Zandvoort – 19th April 1976

Italian Riccardo Patrese, driving his Trivellato-entered Chevron-Toyota B34, moved himself into the lead of the European Formula 3 Championship when he won the second round of the series at Zandvoort last Monday. However, the star of the race was local hero Bob Hayje, who has found sufficient sponsorship to buy a brand new Ralt in which he hopes to contest the remaining races.

Hayje was the sensation of practice and on a circuit he knows well the former F5000 March driver ended up on the pole at 1m 30.0s. Equalling the Dutchman’s time was Conny Andersson in his familiar March-Toyota 753, while Patrese was 0.2s slower.

The race was run in two heats, one of 15 laps and one of 20 laps. Hayje went into the lead immediately, while Andersson’s race only lasted two laps before distributor trouble intervened. Chasing the Ralt for the lead was Gianfranco Brancatelli’s semi-works March-Toyota 763 and Patrese, but on lap 5, entering the Tarzan hairpin, Brancatelli tried to outbrake the leader and both cars spun off out of contention with punctures. Patrese cruised home to a comfortable win from Marc Surer (KWS March-BMW 763), Piercarlo Ghinzani (March-Toyota 763), Bertram Schafer (Ralt-BMW RT1) and Guiseppe Bossoni (March-Toyota 763).

The grid lined up for the second heat in the finishing order of the first, but no-one was going to deny Patrese his win, and the blue Stebel-backed Chevron won easily to take the race on aggregate.

Wolfgang Klein, in his new March-Toyota 763, beat Surer, but the later had a big enough advantage to claim second overall on aggregate times from Klein. Bossini finished fifth again, this time behind Brancatelli, but it was enough to make him fourth overall in front of Schafer and Swede Hakan Alriksson in his Brabham-Ford BT41.

Local interest in the second heat focused on Hayje’s progress from the back of the 26-car grid but, having climbed to ninth by lap 3, Bob spun off and damaged the nose, restarting to finish well down. Fastest lap went to Brancatelli at 1m 31.1s, while Ghinzani’s chances of finishing in the top six were ruined in the second part by tyre problems.


Enna – 13th June 1976

Italy’s Riccardo Patrese hauled himself back into the lead of the European Formula 3 championship in Sicily last Sunday when the former World karting champion beat arch-rival Conny Andersson into second place. Patrese, his Trivellato Chevron B34 repaired after its Monaco contretemps, seemed well suited to the fast Enna-Pergusa circuit although Andersson’s Speedprint March 763 was never far behind.

Despite the clashing fixture of an F3 race at the Swedish Grand Prix, Andersson forfeited the chance of a possible F1 ride with a privately run team to pursue his quest for the European series. Following his win at Avus several weeks ago, and Patrese’s retirement at that race, he led the series by a single point.

Predictably the Enna event was dominated by Italians but there were a couple of “European” interlopers. Rather than blazing sun, something which Enna is noted for, it was poring with rain before practice which meant a lot of sand and dirt was washed onto the circuit. When the track dried, it became very slippery and quite a few people fell off trying to avoid the grit and stay on the racing line.

Ending up quickest was former Formula Italia champion and F2 refugee Lamberto Leoni in his March-Toyota 763. Leoni’s time of 1m 42.84s was 3/100ths better than Patrese, then came a gap to Gianfranco Brancatelli (1m 43.28s), Piercarlo Ghinzani (1m 43.57s), Sandro Pesenti-Rossi (1m 43.59s), Francesco Campaci (1m 43.63s) and Andersson (1m 43.85s), all of them in March-Toyotas.

Brancatelli won the first heat leading home Andersson and Leoni and it was only after this that Andersson discovered that his rev counter was reading 500rpm too low, and had been since he took delivery of his new car at Mantorp last month.

The second qualifying heat went to Patrese from Gaudenzio Mantova’s Ralt RT1 and Ghinzani.

The final was delayed an hour because of a sudden downpour which left the track wet, but drying very quickly. Three leading drivers chose to start on wet tyres including Mantova, but it turned out to be the wrong choice. Brancatelli led away from Mantova, Patrese and Andersson but the Ralt’s tyres soon proved a disadvantage and then Brancatelli collected an errant back marker and ruined yet another chance of a good result.

