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Cooper duo continue their winning ways

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The combination of drivers Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and their Cooper-Jaguar T38 reaped further success when the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy had its second outing of the year as part of the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival programme on Sunday May 24.

Winners at the Donington Historic Festival three weeks earlier, they were quickest in practice in Kent and beat the best of the opposition to win a 50-minute race by not far short of a minute.

The Cooper was the only qualifier under the 1m 50s mark, setting a time of 1m 49.136s at a shade over 80mph average. This gave the car pole position, 1.3s faster than Rick Bourne and Malcolm Paul in their Lotus 10. Race preparation expert (and ace driver) Martin Stretton joined Tony Wood on the driving strength for the Gordini 23S and slotted the car into third on the grid at the very end of qualifying. Martyn Corfield’s Healey 100/4 sat alongside the Gordini, and they were shadowed on row three by Rudi Friedrichs’ Jaguar C-type and Nick Wigley in the Cooper-Bristol T24/25 he would hand over to John Ure at the pit stops.

Row four held the Will Nuthall/Barry Wood Lister-Bristol and Nicolas Bert in his HW Alta-Jaguar, the Belgian coming to Brands Hatch fresh from the Mille Miglia. Steve Brooks had the first Aston Martin on the grid, earning ninth place in his DB3S alongside the Malcolm Harrison/Paul Taft Cooper-Bristol T25.

Wakeman and Bourne jousted for the lead in the early laps of the race before the Cooper broke clear, and third was held by Corfield’s Healey until the green car suffered a barrier-clanging incident at the ultra-fast exit from Clark Curve onto the top straight. Martyn continued in eighth but quickly realised he needed to stop for crumpled bodywork to be pulled clear of a rear wheel, dropping him well down the order. He recovered to a final eighth overall and second in class.

Wakeman pitted from the lead on lap 17. Blakeney-Edwards rejoined in second place, but the Cooper was soon in front again as Bourne called in on the next lap. While this place-swapping was going on Wigley and Ure established themselves in third, although only just over 4s ahead of Friedrichs when the chequered flag appeared. Each car in the leading quartet won a class.

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After running as high as fourth, the Gordini slipped well back as Stretton returned to the pits soon after taking over to investigate a vibration and discovering that a replacement wheel was needed. Fifth place finisher was Nicolas Bert, but the keenest competition was the duel for sixth, Brooks and Paul Taft both setting their fastest laps in the closing stages. Brooks survived a half-spin, and on the very last lap Taft lunged past at the Surtees left turn heading towards the Grand Prix loop, only to lose the place again down the straight to Hawthorn’s. Brooks was also a class winner.

“I like it when Freddy gives me the car in P1 and I just have to manage it to the end,” said the delighted Blakeney-Edwards on the podium. Paying tribute to their rivals, he pointed out: “We have a lot more grunt, so they did terribly well.”

For runner-up Bourne: “It was a case of nearly but not quite, but it was really super and we love Brands Hatch.”