As Motor Sport is a monthly magazine it is unable to keep up the weekly flow of information on race meetings all over the world offered by some other publications. Thus we restrict our racing coverage to the major Championship meetings and other important fixtures, but this does not mean that we are not watching and taking note of the events elsewhere. In recent weeks there have been several races worthy of at least passing mention.
For instance, on June 11th, when Matra were running to their somewhat hollow victory at Le Mans and Emerson Fiulpaldi added a Formula Two win at Hockenheim to his growing list, in America the Can-Am series got under way. Every year the Can-Am opens with a great burst of publicity suggesting that, in the coming season, Team McLaren really are going to find it hard to retain the title. This year’s series started at Mosport Park, the tricky Canadian course which is rather similar to Brands Hatch, and the contender to knock the McLarens off their pinnacle was the works-owned and developed, Roger Penske-prepared, L & M cigarette-sponsored Porsche 917/10, to be driven by Mark Donohue. McLaren had two of their new M20s machines (see elsewhere) for Hulme and Revson (who was replacing Stewart), while the only other competitive runner was Jack Oliver in the new Shadow. The turbocharged Porsche lived up to expectations for Donohue took the pole position and the two McLarens were really scratching behind. In the race Donohue rushed into the lead but fairly early on had to make a two-lap pit-stop as the turbocharger had developed a minor fault. Thus it was the old McLaren story but, in the closing stages, just two laps from the end in fact, the leader Revson, who had lapped Hulme, suddenly had his engine seize solid. Thus Hulme drove to yet another Can-Am win while Donohue rushed back to second place with Revson classified third ahead of Minter’s normally aspirated Porsche 917/10.
Back in Europe in the European 2-litre Sports Car Championship the domination of the Ford Cosworth FVC engine seems to have come to an end. On the same day as the Belgian GP, at a brand new circuit at Dijon in France, the fourth round of this year’s 2-litre Championship was being held. There were two 50-lap heats and the total distance was as long as a Grand Prix. It proved a successful day for the Abarth of Arturo Merzario for he won both heats and thus the race overall. These all-Italian cars are having one of their best seasons to date. The main opposition to the slight sometime Ferrari works driver was former F2 man Dieter Quester of Austria in one of the latest Chevron B21s fitted with a BMW engine. Quester having been connected with the Bavarian firm for some years. Third was British driver John Lepp in a more normal FVC-powered Chevron.
In fact Quester had made a tremendous impact in the previous round of the Championship which was on his home territory—the fast and featureless Salzburgring. This was the debut performance of his new Chevron-BMW and he scored a convincing victory over the Chevron-FVC of John Hine and the Lola-FVC of Jo Bonnier. The new BMW engine has been developed from the lessons the firm learned in Formula Two in 1970, before their official withdrawal from competition except saloon-car racing. With tremendous sales success recently. and the arrival of Jochen Neerpasch as Competition Manager, it seems that the German firm will be making quite an impact on several classes of racing in the near future.
On the same day as the Salzburgring race (May 21st) a couple of genuine road-racing circuits were offering competitors a real challenge. One was the very fast Chimay track in Belgium where the historic Frontieres Grand Prix continues for Formula Three. The other was the equally long standing course of Brno in Czechoslovakia which measures over 8 miles per lap, where the third round of the European Touring Car Challenge was the main event. One of the weeklies referred to Chimay as “round-the-houses” which is hardly correct for both Brno and Chimay encompass roads around the nearby countryside as well as passing through the towns themselves.
At Chimay the popular Bognor Regis driver David Purley in his Ensign out-thought a bunch of four others to win his third successive race at the circuit. “B. Bira”, of course, also won three Frontieres GPs but not successively. In fact it was a fitting win, for Purley subsequently announced that in future he would be concentrating on Formula Two with the March he has been running since the start of the season. For the record, Pierre-Francois Rousellot was second in a GRD and Christian Ethuin was third in a new French-built car called a Narval.
At Brno there were two races, one for the up-to-1,300-c.c. cars and the other for the bigger models. The latter was a works BMW versus works Ford battle and again Ford came out best, with Dieter Glemser (Capri RS2600) winning but John Fitzpatrick was second in a BMW 2800CS ahead of the Capri RS of Jochen Mass. Fourth was Gerry Birrell who won the 1.300-2,000-c.c. class with works Escort prepared in Britain, whereas the Capris came from Germany. The up-to-1,300-c.c. race was dominated by the Alfa Romeo 1300 Juniors. Gianluigi Picchi was the winner—a Fiat challenge came to little.
That week-end was certainly busy for, in England, the third round of the Interserie was held at Silverstone. Apart from Leo Kinnunen’s Porsche 917/10 and two other similar cars, the Acan-BRM driven by Ganley, and some nice-looking, but in the main slowly driven, McLaren M8s, the entry was on the sparse side. Kinnunen duly won but not until after he was beaten in the first heat by the British driver Willie Green, who was racing the JCB ex-Ecurie Francorchamps Ferrari 512M for the first time. A shower of rain in the closing stages of heat one showed Green’s talent in the out-dated car and in heat two he beat a number of people in potentially faster cars to finish fourth and thus second overall. The BRM broke down in the first heat when the rear suspension collapsed for the second race running. Third overall was a little-known Swiss Hans Wiedmer who drove a McLaren M8E very competently considering his lack or experience.
A. R. M.