It was a true tale of David and Goliath at the Algarve Classic Festival as the mighty powered Lister Costin struggled through the race; the leading Tojeiro Jaguar spluttered at the end and a little 1200cc drum-braked Lola Mk1 just kept on powering round!
The JD Classics Lister Costin piloted by Chris Ward and John Young was eventually first across the finish line after two hours in the Motor Racing Legends 50s Sports Car race, after the leading Tojeiro Jaguar of James Cottingham and Andrew Smith suffered a momentary fuel supply issue in the closing laps of the race which dropped them to third.
The shiny silver Lola Mk1 of Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger drove a faultless and trouble-free race to finish a stunning second overall. The pair plugging in quality lap times right through the way through the race.
In Friday’s qualifying it was the Lister Costin that topped the lap charts with a pole time of 2:09.1 just 3/10th of a second faster than the Lotus 15 of Greg Caton-(2:09.3) The Tojeiro Jaguar of James Cottingham and Andrew Smith was less than a second behind (2:10.5) with the Cooper Monaco of Justin Maeers and Charlie Martin alongside (2:11.0).
The Lola Mk 1 prototype of Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger qualified 5th (2.11.9) with Charles Gillett and Steve Smith (Willment Climax) behind (2:13.9).
Woodcote Trophy competitor Martin Stretton was co-piloting the stunning Maserati 250S of Richard Wilson qualified 7th overall (2:14.9) just ahead of the Cooper T38 of Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards. (2:14.9) The Lister Jaguar ‘Flat-Iron’ of Steve Brooks and Martin O’Connell was 9th (2:15.6) and the Elva MK 5 of Louis Zurstrassen rounded out the top 10 on the grid.
In the race, problems for some started on the warm-up lap – the Jaguar D-Type of Chris and Nick Ball was back in the pit lane to pump out their 140 litres of fuel due to water contamination, and had to resort to starting from the pits.
The Elva MK 5 of Ralf Emmerling and Phil Hooper was also straight into the pits at the end of the green flag lap: “The car was over-heating on the warm-up lap, so I had to come straight in, the boys fixed it – but we started dead last!” shouted a frustrated Ralf.
Last year’s runner-up the Lotus 15 of Greg Caton, also was an early stopper after a bolt dropped out of the throttle linkage and stranded the car on track on lap 1. The crew eventually set about fixing the problem but the stricken Lotus was 5 laps down by the time it rejoined.
The slightly delayed start of the race meant the daylight faded quickly, but as the lights flicked to green and the impressive grid rumbled past it was the JD Classics Lister Costin started by Chris Ward leading the pack with the Tojeiro Jaguar of James Cottingham in hot pursuit and the Cooper Monaco of Justin Maeers behind.
The Jaguar C-type of Rudi Friedrichs was another early stopper after suffering a misfire. “He had a full tank of fresh fuel and we changed all the fuel pumps earlier, so there was nothing more we could do.” commented co-driver Gary Pearson.
The leading Lister Costin stopped exactly on 30 mins to pop John Young in to bat; this was the first indication that there was trouble, as Ward was complaining of a lack of revs. “We can only get a maximum of 5000 revs, so the boys have changed the coil, and condenser to try and sort the problem.”
The Tojeiro Jaguar took the lead on lap 15, with the Willment Climax of Smith-Gillett in 2nd, and by lap 19 the Lola Mk1 of Ahlers-Bellinger had made it into the top three. With the Cooper T38 of Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in 4th place overall.
There were further casualties as the race developed. The Lotus XI of Guy Peeters made more than one unscheduled pit stop as they battled with electrical gremlins. The late starting Lotus 15 of Greg Caton also retired early with diff failure. The Maserati 250S was also forced to retire after Martin Stretton arrived in the pit lane suffering with gearbox troubles.
Chris Ward hopped back into the JD Classics Lister Costin on lap 30 – whilst the crew worked round the car to do a full plug set change still trying to rectify the lack of power. Ward rejoined in 5th position.
On lap 33 the safety car came out to retrieve a pair of cars stranded out on the circuit, the field was compacted and a number of crews took advantage of slower laps to make their final driver changes including one of the leading Woodcote Trophy competitors – the Cooper T38 of Wakeman/P-BE.
On lap 34, the Cooper Monaco of Maeers-Martin was in the pits having the top end of the gearbox rebuilt, no small task, but seemingly no major problem for their pit crew as the car rejoined on lap 41. “We changed the gearbox this afternoon” said a smiling Martin, “Sadly this one isn’t too good either.”
With just 15 mins to go, the Ward piloted Lister Costin – helped by the safety car- was steadily closing in on the leading Tojeiro Jaguar of Andrew Smith and looked set to deliver a true photo-finish. Suddenly the Tojeiro dived onto the grass along the pit straight with a fuel supply problem. Smith rapidly diagnosed the fault and rejoined the track but the damage was done, as both the Ward/Young Lister and the Ahlers/Bellinger Lola slipped ahead; the Cottingham/Smith Tojeiro having to settle for third.
“I didn’t actually know it was them juddering down the straight to start with”, said a smiling Ward “Then I saw the pit board showing ‘P1’. With all the issues we had, we are delighted with the result.”
Fourth home was the Willment Climax of Steve Smith and Charles Gillett, and 5th the T38 Cooper of Fred Wakeman-Patrick B-E. 6th place was a fantastic come back for the Jaguar D-Type of Chris and Nick Ball, starting dead-last from the pit lane.
Nick Wigley and Barry Cannell piloted the Cooper Bristol T24/T25 to 7th overall – just one alarming moment for Wigley when an owl swooped down and seized a bat in the beam of his lights! Stephen Bond and Keith Fell finished 8th in Stephen’s Lister Bristol ‘Flat-Iron’, Martyn Corfield and Eddie Williams were 9th home in the Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica with the Jaguar C-Type of father and son duo Charlie and John Brown making up the top 10.
Photos: Peter de Roussett-Hall, Dave Brassington & Sarah Bennett-Baggs