Photo: Chris Dicken
Weekend Race Report by Marcus Pye
The Royal Automobile Pall Mall Cup – Blistering Lister outruns Daytona Cobra trio
The second three-hour Royal Automobile Club Pall Mall Cup race for Pre-1961 sports racers and Pre-’66 GT and Touring Cars supported by DK Engineering brought the curtain down on Motor Racing Legends’ season in style last weekend at Silverstone GP circuit. Silverstone’s 3.6393-mile Grand Prix Circuit showcased the dynamics of the charismatic machinery perfectly as 43 starters raced towards dusk on a crisp autumnal afternoon at the BRDC’s ‘Home of British Motor Racing.’
Live-streamed to the world by courtesy of sponsors DK Engineering and ADP Classic Racing – a record available in perpetuity (Click here for Historic Motorsport TVs You Tube page )- the enduro was won by DK’s James Cottingham and Max Girardo, another purveyor of fine automobiles, in the latter’s Lister-Jaguar Costin. They gapped a trio of venomous Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupes which finished on the same lap. The event is a team contest however, and the ‘Hot Shots’ – Roy Alderslade/Andrew Jordan (Shelby Dayton Cobra), Chris Fox/Nick Pink (Lotus Elan) and Dutchmen Karsten Le Blanc/Christiaen van Lanschot (in the fabled Le Mans Austin-Healey 3000 ‘DD300’) – claimed the big prize, having finished fourth, 11th and 13th respectively.
Photo: Andrew Coles
The Royal Automobile Pall Mall Cup Qualifying – Announced last year, when the MRL’s hurriedly-organised one-day October event pulled irons from the fire, giving race-starved competitors a welcome last hurrah at the end of a season redefined by the wretched Covid-19 pandemic, 2020’s feature borrowed the Royal Automobile Club Historic Tourist Trophy title from the cancelled Silverstone Classic. Cobra evocations finished one-two, Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie beating Adrian Willmott/Andy Jordan on the road on that occasion. Le Blanc was on the winning team then too, as part of ‘Ecurie Triple C’, thus could be on for a hat-trick in 2022!
Twelve months on – and with the first official Royal Automobile Club Pall Mall Cup race having been won by Kiwi Roger Wills and former BTCC racer Tim Harvey (ex-Bruce McLaren Lotus 15) at May’s Donington Historic Festival – a 43-strong field assembled at Silverstone, this time to tackle the Historic version of the GP circuit, with its gentler sweep into Club corner at the end of the lap.
Following a mini-tornado which swept across the campus, scattering debris and knocking down fences – one of which clattered onto an ambulance parked adjacent to the Wellington Straight – qualifying was slightly delayed. When it did get under way at 10.30hrs, gruesomely wet and slippery conditions made the session a lottery, yet the cream still rose to the top. Jordan put Alderslade’s metallic blue Cobra Coupe (in which they’d finished a battered and bruised second at Donington) on pole with a bold lap of 2m45.593s (79.12mph). That erased Scottish Touring Car racer Rory Butcher’s stout 2:45.745 in William Paul’s Jaguar E-type, with Cobra crews George Pochciol/Matt Wrigley/Olly Bryant, Gregoire Audi/Rob Hall and Irishmen Michael Cullen and Paddy Shovlin teamed with former BTCC ace Sam Tordoff also inside 2m50s.
Girardo/Cottingham headed row four in Max’s Lister-Jaguar – the Costin-bodied sanction car originally built by Pearsons Engineering for Carlos Monteverde – with the Jaguar E-type low-drag coupe of Martin Melling/Mark Burton/Jon Minshaw alongside. The Pre-’63 DK Engineering/Huffaker E-type of Jeremy Cottingham/Harvey Stanley and Lotus Elan of Nick Matthews/Miles Griffiths completed the top 10. An all-Scottish row comprising the E-types of John Clark/Gordon Mutch (FHC) and Dario and Marino Franchitti sharing Gregor Fisken’s roadster was next up, meriting a saltire above it. Everybody was delighted to see triple Indianapolis 500 winner Dario enjoying his first outing with Motor Racing Legends immensely.
The pristine Shelby Mustang GT350 – a pukka ‘R’ code car – of Adrian Willmott, James Alexander and Mark Farmer headed row seven, former Formula Ford and Palmer Audi champ Willmott expressing relief to have made some progress with its handling. To its left and directly behind sat the original Cobras of Ben Gill/Dalglish (CSX2349, with a long SCCA racing history) and Gavin and Rory Henderson (the Reed Racing Rats CSX2051 raced by George Reed Jr/Nathan Karas in the ‘63 Sebring 12 Hours), superbly prepared by Simon Blake’s Historic Automobiles crew.
The monsters were split by the Lotus Elan Shapecraft coupe of former FIA Thoroughred Grand Prix champion Michael Schryver, son Will and Marcus Weller. Their best was almost two seconds quicker than Fox/Pink’s regular 26R-shaped version, in the company of Nick Sleep/Alex Montgomery/Joel Wykeham (Cobra ‘Hairy Canary II’), Guy Ziser’s Porsche 911 co-driven by tallyman Richard Tuthill and the Jaguar E-type of Simon Drabble/Julien Draper, pursued by the similar machines of Steve Osborne/Chris Ward/Rob Smith and Christian Coll/Sebastian Perez.
