Now in its fourth year, and with London auctioneer and long-time supporter of historic racing, Coys, taking over sponsorship of the event from Christies, the Silverstone Historic Festival continues to maintain the very highest standard and quality of entry. As in previous years all races were run in two parts, except for the FIA Historic Touring Car race, and with entries for all but the Steigenberger and Saloon races administered by the HGPCA, representative grids were guaranteed. Saturday’s proceedings began, after a soaking practice, with the Coys of Kensington GT race following on from the success of the inaugural event last year. As in 1992 the pace was set by Sir Anthony Bamford’s ex-Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 250G10 ’64 in the hands of Frank Sytner and Gary Pearson, but this time early pressure came from the lightweight E-type Jaguar of Justin Bell/Allen Lloyd and Simon Draper’s fabulous Project 214 Aston driven by Nick Faure.
Bell tigered his way to the front followed by Faure when Sytner fell back, this trio leaving the Brian Classic/John Harper Bizzarini Le Mans to head the pursuit. After the changeovers, Draper emerged ahead of Pearson — just! — as Lloyd fell back behind the exuberantly driven Healey 3000 of Gerry Marshall/John Chatham. A well-timed move by Pearson at Luffield on the penultimate lap snatched the lead which he held to the flag by less than a second. Lloyd/Bell placed third from the Bizzarini, the 250GT SWB of Lindsay Owen-Jones/Peter Hannen and the Healey. Sunday’s conclusion followed much the same pattern with the lead swapping between Sytner and Faure, the Lloyd/Bell challenge fading as the pair were out in Lloyd’s slower E-type — the ex-Lumsden/ Sargent Le Mans ‘coupe’. Classic was involved in a scrap for third with Stirling Moss in Ralph Avis’ Shelby Mustang only for the American car to be excluded for running non-approved rubber.
Sytner was first of the leaders to change on lap nine emerging in second but Faure stayed out for two more laps leaving Draper only one lap at the wheel to take the flag, but to be excluded for changing outside the prescribed period. This elevated the well-driven Bizzarini into second ahead of the Lloyd/Bell team from Chatham/Marshall and Owen-Jones/Hannen. Chris Mann drove single-handed in the ex-Fangio Mille Miglia Alfa 3000CM to finish a creditable 16th amongst far more modern machinery. A mammoth 45-car field contested the first part of the Charles Heidsieck ’50s Sports Car race for pre-’58 cars — thus ruling out the Birdcage Maseratis, Testa Rossa Ferraris and 3.8-engined D-types. Once again Sytner took command, in the Bamford D-type Jaguar, from saloon and C2 refugee Ray Bellm making an all-too-rare outing in his shortnose D-type, taking the lead when Frank pitted to replace a loose plug-lead on lap three. He then found his mirror full of Willie Green in Richard Crump’s Maserati 300S, making up ground after a lowly grid seeding, eventually passing Bellm around half-distance as Ray was suffering from increasing understeer although he managed to hold on to within 0.8s at the finish.
Paul Alexander gave one of his best performances in his Ferrari 750 Monza to trounce the 5.6-litre Maserati 450S of Thomas Bscher (not helped by a spin at the complex) and Gary Pearson, driving the family Cooper Jaguar in place of the more familiar D-type, while Sytner recovered with a storming drive through traffic to take seventh. Once past Bellm in part 2, Sytner proceeded to open up as large a margin as he was able in an effort to close Bellm’s advantage but the task was too great and although he easily won the race, overall victory went to BeIlm, second on the road. These two outpaced Green, who was also hampered by a rare spin at Brooklands but still managed to secure second overall from Sytner, with Pearson earning a splendid result for the Cooper Jaguar in fourth.
