The I Gran Premio Republica Italiana was a non-championship Formula One race, held at Vallelunga on June 18, 1972. The race only attracted eight entries, and of those only seven started. It was won by Emerson Fittipaldi in a Lotus-Ford, with Andrea de Adamich's Surtees-Ford in second and Nanni Galli's Tecno third. The latter two drivers recorded their highest finishes ever in Formula One. The race was held on the date of the canceled Dutch Grand Prix, in the hope that the CSI would grant the organizers a championship race. Eventually that second Italian race would become a reality nine years later, but at Imola, not Vallelunga.
The management of the Vallelunga circuit had a brilliant idea, at least to themselves. Formula One had offered a second Grand Prix to the United States, so why couldn't there be a second GP in racing-mad Italy? The management scheduled a race on the date originally allocated to the now-canceled Dutch Grand Prix, and petitioned the CSI to hold a championship race on that date. Unfortunately, the CSI turned down the application flat. The organizers were left with a non-championship date in the midst of a fairly crowded schedule. Even worse, they had neglected to add any supporting races to the weekend, which could have been disastrous. Ultimately the lure of any type of Formula One within a short driving distance to Roma ensured that a large enough crowd to cover expenses would attend.
On the other hand, the entry list was tiny, to say the least. Ultimately only eight cars entered, most of them expendable spares that the teams could live without if something catastrophic occurred. The worst blow was the failure of Ferrari to attend, even though Arturo Merzario was almost begging for a chance to run with a spare car and a couple of mechanics. The heavy favorite for the race was Emerson Fittipaldi, in the Lotus 72D that had been his regular car in late 1971 and early 1972. The only team to show up with more than one car was BRM, which actually brought the two most recent 160Ds for Howden Ganley and Peter Gethin. The Bourne team did use the weekend to test a number of different parts, setups and aerodynamic tweaks. March sent one of the original 721s as an R&D mule, and gave it to Niki Lauda for engineering feedback. The "stockbroker" 721G of Mike Beuttler was right next door in the pits, and the factory took the opportunity of running both cars in one long test session in preparation for their own 721Gs, set to debut in France in two weeks. Surtees had granted the request of Andrea de Adamich to run on home ground, with clear instructions to not wreck the car. Tecno arrived with Nanni Galli and a new chassis, figuring that they would show off the names of the sponsors, get some badly needed development work in, and that they worst they could do was finish eighth. The final entry was a Frank Williams March, entered for Henri Pescarolo even though the car was normally used by Carlos Pace.
The entry list for the 1972 Italian Republic Grand Prix is outlined below:
|1||Emerson Fittipaldi||John Player Team Lotus||Lotus||72D||Ford Cosworth||DFV 3.0 V8|
|4||Henri Pescarolo||Team Williams Motul||March||711||Ford Cosworth||DFV 3.0 V8|
|6||Andrea de Adamich||Brooke Bond Oxo Team Surtees||Surtees||TS9B||Ford Cosworth||DFV 3.0 V8|
|8||Niki Lauda||STP March Racing Team||March||721||Ford Cosworth||DFV 3.0 V8|
|9||Mike Beuttler||Clarke-Mordaunt-Guthrie Racing||March||721G||Ford Cosworth||DFV 3.0 V8|
|11||Peter Gethin||Marlboro BRM||BRM||P160B||BRM||P142 3.0 V12|
|12||Howden Ganley||Marlboro BRM||BRM||P160B||BRM||P142 3.0 V12|
|14||Nanni Galli||Martini Racing||Tecno||PA123/3||Tecno||Series P 3.0 F12|
Just before the end of practice, Lauda had a tire deflate, pitching the car into the Armco. He was unhurt, but a lack of spares meant he was a non-starter.
Qualifying Results Edit
|5||6||Andrea de Adamich||Surtees-Ford||1:11.08||+1.26|
* - Did not start
|6||Andrea de Adamich|
After Lauda's accident in practice, the field was reduced to seven. Despite the tiny field, a reasonable crowd arrived, as the track is only 20 km from Roma. At the start Fittipaldi jumped into the lead, followed by the two BRMs of Ganley and Gethin, closely followed by Pescarolo and de Adamich, with Beuttler and Galli bringing up the rear. Fittipaldi pulled away from everyone except Ganley, but this was because of a broken end plate on the rear wing of the Lotus. As Fittipaldi realized that he could go faster even with the wing issue, he pulled away from Ganley, and the race settled down into a monotonous procession.
On lap 13, Ganley spun at the corner before the pits, the result of a broken rear radius arm, and after a couple of mechanics ran down to see what was wrong, he was told to bring the car into the pits. He crawled the rest of the way, and was sent back out after losing six laps. Beuttler needed a tire change on lap 31, dropping him behind Galli. Soon after Gethin coasted into the pits with a broken gearbox. Ganley had another issue, this time with a wheel bearing, but the mechanics needed the practice, so it was replaced, and he returned to the race, now a full 20 laps down. Pescarolo and de Adamich had been circulating closely in second and third, about two seconds apart, but this changed when a front wishbone broke on Pescarolo's March on lap 49.
Fittipaldi's wing plate became looser, and eventually broke off entirely, leaving him with rather severe oversteer. He backed off of his earlier pace, with de Adamich (who was the only other driver not lapped) closing to just over 30 seconds behind at the end. Galli got the third spot on the rostrum, running a lap down but a few seconds ahead of Beuttler. The crowd got quite a thrill watching Ganley getting one of his 20 laps back just before the end, as that was one of the few on-track passes of the race.
|2||6||Andrea de Adamich||Surtees-Ford||80||+32.8||5|
|3||14||Nanni Galli||Tecno||79||+1 Lap||7|
|4||9||Mike Beuttler||March-Ford||79||+1 Lap||6|
|5||12||Howden Ganley||BRM||61||+19 Laps||2|
|DNS||8||Niki Lauda||March-Ford||Practice accident|
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