1971 Round 3

Round Three: WIGRAM  64pic19a.jpg (8942 bytes) 20th Lady Wigram Trophy

Race winner Graham McRae (McLaren M10B).

Graham McRae's ratio of 1971 Tasman race successes soared to 2-from-3 in the International Lady Wigram Trophy on 16 January when he led from the first lap in his McLaren M10B Chev, averaged a record 104.94 mph, set a 107.12 mph lap record and put 27.2 sec between himself and Frank Matich (McLaren M10B Repco) at the finish. A lap in arrears, with 43 laps completed, came Graeme Lawrence (2.4 Ferrari V6), Frank Gardner (Lola T192 Chev) and Chris Amon (March 701 2.5 Cosworth-Ford V8). Sixth, on 42 laps, was Malcolm Guthrie (Lola T192 Chev). McRae's race time of 57 min 51.8 sec was 1 min 1.8 sec better than the previous best, made by Jochen Rindt (Lotus 49B 2.5 Cosworth-Ford V8) in 1969, and his lap record was 1.78 mph faster than the figure he set in a McLaren M10A in the 1970 trophy race preliminary. John Cannon grabbed a short-lived lead from the rolling start but was overhauled by McRae before the race was a minute old and Matich dropped him to third in lap 7. His promising showing ended abruptly when, in lap 21, he crashed his McLaren M10B Chev to avoid hitting Don O'Sullivan (McLaren M10A Repco) who had taken his ground. Mike Eyerly (Surtees TS8 Chev) crashed when a suspension arm broke during the warm-up lap, and a spin in the first turn after the start dropped Amon to the field's tail. Niel Allen (McLaren M10B Chev) was well up until magneto trouble sidelined him in lap 11.

Bob Brown (Lola T190).

The field for Wigram was boosted by the arrival of Leo Geoghegan in the Lotus-Waggott, the Begg-Chevrolet of Geoff Mardon and the Katipo M70-Chevrolet of Robbie Francevic. Unfortunately the Katipo suffered engine problems and scratched. Bryan Faloon was another to scratch after only a few practice laps as gear ratios in the rebuilt Porsche transmission were found unsuitable for Wigram.

Time trials were preceded by unofficial morning runs in which most drivers, apart from McRae, took things quietly. McRae, his own engine back in the M10B, soon returned 1 min 17.3 sec (107.12 mph) which was well inside the 1 min18.6 lap record he set in the 1970 race preliminary. Amon was the first to strike trouble, when the brand-new engine in STP's Lotus 70 dropped a valve. He switched to the March 701, leaving team-mate David Oxton without a race drive.

McRae was out early in the afternoon and came down to 1 min 17 sec (107.532 mph) after which he sat back to watch Matich then Cannon record 1-17.7. Allen damaged a wheel when he clipped a kerb before he returned 1-18.0, the figure later equaled by Gardner. Amon finally brought the March down to 1-19.4, good for sixth on the grid. Leo Geoghegan (Lotus 59 Waggott) and Lawrence, both on 1-19.7 were next. Then came Frank Radisich (McLaren M10A Chev) 1-20.0, Kevin Bartlett (Mildren Chev) 1-20.2, Eyerly 1-21.0, Teddy Pilette (McLaren M10B Chev) and Guthrie, both on 1-21.4, and O'Sullivan 1-21.8. These were all 100mph-plus qualifiers. Next in line was Evan Noyes whose BT29 Brabham aided by the 1850cc FVC engine gained fifteenth grid position in the 22-car field with 1-22.8, a neat 100 mph.

Evan Noyes's Brabham being readied for the race.

The grid was as follows :- McRae and Matich, Cannon and Allen, Gardner and Amon, Lawrence and Geoghegan, Radisich and Bartlett, Eyerly and Pilette, Guthrie and O'Sullivan, Noyes and Brown, Doyle and McConnell, Rhodes and Mardon.

The race started about five minutes behind time, delayed by Eyerly's warm-up lap crash, were he damaged the suspension in an altercation of some sort and became a non-starter. When the action did start it was Cannon who flew to the front from the second row, with McRae, Matich and Allen next. There was a mix-up in the first turn when Radisich and Amon spun and cars went in all directions. Radisich was under way first, but spent most of the race in and out of the pits, while Amon, who had more difficulty getting moving again, was left well behind the field.

The start with Cannon on the left from McRae and Matich.

Cannon's lead was short-lived. McRae took him on the back straight and completed the first lap about four lengths clear of the Canadian; then came Matich, Allen and Gardner in close formation. Next time round McRae had 3 sec over the tightly-bunched foursome. Following, on his own, was Pilette, with Bartlett, Geoghegan and Lawrence next and clear of Bob Brown (Lola T190 Chev). Farther back was O'Sullivan, already under pressure from Amon who was regaining lost ground quickly. At the end of lap 3 McRae had 7 sec over Cannon, who was being harried by Matich. The order remained the same until lap 6 when Bartlett pitted to diagnose what turned out to be terminal ailments two laps later, a faulty coil.

