THE WEATHER DIDN’T DETER CROWDS FOR RETURN OF CLASSIC
The Silverstone Classic, rebranded as Classic Silverstone, returned over the last weekend of July, after the COVID-enforced cancellation of last year's event, bigger and better than ever, even though the weather threatened to spoil the fun with a number of races interrupted by heavy rain.
The Cooper T51 driven by Tom Dark heads a train of pre-1966 GP cars on the damp Silverstone track
Photo © Peter Osborne
PART ONE – Saturday, July 31
Kicking off proceedings on Saturday morning was the first of two races for Historic Formula Junior cars. On a slightly damp track pole sitter Cameron Jackson in a Brabham BT2 led a breakaway group of Richard Bradley in a similar car and Pierre Livingston until Livingston spun at Brooklands on lap three. Jackson and Bradley then diced for the lead until Bradley managed to get past while lapping slower cars at Club and held on to win by 1.8 seconds.
Next up was the Motor Racing Legends ‘BRDC 500’ race for Pre-War sports cars in which pole sitter Fred Wakeman took his chain-driven Frazer-Nash TT replica in to a storming lead from the off, which second driver Pat Blakeney-Edwards maintained for the last ten minutes to the flag. Sue Darbyshire managed third spot on the grid in Friday's wet qualifying in the (also chain-driven) Morgan Super Aero; but Saturday's dry track didn't favour her and she finished in 11th.
Saturday's third race, for Historic Formula 2, saw pole sitter Matthew Wrigley (1978 March 782) get away cleanly followed from third on the grid by Andrew Smith (1974 March 742) only for the Safety Car to be deployed before the field had finished the first lap as a tangle of cars resulted in one stuck in the gravel at Abbey. After the green flag Wrigley and Smith, joined later by Mark Griffiths, put on a superb display until a few laps from the end when Smith ran wide at Luffield letting Griffiths through althugh Smith got past again to claim second spot at the end. Unfortunately the race was red-flagged with one lap left to go when Rob Wainwright's spin in the Crossle 22F at Club left the car in a dangerous position.
The Historic Tourist Trophy race saw Nigel Greensill (Jaguar E-Type) take an early lead from 5th on the grid from the similar E-Types of James Cottingham and Jack Minshaw who later beached the car after spinning out on oil laid down by the Van Lanschott/ Le Blanc Austin Healey 300 on the approach to Abbey. Martin Brundle had taken the E-Type shared with Garry Pearson temprarily into the lead of the race before retiring. After the resulting long safety car period to remove Minshaw's car and clean up the oil slick, Lucas Halusa got the Ferrari 250GT ‘Breadvan’ in front of the Jaguars to take the win from the Cottingham/Stanley E-Type.
The Master Historic Formula 1 race featured a Tyrell driven by Ken Tyrell, no obviously not THAT Ken Tyrell, this Ken Tyrell is an American driver who decided if he was going to drive any F1 car it just had to be a Tyrell, so he bought the car with which Michele Alboreto secured Tyrell’s penultimate victory at Las Vegas in 1982 and qualified it ninth on the grid for this race.
It was Michael Lyons in the Ensign N180B who dominated this race with an outstanding pole-to-flag win. Steve Hartley (McLaren MP4/1) spun out from third place at the end of lap one on the oil slick from the previous race at Abbey. Quickly recovering from that spin Hartley fought his way back to third in front of Steve Brooks in a Lotus 91 only to spin again at Becketts with Brooks clipping Hartley's front wheel as he took avoiding action – luckily with no serious damage to either car.
