The ninth Donington Historic Festival delivered hugely-exciting and competitive racing from more than 400 historic cars spanning nine decades and ranging from Grand Prix machines and Le Mans prototypes to Touring Cars over the weekend of May 3, 4 and 5.
The calibre of the racing grids, the lure of the Donington Park circuit and the sheer fun of historic motorsport drew top-class drivers past and present, the weather kept competitors on their toes with a series of torrential showers livening up the qualifying on Friday.
The cars competing included ERA ‘R4A’, which scored a double victory in the Nuvolari Trophy races, some 84 years after Pat Fairfield drove it to victory in the 150-mile 1935 Nuffield Trophy at Donington Park. The Nuvolari Trophy grid also featured an MG K3 Magnette raced in period by Prince Bira of Thailand, while the Jaguar Classic Challenge included a semi-lightweight E-type originally raced by Bruce McLaren.
Congratulations to all the winners at Donington Historic Festival we take a look at the weekends race highlights:
Cruel replay for Bryant as Kent sweeps to victory in Stirling Moss Trophy
In the Stirling Moss Trophy, Olly Bryant could scarcely believe his misfortune when his Lotus 15 repeated its late race suspension breakage of 12 months earlier. Bryant deserved more than bitter disappointment after a faultless drive but could only watch as Richard Kent swept ahead to win in his Lister Jaguar Costin. The Walker/Griffiths Lotus moved up to second from Nuthall/Wood, while Maeers/Martin were fourth and the prolific Fred Wakeman/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards took fifth in the Cooper T38.
Pearson Brothers claim Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy
Few families have stronger links to period racing Jaguars than the Pearsons and so it was wholly appropriate that brothers Gary and John took the first Woodcote Trophy win of 2019 during the Donington Historic Festival. A broken driveshaft sadly ended the race for the charging Maserati of Stretton and Wilson. That left the Pearson brothers with a clear run to victory, but the contest for what became second place was far less settled. Simon Hadfield, running the second stint in Wolfgang Friedrichs’ Aston Martin, was being pursued by Karl Jones, who had taken over Ben Eastick’s D-type. There was a tiny fraction in it over the line, but the Jaguar had collected a five-second track limits penalty and so dropped to fourth behind the Lotus X of Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne, which was right on the tail of the battle at the flag.
Wakeman & Blakeney-Edwards duo top Mad Jack podium
Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards made it two wins on the Donington Historic Festival weekend by adding the Mad Jack Trophy in their Frazer Nash Super Sports. In an absorbing contest, a quick spin with brake issues cost Gareth Burnett his lead in the Alta and two broken chains left the Parker GN of early leader Justin Maeers and Charlie Martin with only third and fourth gears. Burnett fought back in the closing laps but was still 4 seconds adrift at the flag as Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards added another victory to their impressive event tally. Martin claimed third on his first time driving the Parker GN.
RS500 takes debut victory in Historic Touring Car Challenge
The Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 of Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie came through to victory in the HTCC season opener, but it was a close run contest. Chris Boardman and Colin Turkington set the pace in their BMW M3s as Thomas worked to recover momentum after running wide at Coppice cost him dearly. A very swift pit stop from the Denis Welch team got Lockie out ahead in the RS500. As the M3s dropped away a little, it was BTCC racer Adam Morgan, having taken over Ric Wood’s Cologne Capri, who headed the pursuit of the RS500. Lockie had enough in hand to ease his pace a little but could never relax too much as Morgan pushed hard. The Whales raced hard and coped with a significant vibration to get their M3 onto the overall podium, while Steve Dance could have been up there as well in his Cologne Capri but slipped to fourth after a pit stop infringement.
In the Tony Dron Trophy, the Chevrolet Camaro of another father and son team, Grahame and Olly Bryant, came through to take victory from John Spiers’ solo-driven Capri and another Capri in the hands of Paul Pochciol and James Hanson completed the podium.
