Lister-Jaguar pairing Tony Wood and Will Nuthall deservedly emerged as first time winners in Motor Racing Legends’ annual Stirling Moss Trophy race for pre-1961 sports racing cars at the Roadbook organisation’s wonderful 24th Spa Six Hours event on September 17th, finishing almost 20 seconds ahead of the late-built Chevrolet-powered Knobbly of Mark Lewis and Jamie McIntyre.
Run concurrently on the seven kilometre Belgian Grand Prix track, the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy race for pre-1956 cars of unimpeachable history was won by Chris Ward in the JD Classics Jaguar C-type, dimming memories of last year’s anti-climax when the smoky Jaguar was caught and passed on the final lap by Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in Fred Wakeman’s ex-Equipe Endeavour/Tommy Sopwith Cooper-Jaguar T38.
A stupendous turnout of 58 cars arrived at the extraordinary king of circuits in the Ardennes, although Dundee University Professor Paul Griffin was unable to make Friday morning qualifying with the ex-Stirling Moss/Archie Scott-Brown/Les Leston Connaught ALSR streamliner. By special arrangement, Paul was given dispensation to start via the afternoon’s Historic Grand Prix Cars Association’s practice session with his ex-Moss/Maurice Trintignant Cooper T51 F1 car.
Alas our session was stopped twice, once almost immediately for marshals to mop up an oil spillage, then on lap three for an unfortunate incident at the downhill kink before Pouhon in which Martyn Corfield’s spinning Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica was collected by German Rudiger Friedrichs’ NZ-originated Jaguar C-type evocation. Neither driver was hurt but the poor Jag’s nose was flattened.
Last year’s SMT runner-up Gregor Fisken shared the Leventis family’s ex-Phil Hill/Wolfgang von Trips NART Ferrari Dino 246S with July’s Silverstone Classic victor Sam Hancock this time. The Tim Samways-run barchetta was duly planted on pole position, Sam’s 2m50.654s (91.80mph) best 1.8 seconds quicker than New Zealander Roger Wills’ 2:52.491 in the swiftest of six two-litre Coventry-Climax FPF-powered Lotus 15s. Alas, an urgent family matter precluded Fisken from racing on Saturday, leaving Hancock to go solo in a car he respects and adores.
Despite hobbling around on crutches having badly bruised his heels in a fall (during a building project), Lewis and regular co-driver Jamie McIntyre shared row two with James Cottingham’s burly Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro-Jaguar, both recording 2m54s. Underlining the diversity of the field and potential of cars of all sizes, Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger (1.2 Lola-Climax Mk1 Prototype), Dion Kremer (ex-Team Lotus 2.0 Climax-powered Type 15 ‘603’) and Wood/Nuthall (3.8 Lister-Jaguar ‘Knobby’) were next, ensconced in the 55s and blanketed by less than a fifth of a second.
The next six teams also lapped inside three minutes. Justin Maeers gave young Charlie Martin his first shot at Francorchamps aboard his Cooper Monaco T49, best of the rear-engined challengers on P8. Woodcote Trophy protagonists Ward and Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards lined-up ninth and 11th, split by Richard Kent (Lister-Jaguar Costin). Steve Boultbee-Brooks’ ex-Jim Clark Lister-Jaguar ‘Flat-Iron’ and the shrink-wrapped Lotus 11 Le Mans of Surrey timber merchant Philip Champion/Sam Stretton made it 13 cars beneath the psychological 180 second mark.
Third of the ‘Woodcoteers’ was another ex-Clark car, the white former Murkett Brothers-entered Jaguar D-type of Carlos Monteverde/Gary Pearson in 16th place. Rick Bourne/Malcolm Paul (ex-Mike Anthony Lotus-Bristol 10), the HWM-Jaguar of Martin Hunt/Andrew Hall (winner with Wakeman in 2014, driving the American’s Cooper-Jag) and the ex-Peter Collins/Pat Griffith 1952 Goodwood Nine Hour-winning Aston Martin DB3 of Martin Melling/Rob Hall completed the top six, with Till Bechtolsheimer (Allard-Caddilac J2), Stephen Bond/Keith Fell (Lister-Bristol ‘Flat-Iron’) and Slovakia’s Katarina Kyvalova (ex-Bertie Bradnack Cooper-Jaguar T33) on their heels.
It was good to see the Benelux countries well represented in the competitive field. Belgians Guy Peeters/Michel Wanty (sharing the Lotus 15 period raced in Canada by Harry Entwistle for Gulliver Motors of Hamilton, Ontario) topped the locals in 21st place, amid the sister cars of American Mike Malone, Harlequins and England rugby veteran David Cooke and Graham and Oliver Bryant, plus the magnificent Maserati T61 ‘birdcage’ (ex-Scuderia Serenissima/Giorgio Scarlatti/Carlo Abate #2466) of Spaniard Guillermo Fierro and its British preparer Steve Hart.
