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On the 8th lap of the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix, Roger Williamson, who was in only his second Formula 1 race in the March 731 – Ford Cosworth DFV, lost control of the car and crashed hard, as a result of a suspected tyre failure. It happened after the Schleivak turn, Williamson had just negotiated the first of the two Hondenvlak fast left-right bends. The car bounced on the outside into an inadequately secured barrier, which launched it across the track, coming to rest upside down, right on the apex of the second right-hander. The fuel cell of the March ruptured upon the shunt, it was soon engulfed in flames, with the driver trapped in the cockpit. Marshals were unable to put out the fierce fire, all of them with insufficient equipments.
Another brave British driver, his fellow newcomer David Purley also in a March 731 – Ford, stopped his car and ran to assist. He hurled himself into the flames and began a desperate attempt to free his friend, trying to overturn the car on his own. Millions of television viewers saw Purley wildy gesticulating for help from marshals, other drivers and spectators, but no one came to his aid. He ran to the opposite side of the track to get a fire extinguisher, which he emptied into the burning car’s cockpit. But to no avail Williamson died from smoke inhalation, in terrible circumstances.
March 731-Ford Cosworth DFV #04
Dutch Grand Prix
Cornelius Mooij (Worldpressphoto.com); Parool Sport; McKlein
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