This year’s Goodwood MM77 enjoyed some fine weather, thanks to the new early April date of this annually run event. The resulting clear but brisk weather was a welcome escape from the snowy blizzards which threatened to blight last year’s event. We were in attendance over the three days enjoying the relaxed, and less formal format of this Members meeting, soaking up the friendly atmosphere with some like minded friends. We even enjoyed some results too, with Mike Thorne qualifying our grey Healey 100M in fourth place behind David Coulthard, Richard Woolmer and Andrew Keith-Lucas in the Tony Gaze Trophy, in the race he managed to keep it all on the straight and narrow to finish the 2nd overall, a marvellous result for the Healey, sadly Richard Woolmer retired from 2nd with an engine failure, Andrew Keith-Lucas finished 3rd but was later demoted to 4th due to weight infringements promoting Jonathan Abecassis to 3rd. What a weekend!
We look at some of the other race highlights:
Gerry Marshall Trophy
Craig Davies and Andy Newall emerged victorious in a thrilling 45-minute Gerry Marshall Trophy encounter for Group One saloon cars on Saturday evening. It was dramatic race, with works Porsche ace Neil Jani blasting into the lead from the outside of the front row at the start in the Rover SD1 he was sharing with James Wood, only to run out of road seconds later. It soon settled down to a Ford Mustang battle up front, with Davies heading double Le Mans winner Romain Dumas aboard Bill Shepherd’s ex-Richard Lloyd example as Tom Blomqvist kept a watching brief in Kerry Michael’s ‘flat-front’ Ford Escort RS2000. Barely 0.2sec blanketed the lead duo at quarter-distance, with Blomqvist a couple of tenths further back. The top three were a remarkable twelve seconds ahead of their pursuers with 20 minutes run.
Sadly, the lead battle was nullified after Dumas connected with the back of Davies coming out the chicane with 20 minute left to run. Davies pitted to swap places with wingman Newall on the next tour, as Blomqvist assumed the lead. The World Endurance Championship star drove the Escort on it lock-stops for lap after lap, and only stopped to hand the car over to its owner Kerry Michaels shortly before the pit window closed with 15mins left to run. Sadly, Michaels retired the car from second place to Newall with five minutes left to run.
Newall survived a last lap scare after the car slowed appreciably, to lead home Jani and Wood by 33sec, with the Faberge-liveried Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 of Nigel Garrett and septuagenarian star Stuart Graham in third.
Derek Bell Cup
Ben Mitchell edged out Andrew Hibbert to claim honours in the Derek Bell Cup on Sunday morning. The Brabham duo were on scintillating form as they streaked into the distance and left their pursuers in their wake. Hibbert blasted into an early lead from pole aboard his ex-Chequered Flag car, with Mitchell rarely more than 0.1sec behind him. Mitchell nabbed the lead into Woodcote five minutes into the 20-minute encounter for one-litre F3 cars, but Hibbert retook the position in the middle of Fordwater next time around.
By half-distance, the lead duo were 19sec clear of Enrico Spagiarri’s ex-John Miles Lotus 41X in third place. With eight minutes left to run, the gap had widened to an incredible 31sec. A late safety car period saw the order bunch up again, but Mitchell and Hibbert reasserted their dominance once racing resumed with two laps left to run. Michell edged past on the Lavant straight with only seconds to spare and just held on to win. His margin of victory was barely a tenth of a second.
Graham Hill Trophy
Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen claimed honours in the 45min Graham Hill Trophy thrash for closed-cockpit GT cars that raced up to 1966. Victory, however, was far from assured. Mike Whittaker and BTCC old boy Mike Jordan had dominated the race in their TVR Griffith until they were obliged to pit late in the day to fix the car’s exhaust which was dragging along the asphalt.
At the start of the race, Minshaw blasted into an early lead, but Whittaker nipped past with a superb move around the outside of Magwick on the fourth lap. The veteran soon extended his lead, with Minshaw being first to blink once the pits opened for driver changes 15mins in. Brilliant allrounder Keen, more commonly found racing a modern Lamborghini alongside Minshsaw in the British GT series, emerged on track in eighth place and soon began making up places. Whitaker, however, waited until there were only 18 minutes left to run, by which time he was 15 seconds ahead of Nic Minassian’s AC Cobra which briefly led prior to the Frenchman pitting to swap seats with Anthony Reid.
Inside three laps, Keen and Jordan were vying for the top sport, the latter blasting by on the nineteen lap before extending his lead to 1.7sec by lap 20. However, his late pitstop dropped the Griffith down the order. Keen was untroubled thereafter, with the TVR of Tiff Needell and John Spieres finishing a distant second at the flag, with the Ferrari 250GTO/64 of Nick Pastorelli and James Cottingham placing third.
SF Edge Trophy
Julian Majzub claimed a last gasp win in the S.F. Edge Trophy race for Edwardian machinery following a robust display of driving. Majzub led most of the 15min encounter in his remarkably original Sunbeam which placed fourth in the 1916 running of the Indianapolis 500. His nearest challenger was sometime leader Tony Lees in his 1913 Vauxhall Viper Special, the warring duo virtually deadheaded across the line. Third place went to Ben Collings on his debut in the remarkable 1909 ‘Blitzen Benz’ from the Auto & Technik Museum.
Betty Richmond Trophy
Nick Swift claimed a dramatic last corner win in the Betty Richmond Trophy final for Mini saloons and variants. The accomplished Mini ace got too much wheelspin at the start, with pole man Ian Curley eking out a slender lead on the opening lap. Man on the move, however, was Nick Padmore with Swift dragging himself back into contention by the time they arrived at the chicane for the second time. Curley was bundled down the order as Swift led from Padmore with former Mini7 champion and self-confessed ‘oldest and fattest man in the race’ Jonathan Lewis assuming third place.
Swift and Padmore swapped places repeatedly, lap after lap, as Lewis and Curley squabbled behind them. There was all to play for on the final lap, with Padmore barely a car’s length ahead of Swift as they descended on Lavant for the final time. Padmore then had a grassy ‘moment’ but appeared to recover as the lead quartet arrived at the chicane, only for Swift to brilliantly muscle his way past for a famous victory.
John Duff Trophy
Just 0.9sec blanketed the top two finishers following a thrilling John Duff Trophy race for vintage sports cars, with Vauxhall man Gregor Fisken just edging out Frazer Nash ‘Chain Gang’ racer Philip Champion. Fisken, who first raced the 30-98 ‘Brooklands Special’ as a 17-year-old back in 1982, made a tentative start from pole position, and dropped down the order at the start, as Bentley ace Ben Collings led from Champion. However, the latter asserted himself heading into Madgwick for the third time, while Fisken recovered brilliantly and was soon lapping two seconds faster than the leader. Champion and Collings continued to wage war, until the latter fell back into the clutches of eventual third place finisher, Invicta driver Trevor Swete. Fisken was only assured of victory as backmarkers came into play on the final tour.