High on Voigt’s more than decent performance at Paul Ricard, we arrived at Silverstone in high spirits. But the English airfieldtrack soon turned out to be a very different beast.
With Grant Riddall back behind the wheel of his Surtees, general expectation was that we were up for a bore of a race; ending with yet another crushing victory of Maximus Grant.
Grant’s former teammate Coxon had committed full-time to the delicate Tyrrell and Jundt had switched from Ferrari to a less powerfull McLaren. Many therefore wondered who was going to stop Riddall.
It thus came as something of a surprise when Coxon snatched pole and Plaçais, in his Matra, took second on the grid. Riddall had to settle for third with a time over 4 tenths of a second slower than Coxon’s pole time. Would the season finally get some excitement?
As the starter dropped his flag, Coxon failed to make the most of his pole. Plaçais sped away into the lead and Riddall, starting from the third and last spot on the first row, also pulled ahead of the Tyrrell. By the time they entered Copse, Coxon had however already seized second back from Riddall.
Plaçais’ Matra held on to the lead, even if a dark blue Tyrrell-monkey was pulling all kinds of tricks in his mirrors. On the run from Club to Abbey, Coxon had a first look but thought the better of it. Still, the Matra and Tyrrell seemed to round ultra fast Abbey at least partially side-by-side. Had Coxon taken the Riddall assertiveness with him to Tyrrell?
The Matra remained ahead along Farm Straight even if just barely. In Woodcote, the Tyrrell seemed extremely eager to get back to first. Without succeeding just yet and only allowing Riddall to close right back in on the two leaders. As the trio sped along the start-finish line for the first time, it looked pretty much like Alex taking the Monkey for a ride through heavy Roman traffic and bumping into some local fauna.
Behind, both Jundt and Sabre had somewhat worried starts from the second row. Before even reaching Copse, Jundt found him self passed by Austin Johnson, who was doing formidable things with his CMG Racing March 711. Both Lotus regular Bos and Lotus wildcard Jereb also flew past the Swiss. As did Janak’s Ferrari and Sabre’s Matra. It relegated Jundt from an excellent 4th to 9th as he exited Copse.
On the run to Maggots, the fast Swiss immediately set Sabre’s and Janak’s record straight and was back into 7th. He then quickly outsmarted Bos and was back to 6th, intensely studying the back of Jereb’s Lotus.g
At the entire other end of the field, Dutchman Peter Blom had a fantastic start, shooting from 26th straight into the top 20. He then engaged in some swapping back and forth in and out of 18th spot with Gabriel Sterr. Ending up running wide out of Club. The car came to a halt for quiet some time, falling back to dead last. Then continued. Only to pull to the side of the track on Farm Straight and retire. The car was suffering from a faulty accelerator.
Voigt had qualified reasonably well in 24th, outpacing Williams teammate Fitch in the better March 711-car. Jonny’s best lap was close to a second faster than Fitch’s. Patsy however made a complete shambles of his start, power-sliding the car around its axis, coming to a complete stand still on the pit entry as the entire field sped off.
He avoided damage to the car and was soon on his way again, be it dead last; Blom’s trouble soon allowing him back to a sad 26th.
At the front of the field, Coxon had seen enough Matra buttocks for a day and pulled ahead into Copse. Then immediately started edging away.
Plaçais could all but relax in second place, as Riddall the Faster was now putting in an intense bid for the silver medal. Johnson witnessed the battle between the Matra and the Surtees from his fourth place. The Californian seemed able to keep up with the leaders -quiet an achievement with his older S9 Cosworth engine- but could not really challenge them.
Jundt had meanwhile duly taken over fifth from Jereb. The Croatian driver rounded out the top 6 as best of the Loti.
Further back, Riddall the Wiser succeeded in passing Bruppacher’s Ferrari but then, starting lap 3, pulled off in Copse and retired. His engine had died on him.
Plaçais was not able to hold on to second for long. On lap 4, Grant Riddall simply went ahead along Hangar Straight and was into second. One lap later, Jundt used the power of his newer Cosworth engine to blast by Johnson’s March at exactly the same spot.
