Silverstone Classic was another marathon weekend of superb historic motorsport, marred somewhat by the extremes in weather which descended on Silverstone over the weekend – with sweltering 40′ heat on Thursday for set-up and testing, and then torrential down pours on Saturday morning’s feature races.
It didn’t deter 109,000 spectators, though, the final count through the gates – nor did it dampen the Fever as the racing was competitive and entertaining as ever. We take a look at the highlights:
Saturday started with rain, but it was the rain that saved the day for the little sliding Lotus 15 of solo driver Oliver Bryant – who at last – took the honours in the combined grid for the Stirling Moss and Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy, after so many attempts to win this race have ended in car failure. David Hart finished hot on Olly’s heels in his Lister Costin and it was the Tony Wood/ Will Nuthall Lister Knobbly who took third overall. A great drive by all in tricky conditions, amongst many spinners, with a busy capacity grid.
For the Woodcoters, it was victory for the Jaguar D-type of the Pearson brothers, John and Gary, with John Ure co-driving with Patrick Watts finishing 2nd right behind them in the Cooper Bristol T24/25 and Richard Wilson and Martin Stretton in the Maserati 250S finishing 3rd.
Another downpour served up slippery conditions during Saturday’s Royal Automobile Club Historic Touring Trophy for Pre-63 GT cars, which ended with the paint free AC Cobra of Martin Hunt and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards dancing spectacularly sideways to victory, slicing through the pack to beat the synchronised sliding Jaguar E-types of James Cottingham and Harvey Stanley, (finishing 2nd) and John and Jack Minshaw (who finished 4th) and the Ferrari 250 GT Breadvan of the Halusa brothers who finished in third place. The Jaguar E-type Fred Wakeman and Gregor Fisken rounded out the top five finishers.
Just 1 second separated the top two finishers in Saturday evening’s epic Bentley Centenary Trophy. But it was a Bentley win at the end of the day with top awards going to Tim and Oliver Llewellyn in the ‘smokin’ but rapid Bentley 3/8 Special. It was a hard fought win between the father and son pairing, overcoming pressure from the flying Alvis Firefly of Rudi Friedrichs and the Frazer Nash Super Sports of Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards, who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Other challengers included Gareth Burnett in his Alta Sports and Michael Birch who briefly led the race at one point in his Talbot AV105 Team Car. It was an incredible spectacle, with 22 fabulous Pre-War Bentleys in the line-up including the wonderful Barnato Hassan Special which returned to the race track and ran faultlessly in the hands of David Ayre.
Steve Hartley stole the limelight in the ex-John Watson McLaren MP4/1 – the car in which ‘Wattie’ famously raced from 17th on the grid to the top step of the podium in the inaugural Detroit Grand Prix back in 1982.
It was a beautiful scene of yesteryear as Hartley’s red and white McLaren went toe-to-toe with the Williams FW07C of Mike Cantillon, the former eventually won the closely fought Sir Jackie Stewart Trophy for FIA Masters Historic Formula One contest by just 0.382s.
Another famous Formula 1 rivalry was renewed in the Gallet Trophy for Pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars as old adversaries Lotus and Brabham turned back the clock. Sam Wilson in the Lotus 18 beat Jon Fairley’s Brabham BT11/19 to take overall honours.
Further exciting duels followed in the International Trophy for Classic GT Cars (Pre ’66) as a couple of Cobras eventually got the better of two Jaguar E-types. It was Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie who won the showdown in their Shelby Daytona Cobra from the AC Cobra Daytona Coupe of David and Oliver Hart.
Michael Lyons cruised to victory in his Spa 24-Hours winning Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500, whilst Craig Davies stole second on the final corner in an identical machine. That meant Steve Dance had to settle for the final step on the rostrum overall, but he was further rewarded with the Gordon Spice Trophy as the highest placed Ford Capri finisher. The Capri celebrations continued with a special 50th anniversary parade during the lunch break.
