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GT40s could rule Britannia -- big names and bigger guns expected for Tour Britannia road/rally rebirth

Adrian Newey, Chris Chiles, Ray Bellm and John Hugenholtz are among potential winners to have recently entered Tour Britannia.

A number of exotic sports-racers are now pledged for the event, which comprises a mix of races and asphalt rally stages in a four-day event from September 5-8.

Chiles, a twice winner of comparable events in France, Spain and Italy, intends to enter his Chevron B8, subject to resolving some tyre issues. Alternatively he has an Austin-Healey 3000 or a Ford Mustang available. "I think it's a great idea and it should be a really good event," says Chiles.

Newey, Bellm and Richard Meins will all campaign Ford GT40s, while Hugenholtz has entered his Shelby Mustang GT350 and Italian Pietro Silva is bringing his De Tomaso Pantera to the event. Among the earlier cars will be the Allard J2 of former Group C2 driver James Shead, now fully restored after its major accident at Brands in the hands of his father Don.

Ted Williams, meanwhile, has entered the thunderous ex-Mike Knight Chevrolet Corvette, the car raced at Goodwood by BTCC star Jason Plato. "Tour Britannia is the main reason I bought the car," says Williams of the 500bhp monster.

Event boss Fred Gallagher is delighted with the response and reports he has received around 50 entries to date. Each grid will comprise 26 cars to fit in with track capacity at Cadwell Park, and Gallagher is aiming to fill three grids (78 cars) for the competition element of the event.

Another group of cars will contest the touring event, which will run largely to a regularity format.


Reims to be celebrated with demos

The history of the Reims grand prix circuit will be celebrated with demonstration runs on the famous French circuit over the weekend of July 2/3.

The organisation 'Les Amis de Circuit Reims-Gueux' has been trying to create a retrospective event for many years, but has been hindered by the problems associated with closing a major public road. Those obstacles have now been overcome and the five-mile track will again host racing cars.

With a history dating back to 1925, Reims was the only circuit to host the French GP both before and after the war. It was basically a triangle of closed public roads, and high-speed slipstreaming races were common. The last GP to be held at Reims was on July 3 1966, when Jack Brabham won in his own BT19.

Now, 39 years later to the day, the circuit will be honoured. A gathering of classic cars, parades on the circuit and guest appearances by some famous drivers will mark the circuit's place in grand prix history.


What Lola wants

The ex-Sid Taylor Lola 170 Mk3B will return to racing in the hands of Frank Sytner after a complete rebuild.

Chassis 138, now returned to the white-and-green colours of Taylor, has not been raced since it was crashed at Le Mans in 2002. The car has a long history: it was raced by drivers such as Brian Redman and Frank Gardner for Taylor's squad, subsequently campaigned in the 1970 Springbok series by John Love and later raced by Mike d'Udy in Britain.

Now fully rebuilt by Simon Hadfield, the car will be raced by Sytner in World Sportscar Masters events, starting at Pau in May.


Ligier JS2 returns

Paul Knapfield will contest the Tour Auto in the ex-Jacques Laffite Ligier JS2, having had the car rebuilt over the past 12 months.

In 1974 the 3-litre V6 JS2 was eighth at Le Mans with Laffite and Alain Serpaggi and second in the Tour de France. Laffite later owned the car for around 20 years until Knapfield bought It from him. In period it was also raced by Henri Pescarolo and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, but was last used on the 2000 Tour Auto when Jean-Claude Andruet led until the final race.

Knapfield shook the car down at Donington Park recently and was impressed. "Out of the box it is really nice," he said of the car, which remains in period Gitanes livery.


Sunbeams for TT

The Sunbeam that won the 1914 Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man is the star entry for the TT Centenary Run over the 52-mile road course on the Island on Saturday September 10.

The car, raced by Kenelm Lee Guinness in the 600-mile race in1914, will be driven by Nick Pellett.

The 3.3-litre Sunbeam will be reunited with the other two works cars for the occasion as Neil Corner and Brian Moore take their machines to the Island. It is thought that the three cars have only been gathered together twice before in 91 years.


Elva goes again

An Elva 100 Formula Junior that spent all of its life in the US made its European debut in March during the opening round of the AMOC Historic Formula Junior Championship at Mallory Park.

John Tweedale, who previously raced in the HSCC's Classic Racing Car Championship, has imported the car and now plans to tackle some of the major European races in 2006 after a learning season this year.

Tweedale had wanted to find a US-built Huffaker, but discovered the 1959 Elva in Texas in race-ready trim. Initially it ran with a DKW engine, but was later converted to BMC power.


Aintree hopes are dashed

Work on a new grandstand due to start this month seems to finally signal the end of hopes to bring the grand prix circuit at Aintree back into competition use. The new grandstand, sited for the benefit of spectators at horse-race meetings, will entail the excavation of the former Tatts Corner on the GP circuit and will, therefore, make the original circuit unusable.

Although the grand prix layout was closed in 1964, there has been a series of bids to take the venue back to its glory days by reopening the full circuit. In November 2004 a Festival event ran at Aintree with a selection of classic racing cars completing demonstration laps of the three-mile track, and hopes were high that racing might one day return.

But with planning permission granted and work set to commence on the new stand, Tatts Corner will be gone. "We were told originally that this development would not affect future use of the grand prix circuit, but the excavation will make the use of the full circuit impossible," said Mike Ashcroft of the Aintree Circuit Club.


Osca bravo

British racer Tony Bailey has acquired a rare Osca MT4 for use in HGPCA drum-brake sportscar races this season.

The 1953 car has a Targa Florio and Mille Miglia history and retains original scrutiny seals on the steering column.

Initially built with a 1.1-litre Osca engine, the car gained a 1.5-litre Alfa Romeo unit in 1958 and still runs in this configuration.

Bailey first saw the car when previous owner Paul Grant raced it at the Coys Festival at Silverstone in 2002. "That's when I fell in love with it," admitted Bailey.


Silverstone redux

The Silverstone International Historic Festival will have a new name and support from Bonhams for an 18-race programme over the weekend of July 30/31.

The 'Silverstone Classic' will feature six decades of grand prix cars from the HGPCA, Grand Prix Masters and Thoroughbred Grand Prix bodies.

In a bid to attract fans admission prices have been set at a low level. If booked in advance, adult admission on either day is only £10. Nine races are planned on both Saturday and Sunday.


March on Purley

The March 742 in which David Purley started the 1974 European Formula Two Championship is back in Britain to race in the hands of Ian Jacobs.

He obtained the March in a part exchange deal for his Martini F3 car with Frenchman Alain Prat, who spent six years rebuilding the 742 after it had spent much of its life competing in French hillclimbs. Purley only raced chassis 30 a couple of times before switching to a Chevron.