The 27th “Daily Express” International Trophy Meeting
The 27th “Daily Express” International Trophy Meeting
Silverstone, April 12/13th THE ANNUAL Silverstone race meeting organised by the British Racing Drivers’ Club for the “Daily Express” International Trophy is invariably a big affair standing on its own merit, but this year it had the added attraction of being in the nature of a practical test-session for the Formula One teams in readiness for the British Grand Prix due at Silverstone on July 19th. The Formula One Constructors’ Association asked their members to enter only one car from their teams so as not to jeopardise the Spanish GP due two weeks later. The exception was Team Lotus, who were permitted two entries in view of the fact that their sponsors, John Player & Sons, were sponsoring the British GP. This arrangement left plenty of room for non-Association members to enter . their cars, though the monetary fund of 450,000 put up by the organisers was to be shared amongst the fastest 16 in practice and the first 16 finishers in the race. A total of 20 entries was received so there was no problem about having to make-up the field with Formula 5000 cars, as had been suggested, and the five-thousands were able to have a race of their own. If the 40-lap International Trophy was an indication of what might happen at the British GP, then July 19th at Silverstone is a date not to be missed. The Scuderia Ferrari arrived with a brandnew 1975 car with the transverse-mounted gearbox, as first seen in South Africa, and Lauda proceeded to set the pace in practice, only being beaten by James Hunt in the Hcsketh 308/3 in the latter stages. The continuous fast right-hand bends of the Silverstone circuit caused the left-hand springs on the Ferrari to settle during practice, which provided Lauda with some alarming handling on some of the corners, and consternation to the engineers when the car stopped at the pits With a decided list to port! It was all put to rights and Lauda was confidently on the front row of the starting grid alongside the llesketh. The special concession to Team Lotus to run two cars did them no good at all, for after numerous dramas they ended up with two non-starters. The entry for lckx was changed in the day and the Formula Atlantic
driver Jim Crawford was given his big chance at the wheel of 72/R5. Earlier in the season he had been testing this car at Silverstone when a rear tyre had come off and he stepped out unhurt from a lurid accident. The car was rebuilt and in the first practice session for the International Trophy he went quite well, putting in a lap at I mm. 22.9 sec.; fastest in that session being Lauda with 1 mm. 18.3 sec. In the second practice session on Friday Crawford only got as far as Club corner on his opening lap when a moment of inattention caused him to crash, wrecking the car but escaping personal injury, but it was the end of his Formula One debut. Peterson in the other Lotus entry was driving as hard as usual, and was up amongst the pace-setters as practice progressed, finishing up with third fastest practice time, behind Hunt and Lauda. Lotus were trying some new rear suspension characteristics on the Type 72, the torsion bars being operated by steel cables instead of tubular steel links. This meant that when the suspension dropped its travel was free, uncontrolled by the torsion bars, in the same way that a conventional coil-spring system operates, the steel cables only being effective in pull and going slack in push. This system was tried out very briefly in practice for the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch recently, but was now perfected and a permanent fitting.
