Richard Robarts

Richard Robarts

22/9/1944

Richard Robarts participated in 4 grands prix. After paying for an F1 drive with Brabham in 1974, Robarts lost it after three races to the better-funded Rikky von Opel. Robarts later raced in Formula 2.

Robarts was farmer from Bicknacre, just outside Chemlsford in Essex. He was almost 25 before he started racing in 1969, initially with an Aston Martin Lagonda but before the end of the year he switched to a Ginetta Formula Ford.

Sticking with Formula Ford in 1971 with a Palliser and an Elden in 1972 he scored a few respectable results.

For 1973 he moved up to Formula 3 with a GRD and landed backing from the Myson boiler and radiator company. Midseason he switched to a Ensign and rounded out a good year by finishing first in the Lombard North Central Championship, equal with the tallented Tony Brise, and third in the Forward Trust Championship.

He then decided to jump straight into F1 in 1974 and, with sponsorship from a wealthy estate agent friend, hired the second Brabham vacated by Wilson Fittpaldi.

As team mate to Carlos Reutemann, he qualifyed in 22nd position, just over 2.2s slower than Reutemann, for the Argentine Grand Prix in one of Gordon Murray's Brabham BT44 Cosworths. In the race, he was up to 15th position when he retired with gearbox problems after 36 laps. In Brasil Reutemann was on the front row while Robarts could only manage 24th, 6.88s off the pole. In the race he did nothing to improve his popularity in some quarters by taking out pole-sitter James Hunt's Hesketh.

At Kyalami Richard qualified 23rd, 2.02s off pole, while Reutemann was 4th. In the race Carlos stormed to victory  while Robarts finished a lowly 17th, four laps adrift of his team-mate. At the non-championship International Trophy at Silverstone he was well beaten by John Nicholson in the uncompetetive Lyncar. With his lack of speed and talk that his backing had fallen through, Ecclestone dropped him in favour of the well-funded Rikki von Opel.

There was a chance to drive for Frank Williams in Sweden with the Iso Marlboro FW02 when Arturo Merzario was unwell. However Tom Belso crashed his car heavily in practice and Williams handed over Robarts's car to the Dane.

In 1975 he made four starts in the sports car World Championship of Makes driving with Robin Smith in a Chevron B23 Ford. At Monza they finished 8th and second in class and at the Nurburgring they came tenth, once again finishing second in class.

Richard reappeared in Formula 2 in 1976 at the wheel of a year old Myson-sponsored March 752. His first race a round of the Shellsport Group 8 Formula Libre championship at Mallory Park was encouraging. He qualified on the front row but retired in the race. However in the Formula 2 championship he found the going tougher and, in the third race, at Vallelunga, he destroyed the car in a huge accident which fortunately left him with nothing worse than a broken nose. He bought another car and tried to make a comeback. The results were not very impressive in either the F2 series or in the Shellsport G8 International Series although he did finish second in the penultimate Shellsport G8 event at Brands Hatch in October and third a few weeks later.

He now lives at Steeple, in Essex, and he is a director of a large, specialist coach-building company.

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