The weather took a turn for the worse at the start of the Thundersports race which started on a dry track but with rain beginning to fall almost as soon as the lights went green. With heavy rain falling and the cars all on slicks, Dean Forward in the McLaren M8F CanAm car had an almighty spin at Farm before the race was red-flagged after just half a lap had been completed. After a delay to change to wets, the field was out again and the race re-started with Calum Lockie tacking the March 717 into an immediate lead from Dean Forward, harried by the smaller cars of Ed Thurston (Chevron B19) and Tony Sinclair (Lola T292)
On a track still damp in places the two mighty Can Am cars of Lockie and Forward built a lead over the rest of the field until, with rain falling again, Forward lost the Mclaren at Brooklnds and spun off clouting the barrier with the right rear causing enough damage for him to head to the pits and retirement. After a safety car to recover Peter Halford’s damaged Corvette, and with all drivers having done their compulsory pitstop under the safety car, the race leader was Tony Sinclair with Callum Lockie way back in seventh. The last few laps saw a dramatic charge by Lockie through the field; but he narrowly failed to take Sinclair, losing out by just 3/10 second.
Drama at the start of the Mini Challenge when Ian Curley collided with Michael Collins through Farm Curve on lap one, which allowed Nathan Heathcote and Bill Sollis to open a gap between them and the chasing pack. On a damp but drying track a four car train led by Bill Sollis, with Heathcote, Chris Middlehurst and Endaf Owerns slipped and slid around to finish in that order with Sollus taking the flag by 0.792 second.
Rudiger Friedrichs (Cooper T53) took the lead from pole sitter Sam Wilson (Lotus 18) at Farm in the Pre-1966 Grand Prix cars race, albeit only temporarily as Wilson had it back by Brooklands. Wilson was in command of the race from then with Will Nuthall in another Cooper closing in the final laps but Wilson held on to win by 0.3 sec. Andrew Haddon's front-engined Scarab-Offenhauser finished fourth despite having to start from the pit lane after the car was reluctant to start in the assembly area.
The Pre-1966 Touring Cars are always good to watch and this race was no exception. A damp (in parts) track narrowed the speed advantage of the USA heavy metal Ford Falcons and Mustangs (enlivened this year by the addition of a Studebaker Lark Daytona) over the more agile Lotus Cortinas and Minis.
Pole sitter Dave Coyne led from the start in his Ford Mustang but Nigel Greensill got very sideways at the Loop, was hit by another car and left stationary in the middle of the track. At the front, despite the best efforts of Richard Dutton in the Lotus Cortina, the big American V8s of Coyne, Julian Thomas (Ford Falcon) and Craig Davies (Ford Mustang) began to pull away, to be joined later by the Ford Falcon of Sam Tordoff who took the lead when Coyne drifted wide at Stowe. A gentle nudge from Coyne, now in third, sent Thomas spinning at Brooklands but he was able to rejoin albeit well down the field. A long pit stop with the bonnet up put paid to Tordoff's hopes of a win, and after everyone had made their stops the order at the front was Coyne, Davies, Dutton and Mark Farmer who had taken over the Studebaker from Adrian Wilmott.
A safety car with 10 minutes to run to recover a Mini in the gravel at Stowe allowed the Thomas Falcon, now with Callum Lockie behind the wheel, to catch up with the leaders. At the green Coyne in second was caught napping by Davies in front who sped away while Lockie got tangled up in a bunch of cars at the end of the Hangar Straight and sent spinning wildly into the gravel at Stowe with major damage to both ends of the Falcon and a big dent to the front of Coyne’s Mustang. At the flag Davies just held of Ben Clucas’ Lotus Cortina with Steve Soper in the Alan Mann Racing liveried Mustang in third.
The Masters Endurance Legends race saw Rob Wheldon take the Lola to a fine win after battling with Francois Perrodo’s Peugeot 908 for much of the race. With Perrodo classified as a ‘Gentleman’ driver and thus entitled to a shorter pit stop he gained a substantial lead after everyone had stopped; but Wheldon chased him down hard, repeatedly breaking the lap record in the process to take the victory by 4.8 seconds.
The Yokohama trophy for Historic Sports Cars, started dry but was interrupted by rain which led to a number of ‘offs’ and brought out the safety car when the Chester/Ward Lola T70 got stuck in the gravel at Club, probably much to the chagrin of Alex Brundle who had built up a 15 second lead by that point. With torrential rain continuing (although it was dry at Copse!) the race was red-flagged. After the re-start Brundle controlled the shortened race to win from Oliver Bryant (Lola T70) and the Beighton/Hadfield Lola T70, although Tom Bradshaw in the pretty little Chevron B19 almost made it to a podium spot, just losing out by 0.7 second.