Things looked hopeful for Team Lotus until Sunday morning when Peterson went out in the half-hour untimed practice and the Cosworth engine blew up. There was just enough time to change the engine, but having done so the mechanics found that the new engine locked up with a “clonk” when turned over Time had run out so Peterson’s entry had to be scratched, and with a score of two entries and two non-starters Team Lotus retrieved the Team Shambles Trophy from BRM, who last year looked to have it in perpetuity. Earlier in the week most of the teams had been to the Belgian Zolder circuit for a tyretesting session with Goodyear and both 13rabharn and Shadow had taken brand new cars with them. They had both brought them
to Silverstone as stand-in cars for their singleton entries. Brabhams had rebuilt the 1974 John Watson/Hexagon car into 197$ B-series form and it was immaculate and new in white with the Martini colour stripes like the other team cars. Carlos Reutemann was their lone driver and he actually drove BT44B/3. The Shadow team had changed their nominated entry of Janet to Tom Pryce and the Welshman was using his Brands Hatch winning car DN5/2A, though he also tried the new car DN5/3A with which he had gone very fast at Zo!der. World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi was carrying the flags of Texaco and Marlboro for the McLaren team, using two cars, M23/4 and M23/9 and settling on the earlier car for the race. As Patrick Depailler had never raced at Silverstone, Tyrrell entered him in preference to Scheckter, though the South African was nominated as reserve. Depailler’s car 007/4 had been “detuned” to 1975 specification, with outboard front brakes, coilspring rear suspension, improved radiators and air-collector box for the Cosworth engine, but the Frenchman’s main problem was to find the fast way round the wide-open spaces of the Silverstone airfield circuit. Another driver who was a bit at sea in the space available was Mario Andretti in the Parnelli car and Mark Donohue in the Penske car was also feeling his way round. In the next pit to the Hunt Hesketh was the original Hesketh car, painted dark blue, and entered by Harry Stiller and his associates for the Australian driver Alan Jones. As they were all new to Formula One the Hesketh team were looking after their first customer with help and advice, and Alan Jones was doing an excellent job in his first Formula One drive, recording 1 min. 18.6 sec., which put him in a very healthy mid-field position on the grid. The much-reduced Surtees team were still benefiting from the enthusiastic driving of John Watson in the 1975 version a the Surtees TS 16 he has raced previously this season. Of the rest of the runners Graham Hill was sorting out the second of the new Hill cars that his Embassysponsored team are building, using various Lola components, though no longer directly connected with the Lola factory. The first car they built themselves was the one used in South Africa and at Brands Hatch by Stommelen, which has now been redesignated GH1 and the new car at Silverstone was GH2. Leila Lombardi was driving the works March 751, Merzario was in the Williams car FW03, Wunderink was in Nunn’s Ensign, Evans in the BRM entry, Nicholson had his Lyncar and Trimmer was in the Ray Jessop Safir, that last year was called a Token. Wilson Fittipaldi was not having a very good time with his Brazilian car and just managed to scrape on to the back of the grid. The very full two-day meeting had seen some Formula Ford heats and the Formula 5000 race held on Saturday afternoon. In the 25-lap Formula 5000 race Richard Scott had an easy win with a new Lola-Chevrolet from Vern Schuppan, who had been held up trying to pass Dean’s Chevron, with the regular 5000 runners Gethin, Ashley and Belso follow ing at intervals. On Sunday morning, while a crowd of 45,000 was streaming into the circuit the Formula One cars had their last-minute test-session, in which Peterson’s engine blew up, as did Merzario’s, so the Williams car had to be scratched as well as the Lotus. Then there was a Formula Atlantic race in
which Tony Brise ran away from the opposition in a very confident manner, driving Jo Marquart’s Modus car, with Crawford and the elder Morgan brother chasing him in their Chevrons. The younger Morgan dropped out of the race after a few laps, having bent the valves on his BDA engine in a practice start.
A new innovation was a race for 2-litre sports cars, the small entry comprising mostly Lola and Chevron cars with Ford power. What the entry lacked in quantity it made up in competition for Lepp, Grob and Edwards put up a spirited three-cornered battle for the 15 laps which was one of the best races of the week-end. The 1975 March sports car just kept ahead of its Northern rival, the Chevron of Ian Grob.
