The Brands Hatch 6 (sorry, 2 3/4) Hours

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Brands Hatch, September 25th

The Brands Hatch Six hour Race, Round Seven of the World Championship for Makes, will be memorable more for the race that wasn’t than the race that was. If that sounds double-Dutch blame the heavens, which opened their floodgates with such a vengeance that the race had to be halted after 1 1/4 hours, during which Jacky Ickx had put in a display of sheer wet weather mastery in the pole position works Martini Porsche 935/77, co-driven with Jochen Mass. After a long delay, the organisers started a new race of 2 3/4 hours’ duration on a drying track, won by Ickx and Mass by two laps after an early challenge from Manfred Schurti’s Jagermeister 935.

Practice had confirmed the possibility of a show-down race between Porsche and BMW, the latter having chosen Brands to give the 320 Turbo its European debut, with Peterson and Stuck at the wheel. The scrap for pole position became an exciting battle of wits between Ickx and Peterson, with the final decision falling to Ickx by a mere 0.12 sec. So Ickx/Mass were on 1 min. 26.25 sec., Peterson/ Stuck on 1 min. 26.37 sec., Schurti/Doren on 1 min. 27.72 sec. and Wollek/Faure in a Kremer Porsche 935 on 1 min. 27.76 sec. The only other car to break the 90 sec. barrier was the Konrad/Joest/Wollek 935—then came a five-second gap before the next 935 showing the standard at the front of the grid.

The 22-car entry was almost a Porsche bench, with just one other BMW, a 320 for Walkinshaw/Winkelhock, breaking up the front runners. Variety at the back of the grid came from a De Tomaso Pantera, Datsun 240Z, a Modsports Elan an MG-B V8 and a Group Two Colt Lancer.

Despite treacherous rain the first four laps provided a battle royal between Ickx and Stuck, until Stuck overdid things at Hawthorns, to plunge permanently into the catch fences. Ickx, driving brilliantly, dealt disdainfully with a challenge from Wollek and the two pulled out a lap on Schurti. Further back the rain provoked brilliant performances from Leila Lombardi, leading the 3-litre class in a Porsche Carrera at sixth overall, and Win Percy, seventh overall in the Samuri Converssions 240Z shared with C.R. [Who slid off on oil from a damaged tank on Winkelhock’s BMW in the second race.—E.d.]

As the rain came down even more fiercely and incidents abounded, Clerk of the Course Peter Browning took the difficult decision to stop the race tor reasons or safety after 37 laps.

Tragically tor the likes of Lombardi and Percy, the first race had to be declared null and void, being too short under misguided FIA regulations to allow a restart to be made in race-finishing order. So when the rain began to abate a totally new race was started. With the BMW Turbo still sidelined, though entitled to race, it was left to Schurti to challenge Mass in the Martini Porsche. The orange Jagermeister car led for several laps, but Mass took the lead on a drying track and stayed there till the end of the shortened event. Alter one hour Mass lead by 34 sec. from Schurti with Winkelhock/Joest fourth, another lap down. The British crew of Franey and Williams pulled up to seventh overall and led the class ahead of the Swedish 935-bodied Carrera of Lunardh/Kristoffersen. The Walkinshaw/Winkelhock 320 fell down to eigth when it stuck in 4th gear.

Mass/Ickx pulled out two laps on Schurti to gain a somewhat hollow victory and half points for the World Championship in a dismal, if dramatic days racing. – C.R.