Cleland back in Vectra
BTCC champ joins Super Touring revival racers. By Paul Laurence
John Cleland will return the wheel of his 1997 Vauxhall Vectra to contest the new Super Touring Trophy this season.
The 60-year-old double BTCC champion has bought the Triple Eight-built Vectra, after being inspired to join the series when it was launched at Autosport International in January.
Cleland hopes to have the car ready for the Brands Hatch Historic Super Prix and Silverstone Classic in July. “I think the series has got all the legs to fly and become something really special,” he said. “I’m right up for doing it and it would be great to tempt out some of the other old champions. Bring back all the good old boys! I have to drive a Vauxhall because that’s what I spent my life doing.”
The new series got off to a quiet start at Thruxton at Easter, but with a big gap until the next two races, many more cars are expected to join the field.
Meanwhile, experienced historic racer John Pearson will also join the Super Touring Trophy this year after acquiring the 1998 Alfa Romeo 156 used by Fabrizio Giovanardi to win both the Italian Supertourismo and European Super Touring titles.
The Silverstone Classic weekend will include Historic Formula Ford 1600 for the first time in more than a decade. The category for pre-72 FF1600s is already riding a wave of popularity with bumper grids of immaculate cars and fierce competition, and a double-header at Silverstone is another boost for the HSCC series.
The ‘Mini Festival of Speed’ that is the annual Goodwood media day took place in March, featuring a larger gathering of great racing cars than were at the first Festival proper back in 1993.
This year’s festival on July 12-14 will celebrate the ‘best of the first 20 years’, with the traditional sculpture in front of Goodwood House marking the 50th birthday of the Porsche 911. Other themes will include the 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours, 60 years of the sports car world championship and 40 years of the World Rally Championship.
At the Goodwood Revival on September 13-15, a parade of cars marking the 50th anniversary of Jim Clark’s first Formula 1 World Championship is expected to be a highlight, along with the Whitsun Trophy — a 45-minute two-driver race for Ford GT40s.
Pageant promotes Rally GB
A new partnership will put cars from the World and British Rally Championships into action at the sixth Cholmondeley Pageant of Power on June 14-16.
Wales Rally GB and Cholmondeley’s organisers have joined forces to promote Britain’s round of the WRC, which takes place on November 14-17 this year. A range of rally cars will tackle the 1.2-mile sprint course at the Cheshire event, while a new dedicated Rally Village will give the public a chance to get close to a collection of machinery, plus past and present stars.
“We are delighted to be bringing some of the thrills of world-class rallying to the Pageant of Power,” said rally organiser Andrew Coe. “It’s no secret that we are looking to refresh the Wales Rally GB. We have lots of exciting new plans aimed at benefiting the traditional hardcore rally fan, but also designed to attract a wider audience. We want to show them what they’ve been missing.”
Historic F1 entries boosted
The rationalisation of racing for 1970s Formula 1 has rejuvenated the category, with an outstanding entry of 26 cars for the opening round of the new FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship at Barcelona in mid-April.
The revised Grand Prix Masters series took over the FIA tag for 2013, after the former FIA championship run by Thoroughbred Grand Prix was dropped due to dwindling grids throughout the 2012 season.
The entry at Barcelona was one of the biggest in recent seasons for GP cars of this era. Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49C) and Bobby Verdon-Roe (McLaren MP4-1B) won the two races.
Freeze hits UK events
Heavy spring snow across much of Britain forced the cancellation of three major historic events, starting with the Masters historic race meeting planned for Ou1ton Park on March 23.
Two weeks later, conditions in Wales were still bad enough to force the postponement of Rally North Wales, the second round of the British Historic Rally Championship and the RAC historic series, and the first round of the contemporary British Rally Championship.
On-going freezing conditions and snow drifts of up to 10 feet forced the postponement, but the organisers are trying to find a new date.
The Donington Historic Festival press day was also cancelled due to the freeze.
Where there’s a Willhire…
Julius Thurgood of the Historic Racing Drivers’ Club is planning a reunion race for cars that originally competed in the Willhire 24 Hours, Britain’s first such race.
The Willhire 24 Hours ran 15 times at Snetterton between 1980 and 1994 and was initially for production sports and saloon cars. Now, Thurgood is keen to recreate the atmosphere of the event, perhaps starting with a shorter six-hour race.
“A full 24-hour race might just be a step too far, but I can see that a six-hour enduro is perfectly feasible,” said Thurgood, who contested the first three races in an MGB.
Elva returns after 48 years
The radio Caroline-Backed Elva Mk75, raced by Keith St John when new, returns to racing in Britain this summer — the first time it will have been seen here for 48 years.
The 1965 sports-racer was sold to Australian Michael Henderson in 1966 and remained in Australia until last year, when Bruce Bartell bought it from Henderson.
Classic F3 Chevron racer Bartell and his son Maxim plan to campaign it in Guards Trophy races, following a rebuild by WDK Engineering.
“The car has not been used in the UK since 1965 and we’re very excited about racing it,” said Bartell Sr.