Before the start of the 40-lap International Trophy race, HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, made a tour of all the Formula One teams lined up in the newly built pits, and after declaring the pits open he made a tour of the circuit in a Triumph Stag driven by Jackie Stewart. It was a fine Royal Occasion and a fitting ceremony before the big race of the day. From the worst pit facilities of almost any circuit the BRDC has now done the job properly and built a large spacious pit area with more than enough elbow room for the Formula One “circus”; so satisfied are they that they declared they would be prepared to use the pits for tyre-changes during the race if it should rain. That is progress forward indeed. The two-by-two line-up at the new starting line, some 100 yards further forward from Woodcote corner, saw three empty spaces, Peterson from row 2, Merzario from row 7 and Wilson Fittipaldi from the back row; the unfortunate elder brother of the World Champion was struggling to get his car round on the warm-up lap, being delayed by ignition
troubles. Hunt, on pole position, was eager and determined to notch up another International Trophy win for Lord liesketh, like he did last year, but equally Lauda was going to do his best for Ferrari, and the canny Fittipaldi was out to finish first. Everyone got away to a fine start and the order was Hunt, Lauda and Fittipaldi, these three running away from the rest of the field. Andretti took fourth place from Depailler on lap 2 and looked set to stay there. The high-speed procession at the front of the field was most impressive, with the Hesketh, the Ferrari and the McLaren keeping station at an average of around 135 m.p.h., but stale-mate seemed to have set in and it was a case of all three of them keeping up the pace and not making any mistakes. Alan Jones was making a good impression in his first Formula One race, staying ahead of Donohue in the sparkling Penske, but Tom Pryce was not happy with the feel of his Shadow and could only hold seventh place, behind John Watson’s Surtees. At the back of the field Leila Lombardi had been elbowed to the back in the hurly-burly of the opening lap, but soon regained her composure and proceeded to pass Trimmer and Nicholson, who were locked in combat. Having done that she set after Graham Hill and pressed him quite hard.
At 15 laps Pryce was not getting away from Donohue, who had managed to get past Jones, into eighth place, so the Welshman dived into the pits and had the left-rear tyre changed, not that it was losing pressure or anything like that, but it did not seem to have sufficient adhesion on the fast right-hand swerves. Sure enough the new tyre put the Shadow right, but it was now in last place, but with the feel right Pryce carved his way back up through the slower runners in fine style. At half-distance the 16 starters were still all running well, the seventeenth car in the race, the Brazilian Fittipaldi, only managing one lap after starting late. Hunt was still in command but he could not shake off Lauda, who in turn could not shake off Emerson Fittipaldi. Just as the Hesketh started lap 26 the Cosworth engine blew up in a big way and as Hunt raised his arm to signal retirement the Ferrari and the McLaren swept by. Now that defeat of the Ferrari would mean winning the race rather than merely gaining second place to the flying Hesketh, the Brazilian began to pull out the stops and closed on Lauda. However, the young Austrian was not to be ruffled, nor was he to give way, and try as he might Fittipaldi could not really get to grips with the Ferrari.
RESULTS OF SUPPORTING RACES
FORMULA ATLANTIC-20 laps-94.2 kilometres
2-litre SPORTS CARS-15 laps-70.65 kilometres
TOURING CAR RACE-20 laps-94.2 kilometres
As the race distance ran out the McLaren got alongside the Ferrari in a last desperate effort and as they approached Woodcote Corner for the last time Fittipaldi was again alongside on the outside and was tempted to try and go round the outside of the Ferrari as they rounded the last corner. Knowing the outside-line to be dusty and slippery Fittipaldi decided discretion was better than valour and would have liked to have tried on the inside, but Lauda was making sure there was no room there for the McLaren, and the two cars finished one-tenth of a second apart, with Ferrari gaining a popular victory. Of the other runners Andretti drove home into a neat and tidy third place, gaining valuable experience for the Grand Prix in July, while John Watson enjoyed himself as ever and passed Depailler’s Tyrrell with 10 laps to go, which must have pleased John Surtees enormously. Reutemann had a miserable drive into eighth place, his Cosworth engine misfiring and cutting-out for most of the race. Nicholson and Trimmer had a good scrap at the back of the field, the two one-off specials running faultlessly through the 39 laps they covered. In fact the standard of reliability in the race was very high, Pryce making the only pit-stop, though Wunderink retired the Ensign at the pits with a damaged nose cowling. Alan Jones finished seventh, covered in satisfaction in the knowledge of a job well done.
To round off the dry but overcast and cold day, an enormous field of saloon cars took to the circuit for 20 laps, the bevy of Camaros dominating the scene while, as is becoming a habit, Andy Rouse embarrassed a lot of largerengined cars with the Broadspeed Triumph Dolomite Sprint. To end the day, before night and rain fell, the Formula Ford circus had their 12-lap final, and then the annual BRDC motor-racing garden party came to a close after four days and the gigantic task of clearing up took place, while the 45,000 set off for home, thore being a lot of contented Ferrari enthusiasts among their number.