Row 12 contained Richard and Michael Squire’s Ford Mustang – the leading Touring Car, the triumph TR4 of Allan and Daniel Ross-Jones, anchored by Mark Hales – van Lanschot/Le Blanc’s Healey and the Ford Falcon Sprint of Alan Greenhalgh/Simon Lane. Rainer Becker’s glorious Scuderia Filipinetti Porsche 904/6 – which finished 11th at Le Mans in ’64 – and the Healey 100 of David and Mica Stanley/Alex Toyne were just behind (running in the Invitation class due its GTP classification), with Robert Barrie/Steve Monk (Lotus Elan 26R) and Malcolm Paul/Patrick Watts (TVR Grantura) in the mix.
Outside the top 30, legendary octogenarian and second generation racer Ivan Dutton’s MGB was the swiftest of four with son Tim, Paul Chudecki and Josh Bromley at the wheel. The Ward family’s newly-built Lotus twin-cam engined Ginetta G4R looked promising and David and Andrew Wenman’s Morgan +4 delighted as ever. Lurking menacingly towards the back though, were the Lotus 15 of Michael Birch/Richard Bradley/Gareth Burnett – substituted for the heroic Spa Six Hours Elva-BMW GT160 invitational, which suffered engine problems in testing – and E-type CUT 7 of Richard Kent/Chris Ward following an overnight engine change.
Photo: Mick Herring
The Royal Automobile Pall Mall Cup Race – Less than two and a half hours after qualifying finished the track surface was still drying when the big race started at 13.44hrs. James Cottingham meant business and bustled the blue Lister through to lead into Brooklands with a blistering start. Under pressure from BTCC star Butcher in William Paul’s E-type, with Dubliner Cullen’s red Daytona Coupe and Stanley’s early spec Jaguar on his heels, Cottingham gyrated on a damp patch exiting Luffield. in DK “I ran out of lock [to catch it], reversed off the grass and did a three-point turn,” said James, who watched most of the 43-car pack pass by, yet still came round 19th at the end of a busy opening lap.
New leader Butcher was soon in trouble with a broken half-shaft and pulled off the Hangar Straight on lap four, triggering a short safety car period. The car was transported back to the pits but, in the spirit of endurance racing, returned to the fray towards 10 laps down with repairs effected. Stanley thus led, but [his boss and regular driving partner] Cottingham charged back ahead, pursued by Gareth Burnett, ‘The Leprechaun’ flying in Birch’s ex-works/Graham Hill Lotus 15. Miles Griffiths, determined to wrest second from Burnett, was on his tail when the pale blue Elan wriggled on the kerb and shot into the gravel at Club on lap 14, there to stay.
Gill thundered his red Cobra into fourth before Pochciol and Sleep growled past. Burnett installed Birch and Cottingham relayed Girardo a lap apart, with Jordan already middle-stinting for Alderslade. Girardo matched Cottingham’s spin tally with a languid rotation when he ran wide at Stowe, then knuckled down into an super-consistent stint ahead of Birch, who put Richard Bradley into bat after five laps, with 83 minutes (the maximum stint is 85 mins) still on TSL’s clocks.
Jordan halved his minute deficit to Girardo before Alderslade resumed, with Hall now third in Audi’s Cobra and Jeremy Cottingham fourth in the DK Jag. All eyes were on Bradley, reeling-in the quickest Cobras, the talented European Le Mans Series ORECA racer’s target a late shot at the Lister. Alas Richard was squeezed over the kerbs at Becketts during lappery and the Lotus fell to rear suspension failure after 48 laps. Thirty sixth place was poor reward for the team’s tactical effort.
The closing stages were sensational with Sam Tordoff (having taken over Cullen’s red Daytona Coupe from fellow Ferrari Challenge veteran Shovlin) was catching Olly Bryant (who replaced the rapid Matt Wrigley in Pochciol’s white Ford France clone version) who in turn was closing in on former Ginetta Chairmans’ Cup winner Alderslade, in only his second year of Historic sport with the Jordan Racing Team. When Girardo put James Cottingham back into the Lister at the second of the mandatory five minute pitstops, it was equipped with new Dunlops and sent on its way with the Cobra trio back on the same lap. Bryant and Tordoff – who set fastest lap with an impressive 2:24.158s (90.88mph) – both displaced Alderslade, and finished 5.528s apart.
Cottingham remained a comfortable 46.920 seconds ahead of Olly at the chequered flag however. Having held his end up superbly, the less experienced Girardo was elated with victory. “That was pure fun,” he said. “I’ve had the car a couple of years, and it stopped with 10 minutes to go at Donington [where the duo was classified 25th].” Cottingham was equally thrilled. “It’s really good to win in a ’50s sportscar, the sort of cars which excited me when I was growing up in the family business.”
