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Previews of upcoming events, Race & Rally Reports, News, Reviews, Letters and Regulation Information from Historic Motor Racing News.

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Features and Reports

Mantorp Classic Festival

Bengt-Åce Gustavsson reports on the first two race meetings of the Swedish season

This year is like no other, and for the Swedish RHK historic racing cup, this has meant that this year’s first two competitions were postponed from spring to autumn (Kinnekulle and Karlskoga) and one has been postponed until next year (Knutstorp).  So, this year’s first race meeting wasn’t until August 22-23, when the Mantorp Classic Festival took place.

Run together with Legends cars and the Sports Cars Championship, more than 200 cars turned out, a very good number given the circumstances.  The event took place without spectators and the schedule was adapted to the circumstances, with some classes running clear before others started in order to reduce the number of people in the paddock. This meant that some had gone home before the last ones arrived.

 

 Torgny Johansson leads the race for cars with Slicks in his F2 March

Formula Vee had kicked off the season with an invitational race that included several new drivers in the starting line-up.  It was an incredibly exciting race with much overtaking and the outcome was uncertain until the very end. 

The first Formula Ford race had to be stopped prematurely when the drivers failed to slow sufficiently as they passed marshals working on the track with a stranded car.  The heat was red flagged and the drivers got a scolding. 

In the Formula Slicks heat, it was gratifying to see so many F3s in the starting field.  Michaela Månlycke has gained renewed confidence driving Torgny Johansson’s March 812 F2 car,  and wise driving saw her move up the field to finish second behind Johansson in his March 782.

The 1000cc Cup usually boasts the largest starting field, but Mantorp is not a favourite track, as it is too fast for these small cars.  However a dozen brave drivers still rose to the challenge, with Per Skårner’s Fiat Abarth 1000TC taking victory in the first race ahead of the Cooper S of Sissela Lidebjer and Håkan Huggare’s Saab 96.  The second race looked much the same, but unfortunately Lidebjer retired on lap 6, leaving Huggare to finish behind Skårner and Lennart Nilsson, also in a Saab 96.

 

Photos Bengt-Åce Gustavsson

RHK has chosen to try a new race division this year with the smaller cars from the 1966-71 class driving together with the standard pre-‘66 cars.  Hans Beckert started this from pole in his old Mini ahead of Kjell Wallin in a newer Mini.  These two Mini experts had a great duel, from which Beckert emerged victorious by half a second, the two leaders distancing the rest of the pack. 

The pre-‘66 GT races also offered some good dices, with Bengt-Åke Bengtsson (Lotus Elan S2) coming out on top from a battle with Tommy Bencsik’s similar car and the Austin Healey 3000 of Anders Schildt. 

The newest grid, with cars from 1972-1990 offered a large starting field.  Lennart Bohlin outclassed the others with his monster Corvette while Claes Andersson just managed to squeeze his Opel Kadett GT/E ahead of Rolf “The Mosquito” Nilsson’s Ford Escort RS 1600. 

Round Two: Eventful Racing

...in Changing Weather

Only two weeks later, more than a hundred Swedish historic racers were out again at Kinnekulle Ring, for an event postponed from May.  On Saturday, everyone got to run a practice and a qualifier in very difficult weather conditions, with first rain, then sun, then sun and rain and even thunder.

The Formula Vee fielded 19 cars, with Johan Lund, Richard “Tiny” Persson and Lars-Gunnar “Vegas” Johansson resuming their battle of two weeks earlier, finishing the first race in that order.  Lund also led the second race and took out a gap to the rest of the field, but when it was time to lap the back markers, he lost out to “Tiny” who went on to win the race.

In the Formula Ford heat, it was the twin carburettor Formula Vee of Johan Lund on rain tyres that had the advantage in the wet qualifying, but the race was dry, handing the advantage back to the Fords.  “The plan is to take Lund before the second curve, before he has time to get the heat into his slicks,” said Håkan Tagesson before the race.  However, the tactic failed, though Lund eventually had to let Henry Sandblom past. 

In Formula Slicks, we saw no slicks in the wet qualifier.  Rain specialist Sonny Johansson took his Reynard 883 to pole, with pre-race favourite Torgny Johansson’s March F2 only fourth on the grid.  In the dry race Torgny was quickly up to second, but there he remained behind Sonny lap after lap.  Maybe he lulled the Reynard driver into a false sense of security, but suddenly Torgny was past and stretching out a gap.   

In the Sports 2000 class, Henrik Hansson took a double victory in his Tiga. 

Keep your distance signs hang at the entrance of empty grandstands overlooking quiet paddocks

The 1000cc Cup has always provided a reliably large field, but at Kinnekulle they were only 14 cars.  It was really SAAB weather in the qualifiers, which suited Per Ola Persson well when he took his first ever pole position.  He thought about how to use it to his advantage in a dry race, but failed, as Per Skårner took his Abarth into the lead at the start.  Persson, however, hung in well and was less than a second behind at the finish. 

