Easter Monday saw the first major meeting to be held at the B.A.R.C.’s new 2.356-mile Thruxton circuit in Hampshire. For their traditional Bank Holiday meeting, the Club had organised an International Formula Two race for the Thruxton Trophy, to be run in two 15-lap heats and a 54-lap final. On paper the entry was excellent, but some of the interest was drained when Gold Leaf Team Lotus withdrew their Type 48 and SEFAC Ferrari failed to appear with their 1968 Dino 166.
Heading the list of those present were the two works-entered Matra-Cosworth FVA MS7s of Beltoise and Pescarolo, while the two works-backed Brabham-Cosworth BT23Cs of the Winkelmann team were present for Rindt and Rees. The Chequered Flag equipe had their pair of official McLaren M4As for Widdows and the New Zealander, Graeme Lawrence, and a pair of new Merlyn Mk. 12s were making their F.2 debut in the hands of Stiller and Cardwell, the cars being entered by Bob Gerard Racing. Irwin had a lone Lola Racing Lola T100-Cosworth. Gethin had the lone works Chevron. Of the private entries, the Brabham BT23Cs of Courage (entered by Frank Williams), Ahrens (Caltex), Bell, Lambert and Mosley, the Lotus 48 of Oliver and the McLarens of Schlesser and Ligier (Ecurie Inter Sports) were the most potent.
Heat one saw Pescarolo’s green-nosed Matra establish a long lead over Rees’ Brabham at half-distance and extend it until the finish with Oliver (who had led on lap 1 after Irwin’s Lola had bounced off the chicane kerbing while in the lead and split a tyre) displacing Rees from second place.
In heat two, Rindt (who had been fastest in practice) made no mistake and led from start to finish, while the places behind him remained constant, with Courage and Beltoise a close second and third.
Grid positions for the final were decided by the finishers’ times in the heats, and these gave Rindt pole position, with Courage and Beltoise alongside him on the front row, Bell and Pescarolo behind. Again Rindt established a long lead and behind a battle raged for second place between Courage, Bell (driving very well), Beltoise (with a flat-sounding engine) and Oliver (with one occasionally sounding flatter). Pescarolo went off on lap 2 and retired with a holed fuel tank, and then, just after half-distance, Rindt lost the Brabham under braking for the chicane and spun backwards into the deep ditch in a flurry of chalk dust. But he kept his head admirably and, with wheels spinning, got the dust-covered car sorted out and scrabbled back on to the track about 3 sec. ahead of Beltoise, and still in the lead. After that he deserved to win and, with Courage retiring due to a split radiator, the race ran out with Rindt scoring his first F.2 win this season, Beltoise Second, Bell a well-deserved third, Oliver fourth and Ahrens an unobtrusive fifth.—D. C. N.
Snetterton 500 Kilometers
This year’s British round of the now Group 5 European Touring Car Championship took place at Snetterton on Good Friday. The dull and uninteresting event was won by the private Ford Mustang of John Ewer/Sid Fox, from a pair of private Porsches, after a strong B.M.W. challenge had fizzled-out with mechanical troubles.