Tag Archives: HSCC

HSCC – Mallory Park – September 2021

The Historic Sports Car Club Contingent taking on the extremely unique Mallory Park was an opportunity I was not willing to miss, even if entry levels were a little on the low side.  With a yellow warning of rain also given out for Sunday’s action it promised to be an interesting outing at the Leicestershire circuit.

Sure enough rain started to fall just before arrival and steadily worsened to an extent that Historic F3 qualifying was red flagged and over an hour’s delay was required to allow the circuit to become drivable again!

Such is the crazy nature of the weather at the moment however that by the time racing commenced at 1pm the only evidence of such a downpour were a few puddles around the circuit perimeter and the odd wet run off area, with blue skies greeting the Midget and Sprite Challenge runners.

Carnage is probably the most appropriate word for what would then take place as the first red flag was waved almost as soon as the lights turned green; a collision between Martin Morris, David Morrison and Edward Weston wiping out 75% of the front two rows of the grid.  And it wasn’t long before the red flag was out again following a nasty collision with the John Cooper Esses tyre wall for Hugh Simpson, thus ending proceedings after just 4 minutes of racing. 

In the meantime, polesitter Paul Sibley (MG Midget), courtesy of being the sole remaining class A runner left, had still managed to develop a 7 second winning margin over Pippa Cow’s class E leading Healey Sprite and class D victor, Tom Walker’s, similar machine.

Exceptional work by the Mallory support staff would ensure the first Historic F3 race would commence with little delay and it would be Ian Bankhurst aboard his Alexis Mk8 who lead the early stages before polesitter Sam Wilson would eventually find a way back past.

Both would soon be concerned by the rapid progress of Jeremy Timms from a lowly 8th place starting position however; The Chevron B15 pilot carving his way through the field to take the lead by half distance and claim an excellent victory by over 2 seconds. With Wilson forced into retirement after a spin, Bankhurst would find himself on the second step of the podium whilst Steve Seaman (Brabham BT21) would set fastest lap of the race on his way to third.

Timms would later complete a victory double after again falling behind Bankhurst at the start! Bankhurst meanwhile just managed to stave off challenges from Wilson and Mike Walker to again claim the runner up spot whilst Walker, aboard his Brabham BT21, would this time round out the podium positions after Wilson’s late retirement.

Historic Formula Ford 2000 machinery lapping Mallory Park was an eagerly anticipated sight and I would not be disappointed.  Courtesy of retiring from race 1 of the weekend, usual front runner Benn Simms would start from 18th on the grid but was upto 3rd in next to no time at all.  Murray Shepherd, aboard his class D none points scoring Van Diemen, proved just too difficult to pass however with Simms trying every which way to demote the race 1 winner to third.  And Shepherd’s race long defensive heroics would ultimately earn him a second victory of the weekend after long time race leader Ian Pearson dropped back late on with his Royale stuck in 3rd gear; a real shame after Pearson’s exceptional lap 1 pass around the outside of Gerard’s!

Whilst the Historic Touring Car entry was disappointingly a little on the sparce side, race 1 at least still proved to be an entertaining affair with Mike Gardiner and Neil Wood locked in a race long battle for top spot; a tussle which Gardiner ultimately won as Wood’s Anglia didn’t quite have the legs to slip past his Lotus Cortina. Mighty qualifying performances in the wet had seen Roger Godfrey take pole in his Mini from the Singer Chamois of Steve Platts. However, with a dry race in prospect, they would find themselves battling it out for the final step on the podium, with Platts nipping past at the hairpin on lap 2 before Godfrey was forced into retirement in the latter stages.

With Gardiner a none starter for race 2, Neil Wood would claim a comfortable race 2 victory whilst Robin Ellis (BMW 1800 Ti) and Paul Wallis (Alfa Giulia Sprint GT) would round out the respective podium positions.

In a much less dramatic second encounter for the Midget and Sprite Challenge runners, Martin Morris provided a glimpse of what might have been as the back row starting Midget man charged through to second place in a relatively short space of time!  Unfortunately for Morris however, Paul Sibley had already developed a commanding lead allowing the series returnee to claim a comfortable second race win of the weekend.  Behind, Pippa Cow would round out the race 2 podium positions with a second class E victory of the weekend.

As anticipated, Mark Charteris was in a league of his own during a pair of Classic Clubman races. The Mallock MK20/21 pilot taking 2 commanding victories whilst also setting fastest race lap of the day with a very rapid 45.072! Dave Facer meanwhile would claim double class B victory, the Mallock MK16 pilot just edging out Tom Muirhead on both occasions.

And in what felt like no time at all I had made the short journey home and was scoffing my tea. Miraculously the organisers had managed to shoe horn 9 races into just 4 afternoon hours, which was pretty good going considering the red flag was required on three separate occasions. This a stark contrast to what felt like hours of waiting around in the morning for the torrential rain to eventually subside.

Hopefully a little more consistent weather will be on offer for my next outing which is scheduled to be the Classic Touring Car Race Club meeting at the very same circuit. See you soon Mallory!

HSCC – Donington Park – June 2021

Steve Soper in a E36 BMW, a full Thundersports grid containing both March and McLaren Can-Am machinery, Michael Lyons piloting a Lola T400 and the excellent GT and Sports Car Cup; all good reasons to make the short trip to Donington Park for the end of June Historic Sports Car Club meet.

Sunday was the day of choice and, having made the enormous walk to the pit straight (here’s hoping paddocks will be open by the end of July), was treated to an excellent Classic Formula Ford race to kick off proceedings. With most fully expecting another Cam Jackson victory, we were instead treated to an excellent tussle between the aforementioned Jackson, Henry Chart and Jordan Harrison.

Having just managed to maintain the lead in the early stages Jackson would unfortunately be forced into retirement with gear linkage issues though, thus leaving the way clear for either Harrison or Chart to end Jackson’s early season domination. Chart, in his Van Diemen, looked to just have enough to keep Harrison at bay, however the Lola T540E pilot managed to edge into the lead at the Craner Curves with 3 laps remaining and subsequently take the flag with a mere 0.154 seconds in hand. Formula Ford racing at it’s very best.

It didn’t turn out to be a great day for Jackson who later saw his 100% Historic Formula Ford record fall too following a phenomenal drive by Tom McArthur aboard his Titan MK4. McArthur looked to have lost any chance of victory after losing time in traffic but, after setting fastest lap after fastest lap, managed to toe up to the back of Jackson’s Winkelmann and Horatio Fitz-Simon’s Classic team Merlin and slip past both on the final lap (Fitz-Simon at Redgate and Jackson through Schwantz Curve). A Titan-ic drive from McArthur.

The GT and Sports Car Cup is a personal favourite of mine.  The variety of 60’s sports cars achieved through being an invitation only event just cannot be beaten; wonderfully evidenced by Andrew Haddon leading the opening stages of the race in his Lotus Elan with the Cobra 289 of Chris Giles Jnr, Matthew Wrigley piloted E-Type and Fred Wakeman’s Lister Jaguar Coupe just behind. 

Whilst the Cobra managed to re-take the lead of the race before the pitstops, it was the Elan, now with Andy Wolfe behind the wheel, which emerged in the lead once the pit window had closed; a lead which the Cobra, now in the hands of Simon Garrad, could do little about, leaving Wolfe to claim victory by a whopping 38 seconds!  A now smoking E-type in the hands of Mike Wrigley tried his best to hold onto the final podium step but could not keep historic ace Patrick Blakeney Edwards (Lister Jaguar) at bay as the hour drew to a close. 

Further back GT3 class honours went the way of Jeremy Welch and Doug Muirhead with 12th place overall; a great achievement considering they had to swap cars overnight resulting in a back row starting position!  With 16th position overall Richard Cook and Richard Tuthill claimed GT2 top spot in their Porsche 911 despite a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits.

