54. Ensign N177 1978

S4814 Ensign N177 German GP 1978 – Harald Ertl

The Ensign N177 gave his debut in Formula One in 1977. In the hands of the experienced drivers Clay Regazzoni and Jacky Ickx it was not such a bad racing car. On three occasions the N177 was good enough for points. And if you add the N177 used by Theodore (driven by Patrick Tambay) then the N177 finished tenth in the championship with ten points. Also the following year Ensign drove with the N177. But the team from Mo Nunn usually only had one car. Whoever paid drove the car on Sunday. So there were serveral driver changes during this year. The most famous among them was Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian made his Grand Prix debut for Ensign at the Hockenheimring. In the same race a second N177 was at the start. He ran under the application of Sachs Racing. A German private team which trusted in the experience of Harald Ertl who in 1978 was the star of the German Rennsportmeisterschaft (DRM). The man with the handlebar moustache qualified the car in 23rd position. Almost one year after his last Formula One race in Sweden. P23 meant that he was exactly inbetween two other Germans: Jochen Mass and Hans-Joachim Stuck. Both collided early in the race. And because Rolf Stommelen, the fourth German, was involved in a collision too, the hopes were pinned on Ertl. In fact the Austrian who had a German license since 1974 onwards almost succeeded. Shortly before the end of the race Ertl was on P6. But a engine failure four laps to go prevented the sensation. Ertl was still classified eleventh. And he was also present at the following races in Austria (accident) and the Netherlands (failed to prequalify). In Italy he also raced the N177. But only in prequalifying where he failed. For qualifying he changed to ATS. But without luck. There he also failed. Thus the German GP was the last Formula One race Ertl was classified. In April 1982 the man who competed in a total of 19 Grands Prix died in a plane crash – on his way to the Easter holidays with his family.

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