Car to watch: Brabham BT42

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Sportscar driver Paul Knapfield will have one of the first single-seater races of his life when he pilots a Brabham BT42 in the Pre-75 3-litre F1 encounter. It will be the car’s first European event for over three decades, and its first appearance at Monaco.

Chassis number six was built in July /August 1973 for Brabham team sponsor Ceramica Pagnossin after its original chassis was wrecked in the famous multi-car shunt at Woodcote at Silverstone. In all nine cars were eliminated in the massive accident. Italian Andrea de Adamich was the only driver injured, sustaining a broken leg in the destroyed chassis BT42/4.

The replacement chassis was first raced by Rolf Stommelen in the Austrian GP in mid-August. Though he retired at the Osterreichring. Stommelen then finished 12th in both Italy and Canada before BT42/6 was raced by John Watson at Watkins Glen in October. It then passed to the Scuderia Finotto team in Italy and was entered for several grands prix in 1974, although it only qualified once, in the hands of Gerard Larrousse at Nivelles in Belgium.

Its last race in Europe was a Shellsport Group Eight race at Mallory Park in March 1976 in the hands of the unimpressive Luigi-Mimmo Cevasco. After a spell in an Italian collection the car went to the USA and was raced there as recently as last summer.

“It’s very genuine,” says Simon Hadfield, who is preparing the car for Knapfield. “We can make it much, much better. Everything is there. We’ve done the crack testing, and worked on springs, dampers and roll bars. The DFV engine has been done by Nicholson-McLaren. I don’t think it’s ever been crashed.” adds Hadfield of a car that remains in remarkably original condition.

Knapfield will hope to do better than the BT42s managed in period in Monaco. Wilson Fittipaldi finished 11th and last in the 1973 race after fuel problems, while Carlos Reutemann retired.

“For Monaco it should be brilliant,” says Hadfield, whose team will tend the car. “Its a small and compact car and, like all of Gordon Murray’s designs, the ergonomics are superb. It was built around Carlos Reutemann, so the cockpit is a decent size.”

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