Sabre passed Jereb for sixth and a pattern started forming at the front of the field. Coxon using all the power of his last generation state-of-the-art Cosworth to build a lead. Grant El Magnifico behind extracting every ounce of his older generation Cosworth to keep up, spectacular as ever. Plaçais consolidated third with the symphony of the V12 Matra. Jundt planned his race, methodologically working his way to the front. Johnson showed brilliance in keeping up with the much more powerful machinery ahead. And Sabre saved the Matra engine while holding on to an economical sixth.
Things were were less smooth behind. Henrique was struggling with the Tyrrell and after five laps the car got the better of him. He spun hard out of Woodcote and destroyed the car into retirement.
It moved Jonny Voigt up one place. Better even, Voigt was reeling in Williams teammate Fitch. At the rate he was going, it would not take much more than a lap or three before he would be dueling for the spoils of best of the Williams.
Closer to the midfield, Gabriel Sterr was displaying the true capabilities of the March 701 to the world. He had been on the tail of Mick Chapman, who had inherited Coxon’s race winning Surtees, for a while. Then boldly braked later into Becketts, claiming 14th spot. Such flabbergasting ability and skill were still a long way off for shitheel Voigt.
Chapman was so dazed by the old March getting the better of him that he lost all traction through Chapel. Which in turn allowed Steve Parker to sail by on the outside line. Surtees’ new boy Chapman had just lost two spots in as many turns.
Parker’s Canadian teammate Jaques successfully challenged Brian Janik for 11th into Stowe. Then quickly seemed to edge away to gently reel in Peter Hlavac in 10th. The BRM team’s luck seemed to be changing after the early misfortune of Ray Riddall. When Steve Parker cracked a second around the outside pass through Woodcote on Gabriel Sterr, Louis Stanley was actually caught hugging Tony Southgate.
The German Ecurie Hahne driver was now urgently required to watch his back as Mick Chapman was back to his senses. Old Mick made a move on the outside line through Maggots. It ended with the Surtees on the grass and Sterr holding on to 15th. But the Surtees heat was clearly on.
Into Club, Chapman braked later and claimed the inside line. Sterr fought back. The March and Surtees headed towards Abbey side-by-side, Sterr clinching to the better inside line.
Chapman surrendered for now. And let the German go. All the joggling for position had allowed Dave Miller, running the former Goissen Brabham, to close in. Dave had a sniff at Chapman’s 16th, but the Surtees firmly shot the door, forcing the Brabham onto the inside curb.
An opportunistic Bruppacher did not hesitate and took over 17th from Miller.
Jari would go one better on the next lap, using the power of the Ferrari to pull alongside Chapman on Farmer Straight. It forced the Surtees onto a somewhat wide line for Woodcote, which was all the Swiss Ferrari-man needed. He was into 16th and could go chasing Sterr, who had detached himself from the striving trio behind.
Jason Whited had retired by this time. He had hit one of the concrete cones on the inside of Club, utterly destroying his March 711.
That moved Voight up to 23rd. He now had both Fitch and Canola within distant eyesight. Soon, it would be game on.
With 10 laps of racing covered, Coxon was now enjoying what looked like a comfortable lead. Richard could not relax however, as former teammate Riddall was not that far behind in the Surtees. And clod knew that fast Grant would seize the slightest opportunity to go one better.
Plaçais was in third with a simply awesome Jundt slowly closing in. The Swiss once more showed that he holds the secret to perfectly pacing a race.
Just at the end of lap 10, Sabre used the massive power of the Matra to catch up and pass Johnson in his slow March 711 for 5th. Sabre was another one who knew how to pace a race. The fact that the Californian driver was still running 6th in the underpowered March however bore prove of a rich abundance of talent.
Jereb in 7th was showing all the regular Loti-drivers how a Lotus should be handled. Bos was unsuccessfully struggling to keep up with the Croatian ace. While Wilks was in an even more distant 13th, although he could be excused as Colin Chapman had forced him to drive the unruly turbine Lotus.
Janak followed in 8th with the Ferrari. Hlavac, getting some driving lessons from Jundt, and Bos rounded out the top 10.
The latter three were taking care of the show at this stage of the race. Hlavac decided that he had really seen enough of the Ferrari’s rear and turned up the pressure. He pulled alongside the Ferrari, struggling with its weight in some of the faster corners. The mighty Italian V12, combined with slightly defensive inside lines, allowed Janak to stay ahead.
