SILVERSTONE, April 26th
IT SEEMS that the great majority of Formula One entrants these days feel that the only incentive to take part in races is when there is the lure of World Championship points. Thus over the past four or five years the number of full-scale non-Championship races has dropped drastically to just the couple at the start of the season in Britain. An attempt to run a non-Championship race in Austria at the end of March failed, simply because a field of cars could not be attracted, although the earlier Race of Champions at Brands Hatch went off well.
However, the BRDC foresaw the situation of a small grid for their main event in the International Trophy meeting and therefore decided to add a Formula 5000 section into this race, which previously has been reserved for Formula One. The Club’s major meeting has long been backed by the Daily Express, but further support came this year from the giant industrial group, Guest Keen & Nettlefold. So it was decided to give the spectators real money’s worth by putting on a race with no fewer than 16 Formula One cars and 20 Formula 5000s.
Unfortunately the plan did not work out perfectly, for the notably unreliable F5000 contingent were unable to come up with a full 20 cars, and the withdrawal of the three BRMs, following the Jarama disaster, plus a couple of other runners cut down the F1 numbers too.
Nevertheless, there was a field of 25 cars which looked pretty impressive on the grid. Practice had been on the Friday and Saturday, with quite a bit of financial incentive to keep the cars circulating, for there were £100 prizes for the fastest man in each half-hour on Saturday. As it happened the rain torrented down most of the day, making everyone very miserable. Chris Amon and Piers Courage were at Monza for the 1,000 km.; this didn’t affect Amon as he was already fastest in practice at Silverstone by virtue of his Friday’s time, but it did affect Courage. His brand new De Tomaso, replacing the one written off in Spain, had been held up at a border and so he was unable to practise it on Friday. When it turned up on Saturday Frank Williams gave erstwhile F3 man Roy Pike a run and later in the day Stewart did a few laps in the Italian-built machine and was pleasantly surprised. However, Courage had to start at the back of the grid on Sunday.
Two interesting cars in the Formula s000 seetion which practised but did not race, due to being uncompetitive, were the Leda Mk. 20 and the Lotus 70, The Leda is built by Len Terry and such a car has been purchased by Broadspeed, the saloon-car experts, for Chris Craft. Powered by a Boss Mustang engine, on paper this car looked a top contender in F5000 but so far has failed to show any form. Much the same can be said about the works-backed Lotus 70-Chevrolet of Alan Rollinson, which was also withdrawn after a disappointing practice.
It seems in F5000 at the moment that the only two chassis that are effective are the McLaren and the Lola. F5000’s rival, the longer established Formula Two, seems to have a similar situation with Brabham and Lotus on top here. The great point about Formula One is the variety of chassis designs and fortunately this season Cosworth engines do not seem to be having it all their own way either.
Sad to say, the BRDC had decided to split the Trophy race into two 26-lap parts, with the addition of times counting for the final result. This was for the benefit of the F5000s, largely because their fuel capacity is not up to a full 52-lap race.
The Trophy meeting is always tremendously popular and despite threatening skies a huge crowd packed their way into Silverstone and showed some of the deficiencies of the circuit facilities in the process.
The grid for the main race was mainly related to Friday practice times, although Gold Leaf-Team Lotus drivers Rindt and Miles found themselves well down the grid with the still unsorted Lotus 72s, which weren’t ready for the first day of practice.
On the front row of the grid was Chris Amon, well pleased with the performance of his works March; second fastest was Jackie Stewart, also in a March, this one from Ken Tyrrell’s team, while two McLarens completed the front row of the grid, but not both F1s, for though Denny Hulme was third fastest in his M14A a terrific effort by Peter Gethin in the works-backed Sidney Taylor Racing-prepared McLaren M10B-Chevrolet F5000 put him alongside Hulme.
Gethin was not only on the front row but ahead of a second row comprising Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren and Graham Hill. Unfortunately for F5000 the combination of Gethin and his well-prepared McLaren is head and shoulders above anything else and he simply wins every time out as long as the engine stays sweet. Some of the other F5000 machines looked competitive but further down the grid there was some pretty ropey machinery better suited to Club racing at Mallory Park.
The start of the first heat saw Hulme briefly take the lead, but Amon was soon through and led for the rest of the distance to score his first ever Formula One victory, although, of course, the race was really only half run. After some initial sorting out, including Hulme making a pit-stop to have a loose front wheel seen to, Brabham came through into second place. Just near the end Brabham’s engine blew up disastrously, so he retired, letting a rather unhappy Jackie Stewart into second place. During Friday practice Stewart had concentrated on running his back-up March and only tried his race car on the slow Saturday session. When it came to race day he found that the rear wing section was set wrong and this, apparently, slowed him down considerably.
The works Lotus 72s of Rindt and Miles did not carve through the field as expected, for the drivers were most unhappy with the handling of these torsion-bar suspended machines. Instead Courage underlined the confidence Stewart had shown in the De Tomaso by shooting through to third place. Bruce McLaren finished fourth ahead of Rindt and Hulme, who went very quickly after his pit-stop.
The Formula 5000s were led, as expected, by Gethin, who headed some of the more senior F1 men for quite some time, while Mike Hailwood in the works Lola F5000 was eighth ahead of Reine Wisell. This Swede only moved out of F3 at the end of last year but was being given an F1 ride by McLaren in their old car after showing well in testing during the winter. Mike Walker, the 1969 Grovewood Award winner, gave a good account of himself in his McLaren F5000 by hanging on to Gethin but a late spin dropped him down the field.
