The Magazine

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

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The Magazine

We have long admired the French for their unpretentious attitude to their cars and to our sport. They are not worried at all about turning up in a modest car and joining in, whether it be a rally, tour or concours, or even a race on a circuit. Indeed many French organisers actively encourage the more modest cars, as these are often more rare than their superstar counterparts due to the fact that no one thought of preserving them at the time.

Less prevalent in the UK, where cars often seem to get entries based on their perceived value, (we say perceived because many are replicas anyway and don’t have the same value as the ‘real’ car), classic car insurance specialists Hagerty have been trying to redress this by running the Festival of the Unexceptional for the last seven years. Celebrating the mundane, the Festival’s centrepiece is the Concours de l’Ordinaire, open to classic cars, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles built between 1966 and 1996. The Festival of the Unexceptional remains the only concours that prefers a Dolomite to a Diablo, a Tagora over a Testarossa and where a Victor is preferable to a Vantage.

“Hagerty believes in basic and understands the labour of love needed to keep these cars on the road. Every city has an Italian supercar specialist, but you’ll struggle to find spares for a Talbot Solara regardless of where you live. You may think a supercar is a rare sight on the roads, but when did you last see a Datsun Cherry? The cars that were once every day transport are now on the verge of extinction and it takes a committed enthusiast to keep them alive.” said a Hagerty representative.

The chosen location for the 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional, which will take place on 31 July, is Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire, with its expansive grounds and formal gardens. See the Hagerty web site and navigate to the Festival of the Unexceptional for entries. But be quick, places on the concours lawn are highly coveted by owners of the ordinary!

In a recent interview, incoming Historic Motor Sport Commission President John Naylor was asked how the FIA will promote the European Historic Rally Championship to enable it to grow in the next few years?

“2021 is not the year to think about growth, although I am all for growth.” said Naylor.  “At the moment we have to make sure the existing events are supported and run within the COVID-19 protocols.  We need to get to the end of the pandemic, with everyone getting vaccinations, then we can start to think how we are going to grow the championship.  Having said that, even under these difficult circumstances, we received entries from new competitors ahead of the first rally in Italy, which is another good sign that we are going in the right direction.”

“The FIA is also being proactive, providing the organisers and competitors with new tools for registering, we are looking at attracting more media coverage and more video features on each of the rallies across the website and social media channels, making the championship more visible.  All these things go towards making the EHRC more popular, which in turn brings more competitors.”

“One of the other things we are looking to include is another gravel rally on the calendar, not for this year or, maybe not even for 2022, but for the mid-term.  This would help grow the status of the championship.”

France is suffering badly from the effects of the pandemic, and with it the 100 teams that signed up for this year’s Rallye des Princesses.  Having had to cancel their event in 2020, for the second year running, Viviane Zaniroli and her team are amongst the many French organisers that have had to once again put off their activities until next year.  The Rallye des Princesses, scheduled for June 2021, will next run in 2022.

After the cancellation of the event in 2020 due to travel restrictions, the Automobile Club de Portugal confirmed that the Rallye de Portugal Histórico, considered the best European regularity rally, will take place on 4-10 0ctober 2021 as part of the Estoril Classics Week.

With its traditional start in the holiday resort of Estoril, the overnight towns have not yet been confirmed.  However it has been confirmed that the rally will return to Estoril on Friday October 8 for the famous “Sintra Night”.  On Saturday 9, the rally will join the Estoril circuit for the festivities of the Estoril Classics Week and the Peter Auto race meeting on the Estoril circuit.

Sadly organisers of the Eifel Rally Festival, scheduled this year for 22-24 July have decided to postpone the tenth running of the event until 2022.  “The Eifel Rallye Festival exists principally for its participants and the thousands of fans.  Demonstration drives of historic rally cars, the enthusiastic fans out on the stages, autograph requests, petrol-head chatter, worldwide meeting of rally drivers all sharing the pleasure of reminiscing about the sport and its cars – this is what makes our Festival so very special,” explained organisation manager Otmar Anschütz.  “Unfortunately, in 2021 we cannot ensure that this can all happen as we would like to see it.  For example, there is currently no certainty that there will be freedom of travel in July, at least in Europe, so it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to extend the period of patience for another twelve months.”

Moving the Festival into the autumn is not an option, as the event’s home city of Daun can only provide the required infrastructure during the school holidays.  “We have planned a lot for the tenth anniversary.  Now we will extend the preparations for another year and then celebrate a great tenth edition together with EVERYONE in July 2022!” Anschütz added.

