2005 Review -- Part One: The single seaters

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GIäseI shows them who’s Bosch — RA Thoroughbred Grand Prix

Only when his engine cut out at the Lausitzring did Christian Gläsel fail to win during a crushing season in the FIA TGP.

The German’s Brabham BT49D, tended by Fredy Kumschick’s crew, flew to victory in nine of the 10 races it started and duly took the most prestigious title in historic single-seater racing.

Gläsel started his campaign by winning on home ground at Hockenheim — and just kept on winning. Round by round he forged ahead, as challengers came and went. Even starting the second Lausitzring race from the back of the grid after retiring from the opener failed to keep him from the top of the podium.

Mid-year, Gläsel allowed himself to miss the Silverstone encounter — and then stormed to the crown with five straight wins over the closing races. However, it wasn’t always as easy as the bare results suggest.

In the rain of Zandvoort Gläsel and Hubertus Bahlsen (Arrows A4) led — and spun twice in worsening conditions — before Gläsel took the chequered flag.

At Brands in September Richard Eyre used all his local knowledge of the GP circuit to take the fight to Gläsel in his Williams FW08. Earlier, things had gone badly for Gläsel in a damp qualifying session; the Brabham snapped into a wild spin and was collected by the ex-Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 312T3 of John Bosch.

Ironically, Dutchman Bosch and his Maranello machine had become the major rival to Gläsel in the overall title stakes thanks to a cracking season in Class B. Both cars were repaired for the back-to-back races at Brands, and Gläsel won twice to move closer to the title.

Bosch thrilled fans across Europe by running hard in the Ferrari and well deserved his runner-up slot in the championship, even pushing the flat-12 into a podium position at Lausitzring against the newer cars.

Third of the big three points-scorers was Class D champion Steve Hartley aboard his Arrows A6. The Lancastrian never stopped trying and showed his pace by claiming three podium places to finish well clear of Terry Sayles (Osella FA1) in the points.

Bahlsen may be a biscuit tycoon, but fortune cookies were not on his menu this season as a string of disasters struck. When things were going right the Swiss racer was a match for most and a potential race winner, but losing an engine in the season-opener at Hockenheim was a portent of more bad luck to come. At Monza, second place faded along with his fuel pressure, and at the Lausitzring, having won the first race, he clobbered the wall in the Sunday warm-up and had to start the second race from the back of the grid alongside Gläsel. Another qualifying off at Brands further hindered his progress.

Two drivers with the pace to stop Gläsel winning only made occasional appearances: Duncan Dayton (Williams FW07) and Joaquin Folch (FW08) battled for victory at Silverstone in Gläsel’s absence and chased the Brabham hard in the heat of Monza.

But this was Gläsel’s season and his FIA crown was richly deserved.

***

Peter and his Wolf lead the GP pack — Grand Prix Masters

German racer Peter Wuensch had never won a race for F1 cars. Until late June. By September, armed with a Wolf WR1 engineered by Hall & Hall, he’d racked up four victories to make himself the most successful driver of the Grand Prix Masters season.

The second year of this series for pre-ground effect 3-litre cars offered a seven-weekend, 14-race programme. Le Mans aside, grids were good, but some of the top runners did tend to dip in and out as other racing commitments dictated.

However, Wuensch was a faithful supporter and was rewarded with victories at Dijon, Zolder and Le Mans (twice). He was a regular podium finisher elsewhere.

Inevitably Frank Sytner was mighty when he wheeled his Penske PC3 to the grid and he took a fine double at Silverstone against some impressively determined opposition. Duncan Dayton, meanwhile, showed his Pau prowess by winning twice in his Brabham BT33 despite a strong challenge from Rob Hall’s BRM P201.

But the revelation of the season was former touring car dicer James Hanson. Having never raced anything like a 1970s F1 car before, he ran a Surtees TS9B that was up for sale through his Speedmaster Cars business. “It’s got about 200bhp more than anything I’ve ever driven,” said Hanson. Victory at Zolder and a double success at Spa demonstrated a prodigious talent.

John Crowson (Ensign N177) and Peter Williams (March 761) both had a hefty share of misfortune, while Chris Perkins (Surtees TS16) and Joaquin Folch (McLaren M23) shared the wins at the Nürburgring Oldtimer Festival.

