Silverstone to mark jubilee at Coys '98

Fifty years of Silverstone Circuit will be the theme of the BRDC's seventh International Historic Festival extravaganza, scheduled to take place on July 24.26 next year.

The meeting will commemorate the men and machines which have provided half a century's heroic action on the ever evolving motorsport complex, host to every FIA World Championship British Grand Prix since 1987.

Silverstone has a unique place in the F1 World Championship, for it staged the opening round of the inaugural drivers series on 13 May 1950 when Alfa's then 158s came home in the first three places.

Among the other landmarks which will doubtless be remembered at the 1998 Coys Festival will be the 50th anniversary of both Porsche and Colin Chapman's first Lotus car, and the 40th anniversary of the formation of Lola Cars by Eric Broadley.

The outright wins were classics. Pearson, in the Brabham, first grappled every inch of the way with Touring Car expert Tim Sugden's Steve O'Rourke-owned Cooper-Climax to claim Pre-1968 Grand Prix honours, and again, this time in the Lister with Frank Sytnees Jaguar D-type in a Louis Vuitton '50s Sportscar race, the result of which was always in doubt.

Pipped by both rivals on day one, Pearson responded on Sunday. The sight of the Lister and D-type floating through Abbey on narrow Dunlop tyres, and the Brabham and Cooper tied together on armfuls of opposite lock as they accelerated out of Club, will not quickly be forgotten. Nor will the sound of the pursuing BRM P133s of Linstone and Lamplough.

Sportscar battles raged throughout the field, and when Barrie Williams (Tojeiro-Jaguar) and James Shead (Lotus 15) jumped Dickie Attwood (in Walker's Costin-bodied ListerJaguar) and Coys chairman Jeffrey Pattinson (Cooper Monaco) in a monster sort-out on the final lap, it was Shead who claimed the honours.

Frank Sytner won the Coys-backed Ferrari GT race which brought 22 3-litre V12 machines (chiefly Tour de Frances, SWBs and GTOs) after two masterful outings in Sir Anthony Bamford's evolution GTO, but Nick Mason and Australian Matthew Martin made him work the second time round, chased home by Peter Sachs's lightweight GTO.

A great drive by Kent Abrahamsson in a Chevron B16 brought Brian Redman's triumph over the Lola T70s at Thruxton in 1970 to mind, but the replay was denied when the Swede spun. Abrahamsson executed a grassy doughnut and charged back to fourth, in the slipstream of Nigel Hulme and Chris Strakosch who completed a superb 1-2-3 for Eric Broadley's bellowing V8 coupes.

Talbot team tactics decided the double-driver 1930s Sportscar event, when Cecil Schumacher handed his car over to Historic Formula Three champ Gareth Burnett at the earliest opportunity, and Flavien Marcais drove a fine race with Peter Bradfield to make it a marque one-two. Their progress in the wet left the Aston Martin Ulster brigade with too much to do.

The evergreen David Piper brought some of his sensational fleet of sports prototypes the 250LM, P1, P2/3 and P4 to contest the Shell Historical Challenge and the Pre-'72 Le Mans events, and by using his guile was able to hold off Swiss Christoph Stieger's sleek ex-Ickx/Redman 312P in the P2/3, until flat-12 F1 power finally told. Stieger took the flag when brother Patrick, first in Saturday's race in his 512M, waved him through.

I enjoyed myself," said Piper, game for a battle as ever in his 66th year. "She goes well for an old one. It's a lovely, flowing circuit, and the changes to Stowe and Club corners have made it a real pleasure to drive on again.

Abbey's flat now, just as it was when I won the Daily Express Trophy race with the LM in 1968, Copse is vastly improved and the complex before Woodcote is not as bad as it was. The BRDC has done a super job."

Frank Sytner agreed: "The Coys International Festival is definitely the best Historic race meeting in the world. Silverstone is by far the best circuit for these cars, and it generates the finest racing. Everything about this meeting the competitors, the cars, the atmosphere and organisation has been fabulous. For me it is simply the weekend of the year!" MP