Pace notes -- your guide to what's coming up...

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Street action heads south — GP do Porto Portugal, July 9/10:

The inaugural Grande Premio do Porto is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the 2005 historic racing programme. Over the weekend of July 9/10, the clock will be turned back 45 years to the second and final Portuguese Grand Prix at the daunting street circuit in Oporto.

Though now shortened to 2.7 miles, the new Boavista track is a good representation of the original 4.6mile circuit, which was notorious for its cobbled sections and even crossing tramlines! But the Portuguese organisers have gone to great lengths to ensure that the 2005 track is suitable for rare and valuable racing cars.

At the centre of the race action is the HGPCA, with three races. Grand prix cars are split into pre-66 and pre-61 races, both lasting 40 minutes, while a race for drum-braked sportscars will bring the curtain down on Sunday’s racing.

The Cooper T51 which Stirling Moss drove to victory in the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix will be a star attraction, now back in the hands of John Harper, while Danny Wright will be a pacesetter in the pre-66 category as he increases experience of Philip Walker’s Brabham BT11.

The second event of the season for the Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports Car Series will put out a marvellous grid, headed by Roger Saul’s Alfa Romeo Tipo B. Having dominated at Donington, where Saul shared the car with Calum Lockie, the Alfa will start favourite at Oporto, which will be Lockie’s first taste of racing on a street circuit.

Gentleman Drivers races for GT and Sports/Sports Racing complete a superb line-up for a circuit which has lain unused since 1969.

***

Supersize Sports to storm the ‘Ring — Historics Nüburgring, Jun 25/26:

Big sportscars will dominate the racing in the first of the season’s major historic racing festivals, the Jan Wellem Pokal meeting at the modern Nürburgring GP circuit on June 25/26.

It is already proving to be a fabulous season for the resurgent Orwell International Supersports Cup, which has 50 cars registered: almost 40 of them were out for the most recent races at Monza. The really good news for fans is that the big bangers are back in spades, with up to a dozen of the monstrous Can-Am cars now appearing on a regular basis.

McLaren M8F racers Peter Hoffmann and Richard Piper will go head to head with Frank Bradley’s 8.8-litre March 707/717 in the pair of races: all of them have already been race winners. Such is the pace of the revitalised Class A pack that the best 2-litre cars of Silvio Kalb (March 76S), John Burton (Chevron B26) and Cosimo Turizio (Osella PA4) are fighting even to get into the top five.

Sharing top billing is the second event on the Group C/GTP calendar, with the Nissan R90CK of Charlie Agg proving the car to beat in the opening races at Monza.

***

New venue for Golden Age meet — GP de l’Age d’Or Dijon, June 25/26:

Although it is 20 years since the French Grand Prix’s intermittent flirtation with the Dijon-Prenois circuit, the 2.3-mile track near the Swiss border remains a popular destination on the European historic racing calendar.

Added prestige has been given for 2005 with the switch of the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or meeting to Dijon over the weekend of June 25/26. With the final demise of the Montlhéry circuit in Paris, Rayon d’Action has moved the event to Dijon, although a clash with Goodwood is an unfortunate by-product of the crowded calendar.

As it did in 2004, Grand Prix Masters headlines the Dijon meeting and neatly relives the circuit’s first grand prix back in 1974, when Ronnie Peterson squeezed yet another victory from the now aging Lotus 72E. A year ago Frank Sytner (Penske PC3) and John Crowson (Ensign N177) shared the wins, and both should be contenders this time around.

Support comes from World Sportscar Masters and a pre-66 race from the HGPCA, along with capacity fields from Gentleman Drivers, Top Hat and Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sportscars.

***

Stage set for a three-way fight — BHRC Mid Wales Stages, Jun 25/26:

The classic gravel stages in Hafren Forest await Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship contenders on round five, the Mid Wales Stages, on June 25/26.

Action starts on Saturday afternoon before a return to Hafren on Sunday and then stages in the Sarnau complex before finishing back in Newtown.

Dessie Nutt, Stephen Smith and Patrick Watts continue their three-way battle for the historic category, while David Stokes, Jeremy Easson and Dominic Frattaroli top the post-historics and Gareth Lloyd and Martin Freestone head the Classic category.

Spectator facilities are available at the Sweet Lamb Complex.

***

Bronson favourite for GP support — Historic Sports, Silverstone, Jul 10:

After the brouhaha of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday July 10 is over, a capacity field of 44 sportscars from the 1950s will take to the Historic Grand Prix circuit to bring the curtain down on the big event.

Most of the leading contenders will come from the BRDC Historic Sports Car Championship and it is the gang of three title contenders that is likely to set the pace on Grand Prix day: Julian Bronson (Lister Corvette), Graeme Dodd (Cooper Monaco) and Philip Walker (Lotus16) have been battling mightily and will rejoin that contest in the non-championship race. The chance to really stretch the Lister’s plentiful Chevrolet horsepower makes Bronson the hot tip.

GP Masters star —  Euro Historic GP, Zolder, Jul 2/3:

It is easy to overlook the fact that Belgium has two major international historic festivals each season. While the Spa Classic Six Hour event in September is unrivalled, the European Historic Grand Prix at Zolder is a less well-known gem in the schedule.

Running over the weekend of July 2/3, the 31st iteration of the event has an excellent race line-up for a circuit that represents one of the easiest cross-channel forays for UK-based teams, drivers and fans.

