Ickx wins for Matra
The 1,000-kilometre race over 71 laps of the fabulous Spa circuit took place only 10 days after the Monza event, and in consequence suffered from the absence of the Alfa Romeo team who could not prepare their cars in time. Two Matra 670 driven by Pescarolo/Larrousse and lekx/ Jarier, faced a single Gulf-Cosworth V8 driven by Bell/Hailwood, though the Gulf Research team had run two cars during practice. There was nobody else in the small field of 28 cars to challenge these three, although there was plenty of class rivalry in the 2-litre sports and the GT categories. Almost before the race had really got under way Pcscarolo was out with a cooked engine in his Matra, the water pump having failed, while Bell stopped early with a burst fuel pressure gauge, petrol spraying over him in the cockpit. This left Ickx well out on his own, but sonic really hard high-speed driving by Bell and Hailwood got the Gulf car back onto the same lap as the Matra, particularly when Jarier was driving, it being his first visit to the Spa-Francorchamps high-speed circuit. The Gulf lads were pressing on to such good effect that Matra were forced to call Jarier in early at one point and let Ickx take over, in order to get the car going faster with less strain on it. It was not to say that Jarier was not driving well, far from it, but he could not he expected to match the experience of Bell and Hailwood on such an exacting circuit.
In his spirited drive Bell overdid it on braking for the GPDA chicane at Malmedy, in use for the first time for sports cars, and the ensuing spin saw him clip the Armco with the front of the Gulf, necessitating a stop at the pits to have a new front cowling fitted in double quick time. Without this emergency the British car might have given the French one even more trouble than it did. Even after all the dramas, it finished on the same lap, and at no time could the Matra team relax, and they were more than grateful for having Ickx in the team for this race, Beltoise deeming Spa unsuitable for Grand Prix drivers! Behind these two cars the works Porsche Carrera with turbocharger ran a high-speed reliability run all on its own, the Ligier, which might have challenged, failing with gearbox trouble.
Most excitement was in the GT class, consisting of eight production Porsche Carrera RSR models, the 1974 version being almost identical to the 1973 works cars run under the Martini banner. John Fitzpatrick was once more the mainstay of the George Loos Poilfac team, but he lacked a fast co-driver and had to do more than his share to keep ahead of the Kremer Porsches, that of Schiekentanz/Kauhsen finishing a mere two seconds behind after more than four hours of racing. The second Kremer Porsche, driven by Paul Keller/Hans Heyer had a race-long battle with the similar car of Haldi/Balloe-Lena, the closing stages being really exciting with HaIdi and Heyer passing and repassing all round the circuit until the very last lap when Haldi ran out of petrol, being classed a lap behind Heyer, whereas in fact he was alongside until half a lap before the end.
An impressive run was made by the CSL BMW of Finotto/Mohr, winning the Group 2 class at an average speed of approximately 125 m.p.h., including all refuelling and driver-changing stops. The 2-litre sports class hardly deserves mention, for out of ten starters only one finished, while one more was still running but was too far back to be classified. This was in direct contrast to the eight Porsche Carreras that started, only one of which failed to last the distance.
The 1,000 kilometres of SPA—Sports; Prototypes Group 5, GT Group 4 and Group 2 Saloons—Francorchamps with “chicane”-71 laps-1,001 kilometres Dull and Cold
1st: J. Ickx / J-P. jarier (Matra-Simca 670 3-litre V12) 4 hr. 12 min. 15.6 sec. – 238.449 k.p.h
2nd: D. Bell / M. Hailwood (Gulf GR7 3-litre Cosworth V8) On the same lap
3rd: H. Muller / G. van Lennep (Porsche Carrera 2.2-litre t/ch. 6-cyl.) 5 laps behind
4th: J. Fitzpatrick/ J. Barth (Porsche Carrera RSR 3-litre 6-cyl.) 9 laps behind – 205.988 k.p.h
5th: C. Schickentanz / W. Kauhsen (Porsche Carrera RSR 3-litre 6-cyl.) 9 laps behind
6th: P. Keller / H. Heyer (Porsche Carrera RSR 3-litre 6-cyl.) 9 laps behind
7th: C. Haldi/ C. Ballot-Lena (Porsche Carrera RSR 3-litre 6-cyl.) 10 laps behind
8th: C. Finotto / M. Mohr (BMW CSL 3.4-litre 6-cyl.) 10 laps behind – 203.892 k.p.h.
9th: B. Cheneviere / P. Zbinden (Porsche Carrera RSR 3-litre 6-cyl.) 11 laps behind
10th: J. Xhenceval / A. Peltier (BMW CSL 3.5-litre 6-cyl.) 11 laps behind
11th: J. Barth / F. Pesch / J. Neuhaus (Porsche Carrera RSR 3-litre 6-cyl.) 12 laps behind
12th: J-C. Aubriet / “Depnic” (BMW CSL 3.4-litre 6-cyl.) 13 laps behind
13th: M. Raymond / A. Goodwin (Lola T294-Ford 1.9-litre) 15 laps behind – 185.419 k.p.h.
14th: J. Braillard / B. St. Hubert (Porsche Carrera RS 3-litre 6-cyl.) 17 laps behind