A personal Matra battle
Any thoughts of the 1,000-kilometre race affecting the outcome of the Manufacturers’ Sports Car Championship were long gone, for the Matra team swept the board this season, albeit from pretty mediocre opposition, and as an individual event it was a foregone conclusion with only accidents or mechanical troubles standing in the way of a Matra 1-2. Their drivers Beltoise/Jarier and Pescarolo/ Larrousse made no mistakes and the scene was enlivened in the closing stages by Jarier disobeying team orders and having a free-forall dice to the finish with Pescarolo. Any opposition that the Gulf GR7 cars may have provided fizzled out when the Schuppan/Wisell car went out with gearbox trouble and the Bell/Hobbs car was not in the same league as the Matras, being delayed by brake problems and an overheating gearbox.
One thing that a lack of top class fast runners allows, is a modicum of success for the smaller cars, and Brands Hatch saw an excellent run by the works Chevron B26 powered by Brian Hart’s own version of the 2-litre BDA Ford engine, driven by Redman/ Gethin. These two kept the remaining 3-litre Gulf GR7, powered by a Cosworth DFV, on its toes throughout, finishing a strong fourth only 38.2 sec. behind the oil company’s special, but they were both eleven laps behind the winning Matras. The lone works-prepared Martini Racing turbo-charged Porsche of Muller/van Lennep ran its usual lonely race and John Fitzpatrick headed the team of drivers in the Gelo Racing Porsche 911 RSR to win the GT category.
An interesting probe was the March 74S-Cosworth DFV driven by Evans/Lloyd, many people in Bicester thinking that sports-car racing is a wide open field waiting to be conquered. For the rest the entry comprised small private teams whose cars were either well prepared and well driven, were falling apart or driven at club-racing speeds. —D.S.J.