They came in their legions. The cream of international young talent: Carlos Reutemann, Niki Lauda, Ronnie Peterson, Jody Scheckter… But they were all beaten at Mallory Park’s opening round of the 1972 European F2 Championship by a British underdog driving a converted Formula Atlantic car.
David Morgan didn’t even have a 2-litre engine for this, the first race run to the new 2000cc regulations. Instead, car owner Ed Reeves had equipped his Brabham BT35 with an 1860cc BDA engine.
At the time, some of the credit for Morgan’ s success lay with his reliance on relatively narrow, year-old Firestone YB24 slicks. But these were certainly no advantage in qualifying (see below), when he took second-fastest time to Peterson’s March.
Reutemann, driving a Brabham BT38 for Ron Dennis’s Rondel team, led the first heat, while Peterson hit trouble with a loose fuel line. Morgan had to work his way ahead of F2 debutant Jody Scheckter’s McLaren before closing up on Reutemann and taking the lead with 15 laps to go. Lauda’s March too moved ahead of the Argentinian and finished second.
Morgan was protecting a 4.2sec advantage over Lauda in the second heat, while Reutemann had 11sec to make up. It was a tense race, as Reutemann sprinted away and Lauda held off Morgan. For a while it looked as though Reutemann was on course to make up the deficit but, urged on by the crowd, Morgan kept close enough to the two cars in front. He was only third on the road, but he’d beaten all the big names on aggregate.