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SCORCHING SILVERSTONE SUCCESS

Another 100,000+ crowd sizzled under exceedingly un-British hot sunshine (apart from Friday evening) at the 2018 Silverstone Classic weekend and enjoyed a packed programme of historic racing from Formula Junior to Formula 1.

Hectic first lap of the last race of the weekend, the Transatlantic Trophy for pre-1966 Touring Cars, and already Andrea Stortoni's Lotus Cortina heads for retirement

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ince the Silverstone Classic first started back in 1990 it has gone from strength to strength with Tiff Needell even describing it recently as “The Glastonbury of Motorsport”. With a whole range of activities and attractions on offer, including displays by over 100 car clubs across the infield area, plus live music on the Friday and Saturday nights (Soul II Soul, and UB40 headlining this year) you can see what he means. For us however the main attraction is the cars and the racing, so we'll concentrate on that for this report.

Due to other commitments we couldn't make the Friday qualifying day this year, so we rocked up bright and early on Saturday in our recently acquired MG TF under slightly overcast skies, although that soon changed!

The first thing to strike us was that the VIP/Media shuttle service this year was courtesy of Tesla Model S and Model X cars owned by members of the Tesla Owners Club. We took advantage of this to get a lift in a Model S to the Wing and had an interesting conversation with the owner who was full of praise for the car, even though in 36 months of Tesla ownership various problems meant he'd only had the actual car he bought for 12 of those months.

After telling us how cheap it was to run – a round trip to Scotland had cost less than £10 in charging top-ups. “That would have been at least £100 in petrol”, he said – he gave us a quick demonstration of the phenomenal acceleration from rest that electric motors delivering 100% torque from the word go can provide. “It'll do that all the way to 100mph!” was his parting remark. Looks like the all-electric future is going to be fun after all.

Saturdays on-track action began with the Jim Clark Trophy race for 1958-1960 Formula Junior cars, won by Will Mitcham in a 1960 U2 Mk.2 from Chris Drake's Terrier Mk. 4.

The second race of the day was more our style featuring pre-1963 GT cars in the RAC Tourist Trophy, where the bare metal, un-painted and raucous sounding AC Cobra of Martin Hunt and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards took a well-deserved win from the two E-Types of James Cottingham/Harvey Stanley, and Sam Hancock/Gregor Fisken.

More thundering action followed with the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-1961 Sportscars which brought out a field of D-Types, Lister Knobblies, Cooper Monacos, Lotus Elevens and Fifteens, and various Lolas.

The Lister Knobblies of Chris Ward and Tony Wood/Will Nuthall took the first two spots after 20 laps from third placed man Roger Wills in a Lotus 15.

The second of the day’s Formula Junior races, the Denny Hulme Trophy for 1961-1963 cars, resulted in victory for Sam Wilson in a 1961 Lotus 20/22 from Timothy De Silva (1962 Brabham BT2), with Jonathan Milicevic (Merlyn Mk5/7) taking the third place spot.

During the racing lunch break the crowds were enertained by high speed demo laps from World GP Bike Legends and Legends of Modern Formula One, followed by a parade of retro motorcycles celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Ace Café and a number of car parades celebrating anniversaries including 50 years of the Morgan Plus 8 while the Aston Martin Owners’ Club marked the 70th and 60th anniversaries of the DB1 and DB4 respectively.

Opening the afternoon racing was the highlight of the day, the FIA Masters Historic Formula One race, which saw pole man  Nick Padmore in his ex-Carlos Reutemann 1981 Williams FW07C score an emphatic win over second place on the grid MIchael Lyons in the Penthouse branded Hesketh 308E, with Belgian driver Christophe D’Ansembourg securing third place in another Williams FW07C.

In the following race for HSCC Road Sports (1947-1979) John Davison took the chequered flag in his nimble Lotus Elan S, ahead of a pair of Morgan Plus 8s driven by Richard Plant and Jonathan Edwards.

A red flag in the Adrian Flux Trophy race for pre 1966 GP cars brought a premature end to an exciting four-way battle, with the win taken by Will Nuthall (1960 Cooper T53) ahead of the 1961 Lotus18/21 of Peter Horsman and Tim de Silva's 1962 Lotus 24.