Saturday’s final race, the RAC Woodcote and Stirling Moss Trophies race, was shortened to allowing finishing before the 9:00pm cut-off time and saw the Lister Knobbly of pole man Sam Hancock beaten away from the start by second spot driver Sam Hancock in a Lotus 15. After yet another long safety car period to recover more cars off the Richard Bradley driven Lotus 15 was in front ahead of the Lister Knobbly of Ward/Smith. By the flag however Martin O'Connell in the diminutive Lotus 11 had stormed through the conditions to take the win by 7 seconds from Roger Wills’ Lotus 15.
For Part Two of our 2021 Classic Silverstone report click
Race 1: Historic Formula Junior
1. Richard Bradley (Brabham BT2) 9 laps (92.65mph)
2. Cameron Jackson (Brabham BT2) +1.789s
3. Alex Ames (Brabham BT6) +10.691s
Race 2: MRL Pre-War ‘BRDC 500’
1. Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards (Frazer Nash TT Replica)
14 laps (74.55mph)
2. Michael Birch (Talbot AV105 Brooklands) +33.744s
3. Clive Morley (Bentley 3/4.5) +51.037s
Race 3: Historic Formula 2
1. Matthew Wrigley (March 782) 6 laps (89.95mph)
2. Andrew Smith (March 742) +0.469s
3. Miles Griffiths (Ralt RT1) +1.626s
Race 4: RAC Historic Tourist Trophy (Pre-1963 GT)
1. Lukas Halusa (Ferrari 250 GT Breadvan) 17 laps (73.92mph)
2. Cottingham/Stanley (Jaguar E-Type) +0.965s
3. Fisken/Ward (Jaguar E-Type) +4.846s
Race 5: Murray Walker Memorial Trophy for
Masters Historic Formula One
1. Michael Lyons (Ensign N180B) 11 laps (114.87mph)
2. Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07C) +7.890s
3. Jamie Constable (Tyrell 011) +21.548s
Race 6: HSCC Thundersports
1. Tony Sinclair (Lola T292) 15 laps (80.13mph)
2. Callum Lockie (March 717) +0.367s
3. Kevin Cooke (March 75S) +3.421s
Race 7: Classic Mini Challenge
1. Bill Sollis (Morris Mini Cooper S) 7 laps (76.20mph)
2. Nathan Heathcote (Morris Mini Cooper S) +0.792s
3. Chris Middlehurst (Morris Mini Cooper S) +1.073s
Race 8: HGPCA Pre-1966 GP Cars
1. Sam Wilson (Lotus 18 372) 8 laps (78.96mph)
2. Will Nuthall (Cooper T53) +0.296s
3. Rudiger Friedrichs (Cooper T53) +32.775s
Race 9: Transatlantic Trophy for Pre-1966 Touring Cars
1. Craig Davies (Ford Mustang) 16 laps (76.40mph)
2. Jewell/Clucas (Ford Lotus Cortina) +0.436s
3. Mann/Soper (Ford Mustang) +0.959s
Race 10: Masters Endurance Legends
1. Rob Wheldon (Lola B12/60) 21 laps (112.84mph)
2. Francois Perrodo (Peugeot 908) +4.813s
3. Jamie Constable (Pescarolo LMP1) +20.575s
Race 11: Yokohama Trophy for Masters Historic Sports Cars
1. Brundle/Pearson (Lola T70 Mk3B) 8 laps (82.91mph)
2. Oliver Bryant (Lola T70 Mk3B) +2.845s
3. Beighton/Hadfield (Lola T70 Mk3B) +22.787s
Race 12: MRL Royal Automobile Club Woodcote &
Stirling Moss Trophies
1. Martin O‘Connell (Lotus 11) 13 laps (68.78mph)
2. Roger Wills (Lotus 15) +7.065s
3. Ward/Smith (Lister Knobbly) +12.473s
All photos @ Peter Osborne