Also from Belgium hailed Gregory de Prins (Rejo MkIV), Mark Valvekens (Lola Mk1), Tom de Gres/Wim van Gierdegom (Lotus XI Le Mans) and former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt who shared his blue Elva MkIII son Louis. Batting for Holland were Karsten Le Blanc (Austin-Healey 100) and classic sports car dealer Jan Gijzen (Lister-Jaguar ‘Knobbly’) and for Luxembourg Louis Zurstrassen (Elva MkV).
Among a host of wonderful cars it was great to see the return of the Lotus XI streamliners of Serge Kriknoff and Frenchman Jacques Naveau (sharing with his son Julien), the pale blue Jaguar D-type of Clive Joy/Jarrah Venables, father-and-son Chris and Ollie Phillips in their newly-restored full-bodied Cooper-Bristol and the flat-four Jowett Javelin of John Arnold/Richard Gane which batted above its weight.
Best of the GTs after the preliminaries was Chris Jolly’s rapidly-conducted Aston Martin DB2 “PUM” which narrowly outpaced Le Blanc’s Healey, Nick Ruddell’s Aston Martin DB2/4 and Swede Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus’ Healey 100M. Top Jaguar XK in the field was that of Nick Finburgh/Christopher Scholey.
Fifty-four cars formed Saturday afternoon’s splendid race grid, Barry Wood having withdrawn his troubled RGS Atalanta-Jaguar, which joined the damaged bolides of Corfield (who was sportingly offered a drive in team-mate Nyblaeus’ Healey) and Friedrichs on the sidelines.
Lewis blasted his white Lister-Chevrolet into a narrow early lead, but Hancock and Cottingham refused to be shaken off. Indeed, Hancock moved the Ferrari ahead on lap five as Mark, his damaged feet protesting, faded a little and relayed McIntyre from sixth place three laps later. Cottingham had stopped a short while earlier, 15 seconds adrift of Hancock over the timing line, with Wood, Wills, Kremer and Grahame Bryant leading the chase.
Leader Hancock’s scarlet rocket was ailing though and – as at Goodwood the previous weekend – was retired when it proved incontinent. Wills and Kremer thus took up the cudgels until their mandatory stops, Dion running two tours longer to 13 laps before diving in. Nuthall, in Wood’s Lister for three laps at this point, thus moved eagerly to the top of the lap chart and stayed there, extending his advantage over McIntyre’s brutal Lister V8 from 15 seconds to almost 20 by the chequered flag.
Kremer settled into a fast equilibrium, bringing the ex-Graham Hill/Cliff Allison Lotus home a meritorious SM5 class-winning third, towards half a lap clear of rivals Maeers/Martin, the sister Cooper Monaco of Paul Woolley and the Peeters/Wanty Lotus 15. Fourth overall, between Kremer and Martin, was Cottingham who cut a bold fastest lap of 2:54.417 (89.82mph) en route.
Bellinger/Ahlers were always the class of the SM1 group, their highly-polished ex-Eric Broadley/Peter Ashdown Lola a giant-killing 10th in general classification – eighth in the SMT – and the last car to cover the outright winner’s distance. French-based Ralf Emmerling/Phil Hooper (Elva MkV) and Valvekens brought the next of the minnows home, 14th and 16th of the Moss cars having claimed some impressive scalps.
Champion/Stretton outran SM4 rivals in their 1500cc Lotus, de Gres/van Gierdegom finishing two laps adrift, one further than Kriknoff and Jason Yates managed in similar machines. De Prins won SM3 by two laps from Naveau pere-et-fils. The bigger-engined Lotus 15s did not fare as well, Ollie Bryant retiring his with a split differential oil seal shortly after half-distance.
The Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy contest belonged to Ward from rolling start to chequered flag. Fresh from two wins at the previous weekend’s Goodwood Revival (in Jaguar E-type and Lister-Jaguar), Chris growled the bronze Jaguar C-type away from Wakeman and Boultbee-Brooks as they jostled through traffic, passing numerous SMT cars in the early stages of the 61-minute race.
Ward had climbed to sixth overall by the time he made his pit-stop at the end of lap nine. Wakeman stayed out for one more scenic tour, but there was nothing Blakeney-Edwards could do to reel in Ward this time in his quest to land the Cooper-Jaguar’s third successive Spa-Francorchamps victory. PB-E finished 47.999s short, eighth overall, at flagfall, with Wooley’s red Cooper Monaco from the SMT field between them.
Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards did win their class however, a lap ahead of the D-type of early spinner Monteverde and Pearson. Hunt/Hall were fourth in the sub-race, ahead of class winner Le Blanc and Kyvalova who had WT2 victor Bond breathing down her neck at the close. Melling/Hall claimed WT3 honours in the black Aston Martin DB3 from Ruddell’s lofty DB2/4 coupe after Jolly parked his DB2. Also out unusually early were Bourne and Ure in Bristol-powered Lotus and Cooper.