The Dunlop Saloon Car Cup and Historic Touring Car grids were combined for their two races on the day which culminated in a mammoth 36 car grid for race 1. Unsurprisingly both races were affected by Safety Car periods however little could get in the way of Simon Garrad’s Skyline who on best lap times was over 2.5 seconds quicker than second placed Sean Brown’s stunningly turned out RS500.

Fortunately for the rest of the field, Garrad failed to make the grid for race 2 which allowed Soper to make amends for his race 1 trip to the Roberts chicane gravel trap and claim race 2 victory from the back of the DSCC grid!

Mustangs, Minis and Cortinas a plenty graced the Historic Touring Car element of the grid but there was no stopping Dan Williamson (Ford Falcon) who claimed a pair of victories with an incredible 7th and 4th place respective overall finishes. The Cortina’s of Marcus Jewell and Mark Martin would round out the podium positions in both races, each claiming an Appendix K 2 litre class victory a piece.

Is there a better sight than a McLaren M8F powering around Donington Park? Possibly a Michael Lyons piloted F5000 car … A debate for the pub maybe! Dean Forward’s M8F looks particularly stunning in JCB colours and it goes as well as it looks, with Forward claiming a second win of the weekend following Callum Lockie’s enforced retirement; the front bodywork of the March 717 removing itself on the Wheatcroft Straight part way through the race. Behind, Mark Richardson claimed 2 litre honours in his immaculately turned out Lola T290.

Later on the relatively small crowd were treated to a Michael Lyons Masterclass in the 2nd Aurora Trophy race of the weekend. The ridiculously quick Lyons, aboard his Lola T400, managing to lap the entire field in just 20 minutes of racing; a field which included the Chevron’s of Paul Campfield, Martyn Donn and Michael Bletsoe-Brown and March 742 of Mark Dwyer, all far from slow pilots of single seater machinery. A 1.04.63 lap around the Donington Park National Circuit is quicker than anything I have seen for quite some time! A strong argument from the single seater side of the aforementioned pub debate!

Continuing the earlier theme of competitive wingless single seater action, Andrew Hibberd, Jeremy Timms and Benn Simms formed a 3 way battle for victory in the Historic Formula 3 race.  A red flag would ultimately shorten a great battle which saw pole sitter Andrew Hibberd just about stave off pressure from Simms and Timms to claim his second victory of the weekend aboard the Brabham BT18.

Such is the current health of the Historic Formula Ford 2000 championship that a qualifying race is required to reduce the entries down to a maximum 32 starters for the championship race! And the championship race turned into yet another closely fought affair, with Graham Fennymore (Reynard SF81) putting in a stellar defensive drive to take a second race win of the weekend from the Royale of Ian Pearson and Delta of Ben Tilley. Pearson and 2020 champion, Andrew Park, both tried their very best to snatch victory but just could not find a way through, with Park’s final attempt causing him to drop out of the podium positions.

Behind, 70 year old Adrian Reynard himself (the man responsible for half the cars on the grid!) put in a great drive to claim 6th overall in the Championship race following victory in the earlier qualifying event.

30 minute races for both the Historic and 70’s Road Sports had attracted healthy entries. The Elan of John Davison and AC Cobra of Kevin Kivlochan were expected to lock horns in the Historic Road Sports race and the pair got a little too close for comfort at the old hairpin in the early stages which left both cars behind another Elan in the hands of Paul Tooms. Davison was the quickest man in qualifying and this form ultimately carried over to the race as whilst both Davison and Kivlochan were able to re-pass Tooms, the Cobra pilot could do nothing about the pole sitter.

The 70’s Road Sports race turned into a race of 2 halves (Literally) as oil dropped by Greg Thornton’s Ferrari 308 caused a red flag with 10 minutes still left on the clock.  Morgans were the car to have on the day though as not even the red flag could get in the way of a Plant one two (William leading home Richard) in their Plus 8’s.  Despite ending up in the gravel before the red flag, Jim Dean, in his Lotus Europa, was able to take up third on the restart grid courtesy of count back regulations and ultimately prevented a Morgan lock out of the podium positions by pipping Kevin Kivlochan’s hard top model to 3rd.

It is great to live just 15 minutes from my favourite circuit and with such a full day’s activities it is a good job too as I still found myself out of the house for almost 11 hours! And whilst the weather proved to be dull throughout the racing was far from it. I am not sure I can remember a better day’s racing; not a single race felt like a filler event with close battles throughout. It had been a while since I last witnessed a HSCC meeting but I will certainly attempt to get to a second before the year is out. Mid September at Mallory Park has been firmly pencilled into the diary!

GALLERY

Smith Stars at Oulton’s Stellar Gold Cup

Already an excellent event, the Oulton Park Gold Cup stepped up yet another gear in 2017 with the addition of both the Historic Touring Car Challenge and FIA Historic F2 International Series.  And, when considering the ultra competitive HSCC Historic Formula Ford and Pre-66 Touring Car championship events featured heavily on the Bank Holiday Monday undercard, the more than respectable crowd were in for a real treat.

The HSCC organised Historic F2 championship appears to have suffered very little from the emergence of Peter Auto’s rival series in 2017 with some 25 cars taking to the Cheshire track over the weekend.  And whilst Darwin Smith dominated proceedings in race 1 to claim victory by 17 seconds, he would have his work cut out in race 2 as the event quickly turned into a two horse race.

Donington winner, Richard Evans is regularly a front runner in this category and on this occasion refused to let the Northern Irishman out of his sights as the two bright yellow machines pulled away from the pack.  But, despite Evans’ best efforts he never really got close enough to challenge; the series returnee, in his formidable March 722, appearing unbeatable around the picturesque parkland circuit as he went on to record his second victory in as many days.  The Gold Cup, awarded to the aggregate winner of the 2 F2 races, just reward for Smith’s utterly brilliant drive.

The Motor Racing Legends organised Historic Touring Car Challenge was a very welcome addition to the Bank Holiday Monday schedule where, for a trial period commencing with the Gold Cup, Group A RS500s have been allowed to join the party.  And whilst Chris Ward claimed pole position for the 50 minute race with a late charge in the JD Classics Rover Vitesse (shared with Steve Soper), it was the Mark Wright piloted RS500 which leapt into an early lead; his pace over the opening laps as he pulled away from Ric Wood’s Capri and the pole sitting Rover possibly the reason why these machines had previously been off the menu!

Having dominated earlier in the season at Donington Park, Soper was not quite able to deliver the same level of performane at Oulton.  Ward on the other hand is rapid everywhere and an early stop to get the ex Silverstone Chief Driving Instructor behind the wheel would pay dividends as Ward found himself in the lead of the race as the mandatory pitstops unwound.

Had it not been for fuel starvation issues, Dave Coyne, in the RS500 started by Wright, may well have challenged for victory.  However the intermittent problem would play havoc throughout the second half of the race with the 1990 Formula Ford Festival winner doing well to salvage fourth 4th with a last lap charge.

As it was, despite suffering a braking issue, Ward was able to take a comfortable victory in the end, with the Capri of Ric Wood and the late stopping M3 E30 of Mark Smith rounding out the podium positions.  This had been a classy drive by the JD Classics man and Soper was the first to acknowledge that Ward was largely to thank for their top step of the podium appearance.

This wasn’t the only touring car action of the day however with the schedule also including 2 historic touring car races for the pre-66 machines as well as a second encounter for the end of millennium Super Tourers.

The Honda Accord is often the car to beat in the HSCC run Super Touring Car Trophy and the second race at Oulton provided no surprise in this respect; Stewart Whyte heading a 1-2 for the Japanese brand to register his second victory of the weekend.  Meanwhile, Gianfranco Brancatelli claimed 6th position overall to take class A honours in the very same RS500 he drove to Spa 24 hour victory in 1989.

