As three successive Le Mans 24 Hours victories from 1955 attest, Jaguar’s super-sleek D-type was at the top of world sports car racing in its era. The iconic finned beauties are formidable tools in the EFG Private Bank-supported Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy series for pre-’56 machinery. Occasionally, however, they meet their match.
At Spa-Francorchamps on 22 September, a D-type won – but the result was in doubt until the chequered flag fell to end a stunning battle slugged out over 18 gruelling laps of the four-mile Grand Prix course. Just 3.27 seconds separated Gary Pearson from Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in the Cooper-Jaguar T38 started by his American team-mate, Fred Wakeman.
Pearson had qualified Brazilian driver Carlos Monterverde’s white car a superb 13th quickest in the 53-car field, which also embraced the younger Stirling Moss Trophy contenders. Nick Adams/Robin Ward (D-type), Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards – getting to grips with the car acquired from Peter Neumark – and former Touring Car star Patrick Watts (Allard-Cadillac J2 ‘BB1’) led the Woodcote chase.
Wakeman growled past Ward and stuck to Monteverde like glue in the early stages, the San Francisco resident gaining in confidence with every lap before hitting the front on lap seven. Malcolm Paul (ex-Mike Anthony Lotus-Bristol 10) and John Clark (in Aubrey Finburgh’s Jaguar C-type) were next up when the leaders pitted in a flurry of activity, while Nick Wigley was swiftly under way in Peter Mann’s ex-Tony Crook cycle-winged Cooper-Bristol started by John Ure.
Having driven the first ‘Moss’ leg in the unique coil-sprung Cooper Monaco which Sir Stirling himself raced in ’59, Pearson jumped aboard Monteverde’s D-type, but couldn’t shake off the tenacious Blakeney-Edwards who remained in his mirrors throughout. “We’ll have to fix that brake pedal,” said PB-E to Wakeman on the rostrum, after a very promising second outing in the Cooper.
Adams, class-winning soloist Watts and Nick Finburgh (in his father’s C-type) claimed the minor placings. Wigley finished a strong seventh ahead of renowned Aston Martin preparer Chris Woodgate, going great guns in Mark Midgely’s DB3 to outpace the sister machine of Martin Melling/Rob Hall to win their division.