Even by its own record-breaking standards, Saturday (30 July) was very special at the 2016 Silverstone Classic with more than 16 hours of awe-inspiring action and epic entertainment wowing tens of thousands of fans at the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival.
It all started at dawn with 21 hot air balloons taking to the skies and ended after dusk with eighties chart-toppers, The Stranglers bringing down the curtain on another memorable day at the ‘Rocking and Racing’ Classic.
In between, the famous Grand Prix circuit hosted no fewer than 11 fiercely-fought races featuring something for everyone, ranging from early eighties DFV-powered F1 cars and fifties GTs, to slightly more modern Super Tourers and Group C prototypes. Spectators also witnessed three high-speed demonstrations and a succession of significant anniversary track parades.
Notable among these were the Lamborghini Club celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Miura plus 100 years since the birth of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Viper Club marking its 20th birthday and Porsche Club GB which was honouring Porsche’s first ‘transaxle’ sports cars 40 years ago.
Indeed, the German marque was out in force with a massive display fronted by its Le Mans winning 919 Hybrid plus an impressive number of beautifully restored 924s, 944s and 968s. In total, no fewer than 2,500 club members were displaying 1,200 Porsches, including 200 transaxle models which took to the famous track for the special parade.
The efforts of Porsche Classic and the Porsche Club GB were rewarded with the coveted Mervyn Garton ‘Scarf and Googles’ Award for the best off-track visitor attraction.
While the unrivalled quantity and quality of the racing absorbs many, the amazing array of in-field entertainment is an equally important attraction at the Classic. Those at Silverstone were treated to an incredible array of privately-owned classic cars, fun fair rides, adrenaline zone activities and live festival music. The Boomtown Rats topped the bill on Friday before Reef and The Stranglers sent the fans home happy on Saturday evening.
Many of today’s highlight races will be back in action tomorrow along with a number of saloon and touring car showdowns on what’s a dedicated Tin Top Sunday.
Race 1: Commander Yorke Trophy for Historic Formula Junior
A huge grid of late 1950s and early 1960s Formula Junior single-seaters opened the weekend’s packed programme of racing, with more than 50 cars stretching back right around Club Corner at the start.
Sam Wilson took the lead, while Westie Mitchell, Callum Grant and pole-sitter Andrew Hibberd squabbled behind him. Hibberd moved into second and began to reel in Wilson but ultimately was unable to make up the lost ground.
There was a great battle between Cameron Jackson and Nicholas Fennell who were switching places all over the circuit and they caught Grant ahead, with Fennell battling through into third. But Grant wasn’t to be denied a podium grabbing back third place on the penultimate lap. Further back, Ray Mallock finished first of the older-generation front-engined cars, in 14th overall.
The trophies were presented by racing legend Richard Attwood, the 1970 Le Mans winner and more relevantly victor of the high profile Formula Junior race supporting the Monaco Grand Prix in 1963.
Sam Wilson (Lotus 20/22) 9 laps
Andrew Hibberd (Lotus 22) +1.073s
Callum Grant (Merlyn Mk 5/7) +16.611s
Race 2: Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-’61 Sports Cars
Next up was the first of the pit-stop races, with drivers competing for the actual trophy awarded to Sir Stirling Moss for his first ever Grand Prix victory at Aintree in 1955.
The crowds were treated to a great train of cars from first to fifth positions with the Lister Jaguars leading from the off. It wasn’t long, however, before Sam Hancock fought his way to the front in the scarlet Ferrari 246S ‘Dino’ with Oliver Bryant’s little Lotus picking its way through to second place.
Bryant briefly nosed the Lotus ahead of the Ferrari but then dropped back to fourth after spinning on oil at Stowe. He fought his way back past the Listers back into second but the Lotus lost ground later on after Oliver handed over to father Grahame.
Up front the Ferrari Dino won comfortably, the car taking back-to-back wins at the Classic in ’15 and ’16, Hancock thrusting both hands into the air in jubilation as he took the flag.
