TR3A triumphs over adversity — Winter Challenge: Feb 26 – Mar 4
Heavy snow and viciously cold nights served to make the 16th Winter Challenge to Monte Carlo the toughest in the event’s history. After battling across a heavily snow-bound France for four days, a mighty effort from Terry Pickering and Anthony Preston, both new to the event, netted a memorable victory for their Triumph TR3A.
It all started in bright sunshine at the Stoneleigh Historic Show, with a special test straight after the ceremonial start. Pickering and Preston signalled their intentions by being fastest in their class and, with no penalties from two regularity sections on Sunday, headed across the channel with an early lead.
Once into France, deep snow became a regular feature of the rally and most crews found themselves off the road or stuck at some point. Despite the conditions the competition was tough, and by the time crews finished the fourth leg at Le Puy-en-Velay it was the Mercedes 300SE of former winners Frank Fennell/Colin Francis in the overall lead. But less than half a minute covered the top four, as Jan Ebus/Lester van der Zalm (Lancia Fulvia), Mickey Gabbett/Michael Jackson (Alfa Romeo Giulia) and the consistent Pickering/Preston all stayed well in contention.
The toughest section of all was on Thursday as the route tackled the hills of the Cevennes region before an overnight halt at Digne-les-Bains. This was the leg that would effectively decide the result: while Fennell and Francis battled against brake problems and went on a slide down the order, Pickering/Preston and Gabbett/Jackson really turned up the heat.
Those final sections of the rally blew the leader board apart: suddenly gaps previously measured in seconds became minutes. By the time the weary survivors arrived in Monte Carlo on the Friday, Pickering and Preston had pulled two and a half minutes clear of Gabbett’s Alfa Romeo.
Ebus/van der Zalm lost all hope of improving on their second-place finish of a year earlier when the final leg cost them over 20min in penalties and they slipped to fifth place in the final reckoning.
In their place it was the Sunbeam Tiger of Malcolm Pickering/Andy Gibson that swept to third place, while John Bateson/Fred Bent took their Sunbeam Rapier to fourth.
In the category for vintage cars, Tony Covill/Paul Bloxidge braved the conditions to take victory in their Bentley special. Gary and Nina Kendall claimed a win in the Clubmans event in a Lotus Elan +2.
Frazer Nash to the fore — 2005 Pomeroy Trophy, Silverstone, Feb 26
After a day of tests and high-speed trials at Silverstone, Charles Gillett emerged to claim the opening scalp of the VSCC’s circuit-based competition season when he guided his Frazer Nash Super Sports to the Pomeroy Trophy.
A unique event, the Pomeroy Trophy continues to attract an eclectic mix of cars and drivers in an annual competition designed to identify the best grand touring car. A series of driving and performance tests is followed by a high-speed trial on the national circuit, after which complex calculations are made to determine the final positions. With penalty points for lacking hoods and inability to carry suitcases, there is simply no other competition like it!
Uniquely for a VSCC event, the entry of more than 70 cars included old and new, ranging from the 1913 Theophile-Schneider Aero Special of Nichols Hildyard and the Ford Model T of James Collins to the Porsche 997S of Robert Beebee.
Elsewhere in the entry, Simon Diffey piloted a BMW 2002Tii — a former event winner — and Dudley Sterry took a weekend off from trials to compete in Barry Clarke’s HRS Sports. Frank Sytner ran his Frazer Nash Le Mans and, predictably, scored well in the high-speed trial, while Barrie Williams opted to field his own road-going BMW 320 Compact. Mark Walker terrorised some of the more modern cars during the high-speed trial with some sideways motoring in his glorious 1922 GN Thunderbug.
But it was Gillett who took control during the morning’s timed tests in his 1929 Frazer Nash, and an exemplary run in the high-speed trial, where performance was measured against a target number of laps, ensured his overall victory. Fellow VSCC racer Tim Metcalfe led the chase in his 1935 Lagonda Rapier to take second overall and the Densham Trophy, but he was edged out by Gillett in the five tests.
Barely a fraction of a point split the next four finishers. Jonathan Cobb (Frazer Nash Super Sports), event veteran Ron Gammons in his MGB, Winston Teague (Frazer Nash Falcon) and Tim Burrett (Lancia Aurelia) all claimed first-class awards for their efforts.