Longcross historic stages

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Anthony got one in his sights I settled down to admire the high-speed pulling power of the torquey narrow-angle 2.5-litre V6. His assessment of this car he knows so well was plainly right — not a slingshot from low down (a fifth gear would help), but possessing tremendous urge in the upper ranges and lovely balance; a real Grand Tourer well ahead of its time. And on this all tarmac venue remarkably supple and stable, even through the worst test of all — tackling an even steeper tank hill downwards. You’ve had that feeling over a canal bridge, when the road vanishes beneath you and the bonnet starts to drop and just keeps on dropping. That on dropping, was what we felt as we leapt over the top of this 45-degree concrete chute; 100ft down at the bottom we could see the scrapes and rubber where previous cars had smacked onto the flat.

Yet the Aurelia didn’t bottom out. It may have been smooth, but the hightraction tarmac was tough on old cars, and there were many breakages: Preece’s gear linkage failed, pushing him out of the top ten, and it became very close, Gammons chasing Everard, while there was a TR4 attack from Evan Mackenzie/Nick Wright, and David and Mark Brand. Anthony was sanguine about his 40-year old car — “If it breaks, it breaks!” — but it sailed on unflustered, barring a fuel stutter on some bends. On the final stage there was an upset: a hub failed on the Everard’s Healey, giving Gammons a web)-fought victory ahead of the Brands and Mackenzie’s TR45.

We lost our needle match to the Zephyr by a few seconds, but the rapid MGA of Tipping and lolly was suddenly reclassified into our class, making us third in class after all. I didn’t really mind; even a small award was an unexpected bonus to what was really an experiment. Now that it’s over, I think it was fun; perhaps another one would confirm it. But I want to go back to the more complicated road events, which is probably unrealistic given the amount of office-work which goes on in the lefthand seat. There’s only one answer: it would be much simpler if I were to drive instead. A comfortable Sixties saloon which came with an auto-box and power steering — a Rover or Citroen, perhaps? After all, Clay Regazzoni, the F1 driver paralysed from the waist down, runs a racing school for the disabled at Mugello. Of course, there’s still the RAC’s stipulation that you must be able to vacate the car unassisted in seconds, which I haven’t a hope of meeting. Unless, of course, I buy lames Bond’s Aston Martin, complete with ejector seat. . . G C

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