Qualifying for the Pre-66 machines saw Ford Falcon pilot, Jack Drury, require just 4 laps to take pole position by a massive 1.4 seconds.  It was to no avail however as a broken oil pump, which cut short his qualifying session, also caused him to miss race 1 whilst the engine was changed!  This left the door open for the smaller engined marques to flourish with James Clarke leading home Richard Belcher to complete a Ford Cortina 1-2 and Jonathan Lewis in his Mini Cooper S registering an excellent third.

The Falcon was fixed for race 2 however and despite having to start from the back of the grid, Drury was in the lead of the race before the end of lap 4; his victory by more than 13 seconds underlining his total dominance of the category on the day.  With such a performance gap, a double race victory should have been a formality and the ex BMW driver will hope his championship push is not impacted by the unfortunate reliability issues experienced in qualifying.

As has often been the case in 2017 a healthy grid of Formula Ford machinery had been gathered for the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting and it was no surprise to find Richard Tarling and Callum Grant again battling it out for victory.  But whilst overtaking was plentiful at Croft, it was not so easy at Oulton and try as Grant might he could not find a way passed the Janum T2 of Tarling in either race; Tarling again showing his defensive skills to record a double victory despite suffering a broken exhaust in the days first encounter. And whilst Tarling’s two strong results kept him well in the title frame, a distinctly under the weather Grant (2016 champion) all but threw in the towel following another strong points haul for series leader Michael O’Brien.

Benn Tilley put in 2 strong Formula Ford performances to claim creditable 6th and 7th placed finishes but it was the Formula Junior category where the youngster truly excelled; the Lotus 22 pilot going on to record his first and second overall victories in the Silverline backed series as John Fyda and Peter De La Roche, on both occasions, rounded out the podium positions.

In the Second Derek Bell Trophy race of the weekend, a drive train problem with his March 79B denied Andrew Smith the chance of a double win.  Instead, Neil Glover powered his F5000 Chevron B37 to victory as the 2 litre F2 Chevron B27 of Mike Bletsoe-Brown and the March 712 of James King, fresh from his brilliant F2 performance to claim class A honours, rounded out the podium positions.  Behind, Julian Stokes came out on top of the Techno F2 battle to claim Classic Racing Car victory with race 1 winner, Daniel Pyett unfortunately ending the day in the Old Hall barriers.

And last but not least, there looked to be a huge shock on the cards in the Classic Clubmans race as John Harrison lead much of the early running.  Mark Charteris is very rarely beaten in this category however and would not be denied on this occasion either; the Watford man making the crucial pass at Cascades on lap 8 before going on to record a 3.6 second victory.

Was there a better way to spend August Bank Holiday Monday?  I think not.  Having absolutely loved the Gold Cup meeting last year I wasn’t sure it could be bettered.  I was wrong.  Witnessing historic F2 machinery lapping Oulton in sub 1.36 times is something else, as was the sound of many a V8 at full chat in the Historic Touring Car Challenge.  More of the same next year please!

FULL RESULTS

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Cracking Racing at Croft Nostalgia

Although racing is Croft’s primary motorsport discipline,  I had previously only managed to witness Rallying and Rally-Cross at the North Yorkshire venue.  Racing at Croft had long been on my agenda though and the opening day of the Croft Nostalgia Festival would fit nicely into my 2017 plans.  Now in it’s 8th year this event definitely has more of a festival feel than other fixtures on the HSCC calendar, with many a military, aerospace and general motoring related display on offer to compliment the usual array of car clubs.  Not to mention the large groups of people attending in period dress.

It is the on track action that essentially drew me in however and in particular the 60’s Sports Prototypes and GT machinery taking part in the 40 minute Guards Trophy race.  Qualifying had seen 2 Chevron B8s in the hands of Phillip Nelson and Charles Allison top the time sheets and the race for outright victory would soon develop into a great battle between the front row starters.

Running second in the early stages, Allison is already a double Guards Trophy winner in 2017 and by lap 4 he was again at the head of the field.  Any thoughts he had of disappearing into the distance were soon dispelled however as the Chichester man could not break away.  Nelson was well on the pace at Croft and the pole sitter remarkably re-took the lead with an excellent move down the inside at Clervoux on lap 8.  But much like Allison earlier, Nelson was unable to shake off his rival; Allison remaining in his wheel tracks before making his mandatory pitstop on lap 14.

And it would be this early pitstop that proved decisive as Nelson emerged from pit lane 2 laps later in second position.  A slow lap 21 was then the final blow for the chasing Chevron pilot, thus gifting Allison the cushion he required to, in the end, take a comfortable third victory of the season.

The GT battle also proved highly competitive, however, no one could quite match the pace of Mike Gardiner and Dan Cox in the TVR Griffith.  Indeed, had it not been for Ben Mitchell’s excellent recovery drive in the Elva MK7S, an overall podium may well have been on the cards.

The Historic Formula Ford action has been brilliant in it’s 50th anniversary year and that trend most definitely followed suit at Croft.  In the earlier qualifying race, Max Bartell had taken victory from Sam Mitchell, rewarding them with a respective 7th and 8th on the championship race grid.  However, neither were a match for Callum Grant, Michael O’Brien and Richard Tarling as the trio headed by pole sitter and 2016 champion Grant edged away from the field.  Grant would in fact maintain top spot for much of the early running before O’Brien eventually managed to sneak passed at Tower on lap 5.  But, as is the nature of Formula Ford racing, O’Brien would not maintain the lead for long; with he and Grant appearing to take it in turns to top the time sheets over the coming laps.

Meanwhile, Tarling appeared happy to sit in third.  Up until lap 9 that is when he stole 2nd from O’Brien; a move which put the Henley on Thames driver in pole position for victory when Grant was forced off track at Sunny-in following an altercation with a back marker.  And having survived the chaos, Richard Tarling now found himself in the lead of the race with just over 1 lap to run; the Janum T2 pilot defending well to record a quite brilliant second victory of the season from the chasing Merlyn of Michael O’Brien.

A wide variety of machinery had turned out for the Historic Touring Car race where the Ford Cortina proved to be the car to beat.  Surprisingly however it was the Class B, out of period, 2 litre machine of Richard Belcher who took pole position from the more conventional class C Lotus Cortina of James Clarke.  And once Clarke was forced into retirement on lap 3, there was only ever going to be one winner as neither the Mustang of Peter Halford or the Falcon of Jack Drury had the pace to challenge.  And so whilst Belcher went on to record the most unlikely of victories, the championship battle roared on behind.  It would however be Halford who grabbed the all important maximum class K1 points with Drury struggling with setup at the North Yorkshire venue.

Towcester man Jon Milicevic is usually the man to beat in Historic F3 and whilst he would eventually take the category top spot with 4th overall the final result masks the story of the race.  In fact Milicevic, in his Brabham BT21B, was involved in an almighty battle with the Merlyn MK14A of Jonathon Hughes in the early stages; the pair swapping positions on more than one occasion before Hughes disappointingly fell out of contention with a spin at the chicane on lap 8.  Upfront meanwhile, Julian Stokes, in his Techno F2 machine, claimed overall victory in the combined Classic Racing Car/Historic F3 race.  But having built a large lead at the start was almost caught by a fast charging Nick Pancisi in his March 712 Atlantic.

The Formula Junior entry may not have boasted the same level of entry as the Historic Formula Ford event, however, it did feature a, Formula Ford like mid-race duel.  Following a short safety car intervention, pole sitter and early leader Benn Tilley came under attack from Jonathon Hughes.  Where, fresh from a starring performance in the Historic F3 event, the local man managed to squeeze his Brabham BT6 into the lead at Tower on lap 7.  But whilst Hughes would fall back behind Tilley before the lap was out, he would be back in front before the end of the next,  with Tilley this time not able to respond;  Hughes instead managing to maintain the lead over the remaining laps and record victory by just over half a second.