Tin-top fans had something to shout about in the JET Super Touring Car Trophy when 1989 British Touring Car Champion Rickard Rydell looked to be on target for a win from pole position in the Volvo S40 in which he became Champion, only to be beaten to the line by James Dodd in a Honda Accord from the same year.

The last three races of the day were entitled Daytona at Dusk and began at 6:00pm with the International Trophy for Classic (pre-1966) GT cars. BTCC racer Jake Hill put in an outstanding performance to bring Richard Wheeler’s Lotus Elan home first, using every bit of the Elan's agility to hold of the hard-charging Gans/Wolfe AC Cobra, with John Spiers’ 1965 TVR Griffith in third at the flag.

We had to leave after so missed the last two races but can report that the Yokohama Trophy for FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars was won by Oliver Bryant (Lola T70 Mk38), and Steve Tandy brought the Lola B12/60 home first in the Masters Endurance Legends race to end the day’s track action.

Tin-Top Sunday saw touring cars dominant with four of the ten races devoted to the hot saloons. The first race however saw Sam Wilson lift the Jochen Rindt Trophy for Formula Junior (1961-1963) cars with his second win of the weekend, ahead of a storming performance by Cameron Jackson who brought the 1962 Brabham BT2 home in second after starting 50th on the grid.

Second race of the day, the RAC Woodcote Trophy for pre-1956 Sportscars saw Garry Pearson sweep to victory in the 1955 Jaguar D-Type ahead of the Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards Cooper T38, with the Wilson/Stretton Maserati 250S taking third spot.

The smaller tin-tops were out next in the Gallet Trophy for under 2-litre Touring Cars in which Rob Huff (2012 WTC Champion) shared Andy Wolfe’s 1965 Lotus Cortina to take the chequered flag just 16 seconds ahead of the Alfaholics-entered Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA of Andy and Maxim Banks, with the Brown/Dutton Lotus Cortina taking third.

In the Historic Touring Car Challenge, father and son Nick and Harry Whale dominated the field in one of the iconic BMW M3 E30s, with another of these successful saloon cars, that of Mark Smith and Arran Moulton-Smith, taking second ahead of the 3-litre Ford Capri of Ric Wood.

Nick Padmore, despite starting from a reversed eighth on the grid, in Sunday’s FIA Masters Histroric F1 race, charged to the front of the field to secure his second win of the weekend. Michael Lyons was again second spot on the podium, while his audacious pass on Martin Stretton’s Tyrell around the outside at Stowe on Saturday made him the first recipient of the Henry Hope-Frost #FEVER Award. Created in honour of the broadcaster and journalist, who died in a road accident earlier this year, the #FEVER Award recognises the driver who produced the most memorable high-octane moment from the weekend.

Sunday's JET Super Touring Car Trophy race was pretty much a repeat of Saturday’s with the battle for the lead between Rickard Rydell and James Dodd again resolved in Dodd’s favour at the flag, with 1989 and 1995 champion John Cleland in the Vauxhall Vectra taking the last step on the podium.

Endurance racers took to the track again on Sunday with Steve Tandy repeating his win from the previous evening in the ex-Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 after a race-long tussle with Herve Regout driving the Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2. Third place, and the Scarf & Googles Award for the most admired competition car at the Classic, went to the Peugeot 908 driven by David Porter.

With the  sun beating down I made a strategic retreat from a hot track-side to the cooler shade of the grandstand at Luffield for the Adrian Flux Trophy second race in which Saturday’s second place finisher Peter Horsman drove his Lotus 18/21 to victory, followed by Mark Daniel (Cooper T45) with Tony Wood’s front-engined Maserati Tec Mec clinching the third place.

American muscle cars took to the track in the last race of the weekend, the Transatlantic Trophy for pre-1966 Touring Cars in which Andy Wolfe scored his second victory of the day sharing a 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint with Mike Gardiner. The Ford Mustangs of Craig Davies and James Thorpe/Sean McInerney completed the podium line-up.

Peter Osborne

 

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