Smith Leads Formula Atlantic Comeback
Fifty-one years after Australian Vern Schuppan – the future Formula 1 racer and Porsche Le Mans winner – won the inaugural British Formula Atlantic race at Brands Hatch in a Palliser chassis, a Historic iteration brought a new flavour to the HSCC’s season-opener on the venue’s Indy circuit on the weekend of 2-3 April. Marcus Pye reports…
Snow on the Friday test day gave way to a cool, crisp, sunny spring weekend over which Rory Smith won both Atlantic races in his 1984 Ralt RT4 ‘wing car,’ although local man Marc Mercer challenged hard in a March 73. Anthony Hancock (Lola T670) won the concurrent Classic F3 class both days after Conor Murphy (March 803B) broke.
Michael O’Brien and Speedsport teammate Horatio Fitz-Simon, debuting the ex-Ned Spieker Brabham BT6 and ex-Tommy Reid Lotus 22 respectively led Saturday’s rear-engined FJHRA Silverline Formula Junior round until Horatio’s engine lost oil pressure, while Chris Drake (Terrier Mk4) won the nominally front-engined race, pursued by reigning champion Nic Carlton-Smith in his Kieft.
Rory Smith (No 44) and Marc Mercer do battle. Photo John Retter
The event’s best racing came in the colourful ‘70s Road Sports double-header. Top qualifier Charles Barter retired his Datsun 240Z from the opening leg with a duff spark plug, but fought back to win the sequel, in a race stopped twice by another former champion, Kevin Kivlochan. ‘KeKi’ beached his Morgan +8 in the gravel at Druids on lap one, then restarted and blew its Rover V8 engine mightily, sending several cars spinning like tops into Surtees. Barter regrouped and aced the deciding sprint after the re-start from the Lotuses of triple champ Jeremy Clark (Elan S4) and Paul Tooms (Europa). Kivlochan bounced back to win Sunday’s Historic Road Sports race in his AC Cobra, with Frazer Gibney (Elan) in tow over the finish line.
The rebranded Historic Touring Car opener should have been all Lotus Cortina, Mike Gardiner beating Bob Bullen to the chequer after leader Jack Moody pitted with a misfire. Bill Sollis (Mini Cooper S) beat Gardiner second time out after a heady scrap. Sollis’ Mini teammates Nick Paddy and David Ogden finishing third and fourth.
Historic F2 March racers John Harrison and Clive Wood returned to their faithful Mallocks for the Classic Clubmans encounters.
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