Geoff Gordon’s freshly built historic Group 2 contender is now a complete, ready-to-race entity. Next stop: shakedown testing
It was, I suppose, a slightly surreal feeling. The Alfa has been edging ever closer to completion over the past few months and I’ve followed progress every step of the way, but so many people have invested so much time in the project that I found it quite hard to believe the finished article was actually mine. I guess it will eventually sink in.
I’m thrilled to bits with the way it looks. Raceworks did a stunning job with my Giulietta – and the ’Sud looks every bit as good. I’m really not sure there’s anything they could have done to improve it and I can’t wait to try it for the first time. If all goes to plan it will have turned a wheel by the time you read this, most probably at Donington Park, and we’re hoping to get in a couple of sessions before heading off for the car’s debut race at Barcelona in early April. I’m still hoping Dickie Meaden will be able to share it with me at some meetings, though he is also committed to driving Gérard Lopez’s Ford Capri. When Dickie isn’t available, I guess I’ll probably race solo. The programme for the year is now pretty settled: Peter Auto’s Heritage Touring Cup, plus the Donington Historic Festival in May and July’s Silverstone Classic.
Once painting and assembly were complete, and the final graphics had been applied, the Sprint made its public debut at the London Classic Car Show, in mid-February at ExCeL, and immediately received some very positive feedback via social media. I wasn’t able to attend the show myself, but had a very worthwhile excuse – a clashing fixture in Italy.
I’d been invited to the annual Scuderia del Portello ceremony at the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, which forms part of the site where the marque’s old Arese factory once stood, in Milan. We were up for an award for our team’s performance with the Giulietta Ti at the 2017 Goodwood Revival, when Dickie Meaden and Steve Soper finished second on aggregate in the St Mary’s Trophy. It was great to get such recognition for our efforts with historic Alfas – a real honour, especially in such distinguished company.
It was a busy event and there were presentations to several well-known former Alfa drivers, including Carlo Facetti, while Gianluigi Picchi was also present. He was prominent in the European Touring Car Championship during the early 1970s: in 1971 he won his class in a 1300 GTA Junior and finished second overall to Capri driver Dieter Glemser.
I’ve always known that Alfa really treasured its racing past – and this confirmed it.
I travelled to Milan with long-time Alfa Romeo aficionado Jon Dooley, who used to contest the British Saloon Car Championship in ’Suds and GTV6s. Jon has been a great help in terms of researching the Alfasud Sprint’s Gp2 racing history – and stayed on in Milan after I had left, to meet the Albertinazzi family at EPA Power. Giovanni Albertinazzi built, prepared and raced Gp2 Sprints in both 1.3- and 1.5-litre form back in the day, so we are gradually building up a portfolio of valuable information.
We’ve applied for the Alfa’s historic technical passport (HTP) – ours is the first Gp2 ’Sud Sprint Veloce to have been prepared in modern times – FIA inspector Jim Lowry is on the case and, as planned, I’ve booked a couple of one-to-one coaching sessions with John Norrington. My only previous front-wheel-drive experience has been on the public road, so I’m aware that I have a bit of learning to do…
Next month: First impressions from behind the wheel
Thanks to: Raceworks, Characters Signs, DC Electronics