A longer safety car period in the combined Historic/70s Road Sports race would unfortunately ruin the race as a spectacle.  It was however relatively surprising to see the Historic machines hold an advantage over their younger counterparts, with John Davison leading home a Lotus Elan 1-2.  Meanwhile Charles Barter just about claimed the 70s Road Sport victory with third overall; The Datsun 240z pilot out-dragging the Lotus Europa of Will Leverett having initially looked to have lost the position at the final hairpin.

Sunday’s highlights included a first championship victory of the season for Michael O’Brien in Historic Formula Ford and a return to form of Jack Drury in the second Historic Touring Car race.  Meanwhile Andrew Park and Mark Charteris claimed double wins in the respective Historic Formula Ford 2000 and Classic Clubmans events, whilst Jonathon Hughes, Jon Milicevic, Julian Stokes, John Davison and Charles Barter also claimed a second victory of the weekend.

FULL RESULTS

This had been another thoroughly enjoyable day out following the HSCC brigade and for an admission price of just £14 it represented great value for money.  With this in mind I am already looking forward to my next slice of HSCC action; the Oulton Park Gold Cup at the end of August.

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Ward Stars at 7th Annual Donington Historic

The 2017 running of the Donington Historic Festival also coincided with the 40th anniversary of Donington Park’s re-opening, and fittingly over 450 classic motor racing machines, many with a rich sporting history, had been attracted to the 7th running of the event.  The Leicestershire circuit was in great shape too;  now properly re-grassed and landscaped following the F1 debacle, the infield is at last fully open to the public.  And with the infield bankings providing some of the best spectator viewing in the UK there really was no better place to take in the weekend’s 19 races.

Saturday’s schedule included 10 of the aforementioned races and Historic racing ace, Chris Ward would amazingly find himself standing on the podium’s top step on 3 occasions!  The first of which would come alongside Touring Car Legend, Steve Soper, in the Bastos livieried Rover Vitesse.  But having qualified the British built machine on pole for the 1 hour long Historic Touring Car Challenge, Ward instead jumped into the TWR Jaguar XJ8.  And whilst Soper developed an early lead, Ward set about bringing the big cat towards the front, leading to suggestions that the versatile JD Classics man could in fact appear on the podium twice!  ECU issues would unfortunately negate that prospect but once Ward was aboard the Rover there was only ever going to be one winner; the pairing going on to record a dominant 36 second victory.

A second success would soon follow, this time aboard the stunning Lister Costin in the Stirling Moss Trophy race for Pre-61 Sportscars; a race win which in many respects was his toughest of the day.  In what effectively became a two horse race,  Will Nuthall, in a Lister Knobbly, would sit in the wheel tracks of Ward’s Costin bodied machine for almost the entirety of the one hour race.  However the healthy crowd were robbed of a close finish when Nuthall was dealt a late double blow; first, a one minute time penalty for a late decision to drive solo, and second, by hitting car trouble on the very last lap.  Such was the dominance of the leading two Listers however that Nuthall was still classified in second!

Ward was then at it again in Saturday’s final race of the day; the ex-Silverstone Chief Instructor once again joining Paul Gibson in his continuation Lola T70 MK3 for the 90 minute ‘1000km’ race for pre-73 prototypes.  Whilst the entry was a little on the disappointing side it was more than made up for in terms of quality and the early running was made by the 3  T70 MK3s in the field; Paul Gibson ahead of Leo Voyazides and Chris Beighton.

By lap 29, both Gibson and Voyazides had handed over their respective machines to Chris Ward and Simon Hadfield, with a quicker pit stop for the latter allowing Hadfield to emerge in front.  Ward however was driving like a man possessed and with lap times consistently below the 1.11 marker, was quickly on the tail of Hadfield and into the lead once Beighton had pitted for Greensall on lap 38.  Hadfield is reknowned for his pace in historic machinery but even he could not match the low 1.08s Ward was achieving in clean air, leaving Gibson and Ward to claim victory for the third time in as many years.  What a day this had been for the one time Nissan man!

Once again Touring Cars from latter half of the twentieth century would feature heavily at this years festival and as a result stars such as the aforementioned Steve Soper, Colin Turkington, Adam Morgan, Patrick Watts and Andrew Jordan were all set to compete.

In fact, prior to his success in the Historic Touring Car Challenge, Soper had taken the brand new Team Dynamics built Lotus Cortina to second in the first of two races for pre-66 under 2 litre Touring Cars.  Traditionally the Cortina’s have been no match for the Andrew and Max Banks piloted Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint and even the touring car expertise of Soper could not reverse the fortunes of the popular Ford machine.  As it was the pole sitting Alfa duo were never troubled as they went on to record a 23 second victory.  Soper meanwhile had to fight his way passed the similar Lotus Cortina’s of Andy Wolfe and Oscar Rovelli after a slow pit stop to claim second, while Rovelli went on to snatch third from Wolfe on the finish line!

Sunday’s second race may well have had a similar outcome, in that Andrew and Max Banks recorded yet another victory, however the Cortinas appeared much more competitive on this occasion.  In fact Soper almost made it into the lead at Goddards on lap 2 but would fall back into the clutches of fellow Cortina man, Andy Wolfe after running wide.

A mid race safety car would however allow both Cortina drivers another shot at the leading Alfa and Andy Wolfe would emerge as Banks’ closest challenger at the restart.  But, an unsuccessful attempt for the lead around the outside of the chicane would ultimately allow Banks to escape to victory and Soper to close in and re-take second at Hollywood.   Wolfe was far from finished though and the two Cortinas would swap positions on more than one occasion before Soper eventually claimed his second runner up spot in as many days.

Many of the under 2 litre machines would again take to the track for the final Touring Car race of the weekend, the HRDC ‘Coys’ Trophy; an event again catering for pre-66 machines but this time with no engine capacity restrictions.  And whilst there was no sign of the Banks’ Alfa, the Lotus Cortina pilots would this time have to contend with brutish American muscle in the form Ford’s Falcon and Mustang models.  And it was the pole sitting Ford Falcon in the hands of Jack Drury, fresh from his Donington HSCC HTC success earlier in the month, who would slip in front of Soper as the cars headed for the mandatory mid race pit stops.

Once complete there was nothing to choose between Drury and Soper and expectations were high for a great battle to the finish.  Unfortunately the duel would be short lived however as both cars found themselves on the retirement list courtesy of a collision with a back marker at McLeans.  This left another Cortina in the hands of David Tomlin to take victory from the similar machine of Graham Pattle and the Mustang of Mark Burton.

The Donington Historic Festival also played host to the opening two rounds of the 2017, HSCC organised, Super Touring Car Challenge and it was James Dodd who claimed a brace of commanding victories in his Honda Accord; beating the Alfa Romeo 150 STW of Neil Smith to top spot by 15 seconds in race 1 and the similar Accord of father Graeme by 41 seconds in race 2.

Meanwhile, Mike Jordan, paired with his 2013 BTCC champion son, Andrew, aboard the family run Austin ‘GT’40 recorded a dominant victory in the HRDC Pre-60 Touring Car race.  Despite an early safety car period, the very rapid duo claimed victory by a mammoth 52 seconds over the Butterfield/Dorlin Jaguar MK1.

Whilst it was great to see so many touring cars at the festival it is ultimately the Sports and GT Cars that draw me back year after year.  And pleasingly a jam packed field took to the track for Sunday morning’s 2 hour GT and Sports Car Cup for Pre-66 GT and Pre-63 Sportscars.

