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Phew, What a Scorcher! Tiff Returns to the Top at Thruxton Historic

Sensational cars and superb racing characterised the fourth Thruxton Historic race weekend.  Top guns were Formula 1 driver-turned-TV presenter Tiff Needell and team-mate John Spiers who landed a race win and a further five podiums between them!  They and a plentiful amount of thrill-seeking Motor Racing Legends competitors entertained spectators and car club members basking on the grassy banks watching the action on Britain’s fastest circuit in a heatwave.


Motor Racing Legends’ five-series contribution began with 1950s sportscars on Saturday, the wonderful Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy races coming together for a spectacular one-hour race. Past master Chris Ward anchored historic racing newcomer Rob Smith to a comfortable victory in the latter’s Lister-Jaguar Knobbly, but had to shake off the Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro-Jaguar of James Cottingham initially. The DK Engineering duo of Cottingham and Harvey Stanley finished 34 seconds down at the flag, ahead of John Spiers and Tiff Needell in another Lister.

The earlier ‘Woodcoteers’ were headed by the ex-Tommy Sopwith Equipe Endeavour Cooper-Jaguar T38 of Californian Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards, which humbled many later cars in finishing sixth overall in the 28-car field. Ben Eastick/Karl Jones (Jaguar D-type) overhauled Rick Bourne/Malcolm Paul (Lotus-Bristol MkX) to be runner-up.


Cottingham and Stanley landed Pre-’63 GT honours in DK Engineering’s rorty ‘Huffaker’ Jaguar E-type. They worked hard to repel young Jack Minshaw who roared a similar hooded roadster clear of father Jon’s fixed head coupe. Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger in the Le Mans class-winning Morgan Plus 4 TOK 258 broke the Jaguar monopoly in fifth. 


The Historic Touring Car Challenge and Tony Dron Trophy races, with U2TC and STCC over two 40-minute legs, saw two Nissan Skyline GT-R R32s, a 3.4-litre Ford GAA V6-powered Capri and a Sierra Cosworth, plus a BMW 3.0 CSL, an RS1600 Escort and an ex-Steve Soper Rover Vitesse jostling in the top slots. The 4WD Nissans set off apace on Saturday, but Ric Wood’s engine popped a turbo pipe, leaving Mark Farmer/Adrian Willmott in the Capri to win from Jonathan Bailey’s wonderfully original Skyline and Paul Mensley’s Sierra third. Sunday’s sequel saw Wood scorch from the back to take the chequer from aggregate victors Farmer/Willmott and Middlehurst/Bailey, with Nick and Harry Whale a remarkable third in the RS1600. Needell/Spiers and George Pochciol/James Hanson each beat the others in the TDT Group 1 1/2 contests, with Needell/Spiers just coming out on top on aggregate, while Graham Pattle/Mark Burton bested Henry Mann/Karl Jones in the tight U2TC Lotus Cortina contest.


Nursing a damaged shoulder Gareth Burnett switched from John Ruston’s regular Alta to share Michael Birch’s less physical Talbot AV105 for the Pre-War Sports Cars race on Sunday afternoon. After an initial fight Oliver and Tim Llewellyn’s Bentley 4 1/2 slipped back with clutch dramas. Clive and Stuart Morley’s sister car shaded Alan Middleton’s Aston Martin Red Dragon for third.



The complexion of the Jaguar Classic Challenge race changed when a safety car was called just as the pit window opened. Spiers peeled off from fourth place immediately, enabling Needell to resume without losing a lap. When the others stopped their victory chances had all-but gone. Jon Minshaw, Gary Pearson and Gregor Fisken/Christoph Cowens chased Tiff in vain.



Beside the sporting focus, a large Land Rover Legends gathering gave the event a family festival feel, while for competitors DK Engineering laid on another fabulous collection of fine motor cars in the socially-distanced paddock hub. Results are now available on the Motor Racing Legends website and gallery images will be available very soon. A detailed race report from Thruxton Historic will be available later this week.


See the race results here