The 2017 Silverstone Classic drew to a close today (30 July), with another record-breaking day that included ten crowd-pleasing races, eye-catching anniversary parades and high-speed demos that sent more than 100,000 spectators home with wide smiles on their faces.
In excess of 1,000 entries spanned some eight decades of glorious motor sport history over the course of the weekend, from evocative Pre War Sports Cars all the way through to DFV-era Formula 1 machinery and tin-top icons from the much-loved Super Touring era.
Away from the circuit, a veritable treasure trove of classic cars saw no fewer than 10,000 packed into the infield, from fabulous Ferraris to awe-inspiring Aston Martins, legendary Lotuses and magnificent Maseratis – and everything else in-between. The dazzling display included another massive turnout from Porsche Club GB, Jaguar’s hugely-popular F-type drift experience and the Gaz 21 Club, all the way from Russia.
One car that travelled to Silverstone from even further afield was the striking, shark-nosed BMW 635 CSi, which made the trip from Australia to be piloted in both JET Super Touring Car Trophy races by its original driver, ‘Gentleman Jim’ Richards – one of which saw the New Zealander indulge in an entertaining wheel-to-wheel duel with fellow tin-top hero Steve Soper.
The JPS-liveried car was brought over by its owner Peter Sturgeon, who was rewarded for his outstanding endeavour with the Stuart Graham ‘Scarf and Goggles’ trophy. Introduced in 2015 to mark the festival’s 25th anniversary, the award is now presented annually to what is judged to be the most admired car competing at the Classic. Sturgeon received the accolade from Graham, one of the inspirations behind the original Classic event staged at Silverstone and a TT winner on both two wheels and four.
The efforts of the crowd-pleasing eBay RESTORATION LIVE team were similarly recompensed with the coveted Mervyn Garton ‘Scarf and Goggles’ Award for the best off-track visitor attraction that saw a 1984 Ford Capri successfully restored using only parts sourced from eBay. The finished model was shown off at one of Mike Brewer’s Car Clinics. The car will now be sold for Silverstone Classic’s charity partner Prostate Cancer UK on eBay.
The Street Car Shootout was another popular draw, while fans were additionally treated to the wonderful sight and sound of Nigel Mansell’s 1992 British Grand Prix-winning Williams FW14B in two commemorative high-speed demos. Another undisputed highlight was an eye-catching track parade of 115 McLaren road cars – an unprecedented figure that is hoped will be certified as a Guinness World Record. Fittingly, Bruce McLaren’s daughter Amanda was present in what would have been her father’s 80th birthday year.
Racing is what the event is most famous for, of course, and nobody earned spectators’ applause more than historic single-seater exponent Sam Wilson, whose three victories from four starts – and a runner-up finish – deservedly earned him the Motor Sport Magazine Driver of the Weekend Award.
True to form and building upon a phenomenal Friday and sensational Saturday, Sunday’s track action saw a trio of single-seater and sportscar races serve up some spectacular entertainment at the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival.
On the 50th anniversary of the world’s most famous junior single-seater series, the second Formula Ford 50 presented by Historic Motorsport International race of the weekend saw Michael O’Brien replicate his Saturday success, as he expertly navigated a track surface still damp from overnight rain.
Despite seeing his early lead erased by a safety car intervention, the Merlyn Mk20A driver maintained his composure and had enough pace to head off a challenge from reigning champion Callum Grant in the closing stages, with Benn Tilley getting the better of Ed Thurston in a last lap tussle over third.
The blue riband Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars (Pre ’63 GT) was arguably the highlight of the morning – with a dramatic final twist in the tail for good measure. Lukas Halusa overhauled early leader James Cottingham behind the wheel of his unique Ferrari 250 GT SWB ‘Breadvan’, and went on to comfortably control proceedings up to the final few laps.
Despite losing a chunk of time a handful of laps from home, Halusa remained in charge and finished first-on-the-road – before being handed a retrospective 45-second penalty speeding in the pit-lane, relegating the scarlet Ferrari to fifth.
Halusa’s misfortune meant the duel for the runner-up spot between Simon Hadfield and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards was in actual fact the battle for victory. When Hadfield took over in the Aston Martin DP212 ‘project car’, the car was languishing down the order, and notwithstanding a brace of off-track excursions, a string of fastest laps saw him charge back through the field to pip the AC Cobra within sight of the chequered flag.
An interesting entry in the race was European Parliament Brexit Co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt, who was spotted with both the UK’s Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis, and Event Director, Nick Wigley, in the Silverstone Classic Heritage Paddock.
