzoni (Tecno 70-Cosworth FVA) ........................ 1 hr. 16 min. 36.1 sec.
3rd:R. Peterson (March 702-Cosworth FVA) ......................... 1 hr. 17 min. 03.3 sec.
4th:E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 69-Cosworth FVA) ............................ 1 hr. 17 min. 03.6 sec.
5th:C. Reutemann (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .............. 1 hr. 17 min. 42.9 sec.
6th:D. Bell (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .......................... 1 hr. 17 min. 46.9 sec.
Fastest lapD. Quester (BMW 270), 2 min. 8.7 sec. – 189.89 k.p.h.
29 starters – 13 finishers