Last year Grahame and Oliver Bryant had claimed victory and it wasn’t long before Oliver Bryant had established a healthy lead over the chasing Cobra’s of Robert Bremner and Leo Voyazides and the E-type Jaguar of Carlos Monteverde.  The rules for this race dictate a maximum of 50 minute stints and whilst Oliver Bryant escaped from the pack prior to the enforced stop, Grahame was unlikely to lap at the same speed.  Hadfield and Pearson, subbing for Voyazides and Monteverde respectively meanwhile were the quicker drivers in their pairings and began to quickly close in on the leading Cobra.

A long safety car period, for oil at the chicane, would however dampen the race as a spectacle somewhat; enough time passing for the elder Bryant to be relieved of his duties under the caution period, allowing Bryant the younger to go on and take a comfortable 39 second victory.  The battle behind was far less clear cut however.  Whilst Hadfield had managed to keep Pearson behind, the positions were reversed soon after the second pitstops; the Voyazides Cobra dropping time and two positions with an excursion at McLeans.   Thus ensuring the Monteverde/Pearson and Clark/McCaig E-types would round out the podium positions.

The Pre-War Sports Cars would make a welcome return in 2017 and Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards would quickly establish themselves as the class of the field; the duo going on to record victory by more than 1 lap in their Frazer Nash.  However, the victory may well have been less dominant had fellow front row starter, Sam Stretton, not been forced into retirement in his Alta Sports after just 11 laps.

A day later, Wakeman and Blakeney-Edwards would claim a second victory in the RAC Woodcote Trophy race for Pre-56 Sportscars.  Although Gary Pearson, in a Jaguar D-Typre, lead the opening stages of the race, Fred Wakeman in the Cooper T38 was able to get by at Hollywood on lap 7.  And, with Pearson never re-emerging from his mandatory pitstop, Patrick Blakeney-Edwards was able to go on and record a comfortable victory of more than 1 lap.  The battle for second was fascinating however.  Lying 8th after the mid race pit stops, Simon Hadfield stormed through the field in the Wolfgang Friedrichs Aston Martin DB3S to grab second with just 4 laps remaining!

E-types of various body styles filled the majority of the grid positions in the Jaguar Classic Challenge race and it was Gary Pearson and Ben Short who would battle it out for the lead over the opening stages of the race.  It would have taken some drive to beat Pearson in equal machinery however and as it was the Jaguar expert was able to break away in traffic; eventually taking race victory by 14 seconds.

There was also a nice blend of single seater action across the weekend and a whopping 25 cars made the start of the opening FIA sanctioned Historic Formula 2 race.  Richard Evans had previously claimed pole position by a huge 1.5 seconds in his March 742 and expectation was that he would dominate proceedings in the race.  And whilst a poor start left him fourth behind Mark Dwyer, Daniel Gibson and Frazer Gibney, Evans would find himself at the head of the field by lap 10.  But this appeared to be a race that no-one wanted to win as first Evans and then Dwyer were forced into retirement; the latter pulling off at Redgate with just three laps remaining to leave the way clear for Frazer Gibney to take the most unlikely of victories.

The opening laps of race 2 proved highly entertaining as the rapidly driven cars of Richard Evans, Mark Dwyer and Daniel Gibson all cruised through the field; the grid having been set from the results of race 1.  In fact, such was their pace that by lap 4, Evans, Dwyer and Gibson held the top 3 positions.  But whilst Gibson would again find his Chevron B42 condemned to the retirements list, Evans and Dwyer would, on this occasion, go on to claim the top two steps of the podium, despite the latter suffering from a broken exhaust.  Behind, after a brilliant second in race 1, Robert Simac in his Class A March 712M would put in another superb drive to round out the podium positions.

Elsewhere, John Sykes claimed a double victory in the races for pre-61 Front Engined Formula Junior cars.  The Merlyn MK2 pilot twice getting the better of the Justin Fleming and Robin Longdon piloted Lola MK2’s to record the narrowest of victory margins.

Meanwhile James Murray in his Lola MK5A claimed the first Pre-64 Rear Engined Formula Junior race and John Fyda in his Brabham BT6 claimed the second in what was the final event of an excellent weekend of racing.

What is there not to love about the Donington Historic Festival?  The Coppice tunnel closure and the lack of transmission on 87.7FM for much of Saturday morning were small negatives but these were far outweighted by great racing, fantastic displays (including the ’88 Le mans winning XJR9), and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic commentary pairing.  I am already looking forward to 2018!

RESULTS
GALLERY

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Plenty of ‘Hors’power at Oulton’s Gold Cup

After years of attempting to shoe horn the Oulton Park Gold Cup into my schedule, the 2016 rendition would be my first visit to the Cheshire circuit’s finest historic event.  And what a day and year to pick; glorious August Bank Holiday Monday sunshine the perfect conditions to take in 13 (yes thirteen) largely HSCC organised races.  And as a paying spectator on this occasion, £24 represented great value for money with a vast array of car and period military displays nicely complimenting the jam packed circuit schedule.

Whilst the F2 and F5000 cars in the Derek Bell trophy as well as a fine mix of 20th century touring cars were the big draws for me personally, the Gold Cup itself would be awarded to the aggregate winner of two 20 minute races for the HGPCA Pre-66 Grand Prix cars.  And after strong drive in race 1, Peter Horsmann in his Lotus 18/21, carried a 13 second lead into leg 2 of the event which would take place on Monday lunchtime.

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Any thought of another Horsmann whitewash in race 2 however was quickly dismissed when Rod Jolley in his Cooper T45 made the better start and leapt into an early lead.   And whilst few anticipated the class 7b machine keeping the more advanced Lotus behind for long, Jolley put up a great fight; twice holding top spot before Horsmann made the decisive move on lap 6 to take his Lotus 18/21 to victory by a mere 1.1 seconds and claim the infamous Golden trophy.  Sensational racing!

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As always the Historic Formula Fords provided great entertainment in their 2 twenty minute races.  After an opening lap collision in race 1 brought out the red flag it would be Sam Mitchell who claimed victory in the shortened race.  Lying third entering lap 7, the Cheltenham man was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a final lap incident between race leading duo Benn Simms and Callum Grant.

The day would vastly improve for Simms however.  After claiming second in the Rear Engined Formula Junior event, the Jomo JMR 7 pilot would go one better in the second Historic Formula Ford race.  Lying at the back of a lead group of six in the early stages, the Leicestershire man would take an excellent victory; capitalising on the mechanical woes of others whilst throwing in some fantastic overtaking manoeuvres.

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The Historic Touring Cars never fail to catch my eye and whilst Warren Briggs in his Ford Mustang was able to take a couple of dominant victories the battle behind was far less clear cut.  16 year old James Clarke was in many ways the star of the day; consistently the quickest Lotus Cortina pilot, the youngster went on to claim a well deserved second overall in race 2.  It is a rarity for such a young driver to feature in this series; 3rd placed John Avill best summing it up by claiming all his grandchildren were older than the man standing on the second step of the podium!

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The largely 1990’s built machines in the Super Touring Car challenge were in fact the only field of cars that I was fortunate enough to witness racing in period; the very technologically advanced machines bringing back great childhood memories from the spectator bankings of both Donington and Silverstone.

After recording an impressive 7 second race 1 victory, Stewart Whyte was again in a class of his own in Monday’s second race of the weekend.  Not even John Cleland, again re-united with in the Vectra he once professionally campaigned, could stay on terms with his fellow Scotsman; the Honda Accord pilot going on to record another dominant victory.

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In fact double wins were the theme of the weekend as Andrew Park claimed two impressive Formula Ford 2000 victories whilst Mark Dwyer, in his F2 March 742 twice got the better of the F5000 runners in the Derek Bell Trophy.  Meanwhile Andrew Hibberd and Mark Woodhouse would claim double glory in the respective Formula Junior front engined and rear engined events.