Standard pre-‘66 cars over 1000cc was the smallest grid of the weekend with only six entrants.  Newcomer Kevin Bengtsson took the lead in his Mini Cooper S, but lost it to Per Skårner’s similar car  after a violent spin under the bridge.  Skårner thanked him for the invitation, but had to stop with a puncture.  Veteran Hans Eklund (Saab Sonnett) stepped forward and won ahead of a recovered Bengtsson. 

In the GT class it was not surprising that the old rally fox Claes Andersson (Austin Healey 3000) would take pole in the wet qualifier, but in the race it got a bit tougher.  Rolf “The Mosquito” Nilsson, made a comeback to the class, helping Tommy Bencsik sort out his new Lotus Elan. 

Anders Berger completely dominated the latest standard car class (1972-1990) in his purple Ford Escort, beating an equally safe second placed Claes Andersson (Opel Kadett) by half a minute in both heats. 

See our October issue.....

Historic Tour – Dijon – Charade

What was meant to be a well-spaced calendar of five meetings, leaving a long summer break for “les vacances”,  turned into an action-packed month of August when first, Historic Tour Dijon, the second in this year’s series, took place on 15-16 August, and Historic Tour Charade took place two weeks later

After a first meeting at Albi, the French drivers (and many foreign drivers – some 30% of the entries) turned out at Dijon, with some grids joining forces with their counterparts from neighbouring countries, such as the F3 1000cc cars running with the Formula Ford Historics, or the Kampf der Zwerge, the German equivalent of the Maxi 1300 series running in tandem with the French cars, and the German FFR joining forces with the Formula Ford Zetec.

Guest F3 driver Jeremy Timms led the Formula Ford Historic pack at Dijon

For the local drivers, two races for most series offered additional opportunities to earn points towards the two French Championship titles.  After the first event at Albi, there were 11 drivers who had won two races at Albi, and were therefore on equal points.

Big winners at Dijon were François Belle, who took two Formula Ford Historic wins to add to his strong points tally from Albi, though in the first race he was bested by guest F3 driver Jeremy Timms (Chevron B15) by 0.137 of a second.  Finally defeated in the first race at Charade, he re-established his winning credentials over Alain Girardet in the second race, making three wins out of four races over the two weekends.

Franck Quagliozzi has completely dominated the Youngtimers in his Honda Civic

Another Dijon double winner was Frédéric Rouvier.  Already undefeated at Albi in his March 783 in Formula 3 Classic, he was shadowed home both times by Italian Valerio Leone in a similar March, in both cases by mere tenths of a second.   Leone turned the tables at Charade, bringing his March home over two seconds ahead of Rouvier in the first race.  On the same grid but in a different race, Christian Vaglio Giors, also double winner at Albi and, though Swiss, now eligible for the French title, was the only driver to take maximum Monoplaces points with four Formula Renault wins at Dijon and Charade.  He joins Franck Quagliozzi and Laurent Sabatier, who also remain unbeaten this season in Youngtimers GTi Cup and GT Classic respectively, competing for the GT/Tourisme crown.

Laurent Sabatier, driving a Porsche in the GT Classic series, is one of three drivers that has remained unbeaten so far this season, and one of only two competing in the GT/Tourisme category

For a full report of both meetings, see our October issue…….

Postponed from its original June date, Historic Promotions’ Thruxton Historic event delivered lashings of nostalgia on 15-16 August.  An eclectic mix of cars – the oldest dating way back to the 1920s, when the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, forerunner of the current BARC was in its pomp – entertained spectators and classic car club members, permitted here for the first time this season.  Grids included cars of a type that competed at the airfield in 1952-‘53 (on different circuits), painted pictures of the fallow interval until ‘68 when it reopened on the current ultra-fast perimeter track, and traced much of its modern history.

Marcus Pye Reports

On a programme – not that one was printed per current Motorsport UK rules – on which rousing Jaguar C, D and E-type tussles delighted onlookers in the Motor Racing Legends’ sports and GT showcases, the other major highlight of the weekend was a splendid race for Pre-War Sportscars, a spectacle not seen at Thruxton since the Aston Martin Owners Club  hosted a pre-war race there in 2004.  Relayed by Blakeney Motorsport spannerman Mike Grant Peterkin, the intrepid Patrick Blakeney-Edwards overtook feisty German Rudi Friedrichs’ 4.3-litre Alvis Firefly in a whir of chains to win brilliantly in his 1929 Frazer Nash Super Sports.              

Start of the Pre-war race.  Photos Eric Sawyer

Four E-type Jaguars, braces of hooded roadsters and fixed head coupes, initially led the Pre-‘63 GT race.  Impressive leader James Cottingham had just handed over the ex-Merle Brennan US racer – a year to the day after its purchase – to Harvey Stanley when its distributor self-destructed.  With the James Hanson/Paul Pochciol coupe out with a brake issue, again just after the mandatory stop, current British Touring Car Championship racer Rory Butcher took Jon Minshaw’s dove grey roadster on to victory over soloist Oliver Bryant’s coupe, its engine power blunted by a misfire.