***

Schryver’s Lotus 18 is streets ahead —  Historic Grand Prix Cars Association

Entering its second quarter-century, the HGPCA continued at the forefront of racing for pre-1966 GP cars with an excellent series of races at major European events.

For Michael Schryver it was a magnificent season in his ex-Surtees Lotus 18, capped by street-race victories at Pau and Porto. In France he diced with team-mate Simon Hadfield (Brabham BT7A), while in Portugal it was Barry Cannell who headed the chase in a Cooper T53.

Despite struggling to find rubber to fit the 18, Schryver added double wins at the Nürburgring Oldtimer and at Silverstone, where a monstrous grid covered both pre-and post-war cars. Cannell again led the opposition to the Lotus.

However, even Schryver’s ability couldn’t always fend off the more modern Brabhams, Danny Wright making a fine impression in a debut HGPCA season in Philip Walker’s BT11. Victory at Brands followed a fabulous Oulton Park scrap with the BT4 of Jason Minshaw. Racing his father Alan’s car for the first time, Minshaw used all of his local knowledge to win.

Meanwhile, John Harper’s BT4 prevailed at Donington Park under fierce pressure from Schryver.

Among the older cars Stefan Schollwoeck (Maserati 6CM), Mac Hulbert (ERA R4D), Nick Wigley (Connaught), Paul Grant (Cooper-Bristol) and Charles Dean (Bugatti T51) were the front runners.

***

Pacey galore for Majzub — Vintage Sports Car Club

Julian Majzub was in sparkling form as he bagged three major trophies in the Bentley Pacey-Hassan.  He started his campaign by winning the ltala Trophy for the third time at Silverstone. He added the Boulogne Trophy as the club made a successful return to Oulton Park before wrapping up with a commanding win in the Vintage Seaman Trophy at Donington.

Anthony Hancock oversteered Neil Twyman’s Cooper T45 to the Rothschild Trophy at Silverstone, but the Coopers had no answer to Philip Walker’s Lotus 16 when it came to the Flockhart Memorial Race at Donington.

Mark Gillies won the Patrick Lindsay Trophy at Silverstone and a poorly supported Hawthorn Memorial Trophy at Oulton Park aboard Rodney Smith’s ERA R3A. But Mac Hulbert blasted R4D to the Shuttleworth and Nuffield Trophies race at Cadwell Park. However, the Historic Seaman Trophy, run as part of the SeeRed event at Donington Park, went to R11B for the 16th time, David Morris keeping up the fine work of his father Martin.

***

Maximum F3 attack for Maxted — Classic Formula 3 Championship

“I just love that car,” said Steve Maxted of the Argo JM6 that he had used to dominate the Classic F3 Championship. Eight wins from eight starts was his record — plus a second place at Pau.

He started the season as he meant to go on, winning in the damp of Donington at Easter. He was never beaten in Britain, although several drivers came close, including Neil Dunkel (Argo JM3) and Richard Trott (Ralt RT1). Early in the season young Alex Ames was a major threat in his Chevron B38, but a detonated engine brought his campaign to a premature halt. Ames did win at Silverstone, however, while Maxted was concentrating on Pau.

Five podium finishes for Trott, two decades on from his F3 debut, was enough to make him the series runner-up, while Keith White’s ex-De Angelis Ralt RT1 was third from Julian Baldwin (March 783).

Dunkel only really tackled the second half of the season and came within a few hundredths of beating Maxted in the Silverstone finale.

Adam Ormandy headed the invitation class for period FF2000s in his Reynard SF78, but veteran Jan Langdon ran him extremely close in a similar car.

***

Hadfield goes like the clappers  —  HSCC Derek Bell Trophy

This series of races for 1970s single-seaters was an unpredictable affair: events like the Silverstone Classic drew mammoth 60-car entries, while 15 cars was a good turnout at the less fashionable tracks.

The back-to-back weekends at Brands Hatch and Silverstone in late July were clearly the seasonal highlights for the Motor Sport-backed series, with a monstrous entry boosted by a contingent of nine Formula 5000s shipped from New Zealand. With two dozen F5000s on the grid, the Silverstone race was a glorious affair, with Simon Hadfield predictably cleaning up in his ex-Gethin Chevron B37. Mike Wrigley (Lola T332) twice chased the Chevron as John Crawford (McRae GM1) headed the tourists.