Four weeks after his Spa Six Hours win with Cottingham, in a Ford GT40, Bryant was happy with a class-winning second. “I’ve competed in our AC Cobra for years [and finally won the RAC TT Celebration at Goodwood in September], but it’s the first time I’ve raced a Daytona Coupe. It’s fantastic, probably a little better in a straight line. Pochciol, with father Paul stepping aside to be team manager, and Wrigley couldn’t stop smiling either with second place under their belts. Third placed Tordoff was also elated following his chase. “I’d not driven the car in the dry before the end of the race. It was great fun.”
Alderslade/Jordan also went the distance, Roy’s bonus being to see his name engraved on the RAC Pall Mall Cup trophy. He finished lap clear of Audi and Wykeham (who took over Sleep’s yellow Cobra from Montgomery), with class winners Stanley and Marcus Weller, finishing the Schryver family’s Elan coupe strongly, seventh and eighth. Gill/Dalglish – the first of four teams to incur a three minute penalty for refueling infringements – did not lose a place, being credited with ninth, ahead of Burton/Melling/Minshaw.
Fox/Pink, Read Gomm/Andy Keith-Lucas – after a super climb from 34th on the grid in the Canadian’s E-type low-drag coupe – and class winner Le Blanc/van Lanschot were next home. Mutch/Clark were 14th, clear of Paul/Watts who did brilliantly to beat the Porsche 911s to win their class in the giant-slaying TVR ‘Grannie.’ Rivals Coll/Perez were 18 seconds adrift at the chequer. The Hendersons’ Cobra, Jonathan and Paul Mortimer’s Austin-Healey 100/4, the Wenmans’ Morgan and Guy Harman/Nick Finburgh in the first MGB rounded out the top 20.
The next ‘B’ was the Peter Mallett/Ken and Tim Clarke example two laps down. Greenhalgh/Lane topped the Touring Car division in their Falcon after the Squires’ leading Mustang broke. Among the retirements was the Franchitti/Fisken/Franchitti E-type which Dario established in the top 10 and Gregor kept up the good work before handing over to Marino. Alas a rear hub failure stranded it opposite the pits.
Photo: Jeff Bloxham
Jaguar Classic Challenge – Pearson bookends E-type Season with Second Win
Local marque maestro Gary Pearson prevailed in an entertaining Jaguar Classic Challenge seasonal finale which featured three distinct versions of E-type. The initial stanza of the one-hour programme-opener saw Pearson’s hard-topped semi-lightweight roadster, Matt Wrigley’s low-drag coupe and Richard Kent in the fabled ex-Dick Protheroe Fixed Head Coupe CUT 7 embroiled in combat, before Kent took up the running.
Kent relayed Chris Ward, but Pearson – who made his mandatory one-minute stop two laps later – was back ahead of the pale blue nosed gunmetal coupe as it emerged from the pits. Despite Ward’s best efforts amid whiffs of engine oil, the order stayed that way, a repetition of May’s season-opener’s at the Donington Historic Festival.
Mark Donnor was third, in his roadster completing a clean sweep for Pearsons Engineering-prepared cars. First of the narrow-wheeled Pre-1963 specification versions home was Oliver Bryant’s FHC, fifth overall, a lap clear of lad-and-dad George and Paul Pochciol and Wil Arif/Guy Ziser in the latter’s FHC.
Qualifying – Concluding the E-type’s 60th anniversary year on track, 20 cars formed the field for the fifth leg of the AdValorem-supported, Motor Racing Legends organized Jaguar Classic Challenge for Pre-’66 cars. There have been five JCC races for its inaugural season with MRL.
Ward qualified on pole position – his 2m48.376s (78.26mph) last lap charge on a wet track a second slower than Nigel Greensall’s equivalent in July, when traditionally we used to rely on the British summer to serve up good weather! – with closest rival Pearson two seconds adrift.
Father-and-son combos Matt and Mike Wrigley and Olly and Grahame Bryant shared the second row of the grid, with Mark Donnor and Martin Melling/Jason Minshaw (FHC, second in Pre-’63) behind them.
William Paul sat seventh, with single-seater ace Dave Coyne alongside in Robert Farrell’s, followed by the turquoise car of Germany’s Rhea Sautter and her British partner Andy Newall, the last crew inside three minutes. Andy jumped back in for a single flyer at the end, when the track was at its best, but couldn’t improve.
The Pochciols pipped Andrew Moore to 10th, with the next six – Ben and Peter Adams, Mark Russell/Tony Jardine, Jamie Boot, Louis Bracey, Rick Willmott and Ziser/Arif – blanketed by 1.905s. Mark Gordon/Nick Finburgh, Canadian Read Gomm and Andrew Keith-Lucas (low-drag coupe) and Benjit Dhesi – whose Mk1 was the only saloon – completed the field.
Race – Saturday’s one-hour race from The Wing pits, with a stop between 20-40 minutes, started in sunshine with the prospect of the damp track improving over its course. The vastly-experienced Pearson made the best start, with Matt Wrigley bustling through to second ahead of Kent three laps in.