Banks Brothers bag U2TC season opener
The U2TC series opened its 2019 calendar at the Donington Historic Festival with a consummate victory for brothers Andrew and Max Banks. A fully dry track for Saturday’s race played to the strength of the Alfa and the Banks were able to ease away steadily to build what eventually became a winning margin of more than half a minute. However, in the wake of the Alfa, things were far less settled as Shaun Balfe had a race-long battle with the Oscar Rovelli/Ambrogio Perfetti Cortina. There was never much it in on the road although the Rovelli car later picked up a five-second penalty over track limits. But that didn’t detract from a fine battle on the road and after 42 laps, less than half a second split them as Balfe narrowly got to the line first.
Minshaw duo take Pre ’63 GT honours
Two young lions showed their speed and ability in the Pre ’63 GT race at the Donington Historic Festival and ultimately, it was Jack Minshaw who joined his father Jon atop the podium after a hugely impressive debut in historic racing. Simon Hadfield brought the Aston Martin DB4 of Wolfgang Friedrichs up into second with a few seconds in hand over the E-type of Nigel Greensall and Chris Milner. Greensall never gave up chasing the Aston but a top end misfire cost him any chance of attacking for second place. Gregor Fisken and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards took their E-type to fourth.
Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie take thrilling victory in Jaguar Classic Challenge.
The 32-car Jaguar field made a fabulous sight as the hour-long race started with a grid that had quality and variety to match quantity. Richard Kent timed his last lap perfectly to claim pole by half a second from the remarkable Niall Murray (Class D E-type), Calum Lockie, Jason Minshaw and the Pearsons as a second covered the top five cars.
Kent, also sharing with Gary Pearson, and Minshaw set the early pace but Minshaw was soon into the pits after a wire came off the distributor as he exited the chicane. Meanwhile, Thomas and John Pearson were running strongly and, after the pit stops, it was Lockie versus Gary Pearson in a glorious contest over the closing laps. Into the chicane for the final time they went head-to-head and Lockie had to catch a big slide as Pearson skittered through the gravel. Having shared the second-placed car with his brother John, Gary P also clinched third by sharing Kent’s car.
Cameron Jackson produced double victories in the Formula Junior Championship double header
Jackson was unstoppable in the rear-engined races and twice powered his Brabham into clear first lap leads. The result marked three perfect weekends to date this season for Jackson with pole, win and fastest lap in three different cars. On Saturday, Richard Bradley made it a Brabham BT2 one-two as he narrowly fended off Peter Morton’s Lightning Envoyette. Bradley clinched second again on Sunday but only when a bolt came out of the gear linkage and Morton had to park the Lightning. Peter de la Roche (Lola Mk2) dominated the rear- and front-engined contests respectively.
Blakeney-Edwards and Wakeman top the GT and Sports Car Cup
Running in the high-profile slot early on Saturday evening, the two-hour race was a typically absorbing contest which ended with a famous victory for Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and Fred Wakeman in the Lister Jaguar Coupe. This was the car’s first win in the hands of the Anglo-American pairing and a rare or even unique result in the car’s 56-year story. Blakeney-Edwards and Wakeman were aided by the timing of a mid-race safety car period but still had to drive a faultless race to convert an opportunity into victory.
Joining Blakeney-Edwards and Wakeman on the overall podium were the AC Cobras of former DHF winners Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield and Oliver and Grahame Bryant. Meanwhile, wonderful battles raged all the way down the field and notable class successes went to Chris Chiles senior and junior (GT3 Austin Healey 3000, Joe Ward and Andy Newall (GT2 TVR Grantura) and Marc Gordon/Nick Finburgh (GT1 Lotus Elite). From the sports-racing ranks emerged Guy Peeters and Frederic de Braey to win GT1 in their Lotus 11.
Victory to Miles Griffiths in the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association Ascari Trophy Races
Victory in both Historic Grand Prix Cars Association Ascari Trophy races went to Miles Griffiths in a Lotus 16, while Nick Topliss drove ERA ‘R4A’ to victory in the Nuvolari Trophy races.
Former British GT champion Mike Jordan started the HRDC Touring Greats race on pole in the Austin ‘GT40’ he shared with son Andrew, and Andrew took the car to victory after the pitstop. Reflecting on a happier Donington Park weekend after his accident in the BTCC there a week before, Andrew commented “I haven’t had that much fun in a race car for a while. I had an absolute blast.”
Images below are by John Retter Photography