Till on lap 12, Hlavac once again pulled up to the Ferrari on the outside of Hangar Straight. And this time refused to back off. The bright orange ballerina from New Zealand and the scarlet prima donna from Emilia-Romagna rounded Stowe side by side. Hlavac had a better exit and got the better of the Ferrari through Club. Janak’s ordeal was far from over as the Czech now had to worry about Bos’ Lotus looming large in his mirrors.
Even if mediocre, Janak’s performance would soon be the Commendatore’s only cause for pride and joy. Fellow Ferrarista Ryon, who had fought his way from a meager 22nd starting position to an equal meager 20th position, pulled to the side of the road on lap 14. The transmission of the Fezza had called it a day. Race over.
One lap later, Swiss Bruppacher misjudged Copse and spun out. Jari soldiered on for exactly two more turns, going of backwards at Becketts, ripping right rear suspension and wheel from the car. Janak was the sole remaining Ferrari.
Jundt had been studying the rear of Plaçais’ Matra from lots of different angles by now and felt he had seen enough. At the end of lap 14, he used a better run through Abbey to pull alongside into Woodcote. The Swiss ace had the inside line but the French champion fought back and nearly took third back into Copse. The Swiss however knows a thing or two about defending and held on to third. There was some more side-by-side stuff on the run up to Becketts. But DJ had then really seen enough of the Matra and started edging of in the distance, slowly but steadily.
McLaren teammate Hlavac had caught Jereb in the Lotus and they were going at it for 7th. All the ingredients of a truly great battle were there; Hlavac pulling ahead under braking for Stowe but Jereb defending on the inside line. The Czech then rounding Stowe on full opposite lock; the rear of the McLaren hanging out like a crazy horse’s tail.
Then, just as Jereb had gathered himself some kind of safety cushion, the Cosworth in his Lotus called it a day. His race was done.
Voigt now had Fitch within eyesight but the gap started stabilizing. Voigt seemed unable to reduce it any further. Post race, he expressed some doubts as to whether the high down-force setup Marcelo had opted for, had really been the best choice. It had made the car stable, but the loss off speed on Hangar Straight and on the run from Club to Woodcote was massive.
As the frontrunners started lapping them, we hoped that Voigt would manage the faster cars better than Fitchie. And that that would allow him to further close the gap.
As Coxon entered his 23rd lap with 1/3rd distance of the race ran, he was enjoying a rather comfortable lead. Riddall was still running second in the Surtees but seemed unable to fully match Coxon’s speed at this point.
Jundt had a good gap over Plaçais, but still had his work cut out trying to catch Riddall.
Followed the second Matra of Sabre. The last points paying position was miraculously still in the hands of Austin Johnson in an underpowered March 711. Maybe the Californian could still improve a tad on the building up of his races, but when it comes to straight out speed, he currently probably is the fastest man around.
Hlavac, Bos, Janak and Jaques rounded out the top 10.
Fatigue started setting in. Sabre hit one of the bollards on the inside of Copse head-on. Those bollards are all but forgiving. The Matra lost its entire front suspension. A strong 5th vanished for Sabre.
Dave Miller invited a similar concrete cone to dance on the inside of Stowe. It ended his race on the spot.
And the other cars just kept on clocking laps around this former airfield. Among them Patsy Voigt. Saying that he was happy, and thus must have been happy, happy with his car. He had however still not made up any time on Fitch. And the situation started to look dire.
Jundt lapped his one-off teammate Canola; leaving Teddy Mayer scratching his head in awe. To Thiago’s defense, he was in an older M14A, without airbox and other gizmos aimed at making the car faster.
Even if Ray Riddall had retired early, the BRM-team was still enjoying a good race at this stage. Jaques was back in the top 10, running 9th, and Steve Parker in 11th fostered some genuine hopes to make the top 10.
Coxon started to look majestic in the lead. The royal blood flowing through his veins befitted him. Riddall, behind him, had always been more of a battle lusting cavalier. And he was doing honor to that reputation, extracting every ounce of potential from his poor Surtees.
Jundt in third: the banker. Meticulously planning and managing his race with iced precision.