Kent – who competed in Formula Renault, Palmer Audi and, in the USA, Star Mazda before discovering Historic racing – ousted Wrigley, then seized the lead from Pearson on lap seven. By then Matt had fallen back as Coyne, fast starter Newall and Donnor locked horns over fourth.
Kent pitted just after half-way on TSL’s clocks, installing Ward, and Pearson stopped two laps later. Familiar with his car, Gary’s out lap was almost four seconds quicker than Chris,’ which effectively was the difference between them next time round, at 14 laps.
Ward chased hard, but made no headway, finishing 4.008s behind Pearson. Concerned about an oil leak on CUT 7, Chris had one eye on the gauges to the chequer and the team subsequently changed the engine for Sunday’s Pall Mall Cup event. Gary set fastest lap in 2:47.100s (78.40mph).
More than a minute behind, Donnor, bagged third, clear of Mike Wrigley and early class winner Bryant. Soloist Paul’s out lap was 16 seconds quicker then Farrell’s, at which stage they were 43 seconds apart. Over the last six laps William eroded the deficit to a second, but Coyne/Farrell pipped him to sixth.
A lap down, Newall/Sautter were eighth, ahead of Pre-’63 runners-up the Pochciols, split from class rivals Arif/Ziser by Boot after a protracted duel. Minshaw/Melling and Russell Jardine also completed 20 laps, one more than Gomm/Keith-Lucas and the Adams family car, in which dad Peter was caught on the line by Finburgh in Gordon’s.
Moore, Bracey (after a big spin) and Dhesi completed the classified finishers, but Willmott retired at two-thirds’ distance. The Jaguar Classic Challenge is supported by AdValorem.
Photo: Jeff Bloxham
The Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy – Lister-Jaguar Rubs Salt into Lotus’ wounds
Power versus handling was finely balanced in the Stirling Moss Trophy section of Motor Racing Legends’ fabulous 1950s’ sportscar seasonal finale on Silverstone’s Historic Grand Prix circuit on Saturday, October 30. Gary Pearson’s rorty Lister-Jaguar Costin held sway initially, then Richard Bradley thrust Michael Birch’s Lotus 15 ahead, only for a fuel pick-up issue to strike on the last lap. Chris Ward – who had been catching Bradley in what looked set to be a photo finish – thus shot past to win in Steve Osborne’s Maldon Salt Lister-Jaguar Knobbly, started by Rob Smith. Mark Cole (Lotus 11) and Peter Ratcliff (Lister-Jaguar Knobbly) led the chase.
As the drama unfolded for spectators at the venue and racing fans watching a live stream presented by DK Engineering and ADP Classic Racing, the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy Pre-’56 contest reached a thrilling crescendo with victors Mike Grant Peterkin/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards promoted to third overall in Fred Wakeman’s omnipresent Equipe Endeavour Cooper-Jaguar T38 on the Lotus’ unfortunate demise. Scottish motor group baron John Clark and his young protègé Gordie Mutch finished second in their diminutive Cooper T39 Bobtail, clear of George and Paul Pochciol’s short-nosed Jaguar D-type.
Qualifying – A splendid field of 33 cars – weighted 21-12 in favour of the earlier miscellany – qualified in miserably wet and gruesomely slippery conditions on Saturday morning. Fragrant Woodcoteer Sarah Bennett-Baggs, sharing husband Mike Thorne’s Austin-Healey 100M, described the going “as if somebody had emptied a vat of washing up liquid all-round the circuit!” With grip almost non-existent, the quickest cars skated round more than 20 seconds a lap away from their potential on the 2.6393-mile layout, with its eased approach to Club corner.
Ward planted the Lister on pole with a gutsy 2m46.136s (78.86mph) marker, which Pearson got within 0.549s of on his final shot in his slipperier-bodied version. Bradley wasn’t far adrift in the ex-works/Graham Hill Lotus, powered by a two-litre Coventry-Climax FPF engine. Cole line-up fourth in Dafyd Richards’ Corgi Toy tribute Lotus 11.
Fifth overall on 2:50.700 (75.42mph), best of the Woodcote Trophy runners, was a fine effort by Michael Grant Peterkin/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in the dark blue Cooper-Jag YPK 400 supplied to privateer Tommy Sopwith’s team in 1955 and raced by David Shale and Peter Mould. Alongside sat the rival HWM-Jaguar of Gregor Fisken/Martin Stretton, the David Brazell-prepared machine pristine in its green livery, carrying ill-fated marque co-founder John Heath’s ’56 Mille Miglia number 545.
Mark Donnor’s Costin-bodied Lister-Jaguar and the wild Kurtis-Chevrolet 500S – with its menacing chromed toothy grille – of Chris Keen/Richard McAlpine shared row five, ahead of Bentley boys Richard Hudson/Stuart Morley (Lister-Corvette Knobbly) and former Caterham frontrunner Peter ‘Ratters’ Ratcliff in his Lister-Jaguar Knobbly.
