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Wet and Interesting
Brands Hatch, March 17th
There was one bright spot in the wet and soggy day at Brands Hatch which overcame the gloom and squalor of the Kentish circuit at its worst, and it even tempered the overpowering smell of onions and hot-dogs. That moment was when Ickx drove round the outside of Lauda on Paddock Bend, the black and gold Lotus passing the red and white Ferrari on Lap 35 to take the lead in the 40 lap Race of Champions. It was a classic manoeuvre by the Belgian Lotus driver and under the conditions of a wet and slippery track it was an example of a master of the arts at work. He had been hounding Lauda's Ferrari for a number of laps and on Lap 34 he made a "dummy run" to get by as they went into Paddock Bend, and did the job smoothly and confidently next time round. To the section of the enormous crowd attending the race that were in the Paddock Bend area, it was a joy to behold in the miserable weather conditions.
The whole meeting started off badly on Friday morning when practice for the Race of Champions began, for the rain was falling steadily, the John Player Team Lotus had withdrawn their entry of 1974 cars for Peterson and Ickx, and substituted Lotus 72/R5 for Ickx alone, and Amon's new car was missing having had a mechanical failure and accident the day betore in private testing at Goodwood. In spite of everything the two hours of practice were quite lively, with the two works Ferraris of Regazzoni and Lauda keeping everyone else on their toes. Everyone's thanks must go to the Motor Circuits Developments and the BRSCC for organising the Race of Champions as a season's opener in Great Britain so that everyone can see the new and exciting things in Formula One without having to wait until the British Grand Prix in July, and to the Daily Mail and Simoniz Ltd. who backed the organisers. The result of all their efforts was a fine entry of Formula One cars and drivers, the field being enlarged by the addition of the faster Formula 5000 cars and drivers, and the meeting being filled out with supporting races for Formula Ford, Formula Atlantic and Group 1 saloon cars, to say nothing of a jolly event for non-racing drivers in non-racing cars, this being a race for professionals from other sports in Ford Mexico saloons.