Cambridge-originated Lister Jaguars scored a clean sweep of the podium places in Motor Racing Legends’ Stirling Moss Trophy race for pre-1961 sportscars at the sixth Donington Historic Festival on May 2. Chris Ward was the class of the impressive 26-car field in the JD Classics-entered Costin-bodied car, but Richard Kent – in a sister machine – never stinted in his pursuit as he outran the Knobbly derivative of Tony Wood/Will Nuthall in Bank Holiday Monday’s wet conditions.
Bobby Verdon-Roe had seized pole position in the Leventis family’s Ferrari 246S (shared with Gregor Fisken) on a dry track the previous morning. His 1m19.114s (90.06mph) mark best part of a second quicker than Oliver Bryant in his family’s two-litre Lotus 15. Ward, Wood/Nuthall and Kent were next, blanketed by less than 0.6s, with Dion Kremer (Lotus 15) and the grunty Lister-Chevrolets – or Lister Corvettes as they were known when new – of Roberto Giordanelli and Mark Lewis/Jamie McIntyre running them close.
Steve Boultbee Brooks (ex-Jim Clark Lister Jaguar ‘Flat Iron’) and the svelte little Lotus 11 Le Mans aerodyne of Surrey timber merchant Philip Champion and Sam Stretton plus the rear-engined Cooper Monacos of soloists Paul Woolley and Karsten Le Blanc just outside the top 10. Feisty Spaniard Guillermo Fierro’s magnificent ‘birdcage’ Maserati Tipo 61 – one of three at the event – gridded 13th, with preparer Steve Hart co-driving, fractionally quicker that the ex-Peter Whitehead Aston Martin DBR1 of Wolfgang Friedrichs/Simon Hadfield and Jaguar D-type of Andrew Smith.
A good mix of artisan-constructed cars populated the lower half of the grid, including the Willment Climax of Charles Gillett/Steve Smith, the Rod Easterling/John Oliver-built Rejos of Gregory de Prins and Martin Harrison/Paul Taft, the Elva Mk5s of Louis Zurstrassen and Ralf Emmerling/Phil Hooper (the latter in Latvian national battledress) and Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ of Robi Bernberg/Paul Ugo.
Rain on race day did not deter Ward who dropped Kent by two seconds a lap in the early stages, creating an impenetrable cushion to the bright blue car before they stopped 30 seconds apart at half-distance. Chris eventually lapped the spirited class scrap between Dion Kremer and Olly Bryant (both left to drive solo by their fathers, given treacherous track conditions) on lap 26. Indeed, the trio approached Redgate corner abreast – from which Kremer moved ahead of his rival, only to spin his advantage away in the final minutes.
Bryant finished less than four seconds shy of the third Lister at the chequer with the chastened Kremer equi-distant in his mirrors. The stiff-set Ferrari never looked sure-footed in the race, Fisken and Verdon-Roe slithering the NART machine home sixth, a lap ahead of Smith whose Jag – which appeared to have even less grip than anything else with the track at its wettest – was reeled in and almost caught by Hadfield. The Willment climbed through the middle order well to finish 10th, behind the Lewis/McIntyre Lister V8. Best of the tiddlers was the Champion/Stretton Lotus with de Prins’ Rejo on its tail.