Quickest of the Healeys was the 100/4 of Nick and Oliver Harris, split from pursuer Nick Matthews’ sister car by the ex-Dickie Le Strange Metcalfe 1216cc Lola-Climax Mk1 of Ben Adams/Nick Finburgh – repaired following its Donington Historic Festival prang in May – and the Pochciol family’s D-type. Clark/Mutch in the centre-seat Cooper and Peter Mann’s ex-Tony Crook Cooper-Bristol T24/25 driven as usual by Nick Wigley/John Ure marked the half way point on the colourful grid.
Just outside the three minute mark, the contrasting short and long-nosed D-types of father-and-son Chris and Nick Ball – the fourth Nick (of five) in as many rows! – and Ben Eastick/Karl Jones occupied the ninth rank, ahead of Paul and Jonathan Mortimer’s Healey 100/4 and the Dubonnet-hued Aston Martin DB2 of Hannah Reed/Peter Snowdon. Canadian Ian Dalglish was next up in his Lotus 17, alongside the closed Healey 100M of Thorne/Bennett-Baggs which had Christian Plessdorf’s charismatically-liveried Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe and 2016 BTCC runner-up Sam Tordoff in JCT600’s gorgeous early 1954 Porsche 356.
Bernardo Hartogs and Chris Helliwell (aka ‘Clark Kent’) in the Brazilian’s Lotus 15, the Mahmoud brothers Tarek and Galal’s Lister-Jaguar Knobbly, Steve and Josh Ward’s Jaguar XK120 Ecurie Ecosse and the Cooper T39 of Robi Bernberg/Paul Ugo were not far adrift. Paul Griffin’s ex-Moss/Les Leston Connaught ALSR, Thomas and Josh Ward’s Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica, the XK140 of Mark Gordon/Read Gomm and the unique Turner Ardun of Ken Prichard Jones/Nick Crewdson completed the conventional qualifiers. The Aston-tailed Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special of Joe and Jack Willmott joined the party via another session after brake problems.
Race – The afternoon race started under sunny skies with the track now significantly drier and offering up more traction by the minute. Early leader Smith’s rolling start lap was 11 seconds inside team mate Ward’s pole time and it was clear that the vast majority of competitors would cut their quickest laps in the closing stages of the hour-long contest, broken only by a mandatory 60 second stop in a window between 20-40 minutes.
Bradley fancied his chances in the conditions and even a big lock-up into Village on the opening lap – which sent him off-piste while essaying to snatch the lead – did not deter him. Second by the middle of the Maggots-Becketts left-right-left-right complex, he lost out to Pearson on the Hangar Straight. The contrasting Listers thus led over the timing line, with the green Lotus, with flashes of emerald tank tape masking body wounds sustained at Estoril, on their tail.
Exploiting the 15s nimble chassis, Bradley was ahead by the end of lap two, with Smith and Pearson squabbling in his wake. Gary out braked Rob into Stowe for second next time round, but Pearson’s challenge was over a lap later when he pitted with a broken diff.
Behind the leaders, Grant Peterkin had established the Cooper-Jag in an early fourth place, pursued by a gaggle comprising Donnor, Ratcliff and Cole, who soon wriggled past the Lister duo in his little blue 1500cc roller skate. He quickly zapped MGP too, and was promoted to third – five seconds behind Smith – on Pearson’s retirement. Thereafter, power told increasingly in Rob’s favour as the track dried. While he couldn’t catch Bradley, and Cole settled into a lonely race.
Grant Peterkin’s task in the Woodcote Trophy contest was eased considerably when Fisken – who had been tussling in the midst of a catch weight fight between Adams’ Lola and McAlpine’s Kurtis, plus ‘Ratters’ who had fallen into their clutches – pitted the HWM-Jaguar after five laps with one of its three steering wheel spokes sheared. Stretton thus did not get a run against Blakeney-Edwards in the latter stages. Another casualty was Eastick’s D-type which conked out on Welshman Jones’ out lap.
The Healey 100 gang was enjoying a fine race for class honors with Nick Harris just beyond reach of the dueling Thorne and Matthews, who reversed their order before the pit stop phase. Oliver Harris took over the family car, but pulled up forlornly before Stowe, leaving Matthews on a strong run to 15th overall, six places ahead of Thorne/Bennett-Baggs who finished on the same lap.
Out front, Bradley pulled ever further ahead of Smith, who relayed Ward after 11 laps. Richard completed 14, but instead of ‘Barry’ Birch taking his place stayed in a team call. Bradley emerged still ahead and next time round the gap between him and Ward was 15.6 seconds. That came down repeatedly, courtesy of serial fastest laps by Chris – who left it at 2:24.105 (90.91mph) – until the Lotus and Lister were just 1.7s apart with time on the clock for one deciding lap.
Richard was still ahead at Copse, but on the exit his hand shot into the air as the Climax engine stuttered. “I knew I still had a chance if I could had a few lengths lead onto the Hangar Straight,” said Bradley, but it wasn’t to be. He crept only as far as Stowe, but by them Ward was through and preparing his victory speech for the ADP Classic Racing team. “I had full faith in Chris and sure enough he hunted Richard down,” said partner Smith afterwards. Bradley, meanwhile, was “gutted” on the sidelines.
