TT returns at Silverstone

Aston joins FIA GT field in bid to repeat its historic '59 win

The Tourist Trophy is being revived and will be fought out by competitors in the FIA GT Championship at Silverstone on May 15.

The prestigious trophy, awarded by the Royal Automobile Club and last contested in 1988, is in its centenary year, meaning that the TT will retake its position as the world's oldest surviving motor race. The race will not, however, take place on the full Grand Prix circuit — instead the 2.2-mile International layout will be used.

RAC secretary George Kennedy said: "The RAC Tourist Trophy was the event that all great racing drivers wanted to win in its heyday. It is therefore tremendously exciting that we are able to bring it back into the motorsports calendar in its centenary year."

One of the highlights for British fans should be the European race debut of the Aston Martin DBR9. Two of the brand new Prodrive-built cars will be run — driven by David Brabham/Darren Turner and Pedro Lamy/Peter Kox — as the British marque gears up for its return to the Le Mans 24 Hours the following month.

The Astons will take on the Maserati MC12 supercar, Ferrari's 550 Maranello and 575GTC and the American Saleen S7R in the hotly-contested premier category, GT1. The subsidiary GT2 class should be fought out by the Porsche 911 GT3-RSR and the Ferrari 360GTC. The event will co-headline with World Touring Cars.

The decision to grant the TT name to the UK's round of a global FIA sportscar championship brings the event back into line with the 1950s, when first Dundrod and then Goodwood hosted World Sports Car Championship TT's. The last two were both won by Aston Martin as Stirling Moss continued an amazing run of successes in the event.

Kennedy continued: "What is especially thrilling is that the TT will be awarded to the winner of the British round of the FIA GT Championship, which is the true 21st-century equivalent of the TT events of the past. As such we believe it will provide the perfect setting for the award of the trophy in its 100th year. By being part of the FIA GT Championship we will also be demonstrating the RAC's continued commitment to the world of modern motorsports."

FIA GT series chief Stéphane Ratel remarked: "We are enormously excited that the RAC has chosen our championship to provide the stage for the celebration of the Tourist Trophy's centenary, as well as giving today's teams and drivers a chance to be part of its history."

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Fact File -- Multiple TT winners

Stirling Moss 7

Denny Hulme 4

Tom Walkinshaw 4

Tazio Nuvolari 2

Freddie Dixon 2

Charles Dodson 2

Graham Hill 2

Stuart Graham 2

Chuck Nicholson 2

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From Manx to Silverstone

The Tourist Trophy was conceived to be run around the Isle of Man (as with its motorcycle equivalent). First winner was John Napier, who in 1905 took his Arrol-Johnston to victory at 33.96mph.

After six runnings the event moved to the Ards road course in Northern Ireland in 1928. Among the winners there were Tazio Nuvolari (twice) and Rudolf Caracciola. The race then moved onto the British mainland with two TTs at Donington Park before WWII.

In 1950 the first post-war TT was held, back in Northern Ireland, at Dundrod. This was the race when a 20-year-old Stirling Moss sprang to prominence by winning in a Jaguar XK120. From Dundrod the event moved back to England, where Goodwood hosted the event from 1958 to '64.

There was a further move to Oulton Park for 1965 before a final shift to Silverstone in '70. At Silverstone the race became established as Britain's round of the European Touring Car Championship up to its last running in '88.

The TT name was revived for the Touring Car World Cup at Donington in '94, and after that there were further touring car and FIA Sportscar Championship TTs, but the trophy was never awarded for these 'imposter' events.

Swiss veteran Enzo Calderari will be the only former TT winner on the grid at Silverstone next month. The victor in a BMW M3 in 1987, he will drive a Ferrari 550 Maranello.