Trophée Des Ardennes


Alan Cox

After its 1995 absence, this historic meeting has returned to Spa. Alan Cox went too.

Celebrating the circuit’s 75th birthday, the 15 race programme headlined with two rounds of the International Supersports Cup. Series newcomer Peter Hannen continued his unblemished Monza, record with two more wins in Charlie Agg’s McLaren M8F, Sunday’s performance in the wet being particularly impressive, winning by nearly half a minute from the similar car of team-owner Agg, who was also runner-up on Saturday. Chris Chiles claimed third in the first event with his unique March 717, just holding off Richard Evans’ incredibly fleet Chevron B26; in Chiles’ absence Evans took third on Sunday after shaking off John Burton’s B26. Evans, with only two litres, humbled a number of Can-Am cars, and lapped consistently a mere four seconds off the leader in both wet and dry conditions.

Impressive drives also came from Swiss former multiple champion Fredy Kumschick and John Harper in the two legs of the European Historic F2 Championship. Round one fell to the Swiss in his Lotus 69 by a scant 0.22sec, having been harried for a full nine laps by Harper’s black March 712. Bob Juggins (Lola T240), under pressure from Rob Hall (March 712), spun out of third place, while Eberhart Metke brought his Lotus 69 home fourth. Harper turned the tables in Round two, displacing Kumschick two laps from home to pull away in damp conditions, well clear of Chris Alford who worked John Beasley’s Tecno through to third from Beasley’s Brabham BT36. Phil Walker might have made the podium but was forced to retire when he lost all gears on his ex-Walkinshaw March 712.

An invitation class for ‘Pre-War’ cars (albeit extended to 1950) largely comprised entrants from the Pilkington’s TOPS group and gave Francois d’Huart an opportunity to shine on his home circuit with his Talbot-Lago, although he was headed by Martin Morris in ERA R11B until Morris handed over to Sir John Venables-Llewelyn, whose P3 Alfa was a non-starter. This allowed the yellow Talbot to run out the remaining distance unchallenged. Kirk Rylands followed some distance back with his HWM from Peter Mann’s ERA AJM1. Morris and Venables-Llewelyn were rewarded with fourth after their pit stop, while the rapid MG TB of George Edney overcame the rough-sounding Talbot-Lago of Richard Pilkington. David Freeman, seventh, enjoyed his first taste of Spa with his famous Spa Special Aston Martin, having driven it from Lille after his trailer had been savaged by an errant Frenchman. Tim Jones and Seb Welch entertained with a spirited battle between Vauxhall 30/98 and Bentley three-litre, honours just going to the Vauxhall.

As ever, the British entry was strong, Richard Dodkins, stepping down a few litres from his more usual Supersports mounts, dominated the Open Touring race with his Mini Cooper S from the Lotus Cortinas of Patrick Ponchelet and J C Parmentier, with another Supersports refugee, Chris Chiles, in another Cooper S, in fourth. Peter Garland (Morgan Plus 8) rounded of a successful stag weekend with pole position and a very close win in the British Sportscar race after a tough battle with Steve Williams’ MGB GTV8, the race being red-flagged after six laps. Another close all-British duel was the highlight of the Open Prototype class between Jonathan Baker (Lola T70 3B) and Colin Parry-Williams (Lola T70 Spyder), the race long battle going to Baker’s coupe with the spiritedly-driven Porsche 910 of Bernd Becker taking a comfortable third.

In Sunday’s wet race Baker proceeded to open up a lead from Parry-Williams before pitting, allowing the Spyder through, closely hounded by Becker, but on rejoining Baker closed down the leader and took the flag by less than half a second. Denis Welch just failed to take victory in the Open GT race, his Austin-Healey 3000 finishing a very close second to local man Serge van Havre’s TVR Griffith, while the two-part Caterham round went to Nick Hart by four seconds from Dave Walton after 65 minutes of racing.