Due to run for the second time last year, but like so many other events, cancelled at the last minute, the Gravel Romania Historic Rally promises to be challenging with a five-day route and 24 ES, for a total of 391kms of timed special stages, all on 100% gravel.  Open to cars up to the end of 1990, with or without HTP, the rally offers a pure speed section and a regularity category, as well as a LEGENDE class.

Planted in the heart of Transylvania, this event features a changing landscape each day, between forest, plains and mountains, with a single location, the village of Cheia, 30kms from the city of Brasov, for night stops in the Cheile Gradisteï Moeciu Resort & Spa hotel.

The event is scheduled for 22-26 June and entries are now open at romania-historic-rally.com.

The 36th Historic Sanremo Rally opened both the Italian and FIA Historic Rally Championship seasons on 7-8 April.  Back on the FIA calendar after a five-year absence, some 75 crews, of which over 20 were contesting the FIA Championship, were at the start line, including three past winners and six of 2019’s top ten finishers.  These included defending FIA Champions and 2019 Sanremo winners ‘Lucky’ and Fabrizia Pons, in their Lancia HF Integrale, and arch-rival Lucio Da Zanche co-driven by Daniele De Luis in a Porsche 911 SC RS with the number 2 on its doors.  This crew has won three Sanremo Storicos (2011, 2012 and 2018) and put in a further six podium appearances in 17 participations.  Another FIA Championship regular, ‘Zippo’ Zivian, driving an Audi Quattro co-driven by Denis Piceno was on the hunt for some early-season points.  In all, the entry list included teams from 13 different nations.

2019 winners, and FIA Championship title holders ‘Lucky’ and Fabrizia Pons were sidelined by “a small accident” on day 2.  Photos ©Fotomagnano

In the end, the event was dominated by Lucio Da Zanche, winning 10 of the 14 special stages for the overall and the FIA victory. Some pressure was off when the Lancia of ‘Lucky’ and Pons retired on the opening stage of day 2, after what was described as a ‘small accident’, in a field that saw over 20 retirements.

For a full report, see our May 2021 issue

Let’s Go Racing!

A chilly but sunny Easter weekend saw Britain’s long-awaited return to racing, and historic cars were honoured to be the first to fire up their engines when Masters Historic   Racing and the HSCC’s single-seater department convened for the   Masters Historic Race Weekend at Donington Park just days after the ban on motor racing was lifted.    Mattijs Diepraam reports.

In fact, Masters had succeeded in having their Donington Park event – and also its forthcoming late-May event at Brands Hatch – listed as Elite Sporting Events, which meant that foreign competitors, team members and essential staff would be able to enter the UK without having to quarantine for a minimum of five days.  Of course, the exemption only applied to travellers coming into the UK, but their return trip was a different matter, with most EU countries still upholding strict quarantine rules.  As a result, the entry across the six Masters grids was essentially all British, while the few men in possession of a foreign racing license – such as Ireland’s Mike Cantillon, Austrian Lukas Halusa, Max Girardo from Switzerland and Kiwi Warren Briggs – are either UK residents or were present in the UK already.  In the end, only official series photographer Carlo Senten and the Michelin tyre people dared to cross the Channel from Holland and France respectively to be at Donington.

Steve Hartley (right) led both F1 races in his McLaren MP4, but Mike Cantillon (below) twice prevailed in his Williams FW07C Photos Eric Sawyer

The travel restrictions – not to mention Brexit – particularly hurt Masters’ two former FIA championships, since Masters Historic Formula One and Masters Historic Sports Cars have always been the most ‘European’ of Masters series.  Fortunately the Gentlemen Drivers and Pre-66 Touring Car entry lists both burst at the seams with UK-based GT and touring car drivers eager to dust off their cars.  Meanwhile, the HSCC brought their Classic F3 and Historic F2 grids, and while both missed their international contributors, the club had no trouble in attracting many dozens of well-prepared British-based single-seaters.

Formula 1

Even though the grid number was down to 12, both Masters Historic Formula One races proved that large fields are not a necessity when it comes to exciting racing action.  Especially Saturday’s race was a corker, as Mike Cantillon’s Williams FW07C harried Steve Hartley’s McLaren MP4/1 until, with two laps to go, the jam Baron cracked under pressure, handing Cantillon his second win of the weekend.

Sportcars

On Friday, the Historic Sports Car race would be the first Masters race of the day, and it was WEC and ELMS racer Alex Brundle in Gary Pearson’s Lola T70 Mk3B who led away from pole.  Behind him, though, Tom Bradshaw in the family’s Chevron B19 succeeded in keeping young Brundle in sight and duly took over the mantle when on lap 7 the Lola limped into the pits with a broken gear linkage.

