Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport

Edited by Paul Lawrence

Pearson’s Lister starts on top — BRDC, Silverstone, Mar 19

The opening double-header for the BRDC Historic Sportscar Championship delivered two wins at Silverstone for Gary Pearson’s faithful Lister-Jaguar workhorse. But, in a brace of thrilling contests, the 2-litre cars of Graeme Dodd (Cooper Monaco) and Philip Walker (Lotus 15) pushed Pearson every inch of the way.

In the opener, Walker took the fight to Pearson after Dodd dropped away. But the Lister was running woefully short of brakes later in the race and Pearson was not optimistic for the second event.

After a mighty three-way battle, an early red flag after a slick of oil went down gave Pearson his chance as the race was halted four laps early. “I don’t think I could have stopped Philip this time,” admitted Pearson.


Watts puts his Hood up — Robin Hood Historic Rally, Mar 12-13

Debut British Historic Rally Championship category victories for Patrick Watts/Elgan Davies and Dominic Frattaroli/Wyn Thomas, along with a storming performance from Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James, were the major stories of the Robin Hood Historic Rally.

The opening round of the Armajaro MSA BHRC pitted 80 crews against the Nottinghamshire gravel, with three stages in the dark of Saturday evening and a further seven on Sunday.

For historic category victor Watts it was a first win after only five rallies in his Sunbeam Tiger. The fact that he topped the Porsche 911s of Steven Smith/John Nichols and Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride in the process made it a remarkable result for the former BTCC racer.

“It was a Tiger event,” said Watts after storming the long straights and square junctions that typify the region. Overheating worries were Watts’s biggest concerns, but he duly reached the finish with 24sec in hand over Smith. With his post–historic Escort not ready, Smith borrowed a 911 from Steve Perez for the weekend and learned quickly in his pursuit of Watts.

Countless times the Datsun 240Z of Frattaroli has seemed on target for post-historic victory, only for his customary bad luck to strike. This time it all came together and he scored a hugely popular victory after throwing down the gauntlet in the dark of Saturday evening.

It was never easy, as David Stokes and Ian Oakey mounted a dogged pursuit in their Escort Mkl. A high-speed overshoot cost them time in the dark, but the gap came down throughout Sunday and only a final stage push from Frattaroli settled the result. Nick Whale/Sally Wood (Porsche Carrera RS) and Ray Bellm/Mark Solloway (Escort Mkl) completed the top four.

Lloyd and James were the class of the Classic category, but had to keep pushing in their Escort Mk2 as the Mkl of Richard Lepley/Ian Bevan held the gap to a scant 11 sec.


Westmoreland in Leicestershire — 1750 MC, Mallory Park, Mar 20

Barry Westmoreland claimed first honours as the Historic Formula Junior Championship opened at Mallory Park. Westmoreland made much of the running in his Lotus 22, but had to deal with a concerted mid-race challenge from Steve Smith (Cooper T59).

Smith, in his beautifully rebuilt machine, had to work ahead of Simon Armer (Cooper T59) and Paul Smeeth (Lotus 22) before he could set off in pursuit.

Backmarkers cost Westmoreland badly and Smith pounced, only to lose his brief lead when he missed a gear at Shaw’s and allow his quarry to escape once more.


Bacon fries them as track greases — BRSCC, Castle Combe, Mar 28

A beautifully paced performance from Andy Bacon and Leo Voyazides secured Top Hat spoils at Castle Combe as a 30-car field of pre-66 historic touring cars made a fine spectacle at the Wiltshire track.

“The brakes worked perfectly all the way through,” said Bacon after handing over the Ford Falcon more than midway through the 60minute race. Voyazides did the rest, although the gap to the pursuing BMW 1800 of Nick Whale and Richard Shaw needed watching. As Voyazides eased his pace, Shaw hurled the BMW around to get within five seconds at the flag. In the opening stages Whale had taken the fight to the American V8 contingent, but lost time when elbowed aside in some fierce battling.

A lengthy pit stop with a clutch problem put the Paul Ingram/Chris Chiles Ford Mustang out of contention for victory, but they worked back to third at the flag. Meanwhile, David Clark and Richard Oldworth also had a spell in the lead in their Falcon until the engine let go.

Clark and Oldworth took their ex-Chris Amon Elva Mk8 to its second win in two days in the Cloth Cap race, in which they were easily the class of the field. Despite an early spin, they cruised home 50sec up on the father-and-son pairing of Grahame and Oliver Bryant (AC Cobra) on an increasingly oily track.

Early challenges from the Wren Classic entries of Mike Furness/Steve Farthing (Lotus 23B) and Chris Sharpe/Neville Prest (Elva Mk7) faded, while a lengthy pitstop checking for a suspected puncture dropped the Shaun Lynn/Jackie Oliver Ford GT40 back to fourth behind the Marcos of Allen Tice.

Adam Crowton clinched the Oldies but Goldies pre-60 race in his Lotus Elite after countering a persistent chase from Roy Chamberlain’s Triumph TR2. In the early laps Jim Prentice (Volvo Amazon) and Ivan Dutton (Alvis Grey Lady) took the battle to the sportscars, but later faded into third and fourth.

Dave Thomas claimed the inaugural ‘Groovy Baby’ race for ’70s Saloons in his Ford Capri. Simon Arber led early on in his Alfa Romeo Giulia before he went off at Tower, but recovered to take second.