GKN International Trophy

Hill’s staying power reaps just reward

Silverstone, May 8th.

Silverstone’s annual International Trophy meeting is always worth a visit although, almost certainly, it does not rank in importance as highly as it did ten years ago. However, the BRDC can always be relied upon to provide a full and exciting programme of racing and organise the whole thing in a rather upper class, but nevertheless delightful, manner. There is still something about an International at Silverstone which gives it a special atmosphere. Perhaps it is just the so polite paddock announcements—”Will Mr. Colin Chapman please meet Mr. Emerson Fittipaldi at the Lotus pit most urgently… thank you”.

This aside, it had been decided to revert to a Saturday meeting this year for a variety of reasons although we felt that the fact that a considerable proportion of the country seemed to be gripped in Cup Final fever contributed to a smaller than average crowd despite a beautiful day. The giant industrial combine GKN continued their enthusiastic and generous sponsorship of the meeting.

The main Trophy race was again a combined event for Formula One and Formula 5000 cars, disappointingly split into two parts for a total mileage of 152 miles. The great majority of people who we spoke to would have preferred one race but there is some lame excuse about two starts giving double excitement (to Jackie Stewart if no one else) and the fact that the F5000s will not travel that far on a tankful, which is their bad luck.

Naturally the race was a try-out for the British Grand Prix but as a pointer to the possible result of our premier event it proved something of a failure when Ferrari withdrew their entries for Ickx and Regazzoni at the last minute. There was the usual story about an industrial dispute trotted out although we hardly think this would have deterred them had there been World Championship points at stake.

However, there were still 16 Formula Ones while a similar number of the 5000s practised. For once Gold Leaf-Team Lotus had a circuit suited to the 56B turbine car so Fittipaldi elected to drive this and Wisell drove his regular Lotus 72. Stewart had a pair of Tyrrells to try (Cevert was not present) and one was fitted for the first time with an interesting new front brake devised by Girling. This utilised two floating discs, four pads and one caliper which squeezed the whole sandwich together, but this car was not used in the race.

Hill drove the only Brabham BT34 in existence and was backed up by Schenken in the older BT33, while McLaren was represented solely by Gethin with his regular M14A, as Hulme was busy earning dollars. Surtees had originally entered the pair of TS9s for himself and Stommelen but the German was apparently unable to appear, so instead the team wheeled out the original TS7 for Rollinson who had made his F1 debut a few weeks earlier in a March 701. This was not a “deal” but Surtees genuinely encouraging a promising young driver. Yardley-Team BRM were at full strength with their usual trio of cars for Rodriguez, Siffert and Ganley while Matra Sports had three cars present for Amon and Beltoise. In fact, the older car was not tried and Amon concentrated on a brand new car which, like Beltoise’s machine in Spain, had the side-tanks blended into the monocoque. They were again trying some 1971-type engines which rev. to 11,500 r.p.m.

The F1 field was completed by a trio of Marches, Ronnie Peterson in the March-Alfa usually driven by de Adamich, Pescarolo’s Frank Williams machine now painted red and Beuttler’s older 701.

Of the various F5000s, some were reasonably competitive, like Hailwood’s works Surtees TS8, Gardner’s Lola T192. and Redman’s McLaren M18 while others had no right to have been in the same race as Stewart and Co.

Amon and Stewart looked very evenly matched in practice just as they were in this race last year when both were driving March 701s. Amon took pole position this time at 1 min. 20.0 sec. with Stewart on 1 min. 20.2 sec., while Fittipaldi in the turbine, at 1 min. 21.0 sec., and Surtees at 1 min. 21.2 sec. completed the front row. There were a couple of wet sessions during which Peterson in the March-Alfa had the legs of them all but when it dried out he dropped to fifth fastest behind Beltoise but quicker than the BRM men who were flying back and forth from Spa.

Part one, over the first 26 laps, was a plain and simple demonstration of Stewart supremacy as he set up a new outright circuit record of 1 min. 20.5 sec., an average of over 130 m.p.h., and pulled away to an 11.6 sec. victory. Initially it was the Matras of Beltoise and Amon plus Surtees that gave chase with Amon soon stopping to report fuel starvation trouble. Had the efficient Matra crew forgotten to fuel the car? However, he was soon on his way only to make another stop with a puncture before the end.

Meanwhile, Hill and Rodriguez were having a glorious dice and they moved up to second and third places with Rodriguez finally getting the verdict over Hill. Surtees was fourth ahead of Beltoise with Gethin heading home the junior league of Wisell, Ganley and Schenken. Siffert’s BRM engine blew up early in the proceedings.