Further 20 minute races for the Classic Racing Cars and Classic Clubman machines would round off the days entertainment where John Murphy proved just too strong for Julian Stokes and Mark Charteris was yet again the pick of the Classic Clubman runners; the reigning champion building a winning margin of over 38 seconds by the the time the chequered flag was waved!

In all there was little not to like about our relatively short Bank Holiday Monday trip across the A50.  The Cheshire circuit has long been a personal favourite and seeing some of the best machinery of yesteryear grace the undulating asphalt was a sight to behold.  Viewing is second to none at Oulton, partly as a result of being able to get close to the action without having ones view obstructed by thick catch fencing.  I will make every effort to return in 2017.

FULL RESULTS

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Donington Delivers one Helluva Historic Festival

In what has become tradition, May Day bank holiday weekend saw the historic racing community welcomed by Donington Park for the 6th running of the utterly brilliant Donington Historic Festival; this year able to benefit from substantial investment which has brought the famous Leicestershire circuit back to it’s very best.

As is also tradition, the early May bank holiday weekend weather was, shall we say, mixed!  Whilst Saturday was blessed with a sunny start and end to the day, hail and rain showers were a feature of the early afternoon; conditions made more tricky by just how cold it was.  It is not normal to see one’s breath in late April, even in England!

The first race of the weekend, the opening round of the HSCC Historic F2 championship, slotted nicely between showers however.  Where, on a drying track, Andrew Smith in his Formula Atlantic specification March 79B was one of a minority to gamble on slicks; a decision which paid dividends as he recorded a dominant 53 second victory over series newcomer Dean Forward.

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And it was the Warwickshire man who was again first to the chequered flag in Sunday’s second encounter.  After quickly passing the fast starting Forward, Smith was able to build a winning margin of 35 seconds over the ‘3rd gear-less’ March 782, making it a weekend to remember for the Team Gunston March pilot.

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The Pre 91 Touring car field were not quite so lucky with the weather.  Whilst a dry start allowed the BMW of Mark Smith to take the lead from pole, rain began to fall during the mandatory pit stop window.  And it was during the driver changes that Chris Ward, taking over the Broadspeed Capri from BTCC hero Steve Soper, was able to get the jump on the Mark Smith/David Cuff E30.  And the heavier the rain fell the more comfortable the lead became; Ward putting in a sublime drive in testing conditions to claim the Tony Dron Trophy by over 1 minute.

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In fact Ward would carry his strong form into the 2.75 hour, somewhat disappointingly supported, ‘1000km’ Sportscar race.  Again paired with Paul Gibson, the 2015 winners faced a very different challenge if they were to repeat their success.  The cold and damp conditions would not favour their powerful Lola T70 where instead it was the nimble Chevron B8 of Martin O’Connell who was able to take an early lead.

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Ward, installed on lap 32, would find himself 3 laps down to the little 2 litre prototype but a succession of fastest lap times on an ever drying track brought the #9 Lola back into contention.  Meanwhile James Littlejohn had been in the sister Gibson car since lap 20 and on lap 77 it was he who finally hunted down and passed the O’Connell piloted B8.

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Oliver Bryant had looked best placed to tackle the rogue Chevron having kept his T70 in touching distance throughout the first half of the race.  A very slow pitstop on lap 60 however dropped the #14 machine 5 laps and it would be an uphill struggle from then on in.

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And so with the Chevron now struggling to keep pace in the early evening sunshine, the fight for top spot would turn out to be an all family affair with Paul Gibson emerging from the car’s final pit-stop just in front of son Daniel in the #10.  However it was Gibson Senior who managed to maintain the lead over the last 20 or so laps, claiming race victory for a second successive year.  But for a mis-read pit board Gibson Jnr may well have put up a stronger fight.

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Bryant meanwhile would fight back to claim a strong third position, ending the race just over 1 minute behind the winners; a story of what might have been given the #14 T70 spent 1.5 minutes longer in pit lane!  P3 honours and fourth overall was just reward for a great drive by Martin O’Connell and Andrew Kirkaldy in the Chevron B8.  Had the rain continued who knows what the outcome would have been!

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Sunday’s schedule would feature a further 7 races, in many respects headlined by the 90 minute GT & Sports Car Cup for Pre-66 GT and Pre-63 Sportscars.  Traditionally a battle between Cobra and E-Type it was the Oliver Bryant piloted Cobra who was able to take an early lead from the Julian Thomas and Gary Pearson Jags and the pole sitting similar machine of Leo Voyazides.

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Both E-types had soon fallen by the wayside however leaving an all Shelby battle up front; Hadfield, installed in the #75 Cobra during an oil enforced safety car period, now finding himself at the head of the field following a quicker turn around during the stops.  However, opting for a short Grahame Bryant stint proved to be key strategically as Bryant junior had almost 30 laps to hunt down the leader.

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And sure enough with Voyazides back in the driving seat on lap 45 the deficit was reduced to just 5 seconds with Bryant, clearly on a mission, able to haul his mis-firing Cobra into the lead with a little over 10 minutes remaining.  The retirement of Voyazides shortly after allowing for a comfortable drive to the flag with the now second and third placed Clark/Smith E-Type and Friedrichs/Mallock Aston Martin DP214 over 1 lap in arrears.

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New to the schedule for 2016, the pre-50 Grand Prix cars battling for the Nuvolari Trophy put on a great Display.  Sunday’s dry second race saw Callum Lockie in his Maserati 6CM able to get the better of race 1 winner, Michael Gans, after an almighty scrap between the two.  Gans, in ERA R1B, had fallen to third at the start but was able to take the lead on lap 11 before the vastly experienced Lockie made the decisive overtake just 1 lap later.

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The very sideways Pre-66 under 2 litre touring cars never fail to entertain with onlookers eagerly awaiting a good battle between the leading Ford, BMW and Alfa crews.  But whilst BMW were able to take the fight to the Lotus Cortinas in qualifying, all 3 leading 1800s were in trouble with electrical problems before the race had really begun.  This left the the Andrew/Max Banks Alfa to successfully chase down the Fords of Andy Wolfe and Dion Kremer and build a healthy lead over the opening stint of the race.

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Whilst Wolfe would soon retire, another MK1 Cortina in the hands of Neil Brown had starting making progress.  And once taking over the reigns, Fortec boss, Richard Dutton, carried on Brown’s hard work to close in on Max Banks during the second half of the race; a gutsy charge that left the Ford man just 10 seconds shy of the untouchable Giulia Sprint GTA at the flag.  Meanwhile David Tomlin made it two Fords on the podium, passing Kremer in the pit-stops and managing to hold off the Swiss pilot during the closing stages of the race.

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The RAC Woodcote Trophy for pre-56 Sportscars was yet another highlight of the weekend, proof if ever it were needed that historic racing is much more than just a demonstration.  Throughout the entire 1 hour duration of the race, Fred Wakeman and later Patrick Blakeney-Edwards tried all they could to get past the D-Type Jaguar of Gary Pearson.  The Cooper Jaguar Type 38 was more than a match for the D-Type but Pearson was immaculate through the traffic and, as Blakeney-Edwards put it, there is no getting past the Northamptonshire man when in that kind of form!

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Colin Turkington made a one off appearance in the HSCC Super Touring Car Trophy race, and the Northern Irishman showed his class by taking third place in the Mark Smith BMW E30.  The older BMW was no match for the Gordon Noble Jnr Vauxhall Vectra or the Stewart Whyte Honda Accord however; with the former able to get the better of regular front runner Whyte on this occasion.

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Following an article in Motor Sport magazine I was very much looking forward to the final event of the day, the Pre 80 endurance race for Sports racing GT and Touring Cars.  You just cannot beat the sound of a 3 litre DFV formula 1 engine and on this occasion we were blessed with not only the magazine featured Lola T282 of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield but also the T292 of Michele Liguori.

