Historic racing

Alén set for Race Retro

Finn and former rival Vatanen commit to rally demo

Rally aces Markku Alén and Ari Vatanen will make public appearances at Race Retro, the international historic motor sport show (February 24-26), and will drive Group B cars on the Live Rally Stage. 

They will join Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen as star guests at Stoneleigh Park, a part of the three-day event’s 15th anniversary ‘Super Show’ celebrations. 

Vatanen will be on hand on Saturday and Sunday, while Alén will attend the show on Friday and Saturday. Both are due to drive on Saturday.

“I am delighted to be invited and look forward to tackling the rally stage with my old friend Ari,” said Alén. “It will be a great weekend.” Alén won the FIA Cup for Drivers in 1978, precursor to the World Rally Championship that was launched a year later. His previous teams include Lancia, Subaru and Toyota and he held the record for the most stage wins (801) until eclipsed by Sébastien Loeb in 2011.

Vatanen, who attended the 2015 show, said: “I am very much looking forward to seeing all the rally fans over the weekend. To get to drive these fantastic cars again is an honour and I can’t wait!” Vatanen won the British Rally Championship twice in the 1970s before adding the world title in 1981. He was also on target to win the 1985 WRC with Peugeot until an accident in Argentina left him badly injured.

FF festivities commence

Derek Warwick, Martin Donnelly and Nick Tandy were among the guests as the Historic Sports Car Club kicked off Formula Ford’s 50th anniversary season with a gathering of former drivers at Autosport International.

Warwick, Donnelly and Tandy were on hand for an informal forum against a backdrop of eight Formula Fords from across 50 years, including cars raced by future world champions Michael Schumacher, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter.

F1 stars Warwick and Donnelly and Le Mans winner Tandy were joined by many distinguished Formula Ford racers including John Village, Jim Walsh, Rick Morris and Bernard Dolan.

“In 1976, I started 63 Formula Ford races and won 32,” said Warwick. “We ran it very cheaply and we were just amateurs at that stage. The racing was phenomenal.”

Le Mans winner Tandy added: “I loved my time in Formula Ford and I’m really proud that I’m part of its history. It was a great time in my career.”

Ray Allen was also present, as winner of the first official Formula Ford race at Brands Hatch in July 1967, while Alan Cornock (Royale) and Howden Ganley (Tiga) represented manufacturers. F1 designer Pat Symonds, who spent his early career creating winning cars for Royale, was another star guest.

New Magny-Cours festival

The history of the French Grand Prix will be celebrated this summer with a new historic racing festival at Magny-Cours (July 1/2).

Promoted by French governing body the FFSA, the event will mark four decades of Formula 1 with races for the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship and cars from the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association.

Other grids will chart the development of single-seater racing with races for HSCC Historic F2, Formula 3 and Formula Ford. Pre-66 GT and Touring Cars and FIA Masters Historic Sports are also on the line-up, while a Masters three-hour race will run into the evening on Saturday.

Revised format for GMT

The Gerry Marshall Trophy race will take the Saturday evening slot at the Goodwood Members Meeting (March 18), with an hour-long, two-driver contest for Group 1 Touring Cars of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Held in the memory of one of Britain’s best-loved saloon car racers, the race is an annual highlight of the Members’ Meeting, featuring star names such as Andrew Jordan, Tim Harvey and Patrick Watts.

On Sunday the car owners will contest the Gerry Marshall Sprint, a shorter race featuring a reversed grid based on the finishing order from Saturday evening.

Lotus 49s reunited

The seven surviving Lotus 49s formed an outstanding display at Autosport International, marking the first time that all remaining examples of the late 1960s Grand Prix talisman have been gathered together.

Classic Team Lotus arranged the display to mark the 50th anniversary of the car’s debut in 1967. Only nine 49s were built by Team Lotus and two were destroyed in period.

The seven cars on show featured two from the collection of Richard Mille, notably the ex-Rindt/Hill chassis R6. American Chris MacAllister still races R2/R11, originally Clark’s 1967 car, and Adrian Newey raced R8 at Monaco last season. 

Brooklands ceremony

The restored finishing straight at Brooklands will officially be christened during the venue’s annual Double Twelve Motorsport Festival on June 17/18, marking 110 years since Brooklands first opened.

Since 1940 this section of the famous pre-war circuit track has been hidden under a WWII Bellman Hangar, which is being restored and relocated as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Race Track Revival Project.

The weekend will include a re-enactment of the 1907 opening parade with veteran cars and demonstrations of surviving Brooklands racing machinery and period aircraft.

The VSCC’s competitive action will include Saturday’s sprint on the adjacent Mercedes-Benz World Circuit.