Driving the ex-Tom Hart Lola Mk1, in which veteran Dickie Le Strange Metcalfe won the final race of Goodwood’s contemporary era in July 1966, when the car was four years old, Ben Adams won the RAC Woodcote/Stirling Moss Trophy ‘50s sportscar enduro outright from the younger division.

Four E-type Jaguars, braces of hooded roadsters and xed head coupes, initially led the Pre-‘63 GT race

Mike Grant Peterkin kept Friedrichs on his toes in the opening half of the Pre-War race which embroiled cars representing 10 marques.  In a typically audacious manoeuvre, Blakeney-Edwards ambushed his rival into the chicane for victory in his Meadows-engined Nash.  “It’s scary out the back,” smiled Pat, an understatement surely, since he’d lapped the flowing 2.356-mile circuit in 1m42.050s (an average of 83.11mph) in a 91-year-old car with no differential and on 4.50 x 19in tyres.

Completing a remarkable weekend for PB-E, he and Gregor Fisken landed aggregate victory in the twin-legged Historic Touring Car Challenge driving a husky Group 2 Rover SDI.

Famous Healey wins on return to Thruxton

Sometime F3000 pilot and ‘87 European F3 champion Dave Coyne won a gripping Historic Racing Drivers’ Club Jack Sears Trophy 1958-’65 Touring Car race in Adrian Miles’ Ford Mustang, thanks to Tony Absolom’s Automotive Solutions team, which changed the gearbox post-qualifying.  Coyne grunted ahead of John Spiers’ Lotus Cortina (which Tiff Needell put on pole) at the start of lap two as a Cortina fight unfolded around him.

The race card’s sensational highlight was Mark Holme and Jeremy Welch’s tremendously hard-earned but totally against-the-odds GT & Sports Car Cup victory on VW Fun Cup stalwart Holme’s debut in SMO 746, the famous 1959 works Austin-Healey 3000 rally car, which the late John Gott subsequently raced extensively – notably in big-winged Modsports specification at Thruxton in 1970 and ‘71 – but hibernated until 2018 after Gott’s death in ‘72.

Completing a remarkable weekend for Patrick Blakeney- Edwards, he and Gregor Fisken landed aggregate victory in the Historic Touring Car Challenge driving a Group 2 Rover SDI

Holme had not driven SMO until Saturday’s qualifying session, when its gearbox broke.  Undeterred, he made a 280-mile round trip to transplant the box from his other competition Healey, returning for the 90-minute feature race.  Keith Ahlers (Morgan +4 SLR), Holme and Crispin Harris (Healey) led initially, before James Hanson blasted Paul Pochciol’s Jaguar E-type from the back of the grid and took the initiative.  While Jeremy Welch – due to drive the middle stint in Holme’s 3000, then finish Doug Muirhead’s - was signalling Mark to slow down, top qualifier Ben Adams was on a fuel-saving mission in his little Lola Mk1.  William Paul, meanwhile, kept the leaders within range before installing British Touring Car Championship Ford Focus star Rory Butcher in his semi-lightweight E-type.

Richard Merrell snarled his scorpion-logoed Giulia GT Junior to HRDC Alfa Challenge gold.  Photo Jeff Bloxham

Once aboard, Butcher sped into the distance, effectively presenting his car owner the lead when Adams made his second mandatory stop in the Lola.  But surprises lay ahead.  Adams had reeled-in Billy Bellinger (in Ahlers’ dark green Morgan coupe) and repassed Paul, with 11 minutes remaining.  Two laps later, though, the Jag ground to a halt, its 90 litres of fuel exhausted.  Then Adams, two-thirds of a lap clear of Holme with three to run, pulled off out of juice.  Holme thus motored round the final three laps, taking the chequered flag 49 seconds ahead of Ahlers.

Richard Merrell snarled his scorpion-logoed Giulia GT Junior to HRDC Alfa Challenge gold in Sunday’s curtain-closer.

Banking on the dunes

In any other year, this season’s Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix would have run the risk of being labelled uninspiring, if not bland.  But in fact, it was a kind of miracle.  Here was a motorsport event that went ahead on its planned date (September 5-6), with a crowd that was allowed to roam free in the paddock, and without the obligation of facial protection – as far we know still a unique situation in this mad world of 2020.  What’s more, as the news of the Spa Six Hours’ cancellation came in on the Friday, the entrants made sure that they enjoyed themselves twice as much for the remainder of the weekend.

