SHELSLEY WALSH CLASSIC NOSTALGIA TAKING A TRIP UP MEMORY LANE T
Hans Stuck Jr will step back in time with an Auto Union. By Paul Lawrence
he clock will go back 80 years at Shelsley Walsh this weekend when Hans Stuck junior thunders a 1936 Auto Union C-type up the famous 1000-yard hill.
The recreation of the Silver Arrows machine will tackle the Worcestershire hillclimb to mark the 80th anniversary of Stuck’s father competing there in a similar car in June 1936. The spectacle of this incredible racing car attacking the steep climb up the side of the Teme Valley will be an absolute highlight of Shelsley’s annual Classic Nostalgia Weekend.
One hundred and twelve years after the first hillclimb at Shelsley Walsh, the famous venue will be packed with classic cars, owners clubs and displays to make the weekend a real highlight of the classic motor sport season.
Getting double Le Mans winner Stuck and the Auto Union from Audi to rural Worcestershire is a massive coup for the Shelsley Walsh team and it will celebrate a remarkable day in the venue’s story. The C-type was a ground-breaking car at the height of Germany’s engineering supremacy in grand prix racing and is the car that was significantly responsible for Mercedes designing and building the W125 for the 1937 season as the two manufacturers battled for the glory of the Silver Arrows.
In 1936, Stuck senior travelled to Shelsley in his bid to win the European Hillclimb Championship, but poor weather hindered his speed in front of a huge crowd. Stuck recorded times of around 40s in practice on Friday, but could not challenge the 39.6s hill record of venue ace Raymond Mays and his ERA as heavy rain hit the official competition. Stuck had competed at Shelsley six years earlier in his Austro Daimler single-seater when he slashed three seconds off the hill record to set a new mark of 42.8s.
Despite the poor weather in June 1936, the sight and sound of Stuck fighting the Auto Union, with a 5.3litre engine and the better part of 500bhp, had a major impact on the British crowds for this was the first time one of these monsters had run in the UK.
When interviewed on the day, Stuck senior commented that the car had ‘far too many horse-powers’ for the venue and that it was really too long. He also noted that he had to back off before the finish line in order to get the car stopped at the top of the hill.
This weekend’s action will include two separate days of competition for a wide range of classic cars, although some competitors are in action both days. Each entrant will get two practice and two timed runs each day and with 165 entries on Saturday and 150 on Sunday, the venue is going to be maxed out in every sense. That’s a total of over 1200 runs across the weekend.
The entry is remarkably diverse and takes in pre-war cars as well as an array of post-war cars from up to the 1980s. Among the oldest cars is the splendid aero-engined Piccard-pictet from 1918, while more than a dozen 500cc F3 cars compete in a round of their championship and Rob Newall will be as spectacular as ever in a Maserati 8CM Grand Prix car.
Several Shelsley specials pay homage to those who built cars just for this venue, including GN Spider II and the Freikaiserwagen from the pre-war years. Simon Durling, who lives at the top of the hill, will field his Elva MK7S and Rodger Fowler wheels out his rare one-litre Formula 2 Lola T60.
Off-track displays from car clubs and a major display from Audi heritage will ensure this is the biggest Classic Nostalgia weekend to date and there will be action in the air both days, with a Lancaster bomber due to fly over on Saturday.
Adding to the sense of occasion will be live music, autograph sessions and driver interviews in the courtyard including stars like Hans Stuck and Jimmy Mcrae. ■
Tyres talks on 2017 pace hike
World Rally Championship tyre firms could be forced to reduce the level of grip on offer to maintain durability for next season’s faster-than-ever World Rally Cars.
The two main tyre suppliers DMACK and Michelin are working on development rubber for 2017 right now and both have admitted the new specification cars will use their covers quicker than ever.
DMACK’S Dick Cormack said: “Michelin and us are aware there will be a significant increase in the level of wear, particularly on gravel. That means a compound and possibly even a pattern change to deal with that.
“If we increase the tread width, that will give the tyre more life, but at the same time you really need to reduce the gap between the tread blocks and inevitably that’s going to reduce the grip. On a clean line, the drivers will still get compound grip, but for the driver first on the road, it looks like there could be even less grip next year.”
