HALL HEADS THE CLASSIC
One man took home a big honour after stunning historic display. By Marcus Pye
Rob Hall’s three superlative race victories in a pair of wailing V12 Matra prototypes – the Masters Historic Sportscar honours shared with capable colleague Andy Willis – earned the veteran the driver of the weekend accolade.
But it was Sunday’s epic Formula 1 race (in which Hall also played a leading role, piloting a Ligier-matra JS17) which highlighted the allaction 2016 Silverstone Classic.
Driving an ex-henri Pescarolo/ Gerard Larrousse 1974 1000km ‘sprint spec’ three-litre MS670B/C with sensational verve, Hall outfoxed Andy Newall (Mclaren M8F) in Saturday’s Can-am 50 Interserie Trophy leg. On Sunday he defended brilliantly, doubling-up as the 8.8-litre Chevrolet V8-engined beast ate its tyres. “I expected Andy to come past at the start,” said Hall, “When he didn’t I didn’t hang around to find out why!”
Third on day one, returnee John Grant (Mclaren M8C/D) was sidelined by a puncture on Sunday, thus the sleek Lolas of Michele Liguori (Dfv-powered) and Tony Sinclair (ex-chris Craft 1973 European two-litre title-winning T292) and John Burton (Chevron B26) moved up.
Andy Willis started the ex-jeanPierre Beltoise/jack Brabham ’70 tubeframe Matra MS650 – replete with distinctive nose wing – in the FIA Masters Historic Sportscar round. While he kept it in sight of the leaders its challenge was under the radar until Hall leapt in. F1 winner Nick Padmore (in Max SmithHilliard’s Chevron-fvc B19) made a nuisance of himself to the latest stops, harassing Chris Ward (in Paul Gibson’s Broadley Lola T70), but not even Oliver Bryant (T70 MK3B) could counter the agile French blue Matra as they constantly lapped traffic in the closing stages.
Wolfgang Friedrichs and Simon Hadfield retained their Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy title with another extraordinary Pre1963 GT success in the German’s Aston Martin DB4 GT. Starting from Hadfield’s pole on a treacherously slippery track Friedrichs lay eighth, 22 seconds down after three laps, when Holly Mason-franchitti’s Alfa Romeo TZ1 gyrated through Abbey and was immobilised by a clonk from Alex Drabble’s Reliant Sabre 6. “I dialled my ‘I need a Safety Car app’ and one appeared,” quipped Hadfield, who replaced Friedrichs as soon as the pit window opened, then charged to victory.
Also relayed at five-and-a-half laps – morning races used the Heritage Pits – Patrick Blakeney-edwards growled Martin Hunt’s AC Cobra to second. A photo finish for third favoured the James Cottingham/ Andrew Smith Jaguar E-type, which led after Lukas Halusa pitted the sensational Ferrari 250 GT ‘Breadvan’ too early. Obliged to stop again, he howled Count Volpi’s period SWB evoluzione back onto the Jag’s tail, clear of the E-type FHCS of Rob Hall (Martin Melling’s) and ‘Ralphy’ Haddon.
Cooper-jaguars ruled the splendid RAC Woodcote Trophy Pre-’56 sportscar race, Chris Ward (ex-cyril Wick T33) winning a mesmerising duel with Blakeney-edwards, finishing American Fred Wakeman’s sleeker ex-tommy Sopwith T38 with equal aplomb. PB-E had the temerity to forge ahead for a few laps before the Silverstone specialist retaliated. Although the quickest D-type of Gary Pearson faded (“no grip and no grunt”), Tony Wood completed a Jaguar Xk-powered podium in the curious RGS Atalanta which father Barry decided to leave him aboard. Rick Bourne/malcolm Paul (ex-mike Anthony Lotus-bristol 10) led the interlopers. Martin Stretton/ Richard Wilson (Maserati 250S) and Friedrichs/hadfield (Aston Martin DB3S) completed the top six.
First time out in the Leventis family’s ex-taffy von Trips/phil Hill Ferrari 246 Dino, Sam Hancock burst clear of the Stirling Moss Trophy pack to repeat Gregor Fisken’s 2015 win. “I want to apologise to [initial leader] Gary Pearson for tapping him very gently at Stowe, as we slid on oil [dumped by Robbie Bernberg’s Cooper], but this car is fantastic, it’s a huge privilege to race it,” said the versatile Hancock, equally adept in a three-litre Historic F1 car or modern sports prototype.
As Pearson’s Lister-jaguar faded through an unrelated problem [“I had massive oversteer and vibration, so pitted thinking I had a puncture”], Oliver Bryant scythed his Lotus 15 past the contrasting Lister-jags of Richard Kent (Costin) and Tony Wood (Knobbly) and briefly passed Hancock, only to spin. When dad Grahame took the twolitre car over it fell to a class-winning fifth, behind Kent, Will Nuthall (in for Wood) and the mighty Buckingham-built Lister-chevrolet clone of builder Mark Lewis and Jamie Mcintyre. Billy Bellinger/ Keith Ahlers topped the minnows in Eric Broadley’s first giant-killing Lola Mk1.
The big Masters Pre-’66 GT race was a [lack of] gripper as TVR Griffith ace Mike Whitaker endeavoured to fend off a Cobra and Jaguar E-type peloton. Oliver Bryant (Cobra) grabbed the initiative on lap five while Leo Voyazides (Shelby Daytona Coupe) tried to repel the Jags of Julian Thomas and the brakeless Nathan Kinch, plus Michael Gans’ Cobra.