The only 5000 not lapped was Redman in the Sid Taylor McLaren, although this category had been headed by young Ray Allen in the Pink Stamps 1970-type McLaren before he crashed. Hailwood’s car was stuck in top gear most of the time and Gardner’s Lola was not as fast as usual due to differential trouble.

It was an unhappy race for March as Peterson, after a pit stop, crashed very heavily at Becketts and was knocked unconscious and taken to hospital, although he was out the next day, while Pescarolo started late after a fuel valve jammed.

The turbine only lasted a couple of laps whereupon a nylon bearing in the front suspension seized so Fittipaldi retired and the fault was rectified for part two.

1st: Stewart (Tyrrell), 35 min. 29.0 sec. (207.1 k.p.h.).
2nd: Rodriguez (BRM), 35 min. 40.6 sec.
3rd: Hill (Brabham), 35 min. 41.8 sec.
4th: Surtees.
5th: Beltoise.
6th: Gethin.
Fastest lap: Stewart, 1 min. 20.5 sec. (210.66) k.p.h.

There seemed to be no reason why Stewart should not walk away with the second heat and indeed he appeared to power into the lead as the pack approached Copse for the first time. However, when he lifted off for the corner the throttle stuck open and, with all four wheels locked up under braking, he helplessly careered into the bank damaging the car quite extensively although he quickly jumped out.

This left the whole result wide open and it was Rodriguez who took the lead although Hill was soon breathing down his exhausts. There were exciting moments galore as Hill tried to find a way round the Mexican. He finally did it on lap 12 and a lap later Rodriguez made a pit stop with a puncture and promptly re-joined a lap later right in front of Hill. The Brabham driver again found Rodriguez an awkward customer to pass but did in fact do so.

Meanwhile, a good tear-up between Surtees and Amon ended when Surtees had a front suspension failure on lap 23 leaving second place to Amon, whose team-mate, Beltoise, had blown up spectacularly in front of the Woodcote grandstands. So it was Fittipaldi who brought the turbine through well to pip Gethin for third place. Pescarolo motored to fifth position while a much happier Hailwood just held off Schenken. Rodriguez’s pit stop dropped him to eighth, ahead of Tony Dean’s 1968 McLaren M7A Formula One now fitted with a Chevrolet 5-litre engine. This proved far more effective than the majority of genuine 5000s of which a considerable number expired, including Redman’s.

Wisell’s Lotus 72 failed to complete the distance, as it had succumbed to engine failure, while Ganley was involved with a first lap bump with Rollinson and was forced to retire with suspension damage.

1st: Hill (Brabham), 35 min. 21.4 sec. (207.84 k.p.h.).
2nd: Amon (Matra), 35 min. 26.8 sec.
3rd: Fittipaldi (Lotus), 35 min. 59.4 sec.
4th: Gethin (McLaren).
5th: Pescarolo (March).
6th: Hailwood (Surtees).
Fastest lap: Surtees, 1 min. 20.6 sec. (210.40 k.p.h.).

Computing the two rather different results on an aggregate time basis proved somewhat difficult although Hill was undoubtedly the winner thus giving Brabham their first victory with the new car and Hill his first F1 win since the 1969 Monaco GP.

Only two other cars had completed the 26 laps in each heat so it was Gethin who was placed second ahead of Schenken in the other Brabham. Rodriguez had to be content with fourth place but made up for it the following day, while in fifth place Hailwood was the easy Rothman Championship 5000 winner. Sixth was Pescarolo ahead of Dean and French F2 competitor Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, who was having a one-off drive in the Newman Racing 5-litre McLaren M18. Gardner and Beuttler in the March 701 completed the leading ten.

Of the supporting races, the Motor Sport Trophy qualifying F3 event is reported elsewhere, Brian Muir had a convincing touring car victory with the Wiggins Teape Camaro and the 2-litre sports-car race was a real thriller to close the day’s proceedings. It was dominated by Chevron B19s, with the Lola T212s nowhere, and when the leading trio of John Hine (Red Rose team), Chris Craft (works entry) and John Miles (DART) went into Copse on one lap side-by-side there was no way they were all coming out side-by-side. In fact, Craft spun and continued but by then the race was lost and Miles just got the verdict over Hine with Craft third.

As we said, a very enjoyable day’s motor racing that kept nearly everyone happy.—A. R. M.