R.A.C. Tourist Trophy

Burkard Bovensiepen's Alpina company's 3.0 CSI.. vanquished the works Fords and BMWs in the 37th 'tourist Trophy Race at Silverstone on September 23rd. Unlike the rest of the ETC. series the TT is split into two 2-hour heats, a total of 150 laps, and Bovensiepen's CSL made sure of the aggregate prize by winning both heats. Harald Ertl, 25-year-old Austrian journalist and Formula 3 and Super Vee driver, dominated the first heat with the superb handling, orange Alpina machine. Derek Bell, having Isis first saloon car race since his Mini days of 1966, won the second by default when a sad refuelling miscalculation robbed the leading works CSL of European 'Touring Car Drivers Champion Toine Hezemans with Dieter Quester from completing the pair's fourth win in a row – the fuel-starved engine spluttered to a halt on the circuit just three laps from the end.

This race was the final round of the European Touring Car Championship, which BMW had won in the seventh round at Paul Ricard, and the penultimate round of the British Touring Car Championship, led by Frank Gardner in the SCA Chevrolet Camaro. Tyre troubles caused Gardner to retire in both two-hour heats of the TT, which allowed 1390 cc class winner Peter Hanson (Broadspeed Escort BDA) to close up to within six points of Gardner overall, with just the Brands Hatch Motor Show 200 round remaining.

On this occasion the Capris and CSLs had their usual straight fight interfered with by several big British-entered, American-conceived, V8s, of which the 7-litre GM example of Gardner was the most worrying to the German supremacy. Gardner's existing lap record of 1 min. 34.4 See, Set last Autumn with a 5.7-litre small-block Chevrolet engine installed, was blown to pieces by the BMWs and Capris in practice and even Gardner could do nothing to keep the brilliant Flans-Joachim Stuck's works CSI. from pole position on the grid. Stuck's time of 1 min. 32.7 sec. excelled the Australian's best by a mere 0.2 sec.

But as the cars sped away from the flag after a surprisingly gentle and well-behaved rolling start behind the BRDC's Jaguar V12 E-type pace car, Gardner powered into a simply enormous lead on the first lap. Hezemans came next followed by Stuck, Ertl, Jochen Mass (works Capri RS), Andy Rouse (Broadspeed Capri RS), Dieter Glemser (works Capri) and Brian Muir (Malcolm Gartlan Racing BMW-Alpina 3.0 CSL). Stuck made a superhuman effort on the second lap to take second place and in so doing reduced the lap record to an astounding 1 min. 32.4 sec. ( 114.04 m.p.h.). By the fifth lap Gardner remained well in the lead from the bunched-up Hezemans, Stuck, Ertl and Mass, with Muir leading the next group. As the lap came to an end at Woodcote there was almost a re-enactment of that memorable British Grand Prix pile-up: the front spoiler fell off Muir's CST., causing sudden understeer which put the skilled Australian onto the grass on the outside. He held the car magnificently in a 130-40 m.p.h. powerslide, but as he regained the circuit opposite the pits Glemser was forced to brake hard, Rouse hit the works Capri square up the rear and Glemser skated onto the grass, slewing to a halt below the bridge, where the car remained for the rest of the heat. Rouse retired later when part of the damaged front wing fell off, bringing out the black flag, at which point the crankshaft broke in sympathy. Muir continued at diminished speed to finish ninth in the heat: the Gartlan car had been hastily repaired overnight after Muir had contacted the nose against the Copse sleepers during the heavy rain of the previous day's practice.

Gardner continued to extend his lead, but within a couple more laps the tremendous pace caused the Goodyear tyres to deteriorate. By the seventh lap he had fallen to third behind Ertl and Mass and ahead of Hezemans and Stuck and was to make many more pit stops, costing 13 laps. Mass headed Ertl briefly at 14 laps, but the Austrian BMW driver remained firmly in command for the rest of the race. Stuck's BMW fell out of the running with tyre troubles and finally retired with a broken clutch, while tyre troubles cost Hezemans two pit stops. Fitzpatrick took second place from Mass when a plug failed on Mass's car and time was lost regaining the sixth cylinder, though later he repassed Fitz, when the latter made a pit stop for fuel.

