Around and about, January 1977

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“We’ll conquer the World …”

The period prior to Christmas was thick with manufacturers’ invitations requiring a journalist to hear details of next year’s competitions plans. Significantly none of the British-based car-makers (we are excluding Fl of course) have said what they are doing in public as yet, though Dealer ‘Team Vauxhall have released some preliminary details.

DTV’S main project for 1977 will he to rally the Chevette in 16 valve, 2.3-litre guise: some 400 road cars having been presented to the FIA representative, just before the RAC Rally, in a -successful effort to homologate such a device. It is also believed the team will race some sort of Chevette-styled super saloon next season, when the driver would naturally be Gerry Marshall. The rally car will be driven by Pentti Airikkala (the man who nearly won the RAC for David Sutton Cars in an Escort) and well-versed rallyist Chris Sclater.

Naturally we look forward to an early and full. road test of this newly homologated Vauxhall, though we have failed to spot such a car in the local dealer’s showroom as yet!

Plans/2

Both BMW and Renault announced their plans at formal European press conferences BMW pulled quite a flanker on everyone by engaging McLaren’s Detroit works to prepare and enter a wildly modified 3 series saloon (officially a 320i?) that will be driven in 1977 IMSA events in the USA, by former Jaguar signing David Hobbs.

“Hobbo” has obviously decided that the combination of the American good life (to which he is well acclimatised over recent seasons) and Deutschemarks is too strong a combination to resist!

Renault’s spicey news was that they had engaged John Wyer’s services to run two of the five A442 turbo sports cars at Le Mans next season. Wyer is said to be talking to both Al Unser and Vern Schuppan as drivers for his cars while Jaguar’s Derek Bell will be found lurking in Renault’s Alpine factory Le Mans team that otherwise comprises home-grown talent.

Formula 1 received low priority in the announcements, but it seems definite that Renault will back and construct a 1.5-litre turbo car for Jean Pierre Jabouille to contest the European Grand Prix rounds. In Formula Two Didier Pironi (F/Super Renault graduate) will join the man who so nearly won the European F2 Championship this year, Rene Arnoux.

In rallying Renault will concentrate on developing the Alpine A310 V6 for homologation (perhaps they should talk to Vauxhall ?) and the Renault 5. There is talk of contesting four major rallies next year, including the RAC, Sanremo. Tour de Corse and one in Quebec.

Rallying Segrave Award first

Roger Clark and prominent members of the Ford Rally team were at Pall Mall recently for the award of the Segrave Trophy. The Trophy is interesting in that it goes to those Britons who, “accomplish the most outstanding demonstration of the possibilities of transport by land, air or water”, in the opinion of an RAC-appointed committee.

The Segrave Trophy has been in existence since 1930, but there have been many years when it has not been presented. This was the first year that a rallyist has won it, and Roger Clark had actually secured the Trophy before his RAC Rally victory for his performances in 1975. Commemorative medals were also given to Ford management men Stuart Turner and Peter Ashcroft, co-drivers Jim Porter and Tony Mason and engineering personnel Mick Jones and Norman Masters.

Jensen Parts and Service Ltd.

After the loss of Jensen Motors, a limited company has been formed to look after the customers from every stage through warranty to complete rebuilding of aged examples.

There are now 20 staff and they have presses and tooling to make new body parts for both Interceptor and Healey examples of the marque. Their address is Kelvin Way, West Bromwich, West Midlands, 1370 7JU (tel.: 021 5536741).

Signed Prints

Prints depicting famous racing drivers and signed by themselves and artist Michael Turner are being offered by the Donington Fine Art Collection. The range of eight prints, produced on tine art paper from Michael Turner pencil drawings, are being offered in a limited edition of 100 only, each print numbered and autographed. They feature such top drivers as Stirling Moss, Louis Chiron, Mike Hailwood, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Jacky Ickx and the late Graham Hill.

Only a few of the Graham Hill prints remain, signed by him just a few days before his death. These are priced at £150. Other prints, including the one depicting Chiron winning the 1931 French GP in a Type 51 Bugatti, sell for .£75 each.

The prints are available from Jeremy Nightingale Associates Ltd., 45, Kelso Place, London W8.

One marque saloons: Renault opt for 1300

Renault in Britain have started to display the same serious interest in motoring sport as their European counterparts. Lacking a British showcase to really display their international effort regularly, the R5 challenge has become of increasing importance to the Company, and they have put a lot more money and effort behind next season’s Championship.

Basically there will be a conversion kit to take existing 5TLs’ into 5TS mechanical trim (at a subsidised £350). Potential challengers can buy a 5TS, put in £150 worth of safety equipment and receive a bonus of £250 direct from Renault, if they contest ten rounds of the sixteen scheduled.

Prizes in the series include £250 and a test drive in the works 5TS that will contest the British National Championship in 1978… always assuming imports haven’t been banned along with cars of over 3-litres and capacity classes by then!

It is only fair to point out that Leyland cars now have a much more .generously rewarded plethora of Mini racing formulae and Ford still operate an Escort *series, so potential eompetitors should shop around.

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