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Hadfield had earlier put the Gitanes sponsored T282 on pole with a fantastic 1.05.872 but it was Liguori who beat Voyazides into Redgate, immediately gapping the Greek pilot and leaving him to fight with the Chevron B19 of Martin O’Connell.  Unfortunately, the expected DFV battle never materialised as a coming together between O’Connell and Voyazides at Goddards put the Chevron out of the race and left Voyazides with a broken wheel; the former calling it a racing incident whilst the latter was less diplomatic!

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Whilst Liguori was now able to cruise to victory, Voyazides with broken wheel replaced, and later Simon Hadfield were able to drag themselves back up through the field to a phenomenal second place; missing out on victory by just 26 seconds after at one stage being 2 laps down!  The sight and sound of Hadfield taking on the Craner Curves in this glorious machine is one of those memories that will stick around for years to come!  Ever wondered what is missing from modern day racing?  This car sums it up completely!

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My time at the festival may have been over but the racing continued throughout Monday, where …

David Tomlin piloted his Lotus Cortina to victory in the HRDC ‘Coys Trophy’ whilst Stewart Whyte charged to glory in the second Super Touring Car race.  Callum Lockie, sharing an E-Type with Julian Thomas, continued his excellent weekend by taking the Jaguar Classic Challenge honours.  Chris Ward made it a hat-trick of weekend race victories by taking the Stirling Moss Trophy for Pre-61 Sport Cars.  Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards claimed the Mad Jack for Pre-War Sports Cars victory and last but not least, Andrew and Mike Jordan raced their Austin A40 to top spot in the HRDC Pre-60 Touring Car race.

FULL RESULTS

GALLERY

This had been another fabulous Donington Historic Festival.  The festival and circuit organising team just seem to get it, be it the friendly and welcoming circuit staff, the excellent commentary team, the ability to get touch close to millions of pounds worth of famous racing cars, a fantastic selection of races across the weekend and now the freedom to roam over the entire infield.  And having fond memories of the venue as a child in the late eighties and early nineties it is great to see the circuit in such good shape!  If only the Dunlop Bridge and Spitfire were to make a return …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Demon Defensive Drive lands Davies Cadwell Double

For some time I had been keen to witness a race meeting at Cadwell Park and with the HSCC Wolds Trophy slotting nicely into my diary on the final weekend of June we found ourselves making the pleasant Sunday morning trip along the A46; A full schedule of races awaiting us headlined by a double header for the Pre 66 touring cars.

In my opinion the current iteration of the BTCC lacks two things, true variation and a proper multi class structure.  Conversely, catering for several different classes, the two historic touring car races at Cadwell Park boasted, amongst other marques, Imps, Minis and Mustangs all looking to take the fight to the all conquering Lotus Cortina.

After witnessing Tim Davies’ total domination at Thruxton it was with some surprise that the man from Lampeter was beaten to pole position by the similar machine of name sake Mark.  And so it was #48 Cortina of Mark Davies who lead the drivers away for the already shortened first race of the day; a red flag inducing multi-car Formula Ford accident shaving 5 minutes from the scheduled 20.

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However it wasn’t long before the double Thruxton winner was back in front following the early retirement of the pole sitting car courtesy of a broken half shaft.  Meanwhile further back, Fortec Motorsport boss, Richard Dutton, was indulging in an almighty battle with not 1 but 3 very quick Mustangs.  The American machines having the power on the straights but lacking the agility of the smaller Ford in the twisty sections.

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No-one was quite sure who would get the better of the immense battle for what turned out to be second before the race was prematurely ended on lap 5.  Dutton the cause of the red flag having touched the grass on the exit of the Gooseneck and not quite managing to regain control before being unavoidably helped into the Mansfield barriers.  Thus leaving the Mustang’s of Warren Briggs and Neil Brown to claim the remaining podium positions behind the run-away Lotus Cortina of Tim Davies.  Race 1 may have been only 7 minutes long, but it was great fun while it lasted.

Glorious sunshine greeted the start of Race 2 which was missing several of the casualties from earlier in the day.  And from the off it was clear that onlookers would be treated to another good old David versus Goliath battle, with the powerful Mustang’s of Peter Hallford and Warren Briggs gradually reeling in the fast staring Cortina of race 1 winner Tim Davies.

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In fact it was the Mustangs which appeared more suited to the afternoon sunshine as Hallford was able to set the fastest lap of the race whilst in hot pursuit of the #1 machine; a lap time which was nearly 8 tenths quicker than anything Davies could muster.  However, having caught the rapid Welshman, such is the nature of Cadwell, that passing is a significantly more difficult task, especially at the wheel of the huge 60’s muscle car.

While Coppice seemed the most likely option to get by neither Briggs or Hallford could get the power down quick enough exiting Barn corner.  And so while Tim Davies put in a great defensive display to wrap up his second victory of the day, focus turned to the battle for second.  Where in the end Hallford’s persistence paid off as he managed to slide past Brigg’s red machine on lap 8 of another genuinely entertaining 20 minutes of racing.

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In a packed schedule of events, Benn Simms rounded off a great weekends work by taking victory in the second Classic Racing Car fixture after getting the better of Ian Jones’ more powerful Lotus 59.  This, after two great drives to wrap up both FF2000 victories in his Reynard SF77!

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The Historic and 70’s Roadsport events contained healthy entries across several classes, where Sunday’s event for the elder machines saw Roger Waite in his Lotus Elan re-engage battle with the more powerful Morgan Plus 8 of Kevin Kivlochan.  Kivlochan possessed more than enough grunt on the straights but was no match for Waite on the twisty bits, resulting in the Lotus man claiming his second victory of the weekend.

Meanwhile both 70’s roadsport race victories were taken by Peter Shaw at the wheel of his TVR Tuscan.  Having lost out to the Lotus Europa of James Dean earlier in the season at Thruxton, Shaw proved to be the class of the field at Cadwell Park.

Formula Junior featured heavily on the Wolds Trophy schedule with 2 races for the front engined machines and a further two for the later rear engined models.  While Stuart Roach was yet another driver to take both victories in the front engined events, he could not match the pace of Stuart Wilson in the rear engined fixtures; Wilson claiming double victory at the wheel of his Lotus 20/22.

The Classic Clubman machines were the quickest cars on display during the weekend with dominant winner in both races, Mark Charteris, getting close to his own lap record in race 1.  John Harrison was running a close second in the first race however before retiring 4 laps from the end.

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The Hadfield family had double reason to celebrate at Cadwell.  Not only did Simon claim double Classic F3 victory in his March 743, but son James claimed second place in the opening Formula Ford 1600 race.

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It may even have turned into a brace of runner up positions but for a late retirement in race 2 of the meeting.  Hadfield the younger didn’t quite have an answer to the pace of Richard Mitchell though; the Exeter youngster going on to claim both victories in his Merlyn MK20.

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Meanwhile, Amercian James King won the second Historic F3 race of the weekend, 38 years after claiming British F3 victory at the same venue.  James Denty and Dean Forward had been locked in a great battle for the lead only for a collision between the two at Park corner on lap 5, causing both of their retirements and allowing King to claim a memorable victory in his Chevron B17.

FULL RESULTS
GALLERY

 

 

Whilst rallying at Cadwell is impressive, the speed some of these priceless historic racers were being driven around the famous Lincolnshire circuit was something to behold!  There just aren’t too many circuits like Cadwell, the very technical nature of the track making fast lap times and winning races an art form, while the ability to make a genuine pass in equal machinery borderline heroic.  Race winners at Cadwell most certainly earn their trophy!

 

Historic Racing Round-up – Spring 2015

Historic F1 ace, Michael Lyons, thrills fans at Thruxton while Paul Gibson and Chris Ward fend off late Voyazides challenge to claim coveted Donington Historic Festival ‘1000km’ glory.