Forever remembered as the circuit where Gilles Villeneuve lost his life, the Belgian track last hosted a grand prix in 1984. Ten GPs were held there in the ’70s and early ’80s, and the historic event will recall that era with two races for the Grand Prix Masters.

Having claimed a hard-fought double at Pau, Duncan Dayton is top of the GPM class at present in his Brabham BT33, but the American can expect stiff opposition at Zolder, including another challenge from Rob Hall’s BRM P201. Frank Sytner (Penske) and Peter Williams (March 761) are other strong contenders.

As is now customary, a World Sportscar Masters race will run alongside the F1 category, and it was Portuguese Carlos Barbot who dominated at Pau in the Lola T70 he shares with Jonathan Baker.

FIA races for Historic Touring Cars and Historic Grand Touring Cars complete the international line-up, while several Dutch and Belgian classic series are also on the schedule. Jamie Boot’s TVR will be a favourite for Historic GT spoils, having resolved the brake dramas that struck at Hockenheim.

***

New target for vintage climbers — VSCC/MAC Shelsley Walsh, Jul 3:

Always a golden day in the VSCC season, the club’s annual Shelsley Walsh hillclimb will have added significance this year as the Worcestershire venue prepares to celebrate its centenary.

On Sunday July 3, in conjunction with the Midland Automobile Club, the VSCC will take a capacity entry to Shelsley, and there can be no better way to spend a sunny summer Sunday afternoon than by soaking up the unique atmosphere of the oldest motorsport venue still extant.

A year ago Mac Hulbert thrilled a packed audience as he bettered his own pre-war record with a masterful climb in ERA R4D: for the first time a pre-war car had covered the 1000-yard course in under 34 seconds. Whether there is more to be pared from the new record of 33.71sec remains to be seen, but Hulbert is likely to stay out of reach of his rivals in a car that was the first to break the 40sec barrier almost exactly 70 years ago with Raymond Mays at the wheel.

Away from the top ERAs, class battles will be contested just as keenly in the biggest day of the season for vintage hiliclimbing. Timed runs start at 1.30pm after morning practice.

***

Lincs hill should suit agile Anglia — HSCC Cadwell Park, Jun 26

Britain’s most challenging track is the next stop for the Historic Sports Car Club when most of the club’s championships take to this three-dimensional Lincolnshire venue on Sunday June 26.

The track’s 2-litre limit for single-seaters prohibits a Derek Bell Trophy race, but all of the other series are in action. Of these it is Historic Racing Saloons and Historic Formula Ford 1600 which will surely deliver the best action of the day.

Having battled mightily against the more powerful cars so far this season, Dan Cox will see the twists and turns of Cadwell as one of his best chances for overall victory in his 1.5-litre Anglia.

***

Race Programme — check out where the action is…

June:

When & where: 24-26, Goodwood

What: Festival of Speed. Admission: By advance ticket only

Contact: www.goodwood.co.uk

 

When & where: 25/26, Dijon (F)

What: Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or, including HGPCA, GP Masters, Historic F2, Top Hat and Gentleman Drivers.

Contact: Tel: (33) 80 35 32 22

 

When & where: 25/26, Nürburgring (D) 

What: Jan Wellem Pokal, including Supersports and Group C/GTP

Contact: www.nuerburgring.de

 

When & where: 25/26, Mid Wales

What: Round 5 of the BHRC

Contact: www.newtown-mc.co.uk

 

When & where: 26, Cadwell Park 

What: HSCC race meeting.  Admission: £12

Contact: Tel: 01507 34324801507 343248: www.motorsportvision.co.uk

 

July:

When & where: 1-3, Lausitzring (D)

What:  FIA Thoroughbred GP Cars

Contact: www.tgp-fl.com

 

When & where: 2/3, Zolder (B)

What: European Historic Grand Prix, including GP Masters.  Admission: €15

Contact: www.circuit-zolder.be

 

When & where: 3, Shelsley Walsh

What: VSCC/MAC hiliclimb.   Admission: £15

Contact: Tel 01608 64477701608 644777; www.vscc.co.uk

 

When & where: 8-10,  Oporto (P)

What: Grande Premio do Porto, including HGPCA and Pre-War Sports

Contact: www.circuitodaboavista.com

 

When & where: 9, Olivers Mount, Scarborough

What: VSCC hillclimb.   Admission: £8

 

When & where: 9/10, Silverstone

What: Historic Sportscar race supporting British GP.   Admission: £95

Contact: Tel: 01327857271; www.silverstone-circuit.co.uk

 

When & where: 23/24,  Chimay (B)

What: Top Hat Racing

Contact: www.circLit.be/historycar

 

When & where: 23/24, Brands Hatch

What: HSCC Superprix, inc. International Supersports and Group C/GTP.  Admission: £12

Contact: Tel: 01474 87233101474 872331; www.motorsportvision.co.uk

 

When & where: 24, Mallory Park

What: VSCC Race Meeting Admission: £10

 

When & where: 28-3, Isle of Man

What: Manx Historic Rally, round 6 of BHRC Contact: www.mir.co.im

 

When & where: 29-31, Silverstone

What: Silverstone Classic, including TGP, HGPCA, GP Masters and Group C/GTP.  Admission: £10 (in advance)

Contact: Tel: 01327857271; www.silverstoneclassic.com

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