Donington Historic Festival opened the season for all four of the Motor Racing Legends historic race series where their stunning grids stood out as some of the feature races of the weekend.
In the Historic Touring Car Challenge and Tony Dron Trophy, it was a lights to flag victory for the father and son duo Nick & Harry Whale who took overall honours in the Auto Trader BMW M3 E30 that Nick raced in 1990-91′. Mark Smith and Arran Moulton-Smith were in hot pursuit for the whole hour finishing 2nd on the same lap just 30 seconds later ahead of the JD Classics Bastos Rover with Chris Ward and Steve Soper at the wheel.
The fabulous BMW CSL of Eric Mestagh finished in fourth and the first of the BMW 635 CSi’s rounded out the top five in the hands of Andre D’Cruze and Shane Bland.
Alex Thistlewayte’s bold blue Chevrolet Camaro was the first home in the Tony Dron Trophy but in Invitation Class, followed by Patrick Watts’ who officially won the Tony Dron Trophy in his Frank & Jeans Ford Capri recently repaired since Goodwood.
In the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy supported by EFG Private Banking Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards were first to the flag in Saturday afternoon’s Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy race, in a race long battle with the pole sitting Maserati 250S of Richard Wilson and Martin Stretton which had to settle for second place. A brace of Jaguar D-Types finished third and fourth with Gary Pearson driving both, swapping at half time and being careful not to overtake himself! Carlos Monteverde and Gary made up the third step on the podium.
Paul converted Bourne’s start to a two-litre class win over Ure/Wigley finishing fifth overall. The rivals were separated by Friedrichs’ Jaguar (another Pearsons Engineering-run car) at the chequered flag. Three more Bristol-powered cars made it five in the top 10, the slipper-bodied Cooper T25 of Malcolm Harrison/Patrick Watts outdistancing the Corfield/Williams Frazer Nash and Bond’s Lister.
In Sunday morning’s ‘Mad Jack’ race for Pre-War Sports Cars, a fantastic performance by Rudi Friedrichs and his 1933 4.3-litre Alvis Firefly SA ended a run of four straight victories for the mighty Frazer Nash Supersports duo of Fred Wakeman/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards providing the closest finish and, by general consensus, the most exciting contest of the 2018 Donington Historic Festival.
Friedrichs made a storming start from P3 on the grid but Gareth Burnett – in John Ruston’s latest Alta, racing for the first time in 70 years – went with him from P7, haring past the potent 1928 Meadows-engined Nashes of polesitter Wakeman and Charles Gillett, who was immediately in trouble, to lead. Second by lap 5, Wakeman confidently hounded down Friedrichs and handed team-mate PBE a fit car for the chase to the chequer. Pat was but 0.496s short at the stripe.
In Sunday’s Stirling Moss Trophy race Chris Ward looked for once well beaten until a dramatic suspension failure torpedoed runaway leader Oliver Bryant’s hopes three laps from home.
Having led the vast majority of the race in his Lotus 15, Bryant appeared to be stroking the British Racing Green car home when, with less than three minutes of the hour remaining, there was a ‘clonk’ as he braked for Redgate and the left corner went down. He knew it was curtains as the car tripped over itself and slewed to a halt. Ward, debuting a Knobbly-bodied Lister for the JD Classics team, couldn’t believe what he saw and duly landed his fifth Donington SMT win in six years – and third successive solo success – in the cars from Cambridge.
It was in fact a full house of Lister Knobblies on the podium with Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen finishing in second and Tony Wood and Will Nuthall finishing in third despite suffering a puncture half-way through the race, which the team neatly turned into a pit-stop! Mark Gibbon’s Lister Chevrolet was fourth, and the Lola Mk 1 Prototype of Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger finished in fifth place in another all action race.
For more information full results, please click here: Motor Racing Legends
Photographs by Dave Brassington (For hi resolution copies click here)