Frank Gardner (Lola T192).

On lap 7 Matich overhauled Cannon. McRae caught up with the tail-enders and lapped Geoff Mardon who was wrestling with an inoperative clutch. Allen and Gardner were battling behind Cannon, with Guthrie up to sixth, ahead of Pilette, Lawrence and Geoghegan. O'Sullivan had passed Brown and Amon was threatening to do likewise. Behind them came the surprisingly fast Lotus 69, Ford twin-cam powered, of Dave McConnell.

After 10 laps McRae led Matich by 15 sec and Gardner had taken Allen, who parked his car a lap later with magneto trouble. Pilette was the next casualty when, in lap 15, a rear tyre punctured and disintegrated. The Belgian kept his M10B on the track, but there was a dangerous fall-out from the incident: a chunk of the tyre, picked up by the wheel of another car, clouted Matich on his helmet before knocking his M10B's wing out of shape. The dazed Matich collected his senses and pressed on. Two laps later Geoghegan's battle with Lawrence ceased when the Australian pitted to have a flat tyre replaced. Three laps later Gardner spun his Lola T192 back to seventh place.

Then it was Cannon's turn as he swerved to avoid O'Sullivan's M10A at the entrance to the Loop. Cannon's M10B struck a course marker drum which wrinkled its rear suspension. The order became: McRae, running unopposed; Matich; Lawrence, the Ferrari clearly outpaced by the leading 5-litre cars but going like a well-oiled clock; Guthrie; Amon; Gardner.

Cannon's McLaren M10B after hitting the course marker.

McRae was driving with some restraint as his oil and water temperature gauges had begun to soar because a piece of paper had partially blocked the air intake of his M10B, but he steadily outstripped the field. It was not because he was going faster: the rest had slacked off a little, realising they had small chance of improving. By the end of lap 28 McRae doubled Lawrence, who was securely third, and nine laps later Matich did the same. There were few changes after that. Amon found himself fourth when Gardner had another spin in lap 35, but the March driver was demoted by the Lola T192 three laps later. The final retirement was that of Noyes, who ran out of petrol after 40 laps. McRae came home clear of Matich, Lawrence, Gardner, Amon, Guthrie, O'Sullivan, and Geoghegan, who had worked hard to get back into the top ten. Brown and McConnell were flagged off next.

20th Lady Wigram Trophy

Date: 16th January 1971
Venue: Wigram Airfield

44 laps of 3.68kms (161.9kms)

Result Driver Nat Car


1 Graham McRae NZ McLaren M10B / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 44 57m 51.8s
2 Frank Matich Aust McLaren M10B / Repco 4940cc V8 44 58m 19.5s
3 Graeme Lawrence NZ Ferrari 246T / Ferrari 2417cc V6 43  
4 Frank Gardner Aust Lola T192 / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 43  
5 Chris Amon NZ March 701 / Cosworth 2491cc V8 43  
6 Malcolm Guthrie UK Lola T192 / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 42  
7 Don O'Sullivan Aust McLaren M10A / Repco 4940cc V8 42  
8 Leo Geoghegan Aust Lotus 59 / Waggott 1992cc 4cyl 41  
9 Bob Brown USA Lola T190 / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 41  
10 Dave McConnell Can Lotus 69 / Ford 1598cc 4cyl 40  
11 Neil Doyle NZ Begg FM2 / Chevrolet 4948cc V8 40  
Ret Evan Noyes USA Brabham BT29 / Cosworth 1850cc 4cyl 40 Out Of Fuel
12 Allan Rhodes NZ Brabham BT21 / Ford 1598cc 4cyl 39  
13 Frank Radisich NZ McLaren M10A / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 32  
Ret John Cannon UK McLaren M10B / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 21 Accident
Ret Teddy Pilette Belg McLaren M10B / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 15 Puncture
Ret Geoff Mardon NZ Begg FM4 / Chevrolet 4948cc V8 10 Clutch
Ret Niel Allen Aust McLaren M10B / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 8 Magneto
Ret Kevin Bartlett Aust Mildren / Chevrolet 4988cc V8 8 Coil
DNS Baron Robertson NZ Brabham BT23C / Cosworth 1598cc 4cyl    
DNS Robbie Francevic NZ Katipo M70 / Chevrolet 4948cc V8   Engine
DNS Bryan Faloon NZ Rorstan Mk1a / Porsche 1990 8cyl   Gear Ratios
DNS Mike Eyerly USA Surtees TS8 / Chevrolet 4988cc V8   Suspension
DNS David Oxton NZ March 701 / Cosworth 2491cc V8   Chris Amon 

Fastest laps: G McRae 1 min 17.3 sec            (Record).


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