The Historic Touring Car Challenge season opened at the Donington Historic Festival with a fantastic race that was enjoyed by drivers and fans alike. Ultimately, the Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 of Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie came through to victory, but it was a close run contest.
A fine field of 30 cars were met with a damp and slippery track for qualifying but Thomas and Lockie tamed the RS500 to take pole by a handsome margin over father and son Nick and Harry Whale in their BMW M3. In the Tony Dron Trophy for the Group 1 cars, John Spiers headed the times in his 3-litre Ford Capri.
Sunday’s hour-long race ran on a dry track and the early laps were a glorious exhibition of period touring car racing as BMW M3s, Sierra Cosworths and Cologne Capris battled mightily. Thomas was right up there in the RS500 until he ran wide at Coppice and was heavily punished as he was instantly bundled down to seventh place in the stunning lead pack.
Chris Boardman and Colin Turkington set the pace in their BMW M3s as Thomas worked to recover momentum and a very swift pit stop from the Denis Welch team got Lockie out ahead in the RS500. As the M3s dropped away a little, it was BTCC racer Adam Morgan, having taken over Ric Wood’s Cologne Capri, who headed the pursuit of the RS500. Lockie had enough in hand to ease his pace a little but could never relax too much as Morgan pushed hard. “We had a fantastic pit stop,” said Thomas. “I just wanted to bring it home,” admitted Morgan. “Thanks to Ric for letting me drive it!”
The Whales raced hard and coped with a significant vibration to get their M3 onto the overall podium, while Steve Dance could have been up there as well in his Cologne Capri but slipped to fourth after a pit stop infringement.
In the Tony Dron Trophy, the Chevrolet Camaro of another father and son team, Grahame and Oliver Bryant, came through to take victory from Spiers as another Capri in the hands of Paul Pochciol and James Hanson completed the podium.