“This is always a magical race,” says Duncan Wiltshire of Motor Racing Legends. “It runs for two hours, into the dusk, and by the end it’s very dark indeed. With a minimum of two driver changes, it’s a mini-endurance event that requires a lot of strategic thinking by the teams. This was the fifth year that we have run the race and there is always a very special atmosphere to it, both in the paddock beforehand and on the pit wall – especially when the lights start to come on…”
Anyone who looked solely at the qualifying times and the end result would assume it was an uneventful race, as the top three podium finishers were the top three on the starting grid – but nothing could be further from the truth. Take, for example, the winning car – the Lotus 15 of Philip Walker and Miles Griffiths. Twenty minutes from the end of the race, the car pitted for the second time, and when Walker rejoined the track he found he was just six seconds ahead of Gary Pearson’s Lister Knobbly – and Gary was flying.
Everyone expected to see Gary, who had already grown accustomed to the dark, swiftly take the lead… but Walker held on and, much to everyone’s surprise, started to increase his lead by a substantial four seconds per lap. It was a stunning effort by someone who claimed to have been a little nervous of heading out into the dark, and he finished the race to win very decisively, some 38 seconds in the lead.
And then there was the third-placed car, the Lotus 17 Prototype of father and son Gabriel and Dion Kremer, which was running in a lowly ninth when handed back to Dion for his second and last stint. Back out on the circuit, Dion fought hard to gain place after place, right up to third by the time he crossed the line.
Meanwhile, Alex Buncombe and Chris Ward drove the most magnificent race in their Lister Costin, starting from the pit lane and hence last place, fighting their way up to fourth by lap 10 and then – from lap 16 through to lap 29 – running in third place and looking like a sure thing for a podium finish, only to have the gearbox break just nine laps from the end, forcing them to withdraw. Despite that, they had still done well enough to be classified in 13th place.
And finally, a word for Stephen Bond’s drum-braked Lister Bristol (co-driven by Keith Fell), which qualified 14th and finished a fantastic fifth.
The top five finishers were therefore:
1) Car no.37 – Lotus 15 driven by Philip Walker and Miles Griffiths
2) Car no.5 – Lister Jaguar Knobbly driven by Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson
3) Car no.70 – Lotus 17 Prototype driven by Gabriel and Dion Kremer
4) Car no.62 – Elva MkV driven by Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne
5) Car no.85 – Lister Bristol driven by Stephen Bond and Keith Fell