Formula 2 Review

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While the Formula One drivers busied themselves rushing round the twists and turns of Jarama, the ADAC was holding a major motorcycle meeting at Nurburgring for the German Tourist Trophy. As always at the ‘Ring cars and bikes were mixed in together, but this time four-wheel competitors fulfilled the supporting role and their main race was the non-European Championship Formula Two Eifelrennen over ten laps of the 14-mile Nordschleife.

Last year the Eifelrennen was the third round of the European Championship (or European Trophy, as it was then called) and an enormous grid of 38 cars started. This year, the crowded calendar combined with the Pau organisers’ desire to run a European Championship round, meant that just 17 cars started the Eifelrennen as most chose to save their machinery for the French road-race the following Sunday.

One or two different faces were to be seen driving unfamiliar cars. Derek Bell had been invited to handle the leading Motul-Rondel Brabham BT38—good choice in view of his pole-winning efforts in last year’s race—the promising German youngster Jochen Mass deputised for Lauda and Peterson in the Singleton works March 722 and Gethin’s Chevron B21 was offered to Vic Effort (another clever choice) for this event. Most of the remaining entries were privateers, taking the chance of a good placing while the top names were elsewhere.

Predictably, Bell secured pole position and took an immediate lead from the start, Mass outpacing Richard Scott’s Brabham BT38 in second place. Elford was right with the leaders on the opening lap when the Chevron’s near wing fell off while Patrick Dal Bo’s Pygmee was actually on the point of depriving Bell of his lead as they arrived at Bergwerk for the first time when an electrical lead fell off. Dal Bo fixed it, made a pit-stop to check everything, and subsequently crashed at Adenau Forst. As if 17 cars wasn’t a small enough total on the Nurburgring, a multiple collision on lap one eliminated the Brabham BT38s of David Morgan and Peter Westbury along with the Pygmee MDB17 of Brazilian Lian Duarte, the last named actually landing on top of Westbury’s brand new Brabham! Nobody was hurt.

Just as it looked as though Bell had got it all sewn up, his Brabham started to misfire badly. Modifications to the fuel system after second practice proved to he unsuccessful and Mass passed the stammering Rondel car with just over a lap to go. Despite establishing a new class record out of sheer frustration on the final lap, Bell was a couple of seconds behind Mass at the finish, the young German having created a small slice of history as he became the first German to win the Eifelrennen since Mitter triumphed in a Formula Junior Lotus-DKW nine years before. In fact he was the first German to win an F2 race, over the North Circuit since the early 1950s.

The following weekend the scene shifted to Pau and, as is fast becoming inevitable on circuits which present a real challenge by virtue of their demanding and hazardous nature, the talk was about safety before practice even started. It appears that the CSI Safety subcommittee had sanctioned racing there this year on the understanding that if the organisers wish the future of their circuit to be assured, they will have to spend a lot more on their safety facilities before the next race. But, as the organisers understandably argued, the authorities are reluctant to spend vast sums of money on a circuit which is used just once a year, particularly if it’s only a temporary expedient and revised views on safety demand more alterations in two or three years’ time.

Be that as is may, the crowds were at least able to watch an exciting race this year. Gethin was back in the Chevron, the car clearly improved after testing prior to Nurburgring, and won his heat after Cevert’s Elf-Coombs March had retired before going on to lead the final from start to finish after an exciting chase by Patrick Depailler’s March. Twenty laps from the finish, when the Chevron was half a minute in front, a screw on the metering unit slipped and jammed the mixture on full-rich for the rest of the race. Consequently the car stuttered round the tight hairpins and chimed in suddenly, giving the little Londoner a hard time and allowing Depailler to close to within a second at the end.

Mass blotted his copybook by pushing Wollok off in Pare Beaumont on the opening lap, Graham Hill dropped all his oil round the circuit causing several cars to go off and David Purley came through to third, albeit three laps behind, in his March 722. Thus ended what was possibly the last race over this picturesque French circuit. — A. H.