Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport
Viaro takes dream win in Brescia -- Mille Miglia, May 19-21
The 23rd annual Mille Miglia Retrospective was a landmark event for former Italian rally champion Luciano Viaro, who finally achieved a long-held ambition in winning the famous event.
Still running over a largely original 1000-mile route, the Mille Miglia of the 21st century is a rather more sedate regularity rally than in the heyday of its frighteningly fast road-racing past. But the name alone ensures a vast entry of cars from the event's 1927-57 history and Italian fans turn out in their tens of thousands to enjoy this legendary competition.
A short evening section on the first day took the huge entry from Brescia to Ferrara, followed by two long, tough days. Crews arrived in the centre of Rome late on day two before a 6.30am start for day three, which took in the famous Futa and Raticosa passes before a late evening finish back in Brescia.
Viaro, aboard a 1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Super Sport from the Alfa Romeo Museum, had to work hard for his coveted win and it was only towards the end of the 32 timed sections that he moved clear of 2003 winner Carlos Sielecki. In a total score of nearly 13,000 points, the winning margin was just 61.
"I dedicate my success to the whole Alfa Romeo team and the extraordinary cars they produced in the 1920s and 1930s," said a delighted Viaro at the Brescia finish. A similar car had won the 1928 Mille Miglia in the hands of Giuseppe Campari, while two years later Tazio Nuvolari won in a 1750cc 6C.
Behind Argentinian Sielecki in his Bugatti T23 Brescia, a pair of 1750cc Alfa Romeo 6Cs took the next two places in the hands of two more of his countrymen, Fernando Sánchez and Claudio Scalise. In fact, Argentina packed five entries into the top 10.
Highest place among the strong post-war field was the 1955 Ferrari 250MM Vignale coupé of Federico Imbert in fifth, a couple of places clear of the 1950 Jaguar-Biondetti S of Gino Perbellini.
Lyons to the fore in Bell Trophy -- HSCC Croft, May 21
The return of the HSCC to the Croft circuit in Yorkshire was a great success, with excellent racing throughout. Among the highlights was a yo-yo Derek Bell Trophy race in which Frank Lyons had to push hard in his Formula 5000 Lola to fend off a persistent challenge from the Modus of Stuart Tilley.
"First-gear selection was a bit rusty," explained Lyons after the T332 faltered on the exit of the slow hairpin. Tilley nipped ahead, but expected the Lola to come thundering by once more when the Modus coughed at the same place a lap later, Lyons surged back ahead for a narrow victory.
The Historic FF1600 counter was a corker as Nigel Bancroft (Crosslé 20F) and John Goldsmith (Macon MR8B ) battled mightily. It was nip-and-tuck stuff as they traded the lead, but some bold moves on the brakes into Tower gave Bancroft the decisive advantage.
The Historic Racing Saloon Register race was up to its usual high standard as James Dodd (Alfa Romeo 105-series Giulia coupé) and Dan Cox (Ford Anglia) took the starring roles. Neither had raced at Croft before, but that wasn't apparent as they overcame the rumbling Ford Mustang of local Roy Stephenson. Dodd took the win as Cox found the fleet Anglia increasingly struggling for grip.
Chris Burbury won the Historic Road Sports race in his venerable Triumph TR5, while up-and-coming young charger Edwin Jowsey beat off Matthew Watts in Classic Racing Cars.
Julian Barter and the hard-trying Jamie Boot completed the winners in their contrasting TVRs.
Maiden winner in Welsh mutiny -- BHRC Mutiny Rally, June 4
Jeremy Easson scored his first victory in the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship with a copybook drive on the Mutiny Rally. Six classic mid-Wales stages, opening with a daunting 17-miler in Radnor, offered up a major challenge and Easson proved equal to the task in his Ford Escort Mkl.
Co-driven by Den Golding, the winning co-driver a year earlier, Easson attacked the opening stage to take a vital lead over his rivals in the post-historic category and ended the day 57sec up on the similar car of David Stokes/lan Oakey. Off the road at the very end of that first stage went the Datsun 240Z of Dominic Frattaroli and Wyn Thomas, while Ray Bellm/Mark Solloway dropped time in their Escort but fought back to fourth behind the Mkl of Graham Samuel/Tony Phillips.
The historic category fell in convincing style to Steve Smith and John Nichols in their Porsche 911. Once again, a big attack in Radnor laid the foundations of their victory over Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride, although the Irish doctor lost time in Radnor when he put his 911in a ditch.
In the Classic category Martin Freestone and Chris Heyes won the battle of the Mk2 Escorts after Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James lost three minutes early on with a broken rotor arm.
Double Gläsel still keeps it hot -- Coppa Inter Europa: Monza May 28/29
Christian Gläsel scored his second Thoroughbred Grand Prix World Championship win on the trot in his Brabham BT49D during the Coppa Inter Europa meeting at Monza. Despite high temperatures, Gläsel was peerless all weekend and even an early challenge from Hubertus Bahlsen (Arrows A4) wilted soon after the start with failing fuel pressure. Duncan Dayton fended off Joaquin Folch in a battle of the Williams cars for second place.
The opening Group C/GTP races of the season fell to Nigel James (Porsche 962) and Charlie Agg (Nissan R09CK). Agg was the pace-setter all weekend, but was denied victory in the opening race when a final-drive failure sidelined the Nissan. Instead James had to work hard to keep the Tic-Tac liveried 962 ahead of David Mercer's Spice SE90C.