Mattijs Diepraam Reports

That the event would happen as planned hadn’t been a given all summer.  With the UK putting the Netherlands back on its quarantine list in the run-up to the event, it looked very much under threat – sure enough, the HSCC pulled its Historic Formula 2 and 1000cc F3 contributions from the original programme, the HGPCA also withdrew its grid of Grand Prix cars, and on top of that the FIA announced the cancellation of all FIA historic championships.  This didn’t affect the two FIA grids promoted by Masters Historic Racing, as they would simply run as Masters Historic Formula One and Masters Historic Sports Cars, but the one-off FIA Historic Formula 3 European Cup – by now a fresh Zandvoort tradition – was axed, despite initially having attracted a healthy entry of 20-plus cars.  As one of the F3 grid’s main suppliers said, “We would have had to remain in our own bubble during the entire weekend, in the same conditions now applied to today’s F1 and WEC paddocks.  But we are not here to win at all costs.  We are amateurs coming to Zandvoort to meet people and enjoy ourselves.”

Photos Peter Heil

And so the Zandvoort organisers looked to the east to find the German-based FHR organisation eager and willing to visit their newly renovated motor racing accommodation with its exciting pair of freshly banked corners.  It also created an opportunity to invite the Kampf der Zwerge gang, the Germans who cherish the smallest touring cars that ever raced.  Two weeks ahead of the event, the quarantine exemption granted to Masters was further tightened, which resulted in their losing many of the smaller teams and the cancellation of the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race, but still the three-day programme was packed from nine to five every day, with no lunch breaks on Saturday and Sunday, the final day even running to a 7pm closing time.  The weather helped, as only a few scattered showers interrupted the sunny late-summer conditions.  And the crowd too had banked their motorsport money on the event, as on both weekend days the main grandstand filled up nicely to its maximised capacity, while in the paddock social distancing became a challenge at various places.  It was as if they thought that this was a once-in-a-season opportunity – and looking at the historic calendar ahead it seems that they were right.

In the F1 races, Mike Cantillon proved unstoppable, the Williams FW07C driver clinching both wins in dominant form

With 14 Formula 1 cars, the Zandvoort entry list looked healthier than in COVID-free 2019, and the quality was well up too.  The Dutch-based Historic Monoposto Racing association was dealt the tough task of replacing the F2 and F3 bonanza pulled from the programme by the HSCC and the FIA.  With 14 cars, their grid was much smaller than usual, but still some of the midfield battles proved very entertaining.

The Masters Historic Sports Car entry disappointed with just ten cars, but with four Lola T70s, two Chevron B19s and Manfredo Rossi’s Osella-Abarth PA1 there was no shortage of fast cars with winning potential.

The German-based seventies sportscar series was headed by Felix Haas in the Lola T294,

Without a shadow of doubt, most sportscar excitement was delivered by two 30-minute FHR 100 Meilen Trophy races.  The German-based seventies sportscar series was headed by Felix Haas in the Lola T294, Georg Hallau in the Lola T310 and Peter Schleifer’s McLaren M8F.  On Saturday, Haas and Hallau were at it hammer and tongs until, with five minutes left to run, Haas was forced to bail out with a puncture. 

With 53 cars, the Dutch ‘66-‘81 GTTC championship provided a bumper grid that was almost to the track’s full capacity of 58 cars.  The second race was won by the best of the series’ regulars, Saturday’s runner-up Hans de Graaf in his Porsche Carrera RS fending off Wolfgang Pledl’s Escort Mk1 RS1600. 

The Lotus Cortina of Marcus Jewell/Ben Clucas and the Hart winning Bizzarrini 5300GT exit the spectacular banking

Meanwhile, the German HTGT championship ran a concurrent one-hour race in that Sunday two-hour curtain-closer, and the Schmersal/Stursberg Escort won that too, heading Tom Kuiper’s Corvette Stingray and the Nigel Greensall/David Gooding Mustang.

The previous day, Greensall was the star of qualifying for Sunday morning’s Masters 90-minute Gentlemen Drivers race.  Stepping into Andrew Haddon’s shoes as Mark Martin’s pro teammate, Greensall pipped all the local heroes for pole, and then in the race created a 30-second gap to David Hart’s Bizzarrini in his opening stint in Martin’s freshly built Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé.  But then Martin was hit by a double whammy – first an issue with his HANS device botched his driver change with Greensall, allowing Olivier Hart to jump the Daytona Cobra in just two laps after the stops, and then a puncture and its subsequent replacement pushed him down to sixth.  It would have been interesting to see how much work the lightning-quick Hart Jr would have had in chasing Martin in a healthy Daytona Coupé after a trouble free stop.

For a full report see our October issue…….

Masters Racing made a triumphant return to Brands Hatch in late August with a programme full of drama and spectacle, says Rachel Harris-Gardiner

Historic Formula One provided a mix of familiar cars, with some interesting newcomers, including former FIA Formula One World Championship racer, and Sky Sports F1 speaker, Johnny Herbert debuting in an Ensign N180B.

