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Hunt's Hesketh to be auctioned

NEWS STORY
09/02/2014

While it is James Hunt's title-winning McLaren that is currently in the spotlight, the car with which he scored his first F1 victory is up for sale in May.

Granted, that win came in a non-championship race, the International Trophy at Silverstone, but it was significant in that it marked the beginning of one of the true fairy tales that F1 experiences from time to time… and surely one deserving of its own movie.

Having entered F1 in 1973, albeit with a March 731, Hesketh Racing, formed by English eccentric Lord Hesketh and Anthony 'Bubbles' Horsley, recruited Harvey Postlethwaite to pen what was to become the 308, the team's first effort as a constructor.

With its aluminium monocoque body, the 308 certainly looked the part, and with power coming courtesy of Ford’s powerful and ultra-reliable Cosworth DFV, the car had all the credentials to be successful.

However, with the might of the highly funded, established teams as Ferrari, Lotus, and McLaren to compete against, few people gave the fledgling and unsponsored newcomers any real chance of proving to be competitive. This view was to quickly change.

Only four Hesketh 308 chassis were built, of which the car being offered for sale in May, chassis no. 308-01, is both the first and, arguably, the most significant.

Chassis 308-01 made its debut appearance at the 1974 Brands Hatch Race of Champions, where Hunt staggered the paddock by placing the car on pole; but the race itself ended up proving less successful, as he spun off and retired on lap four.

Two weeks later, 308-01 started its first grand prix in South Africa, where Hunt ran in 5th position for much of the race until he retired with a mechanical failure.

Hunt again took the chassis to pole position at the International Trophy race at Silverstone, where, after a slow start, he clawed his way up the field until he finally passed Ronnie Peterson's Lotus down the inside and into the Woodcote corner; this is now regarded as a landmark, classic moment in racing history, and one that resulted in Hesketh’s first ever Formula One victory.

The chassis was taken to most championship rounds during the 1974 season, serving as either the race car or the team’s T-car.

Chassis 308-01 remained in service with the team into the 1975 season, during which Alan Jones, driving for Harry Stiller Racing, and Harald Ertl took it to three top ten finishes.

Sadly, the 1975 season proved to be less promising than expected for Hesketh Racing and at the end of the year the financially stretched Lord Hesketh pulled the plug on his Formula One ambitions.

Hunt also left the team to join McLaren, where, as we know, he went on to win one of the hardest fought World Championships of all time, beating the brave and badly injured Nikki Lauda to the title, the subject of the highly acclaimed movie, directed by Ron Howard, Rush.

The car is estimated to fetch €400,000–€650,000 at RM’s exclusive biennial Monaco Auction which takes place in the principality during the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique weekend, which takes place from 9 to 10 May 2014.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Jet Jockey, 09/02/2014 13:46

"Perfect timing... Just watched "RUSH" last night and can relate to the car and the team. It was indeed a great movie."

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