Sam Hancock (Ferrari 246S) 20 laps
Richard Kent (Lister Costin Jaguar) +28.255s
Tony Wood / Will Nuthall (Lister Knobbly) +29.837s
Race 3: Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars (Pre ’63 GT)
The coveted Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars was won by the pole-sitting Aston Martin DB4 GT of Wolfgang Friedrichs and Simon Hadfield… but the victory was far from straight-forward.
The early laps of the 50-minute, pit-stop encounter for Pre ’63 GTs were led by the striking and unique Ferrari 250 SWB ‘Breadvan’, with the AC Cobra of Martin Hunt and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards plus a pack of jostling E-type Jaguars in hot pursuit, as Friedrichs dropped back in the Aston.
The intervention of a safety car following an incident involving an Alfa Romeo TZ1 changed the face of the race, however. Lukas Halusa thought he’d taken advantage of the Safety Car to make his compulsory pit-stop, but came in before the pit stop window was open and thus was forced to make a second stop a few laps later.
Friedrichs, though, got his timing right and handed over to hot-shoe Hadfield as soon as the window opened and, when all the pit-stops had been completed, the Aston held a comfortable advantage over the AC Cobra with the fastest of the E-types shared by James Cottingham and Andrew Smith in third. After his earlier error, Halusa charged back through the field in the fabulous Ferrari and only just missed out on reclaiming a place on the podium, crossing the chequered flag right on the back bumper of the Jaguar.
Wolfgang Friedrichs / Simon Hadfield (Aston Martin DB4 GT) 18 laps
Martin Hunt / Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (AC Cobra) +16.468s
James Cottingham / Andrew Smith (Jaguar E-type) +30.698s
Race 4: Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for Pre ’56 Sports Cars Presented by Jaguar
Pole-sitting Chris Ward in the Cooper-Jaguar was expected to take an easy victory in the 50-minute Woodcote Trophy showdown for pre 1956 sports cars after qualifying more than a second ahead of the opposition. But, come raceday, he was challenged all the way by Frederic Wakeman / Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in another of the Cooper-Jaguars.
Wakeman stole the lead at the start, with Ward harrying him all around the opening lap before nipping through at Chapel, then building a comfortable lead as cars made their mandatory pit-stops.
However, the on-form Blakeney-Edwards exited the pits right on Ward’s tail and then grabbed the lead with 15 minutes left. Blakeney-Edwards eked out a lead of just over a second, but Ward was always close behind.
With less than five minutes remaining Ward caught back up and re-took the lead, getting the power down exiting the Loop in a controlled slide. He pulled ahead onto the Wellington Straight, before holding on for a hard-earned victory in a fantastic contest between the two Jaguar-engined cars.
Chris Ward (Cooper-Jaguar T33) 19 laps
Frederic Wakeman / Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (Cooper-Jaguar T38) +3.370s
Tony Wood / Barry Wood (RGS Atalanta) +1m 35.440s
Race 5: FIA Masters Historic Formula One
The pair of 25-minute FIA Masters Historic Formula One races are always two of the big draws at the Classic. The huge crowd was treated to the spectacle of a rolling start for 29 DFV-engined Formula One cars from the late 70s and early 80s.
At the start, Ollie Hancock made a fantastic pass around the outside of pole-sitter Nick Padmore to lead in the 1978 Fittipaldi F5A, but Padmore would have none of it, wasting no time in re-gaining the lead at Brooklands.
Martin Stretton, who struggled to get heat into his tyres in qualifying, fell back to fifth in the ex-Michele Alboreto Tyrrell 012. Ahead of him, Hancock was under pressure from the fast-starting Loic Deman, the earlier Tyrrell 010 up from seventh to third on the first lap. The Belgian made a bold but necessary move up the inside going into Copse as the iconic black and gold Lotus 91/5 of Gregory Thornton was catching them both. The Fittipaldi fell back down the field, but took the victory in the pre ’78 class.