Martin O’Connell won the first race on Saturday in dominant style, piloting his Tyrrell 011B to a confident lead from pole.  Greg Thornton challenged but was not able to keep up with the charging O’Connell, and the Lotus 91/5 driver was also overhauled by Steve Hartley’s ex-John Watson McLaren MP4/1 later on.  Mike Cantillon was a fairly distant fourth in his Tyrrell 010 but started from pole in Race 2 on the reversed grid.  Thornton was determined not to be denied this time and took the lead from lap two.  O’Connell came within touching distance when the Lotus driver got caught among the backmarkers, including Johnny Herbert’s ailing Ensign. 

Mike Whitaker cruised home to win the Gentlemen Drivers race in his TVR Griffith.  Photos Eric Sawyer

The F1 cars are always evocative but the best racing spectacle of the weekend came from the 90-minute Gentlemen Drivers race.  Mike Whitaker came back to Masters after several years of concentrating on Goodwood and won in a TVR Griffith, fending off the challenge of Julian Thomas’s Shelby Daytona Cobra, shared with Calum Lockie, and Gary Pearson’s Jaguar E-type, driven with guest pro Alex Brundle. 

The fortunes of Whitaker and Brundle/Pearson were reversed for the Historic Sportscar race.  Brundle started the Lola T70 Mk3B and wasted no time in taking the lead from Jonathan Mitchell’s Chevron B19, despite Mitchell’s fast start.  Gary Culver held third for a long period in another T70 but was penalised for a jump start, and was later disqualified for failing to take his penalty in time.  The chief beneficiaries were Gonçalo Gomes and James Claridge, who were third in a Chevron B23.  Charles Allison was the leading Chevron B8 finisher in tenth place after Calum Lockie and Julian Thomas had to retire.  Whitaker, driving a T70 Mk2 Spyder, also retired.

The minis put on a great show.

Saturday’s Pre ‘66 Touring Car encounter was a race of survival, won by Rob Fenn’s Ford Mustang after Steve Soper had a frightening-looking off at Stirlings in the last minutes of the race.  The throttle of the Mustang he shares with Henry Mann stuck open when in the lead, sending Soper over the tyre wall and into the trees.  Fortunately the car landed on its wheels, trapped between the Armco and the trees, and Soper emerged unscathed. 

Pre-’66 Minis had two dedicated races, race 1 won by Former British Touring Car Championship racer Jeff Smith.  The second race featured a classic Mini lead battle between Smith and Joe Ferguson, behind the wheel of the Austin Mini Cooper S taken to second by Tom Bell in the preceding encounter, with both protagonists sideways. 

British cars were very much in evidence for both Equipe Classic races, which featured 46-car all-British grids with a queue of reserves.  Tom Smith claimed top spot on the podium for the first race in his MGB, ahead of Lee Atkins in his TVR Grantura.  Atkins also led the second race, which featured a different grid, but was overtaken by Mark Ashworth’s TVR Grantura in the closing laps. 

Steve Soper was unfortunate in Henry Mann’s Mustang. While in the lead the throttle stuck open in the braking area for Stirlings and the car was badly crashed, thankfully without injury to the driver

The HGPCA also provided two races, both won by Jon Fairley (Brabham BT11/19) followed by Will Nuthall (Cooper T53).  Andrew Beaumont was the fastest qualifier, but his Lotus 18 ran out of fuel in the first race.  He was another driver who fought back strongly, finishing sixth from the back of the grid in Race 2.

It’s been a while, but vintage racing was back, with the VSCC Formula Vintage race meeting at Mallory Park on 23 August.  And what a way to start.  Mallory Park is one of the UK’s most attractive venues, its twin lakes giving it a unique setting, think Interlagos transplanted to rural Leicestershire.  Chris McEvoy reports....

This was the first VSCC race meeting since the world went into lockdown and it was an interesting experience, with access to parts of the circuit heavily restricted, even for accredited media, with no entry to pits or paddock for chats to drivers or mechanics, or light repartee with marshals.

This being August and England, the weather was always going to be a bit variable.  Indeed the forecast was “Cloudy changing to thunder in the afternoon”.  True to form a brief but heavy shower added a little frisson to the early afternoon races, but soon dried and it remained settled for the rest of the event.

Photos Chris McEvoy

As ever with the VSCC there was a great range of cars.  A welcome returnee was Mark Walkers’ World land speed record 1905 Darracq 200hp, its first race since the engine gave up with an oily piston through its block on the same track way back in September 2016.  Its first outing proved a success with a finish in the John Holland Trophy race.  A 1957 Kurtis Indy-Roadster, various configurations of Austin 7, a smattering of Frazer Nash, a couple of Bugatti T35s, an ERA or two, plus plenty of MGs filled the grids.