Cormack added that the tyre firms had also discussed the potential for running a single set of tyres on each day of a WRC round in an effort to further cut costs in the series.
He said: “There’s a difference between the endurance side of this sport and world championship rallying. The World Rally Championship is about going as fast as you can on every stage and running one set per day would really compromise that.
“These cars cost £450,000 each and the topic of conversations is about saving £250 on a tyre – it doesn’t seem to make sense.”
Thierry Neuville’s career revival is complete. He will return to Citroen next season. And he’ll be joined there by Dani Sordo.
So, that’s Citroen sorted. Volkswagen? Why change a winning team? If that whole diesel thing hadn’t kicked off, Esapekka Lappi might have been in a fourth car, in fact he might have been in a fourth car this year.
But is Lappi still the hottest prospect in town? While he was busy becoming a dad for the first time earlier this season, Pontus Tidemand and Teemu Suninen were racking up some serious pace and credibility in the race to a manufacturer seat for next season. Both are bound for Versailles and a C3 WRC. We shouldn’t forget Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre, both dutifully doing a solid job for the Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team at Rally Poland earlier this month. They’re both eyeing up a seat alongside Kris Meeke in 2017.
Citroen team principal Yves Matton has also been known to have more than a passing interest in Elfyn Evans. Is the Welshman heading across the Channel in time for January’s season-opener in Monte Carlo?
What do we know about Hyundai? Hayden Paddon’s going nowhere. Sordo is reckoned to have a big-bucks deal, almost certainly keeping him in an i20 WRC next year and Neuville’s firmly back in favour with the Korean manufacturer. Looks like it’ll be a fourth consecutive year in blue and orange for him.
Talking of the Rally Italy winner, he’s signed for Toyota Gazoo Racing and will spearhead the Japanese firm’s return to the world championship.
He’ll be joined there by up-and-comers Suninen and/or Tidemand.
Makinen has also talked about the potential for Evans signing on the line in Puuppola. It’s that time of the year. Everybody is driving for everybody. Traditionally, Finland’s a hotbed of driver market speculation. This year it started early. “How big are you going on Neuville?” asked a colleague earlier this month in Poland. Sensing my uncertainty, said colleague added: “He was seen in Jyvaskyla…”
So, it must be happening. It’s difficult not to get carried away with these kind of stories. Let’s put this into context: a man without a job next year went to see a man who had a job for somebody next year. That’s the story, the whole story, for now.
What we know as a cast-iron certainty is that Volkswagen’s not changing, Paddon, Meeke and Camilli remain where they are. The rest is nothing but conjecture, speculation and gossip.
Personally, I’d be surprised to see Neuville back at Citroen, Matton’s still smarting at the Belgian’s decision to turn his back on him for a full season in a Fiesta in 2013. Toyota for him then…
And Sordo will stay at Hyundai. And let’s not forget the Koreans have Kevin Abbring sitting in the wings as a more-then-capable wingman to both the Spaniard and Paddon.
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Dani Sordo’s Rally Finland entry hangs in the balance after he crashed Hyundai’s test car heavily on Friday.
Sordo and co-driver Marc Marti both spent the night in hospital and both were discharged the following day. Marti was uninjured, but Sordo suffered fractured vertebrae after a suspension arm broke on landing, sending the i20 into a rock at high speed.
A spokesperson from the team told MN: “Dani is back home now to rest and try to recover for Finland. At the moment we have no confirmation on whether Dani will be fit for Finland.”
Hyundai will rebuild the test car and run it for Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon closer to the event, which starts in Jyvaskyla on July 28. Paddon’s entry on this weekend’s Autoglym Rally in central Finland has also been pulled.
Kevin Abbring and his British co-driver Seb Marshall would be the replacements for Sordo. They played a similar role when the Spaniard broke his ribs falling off a mountain bike just before Sweden last season.
Sordo sits fifth in the WRC standings with 68 points and three stage wins. He finished fourth on four consecutive WRC rounds from Mexico to Sardinia before engine failure ruled him out in Poland.