The result had been much the same at Brands a week earlier, with Frank Lyons (Lola T332) third and the hard-charging Ian Jacobs pushing his ex-Purley March 742 up among the 5-litre monsters.

At Oulton Park Hadfield played his part in the Chevron celebrations by winning twice from Euro F2 ace Christian Fischer (March 772).

Hadfield had been on form at the season-opener too, winning at Donington from Ian Giles (Eagle FA74).

Lyons won three times, twice in the F5000 Lola and once in a Hesketh 308. However, he was toppled at Thruxton by Jacobs as F5000s graced the track for the first time since the 1970s.

***

Famous five for Fowler — Legends Historic FF1600

Having won the title four times on the trot, Neil Fowler didn’t set out to lift the HSCC’s Historic FF1600 title again in 2005. In fact he missed three of the first four races. But by mid-year he realised that the crown was within his reach again.

In the meantime Nelson Rowe was clocking up the points in his Crosslé 20F, despite racing with a shoulder injury picked in spring. The contest turned at Oulton Park in August when Rowe lost his race engine at the end of a tremendous battle with Fowler. Then a niggling misfire wrecked Rowe’s Thruxton race — and, suddenly, it would go down to the wire at Silverstone.

A blown engine during qualifying seemed to have dashed Fowler’s hopes, but he borrowed a car, started from the back and grabbed the title with a stirring drive to second as Rowe won convincingly.

Rowe deserved better fortune, running the car with help from his father, but his decision to miss Croft and the loss of two late-season results cost him the crown.

The victory at Croft went to the hard-charging Nigel Bancroft (Crosslé 20F), who claimed third in the points from John Goldsmith (Macon MR8).

***

Watts wins as Brabhams dominate — HSCC Classic Racing Cars

There was no stopping Matthew Watts as he romped to the Classic Racing Cars title in his ex-works F2 Brabham BT16. Car and driver were on mighty form and a string of victories settled the title well before the end of the season. He also took away the Retro Track and Air Trophy, which was presented by his family’s business!

For some of those races Watts had little opposition at the head of the race, but on three occasions young Edwin Jowsey took time out of his ARP Formula 3 single-seater programme to race his father’s Brabham BT28. Twice he got the upper hand, but Watts drove out of his skin on the Brands Hatch GP circuit to overcome a power disadvantage and win famously.

Watts’ team-mate Ian Gray repeated his 2004 Silverstone end-of-season win in his ex-Watson Brabham BT30, but it was the splendid 1-litre March 703 of John Counsell that finished the year second in the overall standings after a run of class wins.

Third went to David Wild in his Neil Fowler-run Lola 1200, who scored consistently well in the invitation class for Historic FF1600 cars.

***

Lotus racer is senior Junior — again — FIA Luranl Trophy

Few historic categories can match the enduring appeal of Formula Junior. More than 40 years after the single-seater class was supplanted by F3, the Juniors continue to regularly deliver the biggest grids and the best racing at many historic race meetings. In all, over 80 drivers scored points in cars from over 25 manufacturers.

The FIA’s pan-European championship, named in honour of class creator Johnny Lurani, featured seven rounds, from Monza in the south to Anderstorp in the north.

For the second year running the title fell to Kevin Musson after an exemplary campaign in his Lotus 18 from the class for the earlier rear-engined cars. Though he missed the opener at Hockenheim, he finished in the top three of his class in the next six races, winning at Dijon, Anderstorp and the Nürburgring.

Musson’s major rival was Robin Longdon in a front-engined Lola Mk2. A non-finish at the Nürburgring, followed by absences from Anderstorp and Spa, was too much of a penalty for Longdon to recover. But four class wins left him series runner-up and a class victor over Duncan Rabagliati’s Alexis HF1. The latter would have finished higher had he not been sidelined in Sweden by a broken throttle cable.

At the head of the races the Class E pack of rear-engined, disc-braked cars made the pace — but no one came through to dominate and only Gianpaolo Benedini won twice in his 1963 Branca. Denis Welch (Merlyn Mk5), Bruno Schaffner (Lotus 20/22), Jurgen Carlsson (Merlyn Mk3), Urs Eberhardt (Lotus 27), and Robert Goodwin (Lotus 22) all won races in a very open season.

***

Stretton on the march again — FIA Jochen Rindt Trophy

Back under the wing of Fredy Kumschick, the Jochen Rindt Formula 2 Trophy remained the most competitive series for the earlier 1.6-litre cars but support was still patchy at times.

