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Motor Racing Legends shine at Silverstone Classic

This year’s Silverstone Classic meeting will surely go down as one of the hottest and most spectacular ever. Three grids from Motor Racing Legends featured as some of the exciting highlights of the weekend, illustrated here by John Retter Photography  

New Zealander Roger Wills almost landing a famous Stirling Moss Trophy victory driving Lotus 15 #609 in which compatriots Bruce McLaren and Syd Jensen raced for fabled British entrant John Coombs in Goodwood’s 1958 World Sportscar Championship-deciding Tourist Trophy enduro – Moss’ triumph in which secured the crown for Aston Martin. Sticking front brake callipers slowed the combo mid-race however, handing Pre-’61 gold to Chris Ward, saddling a JD Classics Lister-Jaguar Knobbly as opposed to last year’s winning Costin derivative.
Despite a five second time penalty for exceeding circuit limits Will Nuthall powered the Wood family’s Lister past the ailing Lotus to wrest second from Wills with a couple of laps to spare. Roger salvaged an SMT5 class-winning third, ahead of Michael Gans’ sister car. Best of the small capacity finishers were Ben Adams (Lola Mk1) and Malcolm Harrison/Patrick Watts (Rejo Mk3) in seventh and eighth places respectively.  Read the full report

Gary Pearson cemented his position as the most successful Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy competitor, but the Jaguar D-type ace’s fifth victory in the fixture’s 13-year history was his first driving solo. Gary used his consummate skills to stave off the omni-present Cooper-Jaguar T38 of 2017 and ’14 victors Fred Wakeman/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards. Martin Stretton and Richard Wilson bagged a fine third in the latter’s svelte ex-Carroll Shelby/Jim Hall Maserati 250S, which led fleetingly during the 50-minute race’s pit-stop phase.

But it was no one-horse race for Pearson. There were a couple of anxious moments for him en route, both involving spilled oil. Californian Wakeman slipped ahead briefly after Gary slewed wide on lubricant dropped at Stowe – “I hit the steering’s lock stops trying to catch it but how it didn’t spin I have no idea” – but the final lap harboured an even more unwelcome surprise. As Pearson powered his ex-works/Briggs Cunningham XKD506 out of the Maggotts/Becketts flick-flack and traversed Chapel Curve onto the Hangar Straight he was confronted with the culmination of a major drama. “First I saw oil and when I followed the slick round to the left brother John [with whom he won in 2012 and ‘13’s first leg] was backwards at the end of it! That took the edge off things.”

HP Tyres boss John Pearson had been running a solid eighth in father John Sr’s short-nosed D-type when a bolt let go causing a con-rod to ventilate his engine’s block. “Dad’s original engine is too precious to race, but this was one loaned by Gary for the Le Mans Classic. We thought it would last another hour but… When it let go there was a mighty bang and the rear end instantly locked solid, sending the car spinning across the track. I said ‘come on John’ and fought it all the way on the grass, but happily it came to a standstill four feet short of the wall. I think I stopped shaking about an hour later!”  Read the full report

Silverstone Auctions founder Nick Whale and his son Harry reprised their accomplished 2016 Historic Touring Car Challenge race victory in senior’s pristine AutoTrader BMW E30 M3, his 1991 BTCC mount. Another close-knit father-and-son combo, Mark Smith and Arran Moulton-Smith, screamed their ex-Steve Soper M3 to second place, the latter winding the Schnitzer/Warsteiner machine up to good effect in the later stages.

The opening skirmishes of Sunday’s colourful showpiece wowed the crowds as Nick Whale fought with the more powerful 5.3-litre Jaguar XJ12C ‘Broadspeed replica’ of James Hanson (another BTCC veteran) and CNC Heads boss Ric Wood in his sonorous 3.4-litre Ford Capri GAA V6 evocation. All three led as they shook off Steve Dance’s Capri RS2600, Smith, David Tomlin’s Klaus Ludwig tribute Ford Escort-BDG and the very original Mk1 version of Ben Gill.

Maintaining the family fun tradition of Motor Racing Legends grids, Grahame and Olly Bryant won the concurrent Tony Dron Trophy Group 1 contest and finishing 12th overall in their Richard Lloyd Simoniz 5.7-litre Chevrolet Camaro Z28. The American V8 flew in the latter’s hands, outrunning the 3.5-litre Rover SD1 of Adam Brindle/Nigel Greensall and three-litre Capris of John Spiers and Patrick Watts, yet another competitor with the BTCC on a long and illustrious CV. Read the full report

Reports by Marcus Pye.

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