It was called the Coppa Inter-Europa. It was a GT car support race for that year’s Italian Grand Prix and also a round of the World Sports Car Championship. The only serious contenders were two Aston Martin DP214s, of which Roy was driving one (number 46), the wonderful Lucien Bianchi the other, and no fewer than six Ferrari 250 GTOs enjoying home advantage.
Not that they should have needed it. The GTO was in its prime and the absolutely dominant force in GT racing, so much so that one or another had won the GT class in every single round of the championship they’d entered so far that year, and now it was September with just one more to go after Monza, which a GTO would win too. No one else got a look in, least of all the Aston ‘Project’ cars which had so far failed entirely to realise their apparent potential.
And it looked like much the same would happen in Monza, with Salvadori qualifying in fourth place, more than five seconds behind poleman Mike Parkes and his Maranello Concessionaires entered GTO. But come the race, run over a three-hour duration for a single driver per car, the contest was much closer. The Aston’s weight proving much less an Achilles heel on this ultra-fast track, its power and slippery shape more of the bonus.
From less than half distance and barring retirements, it looked like Parkes would win with Salvo an honourable second. The Ferrari led, and not by much, but appeared able to control the gap. That changed at the half way pitstop, the Aston crew did a far better job than their Maranello counterparts and by the time both had stopped, Roy was three seconds ahead of Mike. The game was on.