After the stops, Simon Hadfield took up the cudgels in Voyazides’ car and rocketed to the top, winning from Bryant and Whitaker. “I’ve overtaken a Jaguar D-type in an Aston Martin DB3S and Mike Whitaker’s TVR for the first time
today,” he beamed. Nigel Greensall (in Graham Wilson’s Elan) was overjoyed to pass Ross Curnow’s similar car for small capacity honours after the Ed Morris/john Davison car failed.
For the third successive year, Sam Wilson won both Formula Junior races in his pristine ex-dave Charlton Ecurie Tomahawk Lotus 20/22. He was honoured to be presented with the Commander Yorke Trophy from Richard Attwood, its recipient – as a rising star of 21 with the Midland Racing Partnership Cooper T59 – the last time it was presented in 1962!
Saturday’s passage was eased when Cameron Jackson and Callum Grant made superb getaways, swamping Wilson’s rivals including polesitter Andrew Hibberd who “cocked up the start and arrived at Luffield fifth!” Hibberd recovered to second while Nick Fennell shadowed Grant home in fourth. Westie Mitchell pitted his de Tomaso when it jumped out of gear, while Will Mitcham’s last lap engine failure – the first DNF of his career - gifted the front-engined pot to fellow U2 pilot Ray Mallock.
Sunday’s stanza was much closer up front, indeed Hibberd enjoyed a couple of laps ahead of Wilson having slipstreamed him on the Hangar Straight and passed him into Stowe. Sam repassed him at Brooklands and held on to win by half a length with Grant third. Oil at the Loop caught out Mitchell and Fennell, who spun independently, then saw John Fyda and Andrew Garside collide before a mass exodus. Chris Drake (Terrier) was first of the ‘pullers,’ having withdrawn on Saturday.
Will Nuthall in Giorgio Marchi’s F1 Cooper T53 was caught and passed by Jon Fairley’s 2.7-litre Tasman-spec Brabham BT11 in Saturday’s HGPCA race, but a last lap wobble at Becketts gifted victory to Nuthall as Peter Horsman (Lotus 18/21) watched it unfold. Barry Cannell bagged fourth after Rod Jolley and Rudi Friedrichs collided, but they dusted themselves down and finished ahead of the shrill 1500cc F1 V8s of Nick Fennell (Lotus 25) and Sid Hoole (Cooper T66). Tony Wood bested the front-engined brigade in his Tec-mec Maserati, well clear of an energetic 250F tussle between Guillermo Fierro and Steve Hart.
The weekend’s only red flag flew after P2 man Fairley’s gearbox grenaded at Sunday’s start. With arms aloft, everybody missed him until row 20 starter Fred Harper, unsighted, hit the Brabham, spinning it round and triggering a chain reaction shunt which sidelined six cars. Horsman won the restart after Nuthall had a driveshaft snap at Stowe. Richard Tarling was flying in John Carpenter’s unique Assegai and had nosed past Wood into an astonishing third at Chapel on the final lap when it conked- out. He coasted to Club and gallantly pushed it over the line.
Tin Top Sunday’s Historic Touring Car Challenge miscellany spanned 1966-’90, featuring period gems among evocatively liveried replicas. While hot Capris, BMW CSL Batmobiles and sonorous Rover V8s caught enthusiasts’ eyes, Mr Silverstone Auctions Nick Whale attracted a jump start penalty in his original Auto Trader BMW M3, but Richard Meaden – fresh from U2TC success – was up to speed sooner and slithered Grant Tromans’ Ford Capri ahead in tricky conditions. Whale relayed son Harry who, having seen Tromans emerge from the pits, coolly passed him for a memorable maiden victory. “Winning with my son is very special,” said Nick afterwards. David Tomlin, who bought his Zakspeed Escort replica at Friday’s sale, was almost as thrilled with third.
The Vauxhall Vectra of young Scot Colin Noble Jr and local man James Dodd’s Honda Accord circulated as if welded together atop Saturday’s Super Touring opener, slicing through traffic with precision, albeit without changing order. In a field graced by period stars Gianfranco Brancatelli (BMW M3) and Tony Longhurst (BMW 318) plus Craig Davies’ ex-chris Hodgetts Gp A Ford Sierra RS500, Frank Wrathall led the vain pursuit in the last 4WD Audi A4.
Sunday’s sequel promised a repeat, minus Wrathall, but following a couple of exchanges – when Noble washed out on oil at Stowe, leaving the door open for Dodd, then retaliated robustly with a scrape into the Loop – it ended sourly. Colin slid wide at Stowe on the final lap and James grabbed the apex to lead into the Vale, at the end of which a sideswipe sent James spinning. Stewards took a dim view, excluding Noble and declaring Dodd the winner. With Neil Smith (Alfa 156) now second, Jason Minshaw was third with his Volvo S40.
A phalanx of Lotus Cortinas swamped Andrew Banks’ Alfa Romeo GTA and Jackie Oliver’s misfiring BMW in the U2TC enduro. Andy Wolfe bolted, handing the “very nervous” Richard Meaden a lead which he maintained. Brown and Richard Dutton were almost 20 seconds adrift at the flag. Max Banks was third, stunned by the Cortinas’ pace. “They pull five lengths on us on the Hangar Straight,” chorused the brothers.
Attrition hit the V8s, but Craig Davies’ Mustang remained fit to win the big-capacity Pre-’66 Touring Car from Roger Wills’ Mercury Comet. Leo Voyazides’ Falcon’s brakes failed, Sean Mcinerney’s Mustang “dropped a cylinder” and Nigel Greensall’s Falcon wilted, leaving the Cortina of Michael Gans/andy Wolfe third. However, they had pitted too early and were given a 30s penalties promoting Ben Beighton and Rob Fenn.
Hall then helped Andy Willis to an FIA win Rob Hall (left) was the star of both the Can-am outings
Sam Hancock and Oliver Bryant do battle in superb Pre ’61 Sportscars