Whales sail to Britannia win

Long-time Tour Britannia fan Nick Whale was a popular winner, with son Harry helping steer their Porsche 911RS to victory
By Paul Lawrence

The fifth running of Tour Britannia was every bit as good as the previous editions, with a unique mix of races and asphalt rally stages for an eclectic mix of pre-1981 cars. Having been a loyal supporter of the tour, Nick Whale finally took an overdue victory in his Porsche 911RS.

Run in fine weather over three days in early September, the tour started at Silverstone with a pair of races as well as two special stages at the Porsche Driving Experience Centre, the first time the venue has hosted competitive motor sport.

Day two took in races at Rockingham and Cadwell Park, while day three featured 10 special stages across five venues in Yorkshire. The inclusion of the spectacular Oliver’s Mount motorcycle circuit at Scarborough was a coup for the organisers, and its three-dimensional challenge made a big impression on competitors. “That was something else,” said Michael Schryver. “I’d never heard of it before today.”

Out of the blocks at Silverstone went the mighty De Tomaso Pantera of Robert Hartley and Adrian Tribe. Despite last-minute silencing efforts threatening to melt the rear of the car, Hartley blitzed the races to take an early lead. But he knew the vast Pantera would struggle on the stages and it was Whale’s Porsche that hunted it down.

Whale was sharing his faithful 911 with son Harry, who drove the races at Silverstone and Rockingham. Nick then took over at Cadwell Park before moving ahead of the Pantera on Wednesday morning during two stages at the Harrogate Showground.

The Pantera held on, but a crushing navigational error cost the crew dear when they missed the second stage at Oliver’s Mount. “We had a great event; I’m so deflated,” said Hartley. Whale then cruised to the finish, nursing a gearbox problem, to win by over a minute. “We’ve had a crap year in business and this result has made up for it,” said Whale, whose background of speed events, racing and rallying suits the event perfectly.

The ex-Jackie Oliver Lotus Elan 26R of Schryver and Simon Hadfield took second, while John Clark and Emma Gilbart-Smith bagged third in their Porsche 911RS. Roy and Charlotte Stephenson (Aston Martin DB5) topped the Index of Performance, while pre-war honours went to the Bentley 3/8 of Jonathan Turner and William Medcalf.

But the best accolade for a wonderful event came from newcomer and GT racer Stuart Scott, who ran the ex-Richard Lloyd Chevrolet Camaro. “What an event,” said Scott. “In all the years I’ve been racing these have been some of the best days I’ve ever had in motor sport.”