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Thruxton Historic – 15-16 August

Above Headline shot: Robert ClaysonJohn Retter

John Retter

If you missed out on last weekend’s Thruxton Historic, you perhaps missed the closest Goodwood replacement we are likely to see in 2020.  It had all the right ingredients, top quality entries, high speed competitive racing, low crowd numbers, a relaxed friendly paddock – albeit closed to the public, and a mixed bag of weather thrown in for extra excitement. Race Organisers were delighted with the turnout and support, and both car clubs and spectators were able to enjoy a socially distanced day out watching some top drawer quality racing.

We take a look at the race highlights:

John Retter

A stellar grid of Pre ’61 sports racing and sports cars was the result of the RAC Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy joining forces at Thruxton Historic.  Saturday morning qualifying was fearsome with young Ben Adams pipping Jon Minshaw’s Lister Jaguar Knobbly to pole by a mere 0.20 seconds in his Lola Mk 1. GT Racer Richard Bradley shared Michael Birch’s recently acquired Lotus XV and they blocked out the Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger Lola Mk 1 for third.  Ginetta GT5 racer Gordon Mutch made his debut in John Clark’s Cooper Bobtail and they qualified third in the RAC Woodcote Trophy behind Patrick Blakeney-Edwards/ Grant Peterkin Cooper T38 (2nd) and Ben Eastick/Karl Jones’s Jaguar D-type (1st).

John Retter

John Retter

In the race, damp conditions made for a lively race on Saturday afternoon, Adams defied the ever present charge of a battalion of Listers and kept his cool from start to finish for a win to the tune of 12 seconds ahead of Gary Pearson (Lister Knobbly) and Jon Minshaw (Lister Knobbly). There was much drama in the closing stages of a very exciting RAC Woodcote Trophy when leaders Malcolm Paul and   Rick Bourne slipped down the order in their
Lotus Mk X.  Richard Wilson and Martin Stretton were popular eventual winners in Richard’s Maserati 250S.  Steve Brooks had a brilliant drive to second place having started on the back of the grid and spun in the opening laps in his Jaguar D-type!   View the full race results here.

John Retter

In the Pre ’63 GT race, sponsored by DK Engineering – first up on  Saturday – was an uplifting sight as a  plethora of early GT cars headed out to qualify  after the long hiatus. BTCC racer Rory Butcher was  guesting in Jon Minshaw’s E-type and just out-qualified James Cottingham/ Harvey Stanley in the Huffaker Jaguar E-type (making its post-restoration European debut) by 0.4 seconds. After a distributor failure halted the Cottingham/Stanley car, which had lead up until the pit stops, the pole pairing went on to a deserved win; Oliver Bryant (Jaguar E-type FHC) and Gregor Fisken/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (Jaguar E-type roadster) completed the podium. The Muirhead/Welch underdog 100/6 came out top of the trio of Austin Healeys with a 4th overall placing.  Click here for the race result.

Robert Clayson

Robert Clayson

Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports Cars got their first opportunity to race at Thruxton since 2002! The dedicated Pre-War tribe supported the race with a stunning grid of cars representing a vast array of marques and models – all built before 1937. No fewer than nine magnificent Bentleys participated including the former Brooklands racer, the Bentley Barnato Hassan, the in the hands of David Ayre. David Cooke’s  Alfa Romeo 8C was a stunning new addition to the grid and Aston Martin were represented by Edward and Richard Bradley and Christopher Scott Mackirdy.

Robert Clayson

Frazer Nash exponents, Blakeney Motorsport fielded a chain-driven Super Sports with Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and Mike Grant-Peterkin at the wheel, duly taking pole ahead of Gareth Burnett’s Alta Sports and Rudi Friedrichs’ Alvis Firefly – all the way from Germany. Friedrichs powered off into the lead initially only to be reeled in by Blakeney-Edwards after the driver change – extending their lead to 22.22 seconds at the flag. The battle of the race though was for third place. Michael Birch (Talbot AV105 Brooklands) and Richard Bradley (Aston Martin Ulster) fought hammer and tongs to the line, Michael taking third by 1.37 seconds!

John Retter

All the Motor Racing Legends’ Historic Touring Car grids raced as one at Thruxton with two 40-minute races over the weekend. Saturday morning qualifying was incredibly close as series sponsor, Ric Wood’s Nissan Skyline GT-R and the Daniel and Sean Brown Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 were split by only 0.26 seconds in the Historic Touring Car Challenge.  In Saturday’s race, Ric’s 1990 All-Japan Touring Car Championship car won by 5.6 seconds from the Blakeney-Edwards/Fisken Group 2 Rover SD1, with father and son Ken and Tim Clarke’s Group A TWR Rover Vitesse third, after both the Brown and David Tomlin Cosworths retired for the weekend.