WEC and ELMS racer Alex Brundle, in Gary Pearson’s Lola T70 Mk3B, led the Sportscars away from pole, while confusion in the paddock had led to a gaggle of cars lining up in the wrong assembly area meaning they had to start from the pitlane.  Photo Carlo Senten

GTs

Friday ended on a feverish note as five cars contested the win in the 90-minute Gentlemen Drivers enduro for pre-66 GT cars.  Mike Whitaker in the pole-sitting TVR Griffith and then James Cottingham in the Cobra shared with Joe Twyman led early on, while Alex Brundle gave chase in the first of two Pearson Engineering Jaguar E-types.

Touring Cars

Saturday’s Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race proved to be a belter, initially led by Steve Soper in the Alan Mann Racing Ford Mustang, with Alex Taylor and Craig Davies maintaining close quarters while arguing between themselves in two more Mustangs.  Also keeping a watchful eye from a manageable distance while fighting over fourth with Richard Dutton’s similar Lotus Cortina was Marcus Jewell who put relief driver Ben Clucas in the perfect position when the safety car came out to aid the quick recovery of Mark Martin’s stranded Cortina.

Marcus Jewell put relief driver Ben Clucas in the perfect position after the safety car came out. Clucas wasted no time in claiming the lead  Photo Carlo Senten

Single-seaters

Meanwhile, the HSCC made a significant contribution to Britain’s return to racing by adding their Historic F2 and Classic F3 grids to the programme. 

The quality of racing across the 27-strong F2 double-header was fine, hard-fought victories going to Callum Grant (ex-Don Breidenbach 1600cc Atlantic March 79B) - two years after Matt Wrigley won at Brands Hatch in a sister car - and hotshoe Andy Smith. 

In Classic F3, Andrew Smith shared starring roles with Conor Murphy, taking pole in his March 783.  Murphy’s March 803B, however, beat Smith away from the line, and while trading fastest laps with his adversary Murphy never blinked on his way to victory by less than two tenths of a second. 

For a full report, see our May 2021 issue

Formula Ford cars of three eras took centre stage on Snetterton’s 300 Circuit as the Jim Russell Trophy meeting honoured one of the category’s founders and opened the Historic Sports Car Club’s 2021 season on 17-18 April.  Local hero Russell bought fleets of FFs - Lotus, Alexis, Merlyn and Van Diemen chassis - for his renowned racing drivers’ schools.  The triple national F3 champion died in 2019, just short of his 100th birthday, an innings matched by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, a motor racing enthusiast for whom a minute’s silence was observed on Saturday, as his funeral began at Windsor Castle.

Marcus Pye Reports

Jackson 5 tops the Chart

On a sunny weekend with a chill wind, the event ran behind closed doors due to extended COVID-19 protocols.  At the venue where the first FF Festival was won by Ian Taylor in a Dulon on the super-fast original track, Cameron Jackson won both the Historic (Pre-‘72) and Classic (Pre-‘82) championship double-headers at the wheel of his black ‘71 Winkelmann WDF2, a Palliser rebranded by its US marketer.  He also dominated the Historic Formula Junior opener in his Brabham BT2, resplendent in the livery of UK-based Dutch flower seller Klaas ‘Jimmy’ Twisk’s Tulip Stable, making it a five from five lockout.

Cameron Jackson won both the Historic (Pre-‘72) and Classic (Pre-‘82) championship double-headers at the wheel of his black ‘71 Winkelmann WDF2. He also dominated the Historic Formula Junior opener in his Brabham BT2.  Photo Charlie Wooding

Contemporary Formula Fords came out in the Heritage grids, American youngsters Max Esterson and Colin Queen twice beating the older cars in their Low Dempsey Racing Ray GR18s.  Their closest pursuer was retired F1 TV commentator Ben Edwards driving the Van Diemen in which Martin Byford won the Champion of Snetterton series in 1992!

Historic FF2000 looks set for a bumper season, with 30 competitors eagerly out on parade for the opening races.  Eighteen of them - including ‘79 European champion Adrian Reynard himself in the last SF79 built, dressed in his period car’s Canadian Club Whiskey livery - driving Reynards.  Past master Benn Simms was in a class of his own all weekend, charging his SF77 clear of Graham Fennymore - who had repaired his SF81 following a prang in Friday testing - and Greg Robertson (SF79).  Reynard finished fifth on Saturday, a place claimed by local Stephen Glasswell on Sunday.

