Burning Brands

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Blazing sunshine basted a healthy crowd who gathered at Brands Hatch to celebrate the career of John Surtees, the only man to win World Championships on bikes and cars. 30 years ago he won his first GP, with the world title coming in only his second season, though he first raced at Brands 43 years ago. Two- and three-wheeled races began Sunday’s tribute, though there were no MV Agustas, the marque Surtees is best associated with, on the grid, but the guest of honour did demonstrate Cedric Selzer’s Lotus 18 Climax, before leaping into David Piper’s 250P Ferrari to make Maranello music for the crowd. Piper himself added to the display later in the AT&T Istel Historic GT race, loaning the beautiful Ford F3L to Laurence Jacobsen and then challenging him with the Ford-engined Matra MS650 he shares with Mike Knight. Greg Hart (March 75S) was the decisive victor, despite a start penalty, with Steve Arnold’s OseIla and Ian Giles impressive Sauber C4 behind to show how varied these grids have become lately.

Amongst the Historic F1 cars, the novelty was the appearance of the Lotus 72, driven to a promising debut fourth by Simon Hadfield, following Paul Smith’s Ensign, Willie Green appropriately Surtees-mounted, and the victorious Arrows A3 of a confident Patrick Blakeney.

Several races offered more drama over second place than first; the HARA Trans-Am Challenge brought out huge rumbling Galaxies and Falcons, and while John Young (Mustang) went off on his own, the ever-improving Ralph Avis (Mustang) fended off Ellis Bergman’s Camaro with gusto. Similarly, the European F2 event saw Fredy Kumschick (Lotus 69) score his customary win, but Peter Hannen is getting the measure of his March 712 in its first season and this time was close behind team-mate John Harper. Running matching cars, they need only one set of spares; and as Hannen runs a long-stroke and Harper a short-stroke engine, they can even share one gear set. However, they were split by Irishman Arnie Black, a surprise top-runner in his Crossle 19F, who threatened but failed to displace Harper in the exciting closing stages.

FJ, F3 and FF single-seaters mingled with sports-cars in the German Open Championship race, won by Alistair Morrison’s March 733 amongst a field including Tecnos, Mallocks and Ginettas, while the final race commemorated Donald Healey, pitting 3000s, 100s and Silverstones together. Gerry Marshall looked set to challenge top Healey man Denis Welch, but had to be content with second after losing his overdrive. A bumper weekend for the fourth Visage Superprix. G C

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