Hunt Wins Dutch GP, Stage Set For Finale
By Pete Lyons ZANDVOORT, Holland-The weekend had a racey feel right from the start. These were some of the signs: Ronnie Peterson was driving with easy, fluid economy, holding his hands comparatively still on the wheel as his March wormed around under him. One time late in practice, at the Hunzerung hairpin, he went power sliding up out of the corner leaving twin grey streaks of rubber powder on the road behind him. As he changed gears the streaks paused for a couple of feet, then in a thin haze of blue smoke they began again and the car continued to lay them down all the way up over the crest of the hill out of sight. Ronnie was fastest qualifier. John Watson's face, newly bare but beginning to gain some sun-color under the cheekbones, still wore its Austrian smile. The Citibank Penske was quickest after the first qualifying session, and it was still a close fourth by the time the grid was formed. Right on form, both driver and team, and they won their round of the pitstop competition too. Jaques B. I ckx was smiling a smile that came out at you like the glow of a fireplace. He'd stepped into the Ensign team for this one race, knowing that everybody knew it was his last chance. He put it into the middle of the faster end of the grid. Tom Pryce put a smile on Don Nichol's face which went along with the new DN8 Shadow's third place on the grid. Emerson Fittipaldi smiled about his Copersucar, saying "It's starting to feel like a racing car again." He was on the middle of the grid, which was a vivid improvement. Hunt celebrated his 29th birthday on race morning. He had 11 points to go before drawing even with Lauda for the World Championship. He was difficult even for close friends to talk with all


weekend. His Marlboro McLaren wasn't handiing well. The first 14 cars on the grid-10 kinds of car, using four different engines-were inside one second. Half an hour before the start, James abruptly turned aside from a conversation and spewed the meager contents of his stomach onto the garage floor. "Well, that's over and done with," he commented as he wiped his mouth. "Now it won't hapen in the race like it did at Ricard."

To look at the Zandvoort grid you'd never know anything was wrong with Grand Prix racing. In fact you'd think it was a all pretty darn good show. There was a lot good about the Dutch GP, alotof people smiling and glad they'd come. Even before the start the race had a good feel. Ronnie, on the inside front row, got a beauty of a start, the March pulling smoothly away into the Tarzan corner with Watson's Penske up from the second

Rumors Fly In Holland

As at any other Grand Prix, the Dutch GP produced some interesting little news items, rumors, and speculations. We present them here for the edification/enjoyment of Autoweek's readers. Item: Chuck Jones, who introduced himself to Ensign's Maurice Nunn as "a wealthy person looking to become involved in the top of motor racing" has concluded a verbal agreement to partsponsor the Ensign team. Written details are still to be worked out, but it is thought that the Californian wants to buy at least half of the English Midlands operation. As for drivers, everyone was keen to run Al Unser-so was Unser-but with Jacky Ickx showing outstanding form at Zandvoort there is a real desire to get behind the still-young Belgian just in case this really is the first sign of a big comeback. Item: The Lotus type 78, the existence of which was once again denied as late as last week, was testing at Silverstone at the same time and will do so again this week. All being well, it may possibly appear at Monza. Item: Now it is, to be sure, Silly Season, but rumors surfacing from Lancashire

insist that Louis Stanley plans to resurrect his defunct BRM F1 team for 1977. Item: More Silly Season rumors: Peterson to Marlboro McLaren next year-paying his own way! Scheckter to Wolf-Williams-not paying his own way. Reutemann to Ferrari-having purchased his release from Martini Brabham-Alfa Romeo. Regazzoni leaving, not into retirement but into constructing his own car. That was what Lauda was said to be planning a few weeks ago. Pryce to almost everybody, and Watson too is a hot property. But Pesenti-Rossi and Lombardi are not. Item: Swiss driver Loris Kessel started the year with an agreement of some kind with John MacDonald of RAM. MacDonald replaced Kessel with somebody else. Kessel had the crs impounded at the Nurburgring. Kessel drove a RAM car at the Oesterreichring. Kessel and RAM tested together last week at Zandvoort. They parted best of friends; OK, see you on Friday. RAM drove to the nearest port and went to England, spares and all. RAM did not return, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. They stayed safe at home. Game, set, and match to
MacDonald.-Pete Lyons


row right behind. Hunt's front row place vanished as the McLaren lagged initially and then lit up its back tires in spectacular wheelspin; the M23 waggled and slashed across to the inside of the track, causing a heartstopping jamup against the pits wall, but nobody was actually hit and James was safely third into the corner. Andretti was down on the inside, over the curbs, taking the Lotus into fourth after starting seventh. Two and a half miles later Peterson had a gap of 1.25 seconds on Watson, and that had every Peterson fan counting his points then and there. But at the end of another lap he'd lost half his cushion to Watson, and with three laps gone by the Penske was almost on the March's tail, and at four laps there wasn't an;y gap at all. "After a lap two I began to be comfortable with my car, and at the same time I saw Ronnie was getting too much understeer," said John afterward . Staying tucked as tight as he dared in Peterson's slipstream, Watson chased him around and around the track looking for a way to get by. Gradually the two of them pulled away from Hunt. James, never content with his car all through practice, found in the race that "it was bad, really awful in fact ." Understeering strongly, it was all he could do in the early stages to keep ahead of everybody who wanted his third place. These were Andretti, Regazzoni, Pryce, Scheckter and Pace, plus Brambilla and Depailler if you extended your limits just a trifle more-nose-to-tail chain of almost equally-matched GP cars, 10 strong in all. Ending the fifth lap Watson had pulled up so close to Peterson that Ronnie came down the main straight weaving completely across the track, boring a great snaking tunnel in the air to try to break the tow. As they went onto the brakes for Tarzan he stayed hard over to the inside, protecting his line, so Watson Continued On Next Page

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Mario Andretti might have won the Dutch GP had his JPS not run into fuel system trouble with about 20 laps to go. For some reason one of the bag tanks wasn't emptying properly, and all around the track Mario started getting a misfire at the top end that cut his straightline speed just enough so he couldn't get by Regazzoni's Ferrari. "Damn," he said, "otherwise it was really workin' bitchin'." He went on to admit that during the race he had been using his driveradjustable rear sway bar to keep the handling neutral as the car's weight, its tires, and the track conditions changed. Ahead of him, meanwhile, the Ferrari and the McLaren were handling poorly by the end, the JPS was perfect-but for that misfire. Tom Pryce's speed in the new Shadow DN8-especially with but 300 miles of




The new Shadow DN8 finished a fine fourth its first time out in Holland.


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testing behind it before Holland-blew badly needed new life into the Shadow team. "You can tell them we're back!" chortled Don Nichols, who has refused to give up his faith in his team's basic soundness through a thin patch. Designed in its essential parts before he left to join Lotus by Tony Southgate, fiished and developed by Dave Wass, the DN8's "secret" is essentially that it is built to the new 1976 regulations and tires. It carries more weight forward (both driver and fuel load are moved up) and Pryce says "It turns into the corners much better than the DN5. It's really well balanced, I can drive it any way I like." In the race he had a long dice with Scheckter, letting the sixwheeler go by early on through a concern not to overheat his front tires, which were understeering. But later on J ody virtually stopped when he encountered a course safety car going to one of the crashes, and Tom got by again. From then on, despite a misfire from a fuel pickup problem like Andretti's, the Shadow stayed ahead for fourth place.-Pete Lyons

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