One that got away



Howden Ganley: 1975 Nürburgring 1000Km

Despite owning a brace of year-old Gulf GR7 Mirages, Gelo Racing boss Georg Loos concentrated on his GT Porsches. But the Nürburgring 1000Km was different. His compatriot Willi Kauhsen, who was running year-old Alfa T33TT12s, entered three cars for the first time; Loos responded with both GR7s. His drivers were John Watson/Tom Pryce and Tim Schenken/Howden Ganley.

This was to be Ganley’s first race since his big smash at the same circuit the year before: “I went past the scene of my accident, made a mental note and then forgot about it. I loved the ‘Ring, and anyway, it wasn’t the cause of my crash.” The F1 Maki was.

“Tim and I decided on a race pace and stuck to it. The turbo Alpine was a lot quicker over a lap, but we were confident that it wouldn’t make the distance.” Jean-Pierre Jabouille had put the A442 on pole by 14sec, but he and Gérard Larrousse ran more conservatively in the race. Even so, the V6 went off song.

The front row-starting 33 of Henri Pescarolo had crashed on the first lap with a blown tyre. But the Alfa threat was still strong: Jochen Mass/Jody Scheckter led until their brakes went AWOL.

The Mirage assumed the lead, and although the third Alfa was closing, Ganley was unconcerned: “The final stop was just like any other. Dive in. Stop. Flick the buckle. Hop out.” Except that someone was pushing him back in: Schenken. The team, a mix of Gelo and Gulf Racing, was about to unravel.

“Tim seemed to think it’d be faster if I stayed in,” says Ganley. “But by the time we’d all agreed on what we were doing, the Alfa had taken the lead. I was still confident that I could catch up and win, but in the pandemonium the guys had forgotten to change the front-left tyre. It was totally knackered. The understeer was terrible. I was able to hold the gap but not close it.”

But what really annoyed Ganley was his discovery that this fateful pitstop had been unnecessary: “We could have gone the distance on three stops, not four. Someone had got their calculations wrong.”

This was explained to him by Gulf Racing’s John Horsman, who would have been in Howden’s pit had he not been preparing for Le Mans. Some you lose and — two weeks later — some you win.