John Retter

In Sunday’s race, Ric was forced to retire on lap 11 with a broken wheel leaving the way for a resumption of the Rover battle.  Clarke’s TWR Vitesse found itself leading a race for the first time since 1983 but after the pit stops the Blakeney-Edwards/Fisken Sansui Rover came to the fore winning by 17.5 seconds.

Robert Clayson

After two thrilling Group 1 races in the Tony Dron Trophy, John Spiers and Thruxton icon Tiff Needell took both wins John’s 1977 Ford Capri outrunning the Capris of James Slaughter, Paul Pochciol/James Hanson and Richard Meins.  Orlando Lindsay/Patrick Watts won their class in their ex-Robert Brooks 1974 Triumph Dolomite whilst Graham Churchill and Peter Baldwin won the U2TC on both attempts in their 1965 Mini Cooper S.

John Retter

In the combined result of the two races, it was a Rover 1-2 with Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and Gregor Fisken victors and Ken and Tim Clarke second ahead of the Tony Dron Trophy Ford Capris of John Spiers/Tiff Needell (3rd and   1st in the Tony Dron Trophy), James Slaughter (4th and 2nd in the Tony Dron Trophy) George Pochciol/James Hanson (5thand 3rd in the Tony Dron Trophy) and Richard Meins (6th overall).  7th overall was the U2TC Mini of Graham Churchill and Peter Baldwin.  To see the full results click here.

John Retter

John Retter

HRDC ‘Jack Sears Trophy’ for 1958-1966 Touring Cars – An impressive grid of 34 cars showed up for this welcome return to Thruxton by the HRDC pre-’66 Touring Cars, with five different classes offering an eclectic grid. Dave Coyne gave a solo masterclass in Jon Miles’ Mustang, fending off the squabbling Lotus Ford Cortinas of Neil Brown and Richard Dutton, the latter forcing his way to second overall behind the commanding win from Coyne.

John Retter

HRDC ‘Thermex Allstars’ for pre-’66 Sports, GT & Touring Cars. A last minute swap over of cars from David Smithies saw the veteran driver running his fearsome Daytona Cobra in place of his normal Austin Healey 3000 mount. This swap must have been prompted by the entry of Ian Burford’s thunderous Bill Thomas Cheetah. Sadly the contest was never fulfilled as the Cheetah’s diff failed in qualifying. But once again, Dave Coyne was there to keep Smithies in check with the Mustang but try as he may, he could not stop a lights to flag victory for the Cobra.

Robert Clayson

HRDC ‘Classic Alfa Challenge’ for 750-116 Alfa Romeos. Whilst only a dozen Alfa Romeos mustered for this race, the excitement made up for the lack of numbers. The race favourite, Chris Snowdon, was also racing at Silverstone in the morning and thus had to start from the back due to missing qualification. Thus Richard Merrell had only one thing to do, get out to the front and stay there! Snowdon quickly worked his way into second place but had not anticipated the ability of young James Wright in his self-prepared Alfa 75. Wright harried the veteran for lap after lap until Snowdon’s car failed. Merrell took the flag, Wright took the HRDC’ Driver of the Day’.

Robert Clayson

In the GT and Sports Car Cup race it was Ben Adams who topped the lap charts at the end of qualifying with a pole time of 1.29.4 in the Lola Mk1, Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger were second fastest  in their Morgan SLR some 2.5 secs behind. The Big Healeys were out in force with seven AH 3000s on the 24 car grid, the fastest of which was the pairing of Mark Holme / Jeremy Welch.  In the 90min pit stop race penalties for speeding in the pit lane were being handed out like smarties, Keith Ahlers Morgan briefly led the race in the early laps, but it was no match for the super fast 3.0 litre Healey of Mark Holme and Jeremy Welch who romped home with a 49 second lead. The Morgan Plus 4 of Ahlers and Bellinger had to settle for second, and Sleep/ Wykeham pairing came third in their Shelby Mustang 350 GT after a being pipped to the post by Doug Muirhead only for him to be presented with a pit lane speeding penalty reversing the order. The little Lola of Ben Adams sadly ran out of fuel before the flag a problem his pit crew had already foreseen but he decided to race on and have fun.

Robert Clayson

Robert Clayson

For a more detailed look at entries and results click here 

Words from Julius Thurgood and Gillian Carr, Photos thanks to John Retter and Robert Clayson.

Please contact either photographer directly for copies, permissions to reproduce or hi-resolution files. John at https://www.johnretterphotography.com and Robert can be found at – robert@robertclayson.co.uk

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