Agg bounced back to master the heat and win the second race as this time Mercer got the better of James for second.
Frank Bradley, meanwhile, thundered to a brace of Orwell Supersports wins in his March 707/717, seeing prodigious top speeds on the parkland track. Richard Piper (McLaren M8F) and Peter Schleifer (March 707) were Bradley's chasers.
Septuagenarian stars at Oulton -- VSCC: Oulton Park, May 28
The Minshaw family is inexorably linked with the history of Oulton Park, and duly starred on the VSCC's return to the Cheshire track.
Alan Minshaw, who has raced at Oulton since the tail-end of the '50s, celebrated his recent 70th birthday by taking his Maserati Birdcage to victory in the 1950s Sportscar Race, while son Jason later pulled off a win in his father's Brabham BT4.
In his first race in the Birdcage for 12 months, Minshaw Snr was pressed harder than might have been expected by an inspired Barry Cannell. Pushing the Willment around in fine style, Cannell harried the Maserati all the way and was still only half a second adrift at the flag.
Having only driven the BT4 in testing the previous day, Minshaw Jnr needed all his local experience to hold off Danny Wright in Philip Walker's Brabham BT11. In the closing stages Wright stole up onto Minshaw's tail and so nearly drew level as they dashed over the line. John Harper (BT4) and Richard Attwood (BT11) were upstaged by the relative youngsters as they took third and fourth.
James Diffey and James Baxter had a fine tussle in the Bill Phillips Trophy, with Diffey's Alta just pipping the Alfa Romeo. Earlier, Roger Saul took his P3 to the Brooklands Trophy, Julian Majzub retained the Boulogne Trophy in the Bentley Pacey Hassan and US-based British journalist Mark Gillies romped to the Hawthorn Memorial race in ERA R3A.
Ford fiesta at Italian road race -- Modena Cento Ore, May 7-10
Ray Bellm's quest to sample as much motorsport diversity as possible netted another success in early May when he took his Ford GT40 to victory in the Modena Cento Ore. Run to a similar format to the Tour Auto, but on a far smaller scale, 100 competitors contested the four-day event and it was Bellm, in partnership with preparation ace Paul Lanzante, who emerged with a winning margin of over five minutes.
The Italian event is a mix of special stages on closed public roads and races at Misano, Mugello and Magione as well as a special stage at Fiorano. While other fancied runners hit trouble, Bellm stormed clear and it was former hillclimb star David Franklin who claimed second overall in his Shelby Mustang.
Notable among the category winners was Tim Burrett in his Lancia Aurelia who moved ahead as faster cars faltered. Despite carrying 80kg of tools -- in the absence of a service crew -- Burrett was delighted yet surprised at his success.
Dramatic battle for Elva's Big 5-0 -- Elva races, Mallory Park, May 22
A spirited contest between the BMW-powered Elva sports-racing cars of Simon Hadfield and Matthew Watts provided quality racing as the 50th anniversary of the Elva marque was celebrated at Mallory Park.
Watts, racing the Mk7S of David Brown for the first time, dived ahead of Hadfield and held on tenaciously as the track dried. But Hadfield, in David Clark's Mk8, managed to overturn the lead to win narrowly.
Martin Walford borrowed the Elva 200 of former eventer Phoebe Rolt and, racing the car for the first time, saw off the100 of Mark Woodhouse to win the Formula Junior race.
Bronson and Dodd storm Kirkistown -- BRDC Historic Sports: Kirkistown, May 28
Graeme Dodd's inaugural BRDC Historic Sportscar Championship victory was the highlight of the series' annual foray to Kirkistown in Northern Ireland.
As is fast becoming the norm this season, the lead contest featured a three-way battle between Dodd (Cooper Monaco), Julian Bronson (Lister-Chevrolet) and Philip Walker (Lotus 15).
Bronson won the opener, but only just, as Dodd and Walker traded second place an estimated 20 times before Walker got the verdict. In the second race the Lister ran out of brakes and Bronson had a monster spin down to third as Dodd just turned the tables on Walker.
Muirhead's Seven up as Lotus wins -- Swinging 60s: Oulton Park May 14, Mallory Park May 29
A sterling solo performance from John Muirhead took his Lotus Seven to a decisive victory in the second in the series of new-for-2005 Swinging 60s races at Oulton Park in May.
Having led from the off, Muirhead was able to build his lead to more than a minute after 20 laps of the International circuit, with Joe Henderson's Triumph TR6 chasing from a respectful distance.
With Muirhead sidelined at Mallory Park a fortnight later, Henderson had his day of glory by winning with a margin of more than a lap over the Lotus Elan of Richard Hayhow and Andrew Marler.
Thurtle takes a brace at Brands -- Heritage GT: Brands Hatch, June 4/5
Arthur Thurtle was a double winner as the Heritage GT season opened with two races on the British Touring Car Championship support bill on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.
In Saturday's half-hour race Thurtle shared his Aston Martin V8 with Roger Bennington and they inherited the lead when clutch failure hit the Ford Mustang of David Yates and Graham 'Skid' Scarborough.
Thurtle drove solo in the 20-minute race after a long wait until the end of Sunday afternoon and completed his double ahead of Peter Horsman's Morgan +8. Chris and Alan Chiles shared a Mustang to take second on Saturday, while Chris added a third place in the second race.