Thornton continued to press Deman in his Lotus, raced by Elio de Angelis in period, but couldn’t quite find a way past, pirouetting at Abbey on the last lap. He caught the spin after one rotation and continued without losing a spot.
Championship front-runner Nick Padmore claimed his fifth consecutive victory this season and a fitting one at Silverstone, where Clay Regazzoni took Williams’ first-ever Grand Prix win racing a similar FW07 in 1979.
Nick Padmore (Williams FW07C) 14 laps
Loic Deman (Tyrrell 010) +3.861s
Gregory Thornton (Lotus 91/5) +8.402s
Race 6: JET Super Touring Car Trophy
Pole-sitter Colin Noble Jnr, running a Vauxhall Vectra from 2000 (when Jason Plato partnered Vincent Radermecker) started well and opened up a gap to James Dodd’s Honda Accord and Frank Wrathall in his ex-Emanuele Pirro Audi A4. Dodd, though, soon settled in and began to reel Noble Jnr back in.
Once he caught the leader, Dodd’s ex-Peter Kox Accord darted left and right in search of a way past, but the youngster kept a cool head in front and held his own to take a narrow but well-earned victory.
Craig Davies led the Group A runners in his flame-spitting Ford Sierra RS500, while two-time Bathurst winner Tony Longhurst – in his 1994 Australian Manufacturers’ Championship winning BMW 320 – finished just inside the top 20 after a race long battle with 1985 European Touring Car Champion, Gianfranco Brancatelli.
Colin Noble Jnr (Vauxhall Vectra) 9 laps
James Dodd (Honda Accord) +0.206s
Frank Wrathall (Audi A4) +9.824
Race 7: Can-Am 50 Interserie Challenge
This year’s Silverstone Classic is celebrating 50 years since the birth of the fearsome Can-Am sports car series with two very special showdowns. Saturday’s opener featured no fewer than ten of these mighty V8 beasts plus a great array of less potent but more agile cars from European championships and Le Mans.
The mighty Can-Am breed was headed by the brute force of Andrew Newall’s thundering 8.8-litre McLaren M8F from 1972 with Rob Hall’s glorious sounding V12 Matra MS670B/C from 1974 fastest among the World Sportscar interlopers.
Hall started slowly from pole with Andrew Newall blasting the McLaren into the lead but could not drop the hard-chasing Matra which harried the McLaren for the first 15 of the 20-minute race.
Then, with the McLaren starting to struggle on worn tyres, Hall slipped through into the lead. Newall used his car’s power to blast back alongside but eventually had to settle for second place overall and victory in the Can-Am category. The trophies were presented by Jackie Oliver; winner of the Can-Am Championship in 1974 which was the series’ final year.
Rob Hall (Matra 670B/C) 10 laps
Andrew Newall (McLaren M8F) +1.758s
John Grant (McLaren M8C/D) +31.944s
Race 8: Maserati Trophy for HGPCA pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars
48 fantastic Grand Prix cars dating between 1937 and 1964 took the flag at the start of this race, with third-placed qualifier Jon Fairley leading as the field went through Abbey. Pole-sitter Will Nuthall soon put the Brabham BT11 under pressure, his older 1960 Cooper T53 harrying the 1964 machine.
Indeed, the Cooper passed the Brabham at Brooklands, but Nuthall was unable to slow the car and allowed Fairley to re-pass, before running wide himself at Stowe, giving up the lead.
Once Nuthall went ahead he was able to stretch the Cooper’s legs, opening up a good advantage, before Fairley began to put the pressure on again. Behind them, Peter Horsman was running a steady race in his Lotus 18/21, ready to pick up any positions if things went awry in front.
Fairley’s Brabham re-took the lead with just over two minutes left, Nuthall briefly slowed in the Cooper, before picking up speed again and setting up a final lap showdown.
Fairley seemed to have the 20-minute race all under control with half a lap left, but he then suffered a leery moment letting a surprised and delighted Nuthall finish in front.
