In heavy rain, with an oil slick right round the circuit left by an earlier race, the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy was a slippery challenge – and a real spectacle – right from the start. So much so, that the race was started under a safety car to enable the drivers to become accustomed to the conditions.
Taking an early lead was Patrick Watts in his Allard J2 – not a car you would normally expect to see at the front in such appalling conditions, but moving up from second on the grid to hold the top spot, until an engine problem relegated Watts to third overall by the end of the race.
It was the pole-sitting D-type of Gary Pearson and Carlos Monteverde which finally took the chequered flag, although the Jaguar only regained the lead five laps from the end of the one-hour race. In second place was the Jaguar C-type of Will Arif and Alex Buncombe – which also, and quite remarkably, took the fastest lap of the race by a staggering eight seconds.
The conditions were so slippery that a large proportion of the grid had a spin at some point during the race, greatly affecting the final outcome, but among the drives worthy of mention was a truly stunning performance by Mike Thorne, in his Austin-Healey 100M, hounding no less a rival than Gavin Pickering in his Jaguar D-type – and even, at one point, getting past to take the race lead. The Thorne/Todd pairing finally brought home the 100M to a class win, and an admirable eighth overall. Also spectacular to watch was the little Triumph TR2 of Brian White and Jon Payne, coming through the chicane at the most impossible angles, lap after lap, and then ‘picking it all up’ again on the way out.
Class winners not already mentioned include Chris Jolly in his Aston Martin DB2 (also scoring a splendid seventh overall), Chris Guest’s Cooper T21, and the Frazer Nash Mille Miglia of Phil Champion and Chris Chilcott.