It was an action packed race started under safety car conditions after Chris Scragg’s Jaguar XJS sadly expired on the opening lap. Michael Lyons opened up a gap from the moment the safety car lights went out and the race was under way. The Ford Sierra RS500 of Craig Davies finished in second place just 10 seconds behind at the end of the 50 minute race, after a number of front running challengers including the BMW M3 of Colin Turkington and Arran Moulton-Smith, and the RS500s of Goff, Wright/Coyne and Mensley/Ellis all experienced technical issues and dropped down the order.
The jam-packed HSCC Historic Formula 2 field again produced a hugely exciting race as Martin O’Connell bounced back from a last lap spin in yesterday’s lead tussle to win the morning’s wet/dry challenge in style.
Jonathan Kennard proved to be one of the drivers of the weekend as he took his and Mike Cantillon’s Pescarolo LMP1 to two victories in the Yokohama Trophy for FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars. Kennard and Cantillon went wheel-to-wheel with Le Mans podium finisher Emmanuel Collard to win Saturday evening’s race, but the duo completely dominated Sunday’s affair.
22-year-old Dane Christian Olsen made it a double in the HSCC Classic Formula 3, whilst Georg Hallau won today’s HSCC Thundersports Endurance encounter.
The Mini Celebration Trophy Presented by Adrian Flux provided a fitting end to a weekend which had begun with Paddy Hopkirk leading a 60thanniversary parade of Minis, driving his 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winning Cooper S.
It was current BTCC star Adam Morgan who had the final say by claiming victory in his Morris Mini Cooper S.
As on Saturday, three-time World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart demonstrated his incredible title-winning Matra MS80-02, 50 years after winning his first British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1969 en route to the first of his three world championship titles.
Fronted by two-wheeled champions Wayne Gardner and Freddie Spencer, the World GP Bike Legends also rolled back the years with high-speed track demonstrations.
This year the Stuart Graham Scarf & Goggles Award for the Most Admired Racing Car was won by the stunning flat-12 cylinder 1965 Ferrari 1512 as raced by Joe Colasacco in the pair of evocative races for the Gallet Trophy for Pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars (HGPCA). Graham presented the trophy to Larry Auriana, the Italian/American owner of the beautifully restored and cherished scarlet F1 icon.
The equally-prized Mervyn Garton Scarf & Goggles Award for the Best Off-Track Visitor Attraction at this year’s Classic was presented to the Sporting Bears Club by Mervyn’s widow Janet. By offering visitors Dream Rides in a selection of great cars, Sporting Bears not only fulfilled many a lifelong ambitions but also raised more than £4,000 for childrens charities.
The Adrian Flux Trophy for the Best Car Club Display went to the ever-enthusiastic and friendly UK S2000 Owners Club which marked the Honda soft-top’s 20th anniversary with an impressive and immaculately turned-out display of two-seater sportscars.
Equally deserving were the two Yokohama Trophy winners. The Club Car of the Show award being presented to the unique Routledge Special RA4 – an Alvis-based creation raced by its creator Norman Routledge at Silverstone 65 years ago, while the Supercar Legends Car of the Show was won by a crowd-pleasing De Tomaso Pantera GT5 – a real eye-catcher in the Supercar Legends Display, presented by Yokohama.
Finally – and, perhaps, best capturing the incredible passion and excitement of the racing at the Classic – is the accolade introduced last year in memory of much-missed commentator Henry Hope Frost who lost his life in a road accident.
Henry’s knowledge and euphoria behind the microphone inspired many visitors to the Classic, and the #FEVER Award honours his contagious enthusiasm for motor sport. It was presented to Miles Griffiths for his victory in Saturday’s sensational HSCC Historic Formula 2 showdown. The thrilling three-car battle for top honours in challenging slippery conditions epitomised what Henry relished about the Silverstone Classic.
Catch up with the action:
ITV4 will broadcast highlights immediately after live coverage of the BTCC from Thruxton on 18 August, and will be presented by Louise Goodman and Tiff Needell, whilst all 21-races will be available on YouTube during the coming days.
Photos are thanks to John Retter and Oliver Flower