Will Nuthall (Cooper T53) 9 laps
Jon Fairley (Brabham BT11) +1.403s
Peter Horsman (Lotus 18/21) +13.041s
Race 9: FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars
The pole-sitting Andy Willis’ Matra MS650 led the 50-minute FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars race from the start with Chris Ward’s Lola T70Mk3B taking second from Nick Padmore’s Chevron B19 before the Lola grabbed the lead to cap an entertaining first lap.
Padmore then slipped past the Matra too, and the Chevron began to catch the leading car before things settled down with Oliver Bryant holding off Gary Pearson – both in 5-litre Lola T70 Mk3B’s – battling for fourth.
Willis was the first of the front-runners to make the mandatory pit-stop handing over to team-mate Rob Hall, looking to capitalise on Hall’s speed to regain the lead.
Up front, Ward and Padmore continued to battle for the lead, the little Chevron briefly nosing ahead before the grunt of the Lola helped it retake first place.
The two leaders pitted together but with Hall’s Matra now lapping faster than them on track he took the lead, with Max Smith-Hilliard now in the Chevron coming out in second and Ward’s Lola now driven by Paul Gibson in third.
Bryant, running the whole race solo, passed the Chevron and quickly set after Gibson, passing the T70 soon afterwards.
But Rob Hall was too strong for the field in the light blue Matra, pulling away to take an impressive victory, and the second of the day for the French equipé.
Andy Willis / Rob Hall (Matra MS650) 23 laps
Oliver Bryant (Lola T70 Mk3B) +28.536s
Chris Ward / Paul Gibson (Lola T70 Mk3B) +52.577s
Race 10: International Trophy for GT Cars (pre ’66)
The day’s final 50-minute pit-stop race – the International Trophy for GT Cars – starred a capacity 57-car grid packed with wonderful Jaguar E-types, AC Cobras, Austin Healeys, Lotus Elans and MGBs. It was the TVR Griffith of Mike Whitaker which led away from pole position chased hard by the growling AC Cobras of Oliver Bryant and Leo Voyazides.
Bryant stalked the TVR for several laps before pouncing to take the lead. Behind him Julian Thomas in the leading E-type slipped past Voyazides for third and chased down the TVR.
After the mid-race pit-stops, just a handful of seconds covered the top four with Simon Hadfield now aboard Voyazides’ Daytona Cobra. He quickly slid past the E-type, which was then further slowed by a drive-through penalty, and set his sights on the leader. With a couple of laps remaining, the two Cobras – now with lights ablaze in the fading light – were battling side-by-side before Hadfield edged ahead to take the victory.
Leo Voyazides / Simon Hadfield (Shelby Daytona Cobra) 20 laps
Oliver Bryant (AC Cobra) +4.635s
Mike Whitaker (TVR Griffith) +12.482s
Race 11: Group C
An amazing day’s retro racing concluded with a spectacular 30-minute sunset showdown for Group C prototypes.
Stirring up memories of Le Mans in the eighties, Nathan Kinch took full advantage of pole position in his Judd V10 powered Lola. Behind the two Nissan R93s of Bob Berridge and Katsu Kubota, Christophe D’Ansembourg’s high-tech Jaguar XJR14 and Mark Sumpter’s Porsche 962 were all sending up sparks in the dusk as they skirmished for second.
Kinch wasted no time making his escape but the four cars behind put on a fantastic show. The Ross Brawn-designed Jaguar eventually making its way through the squabbling Nissans but then slowed on the final lap to elevate Kubota and Sumpter into the remaining places on the podium.
There was no stopping the dominant Kinch, though, who romped home to take the day’s final victory.
Nathan Kinch (Lola T92/10) 17 laps
Katsu Kubota (Nissan R93) +51.742s
Mark Sumpter (Porsche 962) +57.885s
Source. Silverstone Classic/Photos. Sportscar Racing News