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Racing snake cunningly outruns Jaguars once again!

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Hirsute hard chargers Martin Hunt and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards repeated last year’s Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy For Historic Cars (Pre ’63 GT) race win at the Silverstone Classic in the former’s AC Cobra, but after a tactical early pit-stop sent Pat on his way, Martin thanked a Safety Car interlude for making the difference in a power struggle with James Cottingham/Harvey Stanley (Jaguar E-type Roadster) and the Halusa brothers, Niklas and Lukas, in father Martin’s sonorous Ferrari 250GT ‘Breadvan.’ “The Safety Car played into our hands completely this time, but it’s bitten us before so we’ll take it,” beamed Hunt.

The menacingly unpainted Cobra started sixth on Saturday’s 38-car grid, headed by invitee Till Bechtolsheimer – giving his Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro-Buick EE a rare outing with wide-eyed ERA maestro Ludovic Lindsay sharing driving duties in a Goodwood Revival shakedown. Bechtolsheimer’s 2m32.242s (86.55mph) effort was 0.840s better than the Ferrari, first of the period GTs on 2:33.082 (86.08mph) with the narrow-bodied Jags of Cottingham/Stanley and Jon and Jack Minshaw blanketed by 1.7s in the chase.

Austin-Healey men Mark Holme/Nigel Greensall and Alex Bell/Julian Thomas sat next, with Irishmen Niall McFadden/Paddy Shovlin and Gregor Fisken/Fred Wakeman completing the top 10, all having lapped inside 2m40s. 

Fourteen marques graced the photogenic field, with nippy Lotus Elites, the well-matched Porsche 356s of Gareth Burnett and Sam Tordoff, and Aston Martin, Triumph and Morgan presence alongside the gruff Chevrolet Corvette of Peter James/Alan Letts (which monstered the Drabble family’s Reliant Sabre Six) plus Turner, Ogle and a pair of pretty Alfa Romeos.

Peter Stohrmann’s Elite, a giant-killer last year, broke on the warm-up lap as the German looked forward to the wet conditions which always favour the agile 1216cc Coventry-Climax FWE-engined coupes. Michael O’Shea’s E-type also fell before the pack was released at the rolling start.

Jon Minshaw and Cottingham made the early running, battling superbly and testing each other. Bechtolsheimer lay third until Niklas Halusa shot his Ferrari past the low Tojeiro on lap five. Hunt, duelling with Tony Wood’s E-type, pitted the Cobra from fifth on his eighth lap and his timing was perfect. Blakeney Motorsport’s well-drilled crew had team boss Patrick back out in a jiffy, before the Safety Car was deployed with a car beached in gravel.

As Blakeney-Edwards got up to speed those at the head of the pack were frustrated in the crocodile on the Wellington Straight, frantically waiting to enter the Heritage Pits between Luffield and Woodcote corners, Pat negated the time the AC spent stationary as Hunt sprang out. Only Les Goble’s Aston Martin DB4, yet to stop, remained ahead as the race went live again, with Stanley (now in the Cottingham’s hard-topped E) on his tail and Jack Minshaw (in his dad’s hooded version) next up.

Try as Stanley did to challenge, PB-E was quicker and growled away to a 6.917s victory. Having caught the less experienced Minshaw, Lukas Halusa spent a couple of laps choosing his passing place in traffic before howling past on the final circuit. Thus it was that V8, straight six and V12 cars filled the podium places after an entertaining 50 minutes.

The Minshaws, Wakeman/Fisken and Bell/Thomas in the former’s Sebring Healey 3000 completed the top six, ahead of Lindsay, getting the feel of the Tojeiro which Bechtolsheimer had described as “a bit of a handful in the wet.” Burnett pulled away from Tordoff in their Porsche squabble for an excellent eighth. Soloist Karsten Le Blanc’s famous Le Mans Healey, ‘DD300,’ finished 10th, the last car on the lead lap.

Meritorious performances by Robert Rawe/Xavier Sanz de Acedo (Triumph TR4) and Martin O’Connell/Sandy Watson (Elite) netted 13th and 14th overall. Simon and Alex Drabble brought the Reliant back 18th. Silverstone-based Aston Martin specialist Chris Woodgate (DB MkIII) overhauled George Miller (whose DB4 GT Goble starred) to be first marque finisher. The Gurney/Coles Morgan, Nick James’ Ogle SX1000 and the Corvette were also among the 30 finishers.