Surprised to be gifted second, Cole crossed the line 1m20.560s behind the winner, more than a minute ahead of Woodcote Trophy victor Blakeney-Edwards. One lap down, Ratcliff staved off Donnor by a whisker after a super duel – their best laps 0.010s apart one from home – for fourth overall and third of the Stirling Moss Trophy combatants. Morley finished strongly in the Lister-Chevy started by Hudson to complete the top six.
Dalglish was classified seventh, clear of Woodcote runners-up Clark/Mutch, Helliwell (finishing Hartogs’s 15 strongly), and Keen now at the helm of the thunderous Kurtis, class winners all. Adams/Finburgh, Ure/Wigley, Matthews, Pfessdorf and the Willmotts were all class winners. Mention must also be made of the Turner Ardun team who reached the chequer 26th, marking significant progress since its appearance at Thruxton Historic.
Photo: Jeff Bloxham
Photo: Peter de Rousset Hall
The Amon Cup for Ford GT40s – Griffiths/Shedden Top Magnificent Seven
The old adage that it only takes two cars to make a motor race was proven one in Saturday evening’s battle for Amon Cup Ford GT40 glory.
There may only have been seven of the timeless 4.7-litre V8-engined machines at the packed end of a gruelling season, but the duel between 2018 Spa Six Hours winners Miles Griffiths and three-time British Touring Car champion ‘Flash’ Gordon Shedden in Philip Walker’s and 2021 victors James Cottingham and Olly Bryant – sharing James’ DK car this time – was magnificent to behold.
Griffiths and Cottingham set the tone for the sonorous slugfest, howling round the 2.6393-mile Historic Grand Prix Circuit together, double-barrelled shotgun exhausts crackling on the overrun, until the mandatory one-minute pitstops in the 80-minute race. Shedden and Bryant took over, but a low oil pressure light sent Olly scurrying for the pits for a top-up. He resumed and hounded-down David Cuff in Richard Cook’s car, finishing 3.027 seconds shy at the chequered flag.
Qualifying – Eleven GT40s contested the inaugural Amon Cup race – named for 1966 Le Mans winner Chris Amon [1943-2016], teamed with fellow New Zealander Bruce McLaren – at May’s Donington Historic Festival, where Griffiths and Shedden emerged victorious.
The proximity of the recent Goodwood Revival, Spa and the Estoril Classic events to our seasonal finale inevitably took their mechanical toll on the GT40s, particularly their gearboxes. Additionally, some drivers and support teams were competing at the clashing Algarve Classic in Portugal, hence the reduced turnout, although the quality was certainly here.
Shedden qualified on pole in the wet 40-minute morning session, his 2m40.340s (81.71mph) best two seconds quicker than Bryant who had better conditions towards the end. Andy Newall hopped back into Michael Birch’s car – a clone of the ex-Guy Ligier Ford France P/1003 he owns – to claim third on the final lap from Richard Cook and David Cuff, the latter runner-up to 1991 Formula Vauxhall Junior champion Dario Franchitti!
Spaniard Xavier Sans de Acedo’s British co-driver, Austin-Healey 100 ace Mike Thorne, netted fifth from UK-domiciled Brazilian Bernardo Hartogs. Competing under their Lebanese flag, but also UK-based, brothers Tarek and Galal Mahmoud completed the line-up.
Race – The race got under way later afternoon on a drying surface, thus racers were looking forward to unleashing their beasts’ potential increasingly. Birch managed to spin at the first corner, Abbey. After an anxious few seconds stationary in the middle of the track – managed to get going again, averting the prospect of an immediate red flag as the right-handed corner at the end of the Hamilton Straight is approached blind.
Griffiths and Cottingham traded places on the opening lap, but Miles had a second’s advantage over James at the end of the opening lap, with Cook, Hartogs, Galal Mahmoud, Sanz de Acedo and the recovering Birch behind. Griffiths stretched his advantage to 2.7 seconds over the first four circuits, after which Cottingham halved it and paced himself for a race of survival.
James ramped up the pressure towards the stops, getting within half a second, but towards the end of his stint he’d seen the orange oil light flickering on his dash under braking, suggesting a slight shortage of lubricant. Griffiths pitted after 16 laps, Cottingham two tour later.
Thus it was down to Shedden and Bryant to fight it out. Their out laps were but tenths apart, but Gordon tracked Olly down the Hangar Straight on lap 20 and calmly outbraked him into Stowe corner. Two laps later Bryant dived for the pits, concerned about the oil light his crew had a good look round, topped up the tank and sent him back on his way, still third.
Only six cars were now running for Thorne – having just set Sanz de Acedo’s car’s best lap – pulled the dark blue car off into the Heritage pitlane at Woodcote with a dead engine. Coil failure was subsequently diagnosed.