So Ertl won from Mass, Fitzpatrick and Hezemans, whilst an impressive fifth and sixth were the two Escorts of Guiseppi Risi's Spanish team driven by Jose Uriarte/Herve Leguellec and Rafael Barrios/Emilio Zapico, firmly ahead of the three Autodelta Alfa-Romeo GTAms in the 2-litre class.

Only 19 of the original 32 cars remained in a fit state to start the second heat, but the reduced numbers did little to reduce the spectacle. Derek Bell led from the line in the Alpina car, a good effort by the Pagham driver who was suffering acute discomfort from a nasty head wound received when he banged his head in the transporter before the race; his Bell helmet rested painfully on two stitches. At the end of the first lap Mass led from Bell, Quester, Glemser and Gardner, who'd come through from the ninth row. Mass forced a tremendous pace, equalling Stuck's new lap record on the second lap.

On the tenth lap Gardner forged through to the lead, but within four laps was back in the pits with tyre chunking. He finally retired after flailing rubber had damaged the front bodywork again. Meanwhile Mass lost second place when the Capri mysteriously overheated. He rejoined the fray just behind Quester which resulted in one of the best two-car battles seen this season as Mass tried to hamper the BMW to enable Fitzpatrick to catch up. At this point Quester lay first from Bell and Fitzpatrick, though Bell remained first on aggregate. The bank ended when Quester was pulled in for fuel. Bell stopped next, allowing Fitzpatrick into second place, but Ford's chance of victory ended when the Capri dropped a valve. A few laps later Muir (who'd been delayed at the start by a burst oil cooler took third place when the CSL of Cox Kocher stopped for fuel. Mass had moved up to sixth on the road and third on aggregate while Quester's leading CSL was catching the second-placed Bell car on aggregate.

Only 4 sec separated Quester and Bell on aggregate just three laps from the end and with the works CSL. gaining on the Alpina car all the time it' looked like the fourth Hezemans/Quester victory in a row was at hand. But on its 147th aggregate lap, the works CSL drained the last drop from its 120-litre tank, leaving a furious Quester stranded on the circuit. Bell cruised home to an unchallenged win, the Alpina car's second of the day and another full 20 points for BMW in the ETC. Brian Muir had soldiered on steadily to finish second by default, while Cox Kocher made the heat an Alpina 1-2-3 with his CSI.. Mass finished fifth, but his total of 147 laps to the winner's to was sufficient to place him second on aggregate ahead of Muir and the two Spanish Escorts, an excellent result for them tiller a troubled season.

Aggregate results

R.A.C Tourist Trophy 2x2 hours - Silverstone, England, September 23rd

Group 2

1st: D Bell / H. Ertl ( 3.5 BMW-Alpina CSL) 4 hrs 2 min 9.6 sec. 150 laps

2nd: J. Mass (3.0 Ford Capri RS) 147 laps

3rd: B. Muir (3.5 BMW-Alpina CSL) 142 laps

4th: J. Unarte / H. Leguellec (2.0 Escort RS) 140 laps

5th: R. Barrios / E. Zapico (1.8 Escort RS) 140 laps

6th: C. Facetti (2.0 Alfa Romeo GTAm) 138 laps

7th: C. Kocher (3.3 BMW Alpina CSL) 134 laps

8th: P. Hanson (1.3 Escort RS) 133 laps

9th: A. Poole / T. Walkinshaw (1.3 Datsun Sunny) 128 laps

10th: F. Heine / G. De Vries (1.9 Opel Manta) 125 laps

Fastest lap: H.-J. Stuck (3.5 BMW CLS) and J. Mass (3.0 Capri RS) 1 min. 32.4 sec.