Few families have stronger links to period racing Jaguars than the Pearsons and so it was wholly appropriate that brothers Gary and John took the first Woodcote Trophy win of 2019 during the Donington Historic Festival.
Yet another of the high quality grids at Donington gathered as the Woodcote Trophy opened its year with a glorious array of pre-1956 sports and GT cars. Track conditions throughout qualifying day on Friday remained damp and slippery but with drivers of the calibre of the Pearsons, Simon Hadfield and Martin Stretton on-track, the battle for pole was compelling.
Ultimately, the Pearson’s Jaguar D-type took top slot on the grid by little more than a tenth of a second over the Hadfield/Wolfgang Friedrichs Aston Martin DB3S. The wonderful Maserati 250S of Stretton/Richard Wilson was well in touch in third before the Jaguar C-type of Fred Wakeman/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards.
The first half of the hour-long race was a glorious Jaguar versus Maserati struggle as the Pearson D-type went head-to-head with Stretton in the Maserati. There was never much it in and both cars led at some point but just after half-distance Stretton peeled the Maserati off into the pits and retirement. “The driveshaft broke,” said a disappointed Stretton. “There was no noise and no warning.”
That left the Pearson brothers with a clear run to another Donington Historic Festival victory, but the contest for what became second place was far less settled. Hadfield, running the second stint in the Aston Martin, was being pursued by Karl Jones, who had taken over Ben Eastick’s D-type. There was a tiny fraction in it over the line, but the Jaguar had collected a five-second track limits penalty and so dropped to fourth behind the Lotus X of Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne, which was right on the tail of the battle at the flag. After a series of engine dramas in 2018, it was a real disappointment for Eastick and Jones to miss out on an overall podium.
Among the classes, Martyn Corfield and Eddie Williams finished a mighty class-winning fifth overall in their Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica while Wakeman and Blakeney-Edwards added sixth and a class win to their impressive weekend tally. Robi Bernberg and Paul Ugo were also class winners in their Cooper Bobtail, along with David Stanley in his Austin-Healey 100.
Words: Paul Lawrence
Pictures: Jeff Bloxham, Dave Brassington, Oliver Flower