With six of the 10 races run on French soil Robert Simac looked strong in his ex-Jean-Pierre Jaussaud March 712, but Martin Stretton had other ideas in his similar ex-Tom Walkinshaw chassis. Aside from interloper Duncan Dayton (Brabham BT35) at Pau, Simac and Stretton shared the wins and a strong double-header victory at Magny-Cours in early September was the pivotal result for Stretton. A win in the opening race at Spa then sealed the title for this versatile ace.

Former German motorbike racing champion Walter Hoffmann arrived mid-season in a March 712 and took over the chase of the title contenders before ending his season on a high with victory in the second Spa race.

Tim Barrington urged his Lola T240 into fourth to break up the March domination, while the supremely rapid Martin O’Connell cleaned up the Formula Atlantic class in Sandy Watson’s Lotus 69.

***

Junior Alexis runs amoc —  AMOC Millers Oils UK Historic Formula Junior Championship

Stuart Roach mounted a fine campaign in his front-engined Alexis Mk2 to win the UK Formula Junior title with room to spare.

Roach pressed hard all season, often humbling some of the rear-engined cars with his speed, and won his class nine times in the 10 races he contested. Only in the soaking wet final at Oulton Park was he headed in class as Derek Walker’s local expertise in the Terrier paid dividends.

Barry Westmoreland had a great season too, winning four times in his Lotus 22 to ensure top slot among the rear-engined cars, and second overall.

Michael Hibberd also won four times in his Lotus 27 but missed too many races to be a serious title contender.

***

Unold lands title ahead of Fischer  —  European F2 Club

Centred on the 2-litre F2 era, the European Formula 2 Club season covered 11 rounds at six events and delivered a runaway champion in Hermann Unold aboard his Lotus 69 in the Formula Atlantic category. Only British lass Amanda Whitaker (Chevron B34) had the measure of Unold, but engine dramas interrupted her campaign.

Up at the head of the races the quicker 2-litre F2 cars looked and sounded the part but, as ever, numbers were modest. The prodigious talent of Christian Fischer took his March 772 well clear of the pack, although he was chased hard by Chris Alford (March 762). And had Frenchmen Philip Harper (Ralt RT1) and Jacques Colibert (Martini Mk19) contested more rounds, life would surely have been much, much tougher for Fischer.

The class for 1600cc F2 cars never matched the competitiveness of the Jochen Rindt series, as Walter Nef (March 712) took the class from Mark Linstone (Tecno).

***

Points Table…

FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix Championship:

1.  Christian Gläsel (Brabham BT49D)      97

2.  John Bosch (Ferrari 312T3)                  87

3.  Steve Hartley (Arrows A6)                     71

4.  Terry Sayles (Osela FA1)                       44

5.  Hubertus Bahlsen (Arrows A4)             42

6.  John Delane (Tyrrell 001)                       41

Classic Formula 3 Championship:

1.  Steve Maxted (Argo JM6)                     125

2. Richard Trott (Ralt RT1)                           70

3.  Keith White (Ralt RT1)                             69

Legends Racing Historic FF1600 Championship:

1.  Neil Fowler (Lola T200)                         165

2.  Nelson Rowe (Crosslé 20F)                  160

3.  Nigel Barcroft (Crosslé 20F)                 137

HSCC Classic Racing Cars Championship:

1.  Matthew Watts (Brabham BT16)            81

2.  Jim Counsell (March 703)                       57

3.  David Wild (Lola T200)                             43

European F2 Club Trophy:

1.  Hermann Unold (Lotus 69)                     216

2.  Christian Fischer (March 772)               154

3.  Walter Nef (March 712)                          138

Jochen Rindt Formula 2 Trophy:

1.  Martin Stretton (March 712M)               174

2.  Robert Simac (March 712M)                  157

3.  Martin O’Connell (Lotus 69)                   113

FIA Lurani Trophy:

1.  Kevin Musson (Lotus 18)                          52

2.  Robin Longdon (Lola Mk2)                       41 

3.  Gianpaolo Benedini                                  35

AMOC/Miller Oils UK Historic Formula Junior Championship:

1.  Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk2)                       98

2.  Barry Westmoreland (Lotus 22)              64

3.  Michael Hibbert (Lotus 27)                      52