Knight in white armor Riddall seemed to have seen enough of his king. Whether it was Coxon having poorer exits out of Club or just the draft offered by his Tyrrell, no one knew. But fact was that Riddall had been noticeably closing in on the run to Woodcote over the last couple of laps. Doubt mingled with Coxon’s new found blue blood. On lap 29, he was slow through Abbey. Riddall the Merciless successfully went for the inside in Woodcote. The race had a new leader.
Coxon ventured into an attempt to immediatelly counter on the run to Copse. Surtees number two Chapman had been briefed by his team about the two bantams approaching, and moved over so much that he almost looked like kissing the pit-wall.
Coxon’s attempt to recover the lead failed. But Rich stayed right on the Surtees’ tail. About 3 quarters of a lap further into the race, it was Riddall who somewhat cocked up Club. Coxon pulled alongside and made a daring move around the outside of Abbey stick. King Richard was in the lead again. But if he hoped that the vassal behind would just lay low, he was in for a surprise.
The fight for the lead was on.
Riddall now had the smell of blood in his nose and was giving it everything he and the Surtees had. Squeezing towards the inside line on the approach of bends. Filling Coxon’s mirrors with that despicable image of white and blue Surtees. Taking bits of grass and throwing up clods of earth on the exit of those same turns. The full Grant spectacle was on parade.
But it was not to much avail. On the contrary, Coxon seemed to edge away again.
Starting the 35th lap, with the race past the halfway mark, the blue King of Elf was again enjoying a placid reign, after a short onslaught of terror from some Edenbridge-punks had barely disturbed him. Riddall was still in second, even if one suspected that he was really displeased with that.
In third, Jundt was still carefully handling his investment. Plaçais and Johnson soldiered on in 4th and 5th; a remarkable result for the Texan with his modest CMG Racing March.
Bos now really had an eye out for Hlavac’s 6th spot. Janak, Jaques and Janik rounded out the top 10.
Further back, things had taken a turn for the better for Voigt. Fitch had spun out of Abbey, while making room for a lapping Janik. Voigt moved up a spot.
The shitbrain then almost succumbed to stress, running wide in Chapel and loosing all speed on Hangar Straight. The gap with the other Williams-car was sufficiently swell to keep Voigt best of the Williams.
Fitch nevertheless had Voigt on his radar and was determined to put up a fight. Then Wilks seemed to not make up his mind about where and how he would lap our car, loosing time for both him and us.
Fitch was right on Voigt’s pipes and battle was calling. We feared for the worse but Voigt somehow got his act together; valiantly fending off the assault of the better Williams-car. It really seems that, in order to have this kid get his shit together, you first have to beat it out of him.
Things turned more complex as faster drivers came up to lap the Williams-cars. Acerclinth sailed by easily. Leaders Coxon and Riddall followed in his wake.
Voigt now had to contain Fitch, find a way to let Coxon and Riddall by and negotiate the ultrafast Woodcote all at the same time. It was too much stress for Pat and his brain melted.
Coxon shot past Fitch before Woodcote. Riddall followed suit, keeping Fitch on an outside line. Voigt moved towards the apex to round the bend. Then exited very wide, going on the grass and loosing time. The leading Tyrrell got somewhat boxed in behind Voigt’s car and was slowed. It was all a charging Riddall needed to grab the lead back.
His incredible ability to lap back-markers with ease, had again served Grant well.
King Richard was back to second. And Voigt was advised to steer clear of the realm of elves in the nearby future.
Fitch was now hot on Voigt’s tail. Then, into Woodcote, Jason lost control over the rear of his car. He spun off wildly, wrecking the car. Race over.
Bos, who had been running in 7th in one of his best performances of the season, was pushing hard to keep up with Hlavac. On lap 38 he tried a bit to hard and hit one of the bollards on the inside of Club head on. The Lotus was destroyed. Bos could add another to his growing list of retirements.
Bos’ contretemps moved Steve Parker into the top 10, which now had two BRM’s in it; somewhat soothing the disappointment of team leader Ray Riddall’s car flaming out early in the race.
Voigt was into 16th. Maybe a bottle of affordable Rioja would be appropriate at the end of the race.
At the fore of the pack, Riddall was still leading Coxon. King Richard appeared in need of everything in his closet, just to keep up. But did not succeed to mount a true attempt at passing. Was Maximus Grant set for yet another victory?