Hard Tryer - Adam Cunnington Ford Lotus Cor na  Photos Eric Sawyer

Fresh from smashing the Donington Classic F3 lap record at the Masters meeting, Andy Smith annihilated Snetterton’s, hurtling his ex-Helmut Henzler March 783 away from reigning champion Benn Tilley (ex-Brian Henton/Rupert Keegan BAF March 743) and Tony Hancock (ex-Mike Blanchet Lola T670) in race one.  Smith’s suspension tweaks between races left him short of traction later, but he nonetheless harassed Tilley over the final laps of Saturday’s finale.

Dan Williamson (Ford Falcon) won the Touring Car race

Historic Road Sports brought out the first of the HSCC staples, a fine and representative multi-marque 22-car entry redolent of the 1950s and ‘60s. 

Later spec Morgans topped the even stronger 70s’ Road Sports contest which boasted 29 starters.  Lad and dad Will and Richard Plant rumbled clear of former Historic F1 racer Dave Karaskas (TVR 3000M) and triple champion Jeremy Clark, whose Elan S4’s engine blew spectacularly passing the pits.

When potential Historic Touring Car challenger Pete Hallford’s Ford Mustang struggled to leave the grid at the lights in both races, making things a bit fraught as the Lotus Cortinas and Steve Platts’ Singer Chamois funnelled through, poleman Dan Williamson scored two lonely wins in his Falcon.

Ben Simms took both FF2000 races in his Reynard SF77 from a bumper grid containing no fewer than 18 Reynards

Mark Charteris and a surprised Adrian Holey were the winners in a Classic Clubmans attrition-fest.  Charteris had a fright in Sunday’s finale when his propshaft grenaded (mercifully a safety hoop in the transmission tunnel did its job) shortly after he took the lead from Clive Wood, whose throttle cable snapped shortly thereafter.

Ecurie Classic Racing subscribed to a 40-minute guest slot with Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club invitees.  Soloist Allan Ross-Jones bolted his metallic blue Triumph TR4 out of the blocks at the start of the mini-enduro and was not unseated.

Get our May 2021 issue for a full report

Final Round Hampton Downs

Just when defending F5000 Series title holder Michael Collins looked like wrapping up this season’s series, Auckland resident Grant Martin pulled his Talon MR1/A “out of the shed,” qualified second to Collins, then proceeded to lead the first race at the final round, the big Paul Fahey Legends of Motorsport meeting at Hampton Downs, on Saturday afternoon from start-to-finish.

Collins did indeed find a place to get alongside and attempt to pass as the pair entered the downhill hairpin – only to have one of his car’s halfshafts let go, leaving the 25-year-old ace stranded at the side of the track and Martin to complete the final lap unchallenged. 

Codie Banks and fellow Lola T332 driver Kevin Ingram were the next pair home, though fourth quickest qualifier David Banks (Codie’s father) didn’t make the grid thanks to an issue with his Talon MR1’s crown and pinion.  Class A for pre’71 cars was again dominated by a quick and consistent Frank Karl (McLaren M10B).

The series was able to nally emerge from beneath the COVID-19 cloud it has been operating under this season, with strong entries and at least two new owners and/or drivers  Photos Fast Company Ma Smith

Enjoying a trouble-free debut in his newly-acquired ex-Ian Riley Lola T332 was long-time tin-top man Bruce Kett, whose measured approach saw him qualify 16th but finish Saturday’s race in 11th place.  As the weekend went on, Kett got quicker and quicker.  “I’m just buzzing,” he said afterwards.  “The car is just so different to anything else I have ever raced.  Every time I go out in it I learn something!”

Sunday’s handicap race was won by Shayne Windelburn (Lola T400), who admitted to a tad of embarrassment having won for the third time in as many rounds.  “Just a little bit,” he laughed.  “But what am I supposed to do when they give me a start time like they do?”

Grant Martin leads Michael Collins

As it was the race - which was started in the pit lane with the field split into different speed ‘bands’ - produced some impressive handicapping, with class coordinator Tony Jack congratulated on a job well done by the Clerk of the Course.

In a riveting 10-lap final on Sunday afternoon, enlivened up by the composition of the grid - with Martin on pole and Collins right at the back thanks to his non-finish on Saturday - Collins literally pulled out all the stops as he worked his way up through to a position where he could at least challenge for the lead.  However the field spent three laps behind the Safety Car early on while Chris Watson’s Gardos was dug out of the gravel trap.  Once the track went green, Collins pinned his ears back and made it up to second place only for the chequered flag to come out just as he had locked his lasers onto the Talon. 

‘’Seriously,” said Collins, “I really wanted to win that one and I would have had him if there had been one more lap.”  Kevin Ingram and Anna Collins (Michael’s sister) followed the two leaders home.