This left Patrese to hold off Andersson at the finish by 2.3s, although the latter got the fastest lap at 1m 43.9s. Ghinzani was next up, no less than 41s behind the leaders but 10s in front of Campaci and Leoni, who virtually dead-heated on the line. Fernando Spreafico’s Chevron completed the top six point scorers.


Monza – 27th June 1976

Riccardo Patrese was the hero of the hour in Italy last Sunday. No, he hasn’t been elected president (not yet, anyway) but he won the Monza Lotteria Formula 3 race in such a convincing style that it must be just a matter of time before he is snapped up by a worthwhile Grand Prix team as a long-term prospect. Bruno Giacomelli and Rupert Keegan may be the kings of F3 in Britain, but Patrese is attempting to become the “king” of Europe by winning the European F3 series, of which Monza was a qualifying round..

Driving his familiar Trivellato/Stebel Chevron-Toyota B34, the 23-year old Patrese won his heat and then the final, beating his arch-rival Conny Andersson, by almost 9s over 15 laps of the full Grand Prix circuit.

A fine entry was received by the Italian organisers for this race which, last season, carried the status of a BP Championship round. This year it was the sixth round in the European F3 series which is currently led by Patrese. In fact, he and Andersson have made this championship a two-horse race, and with something like four rounds left to be run, it does not seem as if anyone will catch them.

British interest at Monza centred around the works March team which took along both their regular British-based cars for Italian Bruno Giacomelli and Brazilian Ayron Cornelson, while Stephen South was also there in his similar Bogarts March 763. Team Modus took two cars for Willi Siller (Walter Wolf’s protégé) and Paulo Gomez (Carlos Pace’s protégé) while Doctor Joseph Ehrlich had his two regular cars for Richard Hawkins (ES5) and Pierre Dieudonne (March 743). Rupert Keegan was also there, although only as a spectator and helping (?) his regular mechanics look after “Dodo” Regazzoni’s (Clay’s younger brother) March which is based at the same workshops back at Bicester.

There were two practice sessions which, on overall times, determined who would start in which qualifying heat, the fastest 12 from each going forward to the final. The grid for one heat was made up in the order of fastest, third, fifth and so on, with second, fourth etc. going into the second heat.

Fastest overall in practice was Gianfranco Brancatelli in his Speedprint March 763 at 1m 53.20s, a clear 0.4s quicker than Patrese, while Andersson was the only other driver in the fifty-threes at 1m 53.96s. Then came Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi’s March 763 (1m 54.15s), Giacomelli (1m 54.21s), Piercarlo Ghinzani’s March 763 (1m 54.53s), Bob Hayje’s Ralt RT1 (1m 54.70s), Francesco Campaci’s March 743 (1m 54.89s), South’s March (1m 55.21s), Orazio Ragailo’s March 753 (1m 55.40s), Guiseppe Bosoni’s March 763 (1m 55.40s) and then Daniele Albertin’s Modus M1 (1m 55.48s), Ferando Spreafico’s Chevron B35 (1m 55.58s), Ulf Svensson’s Ralt RT1 (1m 55.60s), Bertram Schafer’s Ralt RT1 (1m 55.60s), Gaudenzio Mantova’s Ralt RT1 (1m 55.99s), Dieudonne (1m 56.10s), Gomez (1m 56.14s), Lamberto Leoni’s March 763 (1m 56.20s), Sandro Cinotti’s March 763 (1m 56.28s), Siller (1m 56.32s) and the rest.

South’s practice was full of drama as the Londoner clipped the kerb at the first chicane in the first session and destroyed a corner. This was hastily repaired for the afternoon when he set a good time, among the top ten. Hawkins blew an engine and later damaged his car in the heat, as did Gomez.

Patrese won his heat with comparative ease, Pesenti-Rossi giving him no trouble. However, the second heat had all the recognised faster drivers. There was a lot of creeping and away, bursting into the lead, went Andersson pursued by Brancatelli and Giacomelli. As for South, he unfortunately picked up a puncture at the first chicane. He limped back to the pits, replaced it but was too far down to make the final.

