Derby Days

David McKinney reports on three action-packed HSCC days at Donington

The HSCC’s annual FIA Historic Championships meeting at Donington Park produced the familiar pattern of some good fields and some not so good, some exciting racing and some that was positively dull.

Top billing on the busy three-day programme at the August/September cusp went to the FIA Cup round for Thoroughbred GP Cars, promoted by the HSCC with MOTOR SPORT. No fewer than 28 cars practised and 26 started, the most notable defection being Bob Berridge. After lapping a second faster than anyone else in qualifying, he found his RAM 01 in the pit-wall after an optimistic attempt to pass two slower cars.

Steve Hitchins in his Lotus 78 was thus able to lead the 43-mile race from start to finish, but the early lead he established was cut down by Martin Stretton. Once having found a way past Geoff Farmer (Tyrrell 012), Stretton had his older Tyrrell 005 all over the leader’s rear wing until an engine problem and a spin put him out three and a half laps from the end.

Hitchins thus won by 7sec from Farmer, who had come under attack from John Wilson (Williams FW08), while Mike Littlewood brought John Fenning’s magnificent Ferrari 312T5 home in fourth place Michael Schryver (Lotus 72) won his class and has the championship sewn up with the Brno round still to go. David Methley (Marcos) won the FIA Historic GT race after Bo Warmenius retired his very fast Lotus Elan on the line. Tony Thompson (Lotus 27) had the easiest of wins in the Lurani Trophy FJ round, and the first of the two one-hour saloon events went to Dieter Dahlemann’s Mini, which veteran Richard Longman also drove. Warmenius suffered his second retirement of the day while his Lotus Cortina was leading the other race, leaving the Helge Snabb/Juha Liukkonen Ford Falcon to hold off the Massimo Faraci/Carlo Facetti Alfa GTA to the line.

More exciting than almost all of the FIA races, however, were the two rounds of the International Super Sports Cup, Charlie Agg won them both in his familiar orange McLaren M8F, but was given a hard time by Chris Chiles’ March 717 on both days. Chiles finished 0.5sec behind on Saturday and was leading the second race when his engine went. This left Richard Eyre (McLaren M8F) to take second ahead of John Burton’s much smaller Chevron B26 after all four German entered McLarens fell by the wayside.

Richard Evans (Chevron B26) was among the retirements and thus a non-starter in the RJB Mining Championship round, for which he had qualified on pole ahead of Mike Wilds, as usual in race sponsor Richard Budge’s B36. But it was Burton who won the race, passing Wilds on the third lap and leading him over the line by a second. Helen Bashford, who had organised an anniversary race for Chevron B19s at the meeting, was third in her only start from three attempts. She had qualified on pole for the B19 race, while John Cleland, who had hill-climbed a B23 some 22 years ago, drove a borrowed 3-litre BMW powered car to fifth-fastest time. The BTCC champion held off a fast-closing Burton to win the race by a second and a half.

The HSCC’s Classic Racing Car event fell to Mark Linstone, who found the power of Ean Pugh’s BRM P126 sufficient to hold off the constant attentions of Geoff Farmer, whose twin-cam Brabham BT18 had been 3sec faster in practice.

Last race of the weekend was a round in the BRDC’s Louis Vuitton series for Fifties sportscars, which brought yet another win for Gary Pearson in the Lister-Jaguar he has been using to such good effect over the past few weeks. John Harper, who had qualified his 2-litre Cooper Monaco on pole, passed Jeffrey Pattinson’s similar car in the closing stages to place second, with Barrie Williams (Tojeiro-Jaguar) falling back in fourth but remaining clear of a race-long battle which David Pennell (Lister-Jaguar) won from Tony Dron (Aston Martin DBR1).