Although the two-horse race for victory was over, with Cuff (in for Cook) towards half a lap behind Shedden, Bryant was determined to salvage a podium finish and did so, 63 seconds behind Cuff on the lead lap. Newall had pressed on too, in Birch’s car, but could not improve on a lapped fourth, one tour ahead of Hartogs and two up on the Mahmouds. The Amon Cup for Ford GT40s is supported by DK Engineering.
Photo: Jeff Bloxham
Historic Touring Car Challenge with Tony Dron Trophy, U2TC and STCC – Touring Car Heroes Weather the Storm
Horrendous qualifying conditions at Silverstone on Sunday morning failed to deter the Historic Touring Car Challenge contingent Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 stalwart Paul Mensley was overdue a slice of luck, but emerged a deserved winner on a fast-drying track, fuel pressure problems having hobbled the charging Freddie Hunt, chasing him down in Ric Wood’s Nissan Skyline GT-R.
After a fraught practice session, during which his Ford Capri-GAA spun alarmingly in standing water on the Hangar Straight, Steve Dance claimed second, finishing ahead of Andy Middlehurst in the surviving Nissan Skyline. Former sports car racer Robert Oldershaw won the concurrent Tony Dron Trophy contest in his Patrick Motor Group Rover SD1, by a lap from Grahame and Olly Bryant (Chevrolet Camaro) and the Capri of Peter Smith and his 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours winning son Guy.
From a second grid, the U2TC race was a Lotus Cortina benefit, won by Irishman David Dickinson – runner-up in the 2014 Elf Renault Clio UK Cup – from old stager Richard Dutton and GT convert Shaun Balfe, partnered by Tom Ashton.
Qualifying – With the 2.6393-mile Historic Grand Prix awash from overnight rain and a howling gale blowing, the morning’s preliminaries were more a battle for survival than grid-setting. Former Tom Walkinshaw Racing engineer Ken Clarke, sharing the Hepolite Rover SD1 he engineered for Steve Soper in 1983 with son Tim, described conditions as “the worst I’ve experienced in 42 years of involvement in racing!”
Apart from Steve Dance’s drama, Paul Mensley – driving solo this time – had a massive sideways moment past the Wing pit wall which culminated in a huge gyration, while others splashed round to complete the Motorsport UK mandated three laps before thinking about trying any harder. Even the four-wheel-drive Nissans, looked impotent on the shiny surface – until Freddie Hunt blitzed pole position in Ric Wood’s blue Calsonic tribute liveried example.
Blond tousle-haired Hunt – at first glance a clone of his 1976 Formula 1 World Champion father James – drove a Wood-built Skyline at the Classic Silverstone event this summer, but fresh from a Revolution sportscar win at Donington revelled in it this time. Hunt walked on water over his best lap of 2m32.850s (85.71mph), half a second beyond Mensley’s reach in his Sierra Cosworth – the only one in the field – dressed in Murray Carter’s Netcomm livery.
Andy Middlehurst was flying solo in Jonathan Bailey’s vivid green Kyocera Nissan – an original Japanese championship car – for Andy Middlehurst to drive solo. Britain’s acknowledged Skyline specialist qualified it third, with Gary Pearson (Ford Capri-GAA RS3100) alongside. Engine failure in pre-event testing side-lined Adrian Willmott’s example, incidentally, previously a front-runner.
Row three held Richard Kent/Chris Ward in the former’s ex-Vince Woodman Broadspeed-built Capri and former HSCC Historic Saloon champion Simon Garrad’s late-built Skyline. Darren Fielding/David Cuff gridded seventh, best of the BMWs, in their ex-Soper E30 M3, with Dance separating them from the MonteShell/Pierluigi Martini tribute M3 of Mark Smith and son Arran Moulton-Smith, tended by the latter’s AMSpeed concern in nearby Brackley.
Former Caterham racer Tristan Judge completed the top 10 in his superb BMW E24 635 CSi, a 1984 racer with Italian Giuseppe Briozzo and Swiss Georges Bosshard. Ben Gill was on his tail in another car boasting Italian history, the Jolly Club Ford Escort RS1600 shaken down at Silverstone in ’72 by Martino Finotto, who progressed to win the European Touring Car Championship in a BMW 3.0 CSL in ’79.
Judge’s class rivals were the Rovers of the Clarkes and Chris and Charlie Williams which qualified 12th and 13th. Their similar V8 engines sounded very different, Ken Clarke’s car using a period TWR pattern ‘fishtail’ system, the Williams’ ex-Dennis Leech machine sporting bigger bore sidepipes. Joe Gomm’s immaculate Escore RS1600 was the last inside three minutes.
Onion farmer Oldershaw led the Tony Dron Trophy runners, his Rover outgunning the Smiths’ Capri 3.0S, and Grahame and Olly Bryant’s Richard Lloyd Simoniz-liveried Chevrolet Camaro, which the latter would race solo. George Pochciol and Matt Wrigley’s Esso Capri, the ex-John Morris VW Golf GTi of his son Jim (a recent Goodwood winner) and Tom Shephard – which contrary to expectations struggled to put its power down in the wet – Geoff Gordon’s Alfasud Sprint Veloce and Jonathan White’s Capri completed the post-’66 grid.