The meeting definitely had a family theme.  Along with Mark Walker, other family members, son Hughie (Theophile Schneider and GN Thunderbug) and daughter India (Austin 7 Special) also took to the track.  The family thread continued as much on the track as well as in support roles to keep everything running smoothly.  The Cawley clan had a trio racing, with father Dougal (GN/Ford Piglet), son Wilf (Frazer Nash Emeryson) and grandad Andy (Frazer Nash Super Sports) participating in the Frazer Nash Challenge.  Father and son Dennis and David Johnson, with Frazer Nash Colmore and Super Sports respectively, also contested the FN/GN Challenge.  Other families shortening the odds of taking home a trophy were the Seber brothers Rodney and Tony, both in Wolseley Hornet Specials, father and sons Harry (MG PA) James (MG Kayne) and Mike Painter (MG PA) in two Allcomers races and the MG vs Austin 7 race.  Another VSCC racing dynasty taking to the grid consisted of various Blakeney-Edwards, who at the close of play scored the most victories, with three winners out of the nine events. 

Tony Seber, Wolseley Hornet Speical

As befitting the nature of VSCC racing and its competitors, the racing was good, clean and honest.  The handicappers performed their tasks with the usual skill and in the last race the margin between the first three finishers was less than a quarter of a second.

For a full report of the racing see our October issue……

Historic Tour

Postponed for three months but fortunately saved, the Historic Tour d’Albi (also called “3ème Grand Prix Historique d’Albi” this year) kicked off the French Historic Circuit Championships on 17-19 July with hope and relief for over 200  drivers.

With the country still subject to “post-containment” health rules linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Albigensian meeting was a milestone in the resumption of automobile sport in France, as the first major competition of the year of any motor sport discipline.  “Our meeting is the first French Championship event to be organised this year and thanks to everyone’s efforts, we even have the chance to welcome spectators.  For months, it has been our role to find solutions to get back to work as soon as possible.  Without ever giving up, we all fought for this, our team, our volunteers, our partners.  The circuit of Albi has constantly responded to put in place all possible operating modes and our status as federal promoter has enabled us to benefit from close monitoring by the FFSA and its President,” remarked organiser Laurent Vallery-Masson of HVM Racing.

Reigning French champion Frédéric Rouvier was untouchable in the F3 races in his March 783 

But there is no doubt that grid numbers were down, with most races fielding fewer than 20 cars and some even less than 10.

2020 marks the sixth edition of the French Historic Circuits Championship (the Historic Tour), which set itself the mission in 2015 of reviving nearly half a century of motor racing for the most representative competition cars of the ‘50s to the ‘90s.  With all the French Championships series present, most with two races, and guest grid Legends Cars Cup, there were 23 separate races on the timetable over the weekend.

The Maxi 1300 duel between Laurent Majou and Philippe Gandini, back in his Jem GT, was unfortunately cut short

Double winners were Matthieu Châteaux (Debora SP91 BMW) in the SportsProtosCup races, Frédéric Rouvier aboard his new March 783 Toyota in F3 Classic, Swiss racer Christian Vaglio Giors in Formula Renault, Laurent Sabatier in the GT Classic race driving his Porsche 993, Florian Cabarrou, who performed flawlessly to take two wins in the GTI Cup and Jose Beltramelli, who won two thin ASAVÉ 65 heats.

Father and son Ghislain and Guillaume Gaubert took their family Porsche 911 2.8 RSR to victory in two races at the head of an even thinner grid for ASAVÉ 75, while Florian Cabarrou dominated the two Roadster Pro Cup races on a shared grid with the Youngtimers GTI Cup.  The Honda Civics of brothers Fabien Julia and Franck Quagliozzi put on a great display of spirited racing at the front of the GTI field, fighting wheel to wheel in both races, with both results decided in favour of Quagliozzi.

 

Ghislain and Guillaume Gaubert dominated two ASAVÉ Racing 75 races in their 911 RSR Porsche

Jérôme Policand, coming back to the Formula Ford of his beginnings (vice-champion of France in 1986 and boss of the prestigious Akka-ASP team), put the cat amongst the pigeons in Formula Ford Historic, winning the first race with championship leader François Belle on his heels.  He would have won the second race too, but a penalty dropped him down the order. 

To read all about it, see our September issue

Photos Guy Pawlak

MAGAZINE  >  FEATURES & REPORTS  > French Championships – Season Opener!

 

Paul Lawrence Reports

 Masters boldly took a date on the third weekend of the UK’s belated racing season and ran most of its key categories including F1, Historic Sports Cars and Endurance Legends.  For both F1 and Historic Sports Cars, these were the first qualifying rounds for the 2020 FIA Championships.  In truth, the competitor response was mixed, with some fair grids and others that were down in numbers.  Clearly, COVID-induced limitations on travel took its toll, with no American racers able to attend and, though UK quarantine rules were changed considerably on the run-up to the event, the news came too late for many mainland European racers to make plans.

Nevertheless, everyone was pleased to be back on track and there was some excellent racing across two mainly dry days.  There was even a better-than-expected spectator turn-out as racing-starved fans took the chance to see some glorious machinery.  The Masters team was understandably pleased with progress and was rightly expecting more competitors for its following date at Brands Hatch in mid-August. 

