TGP goes to Wilson, as Sytner prevails in epic Pre-66 Battle
An epic HGPCA battle betwen Frank Sytner and Michael Schryver, and a memorable FIA Pre-66 Historic Touring Car contest were the highlights of a busy 14-race weekend at Donington Park.
The Pre-66 HGPCA race delivered a stunning tussle between Sytner (Brabham BT4) and Schryver, racing the ex-Jim Clark/John Surtees Lotus 18 for the first time. Despite giving three years to the Brabham, Schryver drove superbly to press Sytner all the way to the line in the 31-lap race.
Sytner feared running short of fuel in the 40-minute race. “We fitted an auxiliary tank, but it was still marginal,” he admitted. Still, they traded the lead until Sytner eked out a slender advantage in the late stages but his win came the hard way. “It was great fun,” reckoned Schryver. “I know Mike and he’s a safe chap,” added Sytner.
However, both were lucky to see the flag. “I don’t think there was another lap left in the fuel,” admitted Sytner. Schryver, meanwhile, had clipped a backmarker in traffic and ended the race with a damaged front wheel rim but, luckily, with no loss of pressure.
Three Ford Mustangs and a Dodge Dart, with an Alfa Romeo GTA and a gaggle of Lotus Cortinas in pursuit, provided a fabulous spectacle at the head of the FIA Historic Touring Car race. “We were having so much fun,” said leading player David Loudoun. However, the star drive came from John Young, who was proving that his Dodge might be a Mustang-beater — until gearbox failure struck. The pace of Max Rostron and Ulf Larsson was too strong for the Loudoun/Richard Austin combo in this two-driver race.
John Wilson was the pacesetter in the third Thoroughbred Grand Prix race of the season, guiding his Tyrrell 011 to a narrow win as a titanic battle raged in his mirrors. Driving as though his life was at stake, Hubertus Bahlsen withstood immense pressure from the Williams of Richard Eyre and Fredy Kumschick to hang on to second. Cruelly, as he tackled the chicane for the last time, the Arrows A4/5 cut out and Bahlsen saw 18 laps of resistance negated as Eyre and Kumschick swept by on the sprint to the flag.
John Harper (Cooper Monaco) romped to a BRDC Historic Sportscar victory, while runner-up Phil Walker (Lotus 15) jumped straight into his Lotus 16 to win the HGPCA Pre-61 Grand Prix race that followed.
Gentleman Drivers victories went to John Bendall/Bill Wykeham (AC Cobra) and Willie Green (Ford GT40), while Sean Walker (Lotus Elan) bagged a brace of FIA GT wins. Denis Welch’s Merlyn was also a double winner, in FJ, dominating in the wet and then later in the dry when Edwin Jowsey parked his Lotus in the gravel.