Starting 20 seconds later would be the six U2TC contenders. John Clark and newly-signed McLaren GT4 racer Gordie Mutch’s heavier BMW 1800Ti got the better of the Cortinas, and then some, Dickinson’s being seven seconds adrift. Balfe/Ashton, Dutton, Neil Brown and Irishmen Michael Cullen/Paddy Shovlin rounded out the pack.
Race – Mercifully, the afternoon’s weather was considerably more clement and conducive to going racing. All twenty-seven competitors duly turned out, the circuit was still very damp, but no rain had fallen for a while and most of the standing water had gone. With a brisk chilly wind blowing it was set to improve further as the grooved wet tyres dispersed the moisture, then overheated.
Mensley shot out of the blocks from the outside of the front row at the rolling start, determined to maximise the advantage of a better line through Abbey and onto Farm Curve. Garrad was 1.3 seconds behind at the end of the opening lap, with Wood third, also playing himself in to the sister Skyline in different conditions.
The sound of three wailing Ford GAA V6 engined Capris unified in the chase, Pearson initially fourth ahead of Dance, who Kent ousted into Village on lap two. Pochciol’s TDT Capri was parked second time round, and Kent pitted at the end of the lap for mechanics to remove blanking tape from the radiator ducting. Richard resumed, but Ward retired the car just after half-distance when the problem recurred.
Mensley was on the warpath though and, as if Garrad nicking a 0.001s advantage in a drag race over the timing strip on lap three was a wake-up call, stormed back ahead. Two spins by Garrad on the same lap, the first at Copse, suggested a diff problem and spelled the end of his challenge 15 minutes into the hour-long race. Mensley was thus presented with a lead of almost 10 seconds over Wood, with Dance third.
Soloist Mensley pitted his ochre-flashed black Sierra after 10 laps, and Wood darted in a lap later, to find the red-suited Hunt – buoyed by his pole – champing at the bit to take over. “I was taking it easy, to give Freddie something to fight with. He has no mechanical sympathy but is full of talent.” Already there had been tell-tale signs that Mensley was straying off line on the straights, seeking the wetter parts of the track to keep his wet tyres alive, but his sense of urgency was heightened when Hunt settled into his stint and began to appear in his mirrors.
He had halved a 16 second deficit within four laps, then halved it again in another three. With just under 10 minutes of the hour remaining the pair were 3.7 seconds apart. Surely Hunt in the 700bhp Nissan would catch the pacemaker? Half way round lap 21, with headline writers mentally linking Freddie’s upcoming success with his father’s ’74 BRDC International Trophy victory here, Hesketh’s first in F1, or ’77 British GP win with McLaren, the Skyline was missing. Its fuel pressure had taken a dive and Fast Freddie’s dream was over.
The oft-mercurial Mensley was off the hook, but didn’t put a wheel wrong en route to a popular victory. “I was getting a bit worried. I could see Hunt coming,” said Paul having been presented with the winner’s trophy by fellow racer Harry Whale of Silverstone Auctions. “Trying to keep the tyres cool was tricky, but suddenly he wasn’t behind me. Fantastic, I thought. All I have to do now is keep it on the black stuff.”
Dance and Middlehurst – who set a stonking 2:16.956 (95.66mph) fastest lap on his penultimate tour in his bid to catch the Weisberg tools-liveried Capri – completed the first podium party. Eighth at half-distance, Andy was only 15 seconds adrift at the chequer, but at that rate of gain needed perhaps one more banzai lap to gain P2 for car owner Bailey.
Smith/Moulton Smith in the first of the BMW M3s finished fourth, Arran having shaken off Cuff in Fielding’s sister E30. Pearson split the ‘Beemers three laps from home, finishing 4.6s behind, having unlapped himself at the final corner to continue his chase.
Cuff, Judge and Gill, with the Williams family’s savage-sounding black Rover in tow, all completed 23 laps. Tenth overall, Oldershaw claimed his first Tony Dron Trophy gold, a lap ahead of Bryant’s Camaro and the Smiths’ Capri. Morris/Shephard’s Golf and the top four U2TC Cortina Lotuses – with a delighted Dickinson 15.561 seconds ahead of Dutton’s Fortec-built car – also completed 21 laps. Clark/Mutch and Cullen/Shovlin completed the finishers.
Gordon’s zippy Alfa, the ailing Kent/Ward Capri, Gomm’s Escort and the Clarkes’ Rover fell by the wayside mid-race. Tim and Ken fitted had started on new wets, but they were rooted within a few laps as the circuit dried. Tim, leading the class, felt that something had broken at the rear end, thus stopped before the window opened to discover it was just the state of the tyres. While switching to slicks the high pressure airline broke, thus a rear wheel had to be secured manually. The stop cost two laps, but diff failure – always the Rover’s Achilles heel – forced Ken to throw in the towel.
Photo: Andrew Coles
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