It was obvious that Patrese had a hidden advantage, despite the fact that Andersson’s heat had been 8s quicker, partly because of the company he was keeping. Apparently the Chevron can brake very much later than the Marches and Ralts according to Andersson who reckons “he gains as much as 25 metres at every corner”. The Chevron also seems to “kerb hop” well which March and Ralt drivers find difficult to do, for fear of damaging their monocoques. Andersson reckons there’s work to be done if anyone, he especially, is going to stop Patrese’s progress.

Conny managed to get the jump on Riccardo at the start of the final and Brancatelli was also through. For a moment it looked like the Speedprint Marches may have the legs over the Chevron but after a couple of laps both were picked off and away he went. “It was losing about a second a lap”, said Andersson afterwards, and this was borne out by Patrese’s winning margin of nearly 9s.

An early retirement, having been with the leading bunch at the start, was Giacomelli whose March broke its gearbox, putting out the Monaco winner while Brancatelli also quit a couple of laps later with a broken metering unit drive.

This left Andersson in vain pursuit of the leader. Further back a dice was in progress between Hayje, Mantova and Svensson, their Ralts evenly matched. Hayje triumphed, the Dutchman eventually finishing 2s in front of Mantova while Svensson had the misfortune to retire near the end. Italian drivers Bosoni and Ragailo completed the points-scorers.


Kassel-Calden – 22nd August 1976

The European Formula 3 Championship gets better and better, as last weekend’s race, the eighth round of the 10-race series held at the German airfield circuit of Kassel-Calden, showed. The winner was Italian Riccardo Patrese, driving his regular Stebel-sponsored Chevron B34, although it was a very close thing for Riccardo was pushed extremely hard in both parts of the two-heat race by his fellow countryman Gianfranco Brancatelli, fresh from his win at the Austrian GP meeting the week before.

Practice had seen Conny Andersson on the pole in his regular Speedprint March, with Patrese, Ulf Svensson (Ralt RT1) and Brancatelli next up. However, Conny had a bad stomach upset and he was wondering at one stage whether he would be able seriously to defend his narrow lead over Patrese in the championship. Andersson was not the only driver troubled by illness for Lamberto Leoni, another Italian, was struck down by suspected appendicitis, while Rudi Doestch, the lead driver in the German KWS team, has been in hospital for the last four weeks, having been troubled by a metal plate inserted in one of his legs after an accident earlier in his career. He was allowed out for this race, but he became one of many to have problems by hitting the tyres which make up the make-shift chicanes at the circuit.

Patrese seized the initiative at the start of the first heat, hotly pursued by Brancatelli’s Speedprint March. Brancatelli, in the event of his team-mate not being sufficiently able to force the pace, was at least hoping to force Patrese into an error.

The error came, although it resulted in Brancatelli also spinning, with perhaps a little assistance from the Chevron. Anyhow, both resumed, with the March closing in on the Chevron at the flag.

The second part was a replay of the first, only this time Brancatelli got in front and stayed there. Patrese sat right on his gearbox and remained close enough to take the overall victory on aggregate. Andersson was third with another Italian, Piercarlo Ghinzani, making it three Marches in the top four.

Completing the points scorers were Danes Thorkild Thyrring in his Ralt RT1 and Jac Nellemann in his Texaco-backed Van Diemen. Marc Surer was the best placed German driver, bringing his KWS Chevron home next chased by the Ralts of Clas Sigurdsson, Hakan Alriksson and German F2 driver Helmut Bross, who was running an RT1 chassis brought from German Ralt importer Bertram Schafer.

Patrese’s win puts him back in the lead of the championship with just two races left to run. One is at Knutsdorp in Sweden, where Andersson must be a favourite, while the final race is at Vallelunga in Italy, where Patrese will be favourite. The odds are tipped in Riccardo’s favour at the moment, although Andersson does have a potential ace up his sleeve in Brancatelli, a team-mate who could upset the former World Karting Champion’s applecart.

© Autosport magazine – Reproduced with permission