Strangely, it was decided to start the second heat in the order of practice and not on the finishing order of the first heat, which meant that Courage in particular was at a distinct disadvantage.
Nevertheless, the pattern was much the same as before, despite a now damp but drying track. This time Stewart was much happier and he went into the lead and immediately started to give a spectacular display of opposite-lock motoring. At first this took him to a considerable lead but then as the track got drier Amon started to pull him in at a vast rate. Amon, of course, knew that to win overall he only had to finish within 12 seconds of Stewart. Nevertheless, he closed right up on Stewart and gave him a really worrying time. Whether he could have got by is open to debate for, a couple of laps before the end, he was badly baulked and had to drop back, so he finished a couple of seconds down on Stewart. Nevertheless, the glory was all Amon’s for on the overall position he had scored a handsome win over Stewart.
Again Piers Courage drove well through the field to finish third, for just before the end Denny Hulme ran out of fuel to show that something as basic as this can happen, even in the best regulated teams. Fourth this time was Graham Hill who was running the Rob Walker Lotus under the Brooke Bond banner for the first time. In heat one he lost a lot of time having a loose steering column tightened. Bruce McLaren was fifth ahead of junior team-mate Reine Wisell, who this time finished ahead of all the F5000s.
Both Lotus 72s retired, Miles stopping with a broken throttle cable and Rindt with engine trouble. Once again, neither of them had been in serious contention.
Bad luck struck Peter Gethin, for he looked like running to another conclusive win in the F5000 class which counted towards the Formula’s Guards Championship: his engine went onto three cylinders. Gethin retired and the first F5000 home was Frank Gardner’s Lola. Mike Hailwood had maintained a close second and on aggregate times he won the category. Despite running out of fuel, Denny Hulme was placed 10th. So the final order was Amon, Stewart, Courage, McLaren, Wisell, Hulme, with Hailwood seventh.
As always the BRDC put on a good supporting programme of saloons. F3 and sports cars. Of these the F3 is dealt with elsewhere and the saloon event (which counted towards the British Championship) was won yet again by Frank Gardner’s Ford of Britain-backed Ford Boss Mustang, from Brian Muir’s Camaro and John Hine’s Escort TC. Ford did not fare too well in the smaller categories however, for Gordon Spice, making a return to Mini racing, was the first 1,300-c.c. and Bill McGovern took the 1-litre class in his swift Hillman Imp. The sports-car race which ended the day’s racing saw a terrific struggle between the experienced Jo Bonnier in one of the new Lola T210 sports cars and John Burton in his Chevron B16. At one stage the quiet spoken Burton, who is a much under-estimated driver, actually snatched the lead from the Lola. However, the Swede was soon back in the lead and try as he might Burton was unable to re-pass. Charles Lucas finished third in his Chevron B16 jist ahead of the works B16 of Brian Redman which had started from the back of the grid. The first six cars home were all powered by the stretched FVC version of the Cosworth FVA F2 power unit.
Altogether a good day’s racing, despite the changeable weather, and one that proved that for a non-Championship race like the International Trophy the idea of mixing F1s and F5000s is quite a good one, although it’s a pity that a few more of the big 5-litre Chevrolet-engined cars aren’t as fast or as well prepared and driven as Peter Gethin’s.-A.R.M.
22nd INTERNATIONAL TROPHY RACE-Silverstone-Formula One and Formula 5000-Two by 26 laps-152 miles
1st: C. Amon (March 701-Cosworth V8) .. 1 hr. 13 min. 32.2 sec.-199.85 k.p.h. (124.19 m.p.h.)
2nd: J. Stewart (March 701-Cosworth V8) .. 1 hr 13 min. 42.4 sec.
3rd: P. Courage (De Tomaso-Cosworth V8) .. 1 hr. 14 min. 35.5 sec.
4th: B. McLaren (McLaren M14A-Cosworth V8) .. 1 hr. 15 min. 16.3 sec.
5th: R. Wisell (McLaren M7A-Cosworth V8) .. 51 laps
6th: D. Hulme (McLaren M14A-Cosworth V8) .. 50 laps
7th: M. Hailwood (Lola T190-Cosworth V8) .. 50 laps*
8th: F. Gardner (Lola T190-Cosworth V8) .. 50 laps*
9th: G. Hill (Lotus 49C-Cosworth V8) .. 50 laps*
10th: M. Walker (McLaren M10B-Chevrolet V8) .. 50 laps
11th: D. Powell (Lola T190-Chevrolet V8) .. 48 laps*
12th: T. Taylor (Surtees TS5-Chevrolet V8) .. 47 laps*
13th: P. Lovely (Lotus 49B-Cosworth V8) .. 46 laps
14th: K. Griffiths (Lola T142-Chevrolet V8) .. 43 laps*
15th: G. Spice (Kitchiner K3A-Ford V8) .. 43 laps*
Fastest lap: C. Amon (March 701-Cosworth V8), 1 min. 22.1 sec-206.5k.p.h.(128.35 m.p.h.)
Fastest F5000 lap: M. Hailwood (Lola T190-Chevrolet V8), 1 min. 24.9 sec.-199.8 k.p.h. (124.11 m.p.h.)
* Formula 5000 class