 

Will Nuthall trailed the entire  eld into Redgate but charged through the pack in the rain to take the lead from Sam Wilson

A dozen Historic F1 cars went out for qualifying, which featured three red flags in the first 15 minutes.  The sight of a driver walking down the pit lane carrying his car’s rear wing is never a good sign and this time it was Masters boss Ron Maydon who had damaged both the rear of his LEC CRP1 against the large Recticel barriers that now mark the clipping points at the chicane.  Efforts to get the car fixed for Sunday failed and so the grid was down to 11 cars.

 

Michael Lyons, in the non-ground-effect Hesketh, led Canttillon in the early stages of both F1 races, but ultimately had to give way to the newer car

But there was still a mighty spectacle in both races as Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308) turned in two fine performances in a bid to contain the ground-effect cars of Cantillon (ex-Carlos Reutemann/Keke Rosberg Williams FW07C) and Steve Hartley (McLaren MP4/1).

While Lyons was denied a second race win within a week, Jonathan Mitchell was not after adding to his Brands Hatch Thundersports win with victory in the Masters Historic Sports Cars race in his Chevron B19.  However, in the opening stages of a race of attrition, it seemed that third would be his lot.

 

The Historic Touring Car race featured three Ford Mustangs disputing the lead

Although his Lola T70 faltered in the sports car race when in the lead, Gary Pearson did not leave Donington empty-handed, as he went solo to win Saturday’s 90-minute Gentleman Drivers’ race in a Jaguar E-type.  The original plan was for him to share both cars with Alex Brundle but the re-scheduled European Le Mans Series race at Paul Ricard put paid to that idea.

The HGPCA Pre ’66 Grand Prix car contenders suffered the only rain of the weekend with a track that got quite wet before starting to dry again in the later stages.  That didn’t trouble Will Nuthall, who started his Cooper T53 from the pit lane and charged through the pack to take over the lead from Sam Wilson in the ex-Dave Charlton Lotus 20/22, newly converted back to F1 trim with a 1500cc twin-cam engine.

 

Tom Bradshaw (Chevron B19) and Gary Pearson (Lola T70) led until both were out with mechanical issues, handing Sports Car victory to Jonathan Mitchell (Chevron B19 No 71)

The Historic Touring Car race featured three Ford Mustangs disputing the lead, with Nigel Greensall charging into the front in David Gooding’s car.  But when Greensall handed the car over to the less experienced Gooding with a 27sec lead after the pitstop, the latter was mercilessly hunted down by Craig Davies.

Photos Eric Sawyer

 For a full report, see out September issue

 

MAGAZINE  >  FEATURES & REPORTS  > Master Historic Festival Donington

Postponed from its original April date the Dix Mille Tours event finally took place on the weekend 24-26 July under a glorious Provençal sun, launching the start of the 2020 Peter Auto season.   The long wait meant that the resumption of racing was all the more appreciated by those who were able to take part – drivers, team members, services, the organisers and the public included – with everyone respecting the health measures in force.  Formula Junior Driver Carlo Maria del Conte said about the event, “Great race weekend!  It was exciting to be back on track after the lockdown in such a beautiful international event.  Stunning cars, good races and friendly people!”

Maris (Ford Escort RS 1600) in the Heritage Touring Cup race

Nine Peter Auto grids told the history of motor sport:  Fifties’ Legends; Sixties’ Endurance; 2.0L Cup; Classic Endurance Racing I & II; Endurance Racing Legends; Group C Racing; Heritage Touring Cup; The Greatest’s Trophy and, as guest grid, the Eric Offenstadt Cup, a joint double-header for Formula Junior and F3 screamers.   In all, more than 350 cars took part in the races.  There was also a large club presence and over 380 historic cars turned up and were displayed on the infield and took part in track runs, making it more than 700 marvellous machines on site.  In all, the event can only be classified as a resounding success, given that normally this time of year would be off-limits for French organisers, who avoid the family holiday season, and the residual reluctance of some teams to travel outside of their own countries.

In CER 2 Maxime Guenat took his Lola T298 across the line pursued by a penalised Yves Scemmama. Photoclassicracing

The weekend’s winners included Dirk Ebeling and Christian Bouriez, both in Bizzarrinis, taking a heat each in the Greatests’ Trophy.  Star of the show, however, was Marco Werner driving the Tojeiro EE Ford, who only failed to win the first race because of mechanical problems that finally manifested themselves in the second race with a big bang on the Mistral Straight, sending the car off the track and into the wall!   

Ivan Vercoutere (Porsche 962) was king in the first Group C race, after the Jaguar XJR14 of main rival Christophe d’Ansembourg stopped with only a few minutes left to run.  In the second race he was pipped on the line by the similar 962 C of Michel Lecourt.

