Nige's Turbo Charge
Damien Smith's article on Nigel Mansell's Lotus days in the February edition was thoroughly enjoyable and utterly fair. However, I would like to point out that Mansell's performance at Silverstone in 1983 was rather more than a case of him finishing fourth in his first grand prix in a turbo-powered F1 car. It was an utterly brilliant performance that at last gave the lie to Peter Warr's perception that Elio de Angelis was the team's talent, Mansell merely the determined whinger.
Mansell qualified in the cumbersome 93T because the Renault V6 in Gerard Ducarouge's impressive new 94T wouldn't run thanks to an electrical problem. He thus started 18th, while de Angelis put the new car third on the grid. Mansell's 94T was healthy come race-day, though, and he made rapid progress through the pack, to the extent that he was ninth by lap four.
However, one of his rear wheels had lost a balance weight (shades of his Williams problem at Silverstone in '87). But despite a severe blister on that tyre, he was up to third by the time he pitted on lap 43.
He resumed in fifth, but quickly hunted down René Arnoux — the pole-sitter equipped with the superb Ferrari 126C3, remember — and passed him as they piled into the old balls-out Abbey! Mansell thus finished fourth, but had he not lost that weight he might have been hassling Alain Prost's Renault for the victory — from 18th on the grid.
Far be it from me to bang the drum for Mansell — he's proved eminently capable of doing that himself — but maybe we shouldn't have been quite so amazed at the performances he regularly put in for Williams and Ferrari in the seasons ahead.
Right line to take
I read with interest your item in Rumblings (February issue) regarding VSCC advice to racers not to change lines in a race, and the Jenks story on the same subject. The same advice was given to me when I started racing circa 1992.
I now give briefings to drivers who are racing at Castle Combe for the first time, and pass on the very same advice to them.
The best advice is often the oldest, being well tried and tested!
Willment on tour
Your article about the Willment team in the January issue stirred many memories, for you were right when you wrote that John Willment was prepared to send his men anywhere there were races to contest.
During my youth my family used to spend the summer vacations in the resort of Cascais, Portugal. I was 14 (in 1963), when our automobile club decided to stage saloon and GT races along the streets of the village. Few foreigners bothered to attend, but Willment was happy to send two Cortinas — and a Cobra! Jack Sears and Bob Olthoff easily dominated the saloons, but in the GT race the Cobra, in the hands of Olthoff, lasted just one lap before expiring in a cloud of smoke.
Willment returned the next year, but for some reason only Jeff Uren came with a Cortina GT (maybe he needed some sun). He won easily and I recall the huge difference in speed and noise between his and the local Cortinas. His car was exhibited at the local Ford dealership for the next couple of weeks and I used to stop by just to peek at the red-striped Cortina. Happy times.
You have a great magazine, but I miss the green cover.
Rodrigo de VIlhena,
I was delighted to see 'Team Lotus Sings' featured in February's 30-Second Board. The double-A side of Champions and Workin' al' nighter was a great idea that captured the spirit of the team and, indeed, F1 at the time. As Team Lotus mechanics throughout the years will testify, it's entirely appropriate that the titles go together.
Coincidentally, at the 50 Years of Team Lotus Celebration Dinner one of the 'vocalists' gave 50 copies of the record to Classic Team Lotus to do with as it saw fit. Its open-out sleeve features eight great images, while the back lists the team and gives light-hearted background.
I am pleased to offer them to your readers for £60 each, numbered and signed by Hazel Chapman, Peter Warr and Eddie Dennis — with all proceeds going to the Grand Prix Mechanics Charitable Trust.
Please send cheques, in favour of the Trust, to Classic Team Lotus Limited at Potash Lane, Hethel, Norfolk, NR14 8EY.
MD, Classic Team Lotus
You need Hans, Part One
I bought the February issue of Motor Sport because of its touring car articles, as this area has been badly served in the print media for far too long — but I'm sure mine won't be the only quizzical response to your Top 20 Tin-Top Drivers.
Your editorial hints at the problem: there are some serious omissions. Where is Hans Heyer, winner of the DRM in a Group 2/4 Escort RS1800 in 1976, the 1980 series in a Lancia Beta Montecarlo, and the 1983 (BMW 635) and '84 Spa 24 Hours (TWR Jaguar XJS), plus some superb drives in Zakspeed's Escort RS1600 in 1974?
What about the efforts ofJochen Mass in bullying the spoiler-less Capri in '73? Or Klaus Niedzwiedz? Or Allan Moffat, who did far more on the international scene than Mr Brock ever did? And to suggest that Steve Soper was better than Klaus Ludwig! I could go on...
True, such a list will always spark animated debate, but perhaps yours should have been titled: Touring Car Drivers Who Did Well in the BTCC — Plus Some We Couldn't Leave Out.
You need Hans, Part Two
A few comments on your Top 20 Tin-Top Drivers article: Dieter Quester did not win the Silverstone TT in 1973 but in '77. The photo on page 43 shows the 1973 start, including the victorious BMW of Derek Bell/Harald Ertl. Also, Quester shared his winning 1977 drive with Tom Walkinshaw, who contested a BTCC round at Thruxton on the same day. I happened to be at Thruxton to see this.
Prior to the Silverstone ETCC round of 1973 someone had noticed that there was no restriction on the height of the refuelling towers. The higher the tower, the greater the fuel nozzle pressure, the shorter the refuelling time... The towers grew ever taller, and at Silverstone the top teams built some rather tall but precarious scaffolding structures. I know that these lists are great for starting debates — but rarely have I disagreed with something so strongly: Hans Stuck down in 15th! I was one of the few British spectators at the 1974 ETCC round at the Nürburgring, where Stuck's driving was absolutely in a class of its own; he completely outpaced team-mates Peterson, Ickx and Bell, no less. He was able to bounce his car from kerb to kerb, straight-lining parts of the circuit that others treated as bends. To me, he is the number one.