Strong grids, close racing and warm sunshine made the Historic Sports Car Club’s International Trophy meeting at Silverstone a great success over the weekend of May 27/28.
The annual race weekend on the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone is one of the highlights of the HSCC racing season and this year the line-up was headed by two races for the Club’s Historic Formula 2 International Series. Ultimately, it was the sensational pace of Andy Smith in the ex-Eddie Cheever March 782 that set the bar too high for his rivals and Smith, racing for the first time since last August, took an impressive double win.
However, in the opening race Matt Wrigley ran Smith close in his similar 782 and even nipped ahead when Smith was slow out of Vale mid-race. But Smith was able to re-assert his authority over the later stages, and then on Sunday he went clear for another victory. Marc Mercer and Mark Charteris led the chase on Saturday as Charteris recovered from a quick spin at Club to finish just behind the Ralt RT1.
On Sunday, both Mercer and Charteris fell victim to car problems and so it was Brian Morris who moved through to make it a one-two-three for March 782s and score his best F2 result to date. Greg Audi narrowly took fourth in his Ralt RT1 from David Thorburn’s March 762, which moved up strongly from the back of the grid.
The opening Historic Formula Ford race was as good as anything seen on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit over the years as up to six cars battled furiously in a contest that was fierce, yet sporting and respectful. Unfortunately, as the curfew hour approached the race had to be shortened by a couple of minutes and it was Callum Grant who was best placed as he led over the line when the chequered flag appeared. With Benn Simms six hundredths of a second behind and Linton Stutely within a fifth of a second it was incredibly close after many, many place changes. Sam Mitchell, Simon Toyne and impressive youngster Spencer Shinner were all in the lead contest which lost Matt Wrigley with a distributor problem in his Merlyn.
On Sunday, battle was rejoined but then gradually fizzled out as Grant went clear with Stutely out with gear linkage woes and Simms hobbled by an engine that lapsed onto three cylinders. Instead, Shinner moved up to take a most impressive second place, but only just as Wrigley came up from the back of the grid to finish third and was just nine thousandths of a second behind Shinner as they crossed the line. Danny Stanzl celebrated his 30th birthday by taking fourth after an overnight engine change for his Elden Mk8. A bottom end engine loaned by Stutely got Danny onto the grid on his birthday and he drove a fine race.
On Sunday in the second of the SDC Classic Formula Ford Championship rounds Rick Morris gave the large contingent of SDC guests plenty to cheer as he bagged a Silverstone Grand Prix win more than four decades on from when he did the same in SDC colours. On Saturday, Simon Toyne forged his Lola T200 ahead as Morris and Joe Ahrens battled over second. Unfortunately, an inadvertent touch coming onto the Wellington Straight put both cars into a spin and they recovered for fourth and fifth behind the Van Diemens of Ben Tinkler and Andy Gosling. On Sunday, Morris had to work hard to fend off Tinkler and they were almost side-by-side over the line as Morris just got the verdict.
A bumper Guards Trophy field included a small number of Thundersports cars but it was the Guards car that took the glory. Steve Nuttall drove a fine race over the new hour-long distance to keep his Chevron B8 ahead of the Lenham P69 that Robert Tusting and Neil Fowler shared.
Christian Pittard hopped across from his Formula 5000 Chevron to wrap up the Guards podium in his Chevron B8 while Ross Hyett was the best of the Chevron B16s, as they joined the grid for the first time, with fourth overall. Horatio Fitz-Simon had to work very hard to get back to the top of the GT class after a three way Lotus Elan battle. Michael and Will Schryver grabbed an advantage when they pitted just as a safety car appeared and Fitz-Simon had to work back into contention and recover from a quick spin at Club when a gap in traffic closed up on him. With the Powell family Elan also in contention there was a great finish as Fitz-Simon just beat Will Schryver to the flag.
In the Aurora Trophy and Classic Formula 3 races it was Rory Smith who romped away on Saturday in his Ralt RT4 for a commanding win as Christian Pittard (Chevron B28) and karter Ross Allen (March 762) battled over second as they both made their single seater debuts.
On Sunday, Allen showed he was learning fast on his F2 debut and took advantage of a slow start for Smith to build a lead that he took all the way to the flag with Pittard taking third. Steven Barlow topped the F3 runners on Saturday but was an early spinner and retirement in the second race, leaving Richard Cooke to take the category in his March 793.
A bumper grid of 70s Road Sports, Historic Road Sports and Historic Touring Cars made a fabulous sight on the long Grand Prix circuit and it was Morgan Plus 8s all the way as William Plant headed Robin Pierce and Simon King. Andrew Wenman’s invitation class Plus 8 was the best of the 70s Road Sports but only just from the TVR 3000M of Anthony Ross. Mark Watts used the power of his Ford Mustang to be the leading Historic Touring Car runner from Steve Platts and Nigel Cox.
the Griffiths Haig Trophy season opened with two races on Sunday and it was the gorgeous Maserati 250S of Richard Wilson that set the pace in both races. Martin hunt gave valiant chase in his HWM Jaguar and ensured that Wilson was never too far down the road, while Chris Keen took his thundering Kurtis 500S into third place ahead of battles all the way down a wonderfully diverse field. With excellent support from the Monoposto Racing Club and the Classic Sports Car Club it all added up to a fine weekend of historic racing in the Silverstone sunshine.