King Richard had some tricks left up his sleeve however. And by lap 40, he was right back behind the Surtees, even having a look at a pass in some turns. Then made a clean pass under braking for Copse. The King was back in command, and no petty cash in the world would change that.
Except that Grant stubbornly refused to read the silver lining. He glued the front of his car to the Tyrrell on the run through Maggotts and towards Becketts. Then made the move stick in Stowe. Coxon fought back on the run to Club but the Surtees remained ahead.
One lap down: Coxon takes the lead back in Copse. And now immediately upped his pace a notch; quickly pulling away from Riddall. Grant seemed to be out of replies for a while and the race looked like settling into a royal pattern; everyone respectfully following King Richard home.
Race-control then decided to lend Coxon a helping hand. And handed Riddall the Faster a drive-through on lap 48. Both Jundt and Plaçais stormed by and Grant was down to 4th.
Back on the track, Grant looked like hanging out over a ragged edge. He had to lap Wilks and Acerclinth before opening the chase on Plaçais. It took Grant 5 laps to close in on the Matra. It took him 2/3rd of a lap more to unstoppably go by the Matra under braking for Club.
Riddall then set out for Jundt. But few believed that he would be able to catch the Swiss back.
11th spot was bitterly contested meanwhile. Wilks in the turbine powered Lotus was holding the position, but Acerclinth was eying it. Jonatan looked faster over an entire lap. But on the straights Wilks was able to fend off the March with the pull offered by his turbine engine.
Acerclinth often looked ready to deal the final blow, then had to back off to allow faster cars through. Then Wilks succumbed to the pressure and went wide on to the grass exiting Club. Acerclinth did not dither an instant and shot passed. 11th was his. Colin Chapman looked about as desperate as a baboon lost on the North Pole… without a jacket.
Things got even worse for Thiago Canola. On lap 55, his engine just went silent on him. It ended the Brazilian’s brave effort to complete the race in an underpowered jalopy McLaren M14A.
With 8 laps remaining, Coxon was now in a comfortable lead, although Jundt seemed to be closing in. The Swiss had again perfectly spread his effort over the entire race.
Riddall was chasing hard in third, by times using more grass than tarmac. Plaçais seemed content in 4th, as was Johnson in 5th. Hlavac was running 6th and Janak, Jaques, Janik and Acerclinth rounded out the top 10. Ending lap 59, Steve Parker had indeed steered his BRM into the pits to retire, thus relinquishing the last top 10-spot.
Riddall’s luck was about to run even poorer. All the grass mowing while chasing Jundt earned him a second drive through. Plaçais went back into 3rd, Johnson came by and so did Hlavac. With only about 6 laps of racing left, Grant had a mammoth task before him; if not an impossible one. And to add some to his predicament, his tires were now as good as gone.
On lap 64, his fabulous skill and endless determination nevertheless helped him steering passed Hlavac on the outside around Stowe. The Surtees was back in 5th and that looked as good as it would get.
Ken Tyrrell could start dreaming of his season’s first success. New Tyrrell-boy Coxon was still leading. Jundt was charging hard behind, but it looked like the Swiss was running out of time. The untamable Swiss nevertheless clocked the fastest time of the race on the very last lap.
But it was to no avail. Coxon took his second victory of the season, the first one for Tyrrell. Jundt came home second and Plaçais third. A flabbergasting Johnson held on to 4th in a shitty engined March 711.
Behind the top 4, Riddall had to take yet another drive-through losing 5th to Hlavac on the last lap. The Czech then blew his engine coming out of Stowe. It was some poetic justice for Riddall, who could at least salvage 5th.
Hlavac’s bad luck promoted Janak to 6th and the last point of the race.
Hlavac, Jaques, Janik and Acerclinth rounded out the top 10.
Voigt came home 14th; the very last man running. As such not an entirely hopeless result, were it not that his fastest lap was over 2 seconds slower than Sterr’s fastest lap in an equal car. Some serious cleaning up of acts would thus be required.
Coxon’s win not only procured Ken Tyrrell with his first silverware of the season, it also moved King Richard to only 5 points behind leader Riddall. Sudenly, the championship seems wide open, with a battle for third place that promises to be as intense; only 5 points separating 3rd placed Hlavac from 6th placed Johnson.
Stakes are high for the upcoming German Grand Prix.