Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix

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Middlehurst and Bradshaw mirror history with victories in the dunes

Zndvoort’s eighth Historic Grand Prix event, held on September 6-8, rolled the years back beautifully to what are now considered to be golden eras of motor racing.  Hazardous years in which heroic drivers in charismatic and distinctive cars, mainly unencumbered by wings, hurtled through the dunes of the seaside town, entertaining legions of appreciative fans.

There was symmetry in the results too.  Andy Middlehurst’s hard-won HGPCA double in a Coventry-Climax V8-engined Lotus 25 evoked memories of his idol Jim Clark’s Dutch GP wins in 1963 and ‘64, albeit outrunning Will Nuthall in a 2.5-litre Cooper T53 of the type in which Jack Brabham had won the 1960 World Championship round.

Lancastrian Tom Bradshaw’s dominant maiden FIA Masters Sportscar triumph in a Chevron-FVC B19, meanwhile, took seasoned onlookers back to September ‘71 when Red Rose Racing’s John Hine, local ace Ed Swart and his Canon Cameras team-mate John Burton drove Derek Bennett’s slippery Bolton-built creations to a resounding Trophy of the Dunes 1-2-3.

Marcus Pye Reports

With the Dutch GP’s much-vaunted return to the F1 calendar in May 2020 after a 35-year absence on everybody’s lips, the shrill wail of Cosworth DFV engines in the FIA Masters series reminded enthusiasts of June 4, 1967, when that man Clark took the first of the iconic engine’s 155 World Championship race wins on its debut in a Team Lotus 49.

The depleted late-season field lost three cars in qualifying.  Post-‘78 champion-elect Italy’s Matteo Ferrer-Aza was most unfortunate to stack his Ligier JS11/15, having been first to hit oil and water from the engine in Andrew Haddon’s Hesketh 308C which had thrown a rod.  Previous winner Michael Lyons’ McLaren M26 was also sidelined after a high-speed blowout, but Irishman James Hagan’s Hesketh 308, visually James Hunt’s ‘75 Dutch GP winner, ran both wet races.

US-based Briton Kyle Tilley – who started Hagan’s Mirage Engineering-run Ensign N177 from pole, with Italian-domiciled American Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8 alongside – scorched to Saturday’s win, his first.  Wright chased him in, clear of Chris Perkins (Surtees TS16).  Henry Fletcher, whose Jägermeister tribute-liveried March 761’s front suspension collapsed at Tarzan corner, bounced back to win Sunday’s reversed top eight grid sequel from Tilley (who pitted to replace a rear wheel following contact with American Robert Blain’s 761) and German Georg Hallau’s ex-Roberto Guerrero Theodore N183.

Darwin Smith (no. 10) led Saturday’s F2 race and won on Sunday in his Lotus 7.  Photos Eric Sawyer

Both HSCC Formula 2 races, for which 37 competitors arrived, were spoiled by full-course cautions.  Matthew Watts (ex-Norman Dickson March-BMW 772) shadowed poleman Darwin Smith (March-BDG 722) to the finish on Saturday, but was hailed winner when the Northern Irishman was penalised five seconds for jumping the start.  After a long safety car hiatus, Smith just kept Martin O’Connell (Fred Opert Racing Chevron-BDG B40) in Sunday’s single-lap sprint to the chequered flag.  Australian Martin Bullock (Chevron B34) and ex-hillclimber Mark Goodyear (Lotus 59) deservedly claimed Formula Atlantic class honours.

A soggy track affected the FIA F3 European Cup races, both won by defending champion Christian Olsen in his Martini-Alfa Romeo MK39.  Danish compatriot Mikael Ringstrom shot his wets-shod sister car ahead on Sunday before its treaded rubber predictably fried.  Valerio Leone (ex-Teo Fabi March-Toyota 783) topped the Pre-‘81 division on both days, son Davide having led until his March 783’s engine failed on Saturday.

Andy Middlehurst (Lotus 25) aced both HGPCA races

There was action aplenty in the HGPCA Pre-‘66 races, for behind the Middlehurst/Nuthall scraps Barry Cannell (Brabham BT11A) and Andrew Beaumont (UDT/Laystall Lotus 18) both earned the final podium places.  Zandvoort debutant Eddie McGuire (Scarab-Offenhauser) and Steve Hart (Maserati 250F CM7) grabbed a first and third apiece among the front-engined cars, split by Rod Jolley (Lister-Jaguar Monza).

The 1952 Dutch GP, the first accorded World Championship status (in its short two-litre era), was marked by a super double-header retrospective marking the centenary of the birth of its Dutch competitors Dries van der Lof and WW2 Spitfire pilot Jan Flinterman.  Without period-dominant Ferrari 500s to worry about, Ian Nuthall won both in the F2 Alta in which Peter Whitehead started the ‘52 French GP.

Sadly, the German Touring Car Legends contest disintegrated into farce. The pace car driver missed the pit entrance at the start, then Klaus Peter’s Audi V8 DTM’s engine blew migh ly, forcing a stoppage. A er the mop-up, Lars van’t Veer crashed his Alfa Romeo 155 at Gerlachbocht on the restart, which  nished behind a safety car. Almost half the  eld – including pro ‘winner’ Jorg van Ommen (1995 Mercedes-Benz C-Class ITC) – was excluded for not making the mandatory stop.

The FIA Lurani Trophy Formula Junior championship was all-action as ever.  Former champ Bruno Weibel (Lotus 22) and ex-F3000 racer Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6) won a soggy morning race apiece.  Manfredo Rossi ran with them but spun on both days.

Despite a broken exhaust and detached plug lead post-pitstop, which had his family team praying on the pitwall, former Formula Palmer Audi and Porsche Cup racer Bradshaw barely slowed as he blitzed FIA Historic Sportscar opposition from pole in his Chevron B19.  Joint points leader Henry Fletcher finished second from the back in his B19, penalised for being underweight after qualifying.  In the Rodriguez division Fletcher’s championship rivals Jason Wright/Andy Wolfe were beaten by fellow Lola-Chevrolet T70 protagonists Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield, who finished third overall.

The traditional Zandvoort town Firday night ‘drive- through’

Olivier Hart (Alfa Romeo GTA) and Steve Soper (in Mark Martin’s Lotus Cortina) overpowered Masters Pre-‘66 Touring Car poleman Chris Middlehurst when conditions improved on raceday.

Having taken over father David’s Cobra Daytona Coupe clone in the Gentlemen Drivers GT event, young Hart somehow got it round Tarzan having slugged through the speed trap with all wheels locked after its Ford V8’s throttle stuck!

Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie were beyond catching again in the former’s Wolfe Manufacturing-prepared Cobra Coupe.  Nicky Pastorelli came closest in his Ferrari 250 GTO/64 but was a distance behind.

They say Mini drivers pray for rain, Mini men Kevin Abbring and Jonathan Lewis got plenty

First past the post in Rhea Sautter’s Jaguar E-type in Saturday’s Dutch HTGT series’ 1947-‘65 set, Andy Newall was bumped to seventh by a five second jump start penalty after a red flag.  Reprieved on countback, having fallen behind Mini men Kevin Abbring and Jonathan Lewis, Irishman Paddy Shovlin was surprised to hear his national anthem ring out.  Newall dominated Sunday’s finale, beating Michiel Campagne’s Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport evocation.

For a full report and results see out October issue

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