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With today’s technology so impressive that many lines of motorsport have to be ‘pegged back’ I find myself drawn more and more to the historic side of our sport; I would love to have been around to see the thoroughbred racing cars of the 60’s and 70’s in period.  And so with there being no calendar clash between the opening rounds of the WEC and British GT in 2015 I found myself free to make a first visit to Thruxton on Easter Sunday for the HSCC revival meeting.

A packed schedule of races with a more than respectable start time lay in store for day 2 of the revival meeting with the Pre 66 touring car, Derek Bell Trophy and Guards Trophy events particular highlights.  The relaxed start to proceedings providing ample time to wander around the paddock for a closer look at some of the racing stars of yesteryear.

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The Derek Bell Trophy, aimed at the F2 and F5000 cars of the 70’s saw the Lyons family responsible for 3 of the brutish open wheel delights.  Unfortunately Michael’s Gurney Eagle was not fit to take part in the event, however the HSCC were as brilliantly accomodating as ever and allowed him a run the family owned 1977 Hesketh 308e F1 car instead; oh what a shame (Said no one!)

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It was an absolute pleasure to witness Lyons thrash the 3 litre V8 Cosworth powered machine around the Hampshire track; the huge rear wheels from the period providing massive amounts of grip, which combined with the raw grunt of the Cosworth engine allowed some of the fastest laps in years to be recorded.  As a comparison Lyons managed a 1:07.648 in Saturday’s race whereas the pole lap for the 2015 BTCC meeting was a 1:16.785!

Much debate surrounds the current F1 engines with many wanting a return to V8 power.  Whilst it would be nice to increase the decibel level the scream of the ‘glued to the track’ 2013 V8 formula 1 cars is dull in comparison to this late 70’s Cosworth.

On the day no other car was a match for the Penthouse liveried machine leaving Lyons, the master of historic F1 racing, to take a commanding 49 second victory over the Historic Formula 2 machine of Richard Evans and the Classic Clubmans specification Mallock of Mark Charteris.

The Historic Touring Cars always provide high quality entertainment; the traditional pose of a Lotus Cortina, Austin Mini or BMW 1800Ti being backed into a corner, almost Moto GP like, is something that is rarely seen in modern aero driven racing.  As it was Tim Davies, in his Lotus Cortina, was the class of the field; the Welshman managing to eek out an early lead before going on to take victory by a margin of 8.5 seconds at the chequered flag.  This may not have been the largest field of Touring Cars but the fast flowing nature of the circuit allowed them to be seen at their sideways best.

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The Guards Trophy runners were split between the GT and Prototypes for the Thruxton meeting.  With the GT cars taking to the track the day before, Easter Sunday visitors were treated to a diverse grid of cars including the fabulous McLaren M1B and several Chevron B8’s.  On the day the nimble 2 litre Chevrons were no match for the Mighty M1B nor the Lenham Spider of Stuart and George Tizzard and while the Tizzards headed for the second step of the podium it was the Bill Coombs / Chris Drake driven McLaren which went on to claim a commanding 28 second victory.

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Elsewhere,  Callum Grant made a late charge to claim Historic FF2000 victory, while Ben Mitchell was able to break away from the field to register a relatively comfortable Historic Formula Ford win. Ian Pearson stood on the top step of the Classic F3 podium while the busy Mark Charteris pedalled his Mallock to victory in the Classic Clubmans race after earlier registering third position in the Derek Bell Trophy.  Meanwhile the 70’s Roadsports race had it all with eventual winner James Dean, in his Lotus Europa, passing the majority of the field to claim victory after an early spin at the Club Chicane; an effort which was warmly appreciated by the knowledgable crowd.

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In just over 2 hours, with the glorious sound of the Hesketh F1 car still rattling around in my head, I was back home and contemplating my next slice of the historic racing action.  The Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix is now a firm entry in my diary and calendar clash permitting I hope to be back at Thruxton in 2016!

THRUXTON GALLERY

 

 

Fast forward 1 month and it was the 2.5 hour ‘1000km’ race for the 1964-71 World Sportscar Championship machines at the Donington Historic Festival which caught my eye; the jewel in the crown of my third visit to the 3 day bank holiday weekend event.

Weatherwise, a bitterly cold wind and low temperatures more akin to March than May was not kind to the opening day spectators.  However the variety of machinery both on display and taking on the fast undulating Donington Park National Circuit was more than enough to keep the moderate crowd entertained.

Unfortunately what had been light rain fall prior to the race start intensified as the cars readied themselves for the green flag; leaving the two Lola T70’s of Chris Ward (#9) and Leo Voyazides (#1), who had qualified on the front row of the grid, facing the daunting task of manhandling their huge Chevy engined prototypes around the damp opening lap.

StartDonington

And after successfully keeping them on the track, it was Chris Ward who managed to build a steady lead over the similar car of Voyazides, with Andrew Kirkaldy third, making a nuisance of himself in the #4 Chevron B8; the smaller engined car being much quicker through the corners but losing out on the long straights.

Further back Anthony Reid and Olly Bryant in their respective McLaren M1C and Lola T70 were making headway after conservative starts; both starting from the back of the grid having not appeared in the earlier qualifying session.  Bryant however was soon on terms with Kirkaldy and Voyazides, passing both at Hollywood before running into car problems coming out of the Old Hairpin; A sticky throttle not what you need in these conditions!  A safety car was required to remove the stricken Lola T70 from the outside of the Schwantz Curve which somewhat nullified the lead built by Ward.

Both leading Lola’s took advantage of the safety car however and made their first of 2 required pitstops; Simon Hadfield taking charge of the #1 Lola and Ward staying aboard the #9.  And so there was little between the cars as the track returned to green with Hadfield fancying his chances of taking the lead.  A spin exiting the Old Hairpin 2 laps later somewhat hampered his progress though leaving the white Lola some 30 seconds adrift.

Nevertheless Hadfield was soon into a rhythm and whilst finding it difficult to eat into Chris Ward’s lead initially, he had managed to cut the gap to 15 seconds by the time the leader made his second pit stop on lap 58.  In fact Hadfield was now flying on the drying track, so much so that Paul Gibson, now in the #9 Lola, dropped two laps back, albeit with the #1 T70 owing a final stop.

Lola

Indeed Hadfield made his final stop on lap 79, with Leo Voyazides climbing back behind the wheel, but such had been Hadfield’s pace in comparison to Gibson that the #1 T70 emerged from pit lane with an almost 1 lap lead over the similar pole sitting car.  But the tables were to turn again with Gibson now having the edge in pace over Leo Voyazides; quickly turning a 1 minute 19 second deficit on lap 80 into a 30 second gap by lap 95 and a less than 3 second margin as they entered lap 102.  And amazingly it was Gibson who was in the lead of the race by the end of the lap.

DonWinners

However Gibson was not able to break the tow and with just a few laps remaining the Greek driver was back on terms and making a move down the outside of the Craner Curves; a move which unfortunately would not pay off, sending the glorious T70 heading for a rather large off and allowing Gibson and Ward to claim the ‘1000km’ race victory.  A somewhat disappointing way to end proceedings but if you ever thought historic racing was merely a demonstration then think again!  Watching these incredible machines power sliding around McLeans in the drying conditions was further proof if needed!

DONINGTON GALLERY

 

 

Yes the weather may have been poor but the event still delivered; the group B rally car and F1 demonstration runs adding further value to the many millions of pounds worth of automotive machinery on display.  I will definitely be back at the Leicestershire track for the Masters Meeting in early July on the fantastic Grand Prix circuit.

Before then though it is the back to the British Historic Rally Championship at the end of May with the Severn Valley Stages followed by the Legends support race at Le Mans in June and the Wolds Trophy HSCC meeting at the awesome Cadwell Park.  Stay tuned for coverage ….

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For JPEGS or any other enquiries please get in touch via paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)