Jeremy Timms was the class of the Eric Offenstadt Cup races.  Photoclassicracing

The Sixties’ Endurance two-hour race turned out to be a race of contrition, with 63 cars qualifying and 38 crossing the finishing line.  At their head was the Shelby Cobra of Urs Beck and Patrick Simon, though Christophe Van Riet took fastest ap in the Cobra he shared with Damien Kohler, the pair placing second.

The one-hour Classic Endurance racing 1 race saw David Hart run clear into the lead after the demise of Marc Devis’ McLaren M8C, while in Classic Endurance 2 Yves Scemama took his TOJ SC 304 to a 17-second lead at the flag, but sadly was penalised 33 seconds for a yellow flag infringement, leaving Maxime Guenat victor in his Lola T298.

Maris (Ford Escort RS 1600) in the Heritage Touring Cup race.  Photo Reynaud Guillaume

The one-make two litre Porsche Cup 90-minute race saw Richard Cook and Harvey Stanley emerge victorious, ahead of a relentless Philippe de Craene. Christophe Van Riet took his Ford Capri 3100 RS to pole in qualifying for the Heritage Touring Cup and went on to be the class of the race, immediately opening up a gap of 1.5 seconds to nearest rival Michael Erlich in his BMW 3.0 CSL, who beat arch-rival Christian Traber to second.

New grid for Peter Auto, Fifties Legends saw a good turnout for its inaugural 45-minute race.  Led by Jean-Marc Avezou in an Austin Healey 3000, then by Eugène Deleplanque in his TVR Grantura when the Healey stuck trouble, the race was eventually won by the Lotus Elite of David Clark and Pascal Pandelaar, after the two top runners were penalised for pit stop infringements.

Photo Reynaud Guillaume Courtesy Peter Auto

With no Lurani Trophy Championship this year, the Formula Juniors teamed up with F3 1000cc cars for the “Eric Offenstadt Cup”, a race dedicated to the eclectic French F3 driver of the ‘60s.   Jeremy Timms dominated two 25-minute races with lights to flag victories in his Chevron B1, with fellow F3 driver Christoph Widmer second both times.  Third place and victory in the FJ class went to Tommaso Gelmini in the Branca.

Christophe d’Ansembourg led the  first Group C race in his Jaguar XJR14, but stopped just a couple of laps from the end, handing  first place to Ivan Vercoutere in his 962 Porsche.  Photo Morgan Mathurin Courtesy Circuit Paul Ricard

For a full report of the weekend’s racing, see out September issue…

MAGAZINE  >  FEATURES & REPORTS  > Dix Mille Tours

The 2020 AvD-Oldtimer-Grand- Prix, which took place in low-key pandemic conditions, was nonetheless a  success for organisers and the drivers of some 300 cars.  It wasn’t easy for the organisers, without whose hard work the event wouldn’t have happened.  They were even given permission to accept 5000 spectators per day, though fans were not allowed into the paddock this time.  It was the first German sporting event of the year at which spectators were allowed.

“We are proud that we were able to welcome spectators this weekend”, commented Ludwig Fürst zu Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg, President of the AvD.  “We are pleased about the approval from the authorities and thank everyone involved for the constructive cooperation.”  Accompanied by great media interest, the concept was disciplined and implemented consistently.  “We are aware that we were pioneers this weekend and were the focus of attention.  We succeeded in something that was previously not possible and I hope that we have been able to pave the way for other major events,” he added.  The whole event was live-streamed and organisers claim they had 350,000 viewings.

As no press was admitted, we have published a brief report in our September issue based on press releases and participant comments.

Start of the Rennsport Meisterschaft

Amongst the event highlights was a new feature, Formula 1 Legends, which included a display of F1 Ferraris of the 1970s to the 1990s.  Guest of honour Jacky Ickx climbed back into the cockpit for a demo of the Ferrari 312 B3 in which he won the 1972 German Grand Prix at the ‘Ring, while four-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner presented a Lotus 77 John Player Special in the same run, and René Arnoux also took to the track.

Many former DTM stars such as Harald Grohs, Leopold Prinz von Bayern and Marc Hessel competed in the colourful Tourenwagen Classics

Last run four years ago, the AvD Historic Marathon was scheduled to make its return this year, this time in collaboration with the FHR who would have guaranteed sufficient numbers on the grid.  Sadly this much-anticipated three-hour race on the Nordschleife had to be cancelled, but it was replaced by the two-hour AvD / Dunlop Historic Endurance Cup on Sunday morning on the GP circuit.

Pre-war cars were represented in demonstration runs, and a good many turned up to enjoy their time on the circuit.

Amongst them was Ulrich Sauer who has attended every Oldtimer Grand Prix since the beginning, this being the 48th time. He was there with his 23-year old granddaughter Anna Schneider, who shares the driving in the family 328 BMW.

All Photos Courtesy AvD

For our fuller report see our September issue

MAGAZINE  >  FEATURES & REPORTS  > 48th AvD-Oldtimer Grand Prix