Smith Marches to F2 double in Cheever’s 782
Marcus Pye reports on the HSCC Silverstone showpiece from the Woodcote commentary box, now consigned to history….
Formula 2 cars of the 1970s headlined the HSCC’s annual Silverstone International Trophy homage on May 27-28, on the 3.63-mile Historic Grand Prix circuit with its faster ‘Vale bypass’ approach to Club Corner. The phenomenally fast Andy Smith twice emerged victorious in Richard Evans’ March-BMW 782 raced from new – unbelievably 45 years ago – by young American Eddie Cheever.
Smith did not have it easy in Saturday’s race. Indeed, he plucked up his courage as he shot down the Hangar Straight towards Stowe at 150mph, exploiting the Robin Herd design’s legendary downforce to drive round Matt Wrigley’s March 782, powered by one of Brian Hart’s eponymous 420R engines, at the right-hander to seize the lead. Wrigley was four seconds in arrears at the chequered flag.
The race was put on hold for a few laps after Martin Wood – in a 78B/782 dressed as Ingo Hoffman’s ’78 car – collided with Mike Bletsoe-Brown’s less aerodynamically efficient ex-Bob Marsland Chevron B27 at Abbey. When it resumed, Marc Mercer (ex-Bill Gowdy Ralt RT1), Mark Charteris (March 742), Gregoire Audi (ex-Ariel Bakst RT1) and Brian Morris (ex-Piercarlo Ghinzani 782) filled the minor places.
First Formula Atlantic to finish was Keith White (ex-James King March 76B) in seventh, four places ahead of Scot Tim Jacobsen’s early class-winning ex-Alan Jones 74B. Ewan Bason (ex-James Hunt March 712M) won the 1600cc F2 split but Germany’s Oliver Mathai retired his ex-Max Mosley Winkelmann team F2 Lotus 59B.
Sunday’s return bout was simpler for Smith who hurtled home 24 seconds clear of Wrigley. Neither Mercer nor Charteris finished, leaving Audi and Morris third and fourth ahead of David Thorburn – from the back of the grid in his March 762 – and Nick Pancisi’s March 722, raced in period by defending champion Ronnie Peterson. White and Jacobsen were seventh and eighth, chased by Mark Goodyear’s March 75B and Mathai.
To see the report on the rest of the racing get our July 2023 issue….
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