Didier blew them away
Didier Pironi won the 1977 Monaco F3 race, his only appearance in this class.
This is a shortened version of an article originally written by Quentin Spurring.
In the past, the Monaco Formula 3 race winner has often dominated
the event, and that was the case last Saturday (May, 1977).
Didier Pironi, having entered Formula 2 this year straight from
Super Renault, had the first and probably the only F3 race of
what is certain to be an illustrious career, and was in a class
of his own with the new Ecurie Elf Martini Mk 21.
an almost uncanny precision, Pironi left his challengers behind
to fall over each other in their vain attempts to keep up, and
the race was marred by very wild driving which did the
reputation of Formula 3 no good whatsoever. Of the 20 starters,
13 cars were damaged in accidents, and there were only seven
Ghinzani, who had qualified his March on the pole, knocked off
its nose against Pironi’s rear rear wheel as he tried to
take the lead, and later went off for good, so fellow-Italian
Elio de Angelis (Trivellato Chevron) finished second in front of
Anders Olofsson (Polar Caravans Ralt). The
challenge from Britain never materialised, for Stephen South and
Derek Daly both retired with damaged cars, as did works Chevron
drivers Geoff Lees and Eje Elgh. All four were super-competitive
in the race, but at Monaco you have to be there at the finish.
Entry & Practice
Automobile Club de Monaco cannot be blamed for running its own
motor racing its own way, but it really was monstrous to accept
an entry of 64 cars to qualify for 20 places on the grid for the
Formula 3 race, this year a BP Championship round.This was the
19th time that an F3 or FJ event has supported the Grand Prix,
and in recent years two heats and a final has become the
established pattern, making the journey to the principality
worthwile to the majority of the young bloods. However, this
year the organisers bowed to pressure from the Formula 1
Constructors Association, who wanted two F1 practice sessions on
Saturday, leaving no time for the customary F3 heats. Naturally,
the club did not want to ditch the Super Renault and Renault 5
events, but it was unthinking of them to accept so many F3
entries, even if they did have over 140 applications...
cars were split into two groups for the purposes of qualifying,
and each group had a 40-minute practice session on Thursday and
an 80-minute session on Friday morning. Grid positions were
determined on times only, which took no account of varying track
conditions, but happily the track was pretty much the same for
F3 Championship leader Piercarlo Ghinzani put his Allegrini
March 773 solidly on the pole, 0.33s ahead of the field. As well
as good teamwork and his own obvious talent, Ghinzani has the
benefit of a super-quick Toyota/Novamotor, and very smooth
driving by the 24-year-old saved a whole lot of face for March,
only four of whose cars qualified.
eager for a win pour la gloire de la France, Hughes de Chaunac's
Ecurie Elf team had their young F2 ace Didier Pironi in the
cockpit of the new Martini MK21 driven in its first two races by
Dany Snobeck, whose FSR commitment to the team takes precedence.
Pironi - the winner of the previous two FSR races at Monaco -
had had 30 laps in the car at Magny Cours, and felt that the
FSR-based MK21 had a lot more to come. The car looked very soft
during qualifying but, as de Chaunac said, "We could take
it quite a lot further, but what is the point ? We are on the
front row, so the car is obviously already sound." Yes,
slower than the baby-faced Pironi was the first of the Chevrons
of the Italian Trivellato team, who managed to get three of its
four carson to the grid. After a wet session shunt at St.
Devote, Elio de Angelis managed to qualify his B38 a mite faster
than Ghinzani's main challenger in the European series, Anders
Olofsson, in his Polar Caravans sponsored Ralt. Next came Eje Elgh
in the works Plastic Padding Chevron ahead of another
impressive Swede, Stefan Johansson.
the best of the start, and determinedly held the line for St.
Devote as the field funnelled alarmingly into the chicane behind
him. As they weaved up the hill towards Casino Square, Ghinzani
held off Olofsson for second place, with Johansson in the Argo a
menacing third. Elgh made a poor start, and was down in seventh
place behind de Angelis amd Gabbiani in the Trivellato Chevrons.
down the field, Daly and Brancatelli, looking for ways through
the cars ahead, had a coming together at Mirabeau, the Italian
F2 driver leaving his braking too late as he tried to go inside
the Irishman; the Ralt bounced over one of Daly's wheels, and
Brancatelli drove slowly round to the pits witha punctured left
front, losing almost a lap. On the
third lap, Olofsson lost his nose bib against Ghinzani's rear
wheel, and after that his Ralt began to overheat, and Ghinzani
got away just a little. Much of the pressure gone, the March
closed on the leader again, and on lap 5 Piercarlo got up with
Pironi at Portier. Instead of biding his time, he tried to go by
immediately, leaving his breaking far too late and knocking off
his nose against one of the Martini's rear wheels. He continued,
but at a reduced pace, falling back into the clutches of
caught Olofsson as the Swede came up with Ghinzani's stricken
March again, and in two laps was past them both and firmly
established in second place, 6s down on the leader. Pironi was
driving beautifully, the Martini never being subjected to the
kind of treatment against the kerbs that was being meted out to
most of the other cars. As he slowly got his revs back, he eased
away from de Angelis, and with ten laps to go had an
unassailable 9s lead. The Italian, who had been throwing his
Chevron around the corners in the vain hope of closing the gap
realised the futility of the chase and settled for second place.
could not find a wa past Ghinzani and was still in fourth place
at half-distance, and Johansson was still fifth, but we had lost
Elgh and Gabbiani. The latter really started knocking the
Plastic Padding Chevron about in his frantic efforts to get by,
and finally punted Elgh into the armco at Station Hairpin,
running over his left rear wheel as he bounced off it for good
measure. Gabbiani continued and actually got by Johansson at St
Devote in an awesome manoeuvre, but amidall this drama he picked
up a puncture. He ptted and his mechanics replaced the wheel,
but Beppe elected not to carry on.
lapped the Starz March going into the fast left-hander at Casino
Square, Ghinzani chose the wrong side, and Olofsson went through
as the March dinged the barrier and shuddered to a halt. The
Swede took over a solid third place, but the Ralt was not the
same after its earlier contact with Ghinzani's March, handling
badly over the bumps because a front wheel had been knocked
slightly out of true; there was no catching de Angelis, let
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