One of the two events where grid places were based on practice times was the Steigenberger Supersports race, with the result that the 2-litre Chevron B19 of Chris Chiles sat on pole after a soaking session, from the 2-litre OseIla of Laurence Rose (aka ‘Lorenzo Bandini) with Charlie Agg languishing on the fifth row. David Franklin, however, burst through from row 2 to head the field into Copse, and by the end of lap 2, Agg had worked his M8F McLaren into second behind Franklin’s M6B variant. Warming to the task, Geoff Farmer had threaded his way onto the leaders’ tail on his debut in Richard Dodkins’s M8C/D. Agg outfoxed Franklin at Stowe at two-thirds distance to take the lead, followed by Farmer who retired almost immediately with a broken exhaust. Franklin closed up on the final lap chasing Agg over the line and losing out by a whisker. The mighty BRM P154 of Jost Kalisch hauled through from the back of the grid with one recalcitrant cylinder to pip Chiles and ‘Bandini’ for third. Agg led part 2 from lights to flag, but this time Kalisch got the better of Franklin, the BRM’s Chevy engine restored to health, but failed to oust Franklin from second in the aggregate results.
The cut-off date for this year’s Chopaard Grand Prix Cars race was extended up to 1959, thus thwarting any hopes Martin Stretton might have had of scoring a hattrick with David Duffy’s Connaught ‘B’ Type. The most exciting additions to the grid were the 1958 Vanwall VW10, recently acquired by Vijay MaIlya and entrusted to John Harper, and the BRM V16 of Nick Mason, being raced in anger for the first time since 1955. From the middle of the front row, Alain de Cadenet led the opening lap in Peter Hannen’s Cooper T51 from Nigel Corner in the 3-litre Tasman Dino Ferrari, a difficult car to get off the line cleanly, and Willie Green in Neil Corner’s 250F Maserati.
By lap 2 the order had changed with Dino at the front from de Cadenet, Green and Stretton. The Vanwall had latched onto the tail of this chasing bunch, in seventh place, and while Corner paced to an easy win, de Cadenet fell from contention with a smokey exit leaving Stretton to give forlorn chase before Rod Jolley charged through the pack in his wheel-waving Cooper T51 to claim runner-up spot, while Stretton just held off Owen-Jones and Green, the Vanwall finishing a promising sixth. Again a slow start allowed Corner to be headed by Jolley and Green in the second part, but the Ferrari was up to third on lap 2 before being caught out by the wet at Stowe and gyrating three times before collecting it back together. Green had displaced Jolley and despite the Cooper driver’s most earnest efforts it was the front-engined Maserati that triumphed, Corner recovering to third but doing enough to take the aggregate win from Jolley and Green. Fourth overall went to Stretton, well clear of Owen-Jones and an excellent showing from Tony Smith in the ex-Corner Tasman Aston DBR4 was rewarded with sixth place. First pre-war finisher was Mark Gillies with the White Riley one lap down in twelfth. Sadly, the BRM succumbed to fuel pressure problems after only a couple of laps.
Both parts of the Pre-War Sports Car race were dominated by German Peter Groh, who opted to drive single-handed in his Alfa Romeo 8C Le Mans, winning Part 1 easily from the Aston Martin Ulster of Nick Mason and Mike Wilds and John May’s Bentley 4 1/2. Come Part 2, it was Stretton who gave chase to the leading Alfa, but a sterling effort was only enough to claim third overall behind the Aston pairing of Mason and Wilds. The young Wood brothers, James and Robert, acquitted themselve well to take fourth in father Bob’s Invicta. A full grid of 48 cars contested the FIA European Challenge for Historic Touring Cars, which was of one hour’s duration.
The pacesetters of recent years, the works supported BMW 1800Tis of Scuderia Bavaria, have met their match this year in the Ford Falcons of Swedes Bengt Windquist/Ulf Larsson and Leo Voyazides/Tony Lanfranchi. Although Dieter Ouester claimed pole for the BMW team, Larsson took the first stint and placed the Falcon straight into the lead, which it never lost, handing over to Windquist at half-distance. For the majority of the race, the Mustang of Erwin Derichs and Steigenberger regular Wido Roessler held second place only to have the prop-shaft fail with ten minutes to go. The Mustang of Richard Bremmerkamp/Johannes Offergeld made it an all-US top three during the opening stages before the Ouester/von Bayern BMW managed to restore some German pride and took second place some 19s in arrears. The Alfa contingent were rewarded with fourth, in the shape of the Giulia GTA of Giorgio Schon/Maurizio Ambrogetti barely two seconds adrift of the third-place Mustang after one hour of racing, and even succeeded in lapping faster than the second place BMW. ASDC