Formula Three review

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Walker moves up

The three rounds of the Motor Sport Trophy series of Formula Three races held during the month of May have seen Gold Leaf-Team Lotus driver Dave Walker very much in the ascendant. In fact the talented and experienced Australian has won at Brands Hatch and Zandvoort, and was a narrow second at Silverstone.

The series, which also counts for the Shell Super Oil Championship, has undoubtedly hotted up despite a policy change at Lotus meaning that both Ian Ashley and Gerry Birrell have had to drop out of the series. However, this does not effect Gold Leaf driver Walker, who also headed the Norwich company’s F3 team last year. Now he is the sole entry from Lotus, but last year he had a team-mate in Bev Bond who now drives the works Ensign, the smart chisel-nose car constructed in Walsall, Staffs by another ex-GTL driver Morris Nunn. The past month has not been unkind to Bond, for he was second at Brands Hatch on May 2nd, and followed this up with a win at Silverstone on May 8th. But at Zandvoort a week later, his luck ran out when he tangled with Walker.

The last three races have not been particularly happy ones for two other top contenders, Colin Vandervell, who drives a works-assisted Brabham and James Hunt in the works March. Hunt’s three races have all ended in spectacular accidents, from which he has fortunately stepped unscathed, while Vandervell has suffered from a spate of handling and engine troubles. However, he took fourth place at Brands Hatch, seventh at Silverstone and sixth at Zandvoort.

The season’s big find, Roger Williamson, has had a mixed month. At Brands Hatch his March 713M ran into suspension trouble and he finished fifth, and despite an accident in practice, he finished in a similar position at Silverstone. Zandvoort was his first ever Continental race, and he finally finished seventh after getting involved in a couple of incidents.

So this leaves Bond topping the championship table with 39 pts. after six rounds, with Walker closing on him with 26 pts. Then came Williamson on 19 and Vandervell on 17, with the rest not in the hunt at present.

Two new names to appear in the results over the past weeks have been Barrie Maskell and Sandy Shepard. Maskell is a Formula Three old hand who looked without a drive this year. However, Rodney Bloor of Sports Motors (Manchester) came to the rescue and did a deal to provide Maskell with a works Chevron B18, the monocoque design intended mainly for F3. Maskell, who drove a private Chevron last year, raced the new car for the first time at Silverstone, where he led the slip-streaming bunch for a while and eventually took third place and at Zandvoort also ran well to fifth position. Shepard hails from Texas, where he raced karts, then drag motorcycles and more recently Formula Ford and Formula B. This colourful young American has a last year’s Brabham up-dated and showed speed at both Brands Hatch and Silverstone, where he finished sixth and even led the slip-streaming bunch.

On the engine front the Ford-Lotus twin-cam units still lead the way with the British Holbay and the Italian Novamotors the top conversions. At the Brands Hatch round, held on the short circuit, the Swede Freddy Kottulinsky went very well with a Lotus 69 fitted with a home-developed BMW engine. In fact he finished second behind Walker, but post-race scrutineering showed the engine to be illegal and he was disqualified. The Austrian driver, Harald Ertl, has persevered with his similar Lotus powered by an Autodelta-tuned Alfa Romeo engine. A Renault-powered car has yet to appear in the championship series, although at the Pau race which supported the Formula Two event, the Renault-powered Alpines scored a good win. One hopes we will see them over in Britain soon.

Every week-end brings more and more new Formula Three cars out, and from the shakey start the category, in its latest 1600 restricted engine form, is taking good shape with close, exciting but dangerous racing. The power provided by the new engines is still 15-20 b.h.p. down on last year but with more torque, and there are one or two attendant problems which still need to be sorted—A. R. M.