The Motor Racing Legends Silverstone GP event had a bit of an end of season feel to it, but definitely not in a bad way! More that it was run in a very relaxed manner and had attracted a fair share of current and ex professional drivers to grids. Indeed the entry list for the main event, The Pall Mall Trophy race for Pre-66 GT and Pre-61 Sports Cars, contained the likes of Phil Keen, Oliver Webb, Matt Neal, Andrew Jordan, George Gamble and Rory Butcher to name but a few.
And it was British GT legend, Keen, who would play a starring roll in the 3 hour Pall Mall Trophy race, setting fastest lap on the very last tour aboard the James Thorpe E-Type, to claim a dominant victory of over 1 lap. That’s not to undersell the performance of Thorpe and Phil Quaife however who handed the car over to Keen with an already mammoth lead; in part due to a clever early first mandatory stop under safety car conditions and a relatively early retirement for the pole sitting Michael Birch / Gareth Burnett / Richard Bradley Lotus 15.
Whilst the entry was a little light of contenders for overall victory, this was more than made up for by the battles behind. The tussle for the final steps of the podium being one example as Mark Farmer and Andrew Jordan (aboard the JRT built Elan) somehow managed to claim the runner up spot despite clutch issues throughout the second half of the race. Possibly aided by a late safety car, the pairing just managed to hold off the chasing Harry Barton / Oliver Reuben TVR Griffith who themselves put in an excellent drive to take the final podium position.
The highlight of the race in many respects though was the epic Porsche 911 fight for positions in the midfield. Usually found in their own Peter Auto organised standalone event, several more examples (most of them Tuthill prepared) than usual had found their way onto the Silverstone Pall Mall Trophy grid.
Witnessing the likes of Rory Butcher, Oliver Webb, Seb Perez and George Gamble man-handle the classic German machines around the famous Northamptonshire Circuit was highly entertaining, and as expected the racing remained pretty close with the fortunes of the individual crews fluctuating throughout the 3 hour duration of race, often dependent on how the “AM” drivers were utilised.
In the latter stages, class victory looked to be heading the way of the William Paul / Rory Butcher machine, however a 3 minute penalty for a refuelling infringement put pay to that! This left Guy Ziser, Oliver Webb and Richard Tuthill himself to take class 3c victory with 9th overall in the #777 machine, just 2 seconds ahead of the Christian Coll / Bonamy Grimes car! More of these machines to be run in the UK please!!
Earlier in the day, courtesy of heavy overnight rain, the combined grid of Historic / Sixties Touring Car Challenge cars faced the age old dilemma of Slicks or Wets for their 1 hour race (where regulations allow). And whilst wets were probably the tyre of choice over the early laps, it was the slick shod Skyline of Ric Wood which held the advantage as the race progressed; the Cheshire man eventually finishing 50 seconds ahead of the similar machine of Jonathan Bailey / Andy Middlehurst.
No such tyre choice was available for the Lotus Cortina runners making up the U2TC element of the grid and they were as spectacular as ever over the early laps. There wasn’t much to choose between the field, but the experience of Mike Gardiner combined with current BTCC ace Josh Cook paid dividends in the end as the #37 crew came out on top with an excellent 10th overall.
Much like last year, spectator attendance was ridiculously low, which I struggle to get my head around given tickets were only £16 and people seem more than happy to spend a small fortune on Goodwood or the Silverstone Classic each year! But this is only good news from my perspective due to lack of heavy handed security Silverstone love to employ and the full availability of the various catch fencing holes!
The grids may not have been quite as strong as 2021 but you can’t really grumble at 30 cars in each of the 2 historic races on offer, especially during the current economic crisis. Overall a great way to end my Circuit racing schedule for the year with just the Malton Forest and Cadwell Park rallies remaining.