XJR-14 back on track

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Minassian dominates Silverstone in rebuilt Jaguar

After more than 20 years of inactivity, a 1991 Jaguar XJR-14 Group C car made a triumphant return to racing at the Silverstone Classic. Owned by Bob Berridge, the sole surviving example of the three chassis built by Tom Walkinshaw Racing has been restored by the Chamberlain-Synergy team and was driven by French sports car ace Nicolas Minassian. “We knew the car was going to run quickly and would be pulling 3.5 to 4g, so we wanted to make sure it was right,” said Berridge. “It has been down to the last nut and bolt for a rebuild. We wanted to test the integrity of the chassis. I did a lot of research on the XJR-14 and every ex-TWR person I called was in raptures about the car – including Ross Brawn, who came to have a look at it.”

Minassian dominated the Group C race and said that Brawn’s 1991 design compares incredibly well with modern LMP1 cars. “It really is unbelievable,” he said. “You don’t feel like you are driving a 22-year-old car. The only thing is that there’s no assistance such as paddle shift or power steering, unlike a all images Jakob ebrey current Le Mans car, so you have to work at it a bit harder.” Berridge added: “The Jaguar is as stunning as everyone had us believe. It is a giant of a car and 22 years on it is showing its pedigree.”

RAC retains 2012 format
Organisers of this year’s 10th anniversary Roger Albert Clark Rally hope to build on the success of the compact route introduced last year.

The 2013 event will start in Pickering on Friday November 8 and cover 35 miles in Dalby Forest during the first evening. Saturday’s leg includes spectator stages at Duncombe Park and Croft before the action moves into Kielder Forest on the way to an overnight halt in Carlisle. Sunday’s leg features more than 80 stage miles in the Scottish borders and will be similar to the 2012 route, which drew widespread acclaim, before the finish at Brampton near Carlisle.

“We want to build on last year’s success,” said rally manager Colin Heppenstall. “The regulations are now out and we’ve had plenty of interest already: a lot of new overseas crews have been making contact with a view to entering.”

Soper lands BMW seat
More than a decade after a neck injury brought his touring car career to an end, Steve Soper has made a comeback this summer and will now race a BMW 1800 at Goodwood.

“The accident damaged my neck and I was advised by consultants not to do any more racing: change my lifestyle and I’d be fine,” said Soper, now 61.

However, recent neck surgery has improved his condition to the extent that doctors cleared him to race again. “I missed all the lovely jollies that other drivers contested,” he said, “like the Goodwood Revival, the Silverstone Classic and Monaco – lovely events that I couldn’t do.” Soper made his racing return at the Silverstone Classic, when he shared a Ford GT40 owned by his friend David Cuff. “I’m enjoying being back,” he said. “It needs to be fun and if we’re not competitive, it’s not fun. We don’t have to win, but we need to know that we are in with a chance.” Soper, who retains a BMW dealership, will share a BMW 1800 with Richard Shaw in the St Mary’s Trophy race.

Big fat Gypsy welding…
Last raced in the early 1970s, the unique Gypsy Dino sports car returned to racing during the Silverstone Classic in the hands of Jim Morris. Based on a Dulon chassis mated to a Ferrari Dino engine, the car was built for the Monza 1000Kms in 1971 and was later used in hillclimbs in Italy.

“It was built by an eccentric Italian,” said Morris, who bought it from Germany four years ago and entrusted it to Lanan Racing for a complete rebuild. “It’s a beautiful thing and it still has the original Ferrari engine,” said Morris. There was, apparently, a Gypsy Mk2, but nobody knows where it is.”

Perez prepares Safari bid
Steve Perez used the recent Neath Valley Stages to shake down his Datsun 260Z, which will be shipped to Africa for use on the Safari Classic Rally in November. After a day of testing, Perez said that the event had been a very worthwhile exercise.

“It was running in full Safari specification: this whole rally is the equivalent of one short Safari stage,” said Perez, who finished seventh among the two-wheel-drive field.

Rover P6 racer reborn
Eight years after he first bought it, former Historic F1 racer Ian Giles finally drove the ex-Bill Shaw Racing Rover P6 in the Touring Car Trophy race at the Silverstone Classic.
Originally commissioned by the British Leyland Competition Department in 1970, the 3.5-litre V8 Group 2 machine was intended for the ’71 British Saloon Car Championship and ran in a series of special saloon races in 1970, but the project was later dropped due to budget cutbacks. Roy Pierpoint drove it in period.

Paul Lawrence

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