Driving the ex-Border Reivers Jaguar D-type in which 1963 Formula 1 World Champion Jim Clark raced in period, Brazilian Carlos Monteverde and Briton Gary Pearson repeated their Donington Historic Festival success when they won the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy race for pre-1956 sportscars at Brands Hatch on Bank Holiday Monday, May 27.The pre-event favourites did not have things all their own way, though. Silverstone racing school chief instructor Chris Ward – subbing for Andrew Smith in JD Classics’ Cooper-Jaguar T33 streamliner – and veteran John Young started from pole, with the rumbling Kurtis 500S of Geraint Owen and Charles Knill-Jones alongside and the white D-type in their mirrors.
Roaring like a dragster, Owen blasted the American monster into Paddock Hill Bend ahead of the 28-car pack, with Young, Monteverde and John Ure (driving Peter Mann’s Cooper-Bristol) in its tyre smoke. Ure locked a brake into Graham Hill Bend, but kept fourth while Rick Bourne (in Malcolm Paul’s Lotus-Bristol 10) found a way past Patrick Watts’ Allard-Cadillac J2 ‘Blunderbuss I’.
Monteverde hit the front on lap two, but Young closed in and snatched the lead four laps later, by which time Owen had shaken off the tenacious Ure, leaving him to scrap furiously with Bourne. Michael Steele, who started Roger Buxton’s HWM-Jaguar with his customary gusto, was up to fifth, at Watts’ expense, when “it turned into a steam engine and I spun on my own water in front of the pack heading towards Graham Hill Bend”.
Young and Monteverde pitted together after 10 laps, the former with smoke billowing ominously from his front brakes. Ward, who had driven the Cooper for the first time in qualifying, gingerly did a couple of exploratory laps before wisely parking it. Ure, Owen and Bourne stayed out longer, each leading before relaying Nick Wigley, Knill-Jones and Paul, respectively.
Once into his stride, Pearson gobbled up Wigley, then rose rapidly to the head of the lap charts as the pit-stop stagger unwound. There he stayed, taking the chequered flag half a minute clear of Wigley. “Carlos did all the hard work in a great dice with John Young,” said Gary. “I could then relax and enjoy what is a wonderful circuit for these old cars.”
The Kurtis was pulled up two laps from home, promoting the brakeless Watts to third, while fellow soloist Stephen Bond caught and passed Bourne’s Lotus for fourth. Simon Hadfield howled Wolfgang Friedrichs’ Aston Martin DB3S to sixth, clear of the DB3s of Martin Melling/Rick Hall (Peter Collins and Pat Griffith’s 1952 Goodwood 9 Hours winner) and Mark Midgley/Chris Woodgate which had circulated together evocatively during the owners’ stints.
Behind the Astons, Philip Champion/Sam Stretton (Frazer Nash Mille Miglia) pipped Nick Ruddell’s DB2/4 by 1.5 seconds, with the Austin-Healey 100S of fast-starter Jeremy Welch/Ian Montgomery and the Mike Thorne/Johnny Todd 100M in their wheel tracks.
A welcome Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy newcomer was the ex-Cliff Davies Tojeiro-Bristol of American commuter Simon Arscott, which former British GT Champion Bradley Ellis took over and flung round with abandon, climbing rapidly to 14th. It was also good to see Barry Wood’s RGS Atalanta-Jaguar back in action, fully rebuilt after its hefty Spa shunt last September.