Making up for his disappointment in the previous race, Blakeney-Edwards produced a tremendous performance to triumph in the following Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for Pre ’56 Sports Cars, with the Cooper T38 he shared with Frederic Wakeman leapfrogged the Jaguar D-type of the Pearson brothers during the pit-stops to take the lead. John Pearson subsequently fell back into the clutches of the hard-charging Chris Ward, who stole second place in the closing stages in his Cooper Jaguar T33.
In the FIA Masters Historic Formula One race, Silverstone instructor Michael Lyons led home Nick Padmore and Jonathan Kennard. In Williams’ 40th anniversary year, it was somewhat fitting that both races should be won by the team’s FW07 – the car that delivered the squad its first grand prix victory here at Silverstone back in 1979.
The Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge Trophy Owner Race witnessed a terrific three-way slipstreaming scrap for the top spot between Mike Jordan, Jonathan Lewis and Ben Colburn, with the advantage switching on practically every lap. The ex-BTCC race-winner ultimately drew upon all of his racing experience to prevail, with the pursuing Colburn and Lewis separated by a scant two thousandths-of-a-second at the flag.
Both HRDC races helped the event to raise a very significant amount of money for the Classic’s official charity partner Prostate Cancer UK, and once the results were combined, it was the Bike Legends team that came out on top.
The new-to-the-bill Jaguar Classic Challenge was an instant crowd-pleaser, with hordes of eye-catching E-types producing a spectacular showpiece as they were pushed right to their limits and occasionally beyond. The low-drag example of Julian Thomas grabbed the early lead but its glory was short-lived – a technical issue leading to its retirement. Victory finally went to Gary Pearson from the fast-finishing James Dodd.
The FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars contest was even more dramatic and ended behind a safety car after several damaged cars were abandoned around the circuit. Martin O’Connell’s fast-starting Chevron B19 burst past the front row sitters to lead the pack. Behind him, a fierce battle for second developed between Dan Gibson (Lola T70 Mk3b) and Nick Padmore’s Chevron B19. Just as Padmore appeared to have taken the place, the cars touched with the Chevron spearing into the barriers.
Gibson’s luck ran out later in the race. Dicing with O’Connell for the lead, the Lola suffered a rear puncture when forced off the circuit, paving the way for the former British F3 National Class Champion to sprint clear to victory.
The Maserati Trophy for HGPCA Pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars delivered a superb scrap between Jon Fairley in his 1964 Brabham BT11/19 and Sam Wilson’s older Lotus 18 372 – resolved in favour of the former – with an equally good battle for earlier front-engined car honours pitting Julian Bronson’s brutal Scarab Offenhauser against the unique Maserati TecMec piloted by Tony Wood, whose challenge was scuppered by a ten-second false start penalty.
The second Group C contest of the weekend was again affected by rain, with the field starting on slick tyres but obliged to pit for wet weather rubber as the precipitation intensified. When the race was rejoined, the ex-Michael Schumacher ‘Silver Arrows’ Mercedes C11 held a commanding lead, with driver Kriton Lendoudis even able to afford a couple of off-track excursions on his way to victory. Following a pit-stop delay, yesterday’s winner Steve Tandy charged back through to snatch the runner-up spoils.
The JET Super Touring Car Trophy appropriately brought the curtain down on another super-successful Silverstone Classic, with Saturday star Jason Minshaw and James Dodd waging a titanic duel for glory on a drying track. Dodd’s Honda Accord ultimately got the better of the ex-Rickard Rydell Volvo S40, as former European Touring Car king Gianfranco Brancatelli winning the simultaneous Group A race in his flame-spitting, Spa 24 Hour-winning Ford Sierra RS500.
Sunday Race Results:
- Michael O’Brien (Merlyn Mk20A) 8 laps (78.31mph)
- Callum Grant (Merlyn Mk20A) +1.235s
- Benn Tilley (Merlyn Mk20A) +7.012s
- Wolfgang Friedrichs/Simon Hadfield (Aston Martin DP212) 20 laps (83.49mph)
- Martin Hunt/Pat Blakeney-Edwards (AC Cobra) +2.043s
- James Cottingham/Harvey Stanley (Jaguar E-type) +5.439s
- Frederic Wakeman/Pat Blakeney-Edwards (Cooper T38) 20 laps (86.66mph)
- Andrew Smith/Chris Ward (Cooper Jaguar T33) +20.341s
- Gary Pearson/John Pearson (Jaguar D-type) +39.886s
- Frederic Wakeman/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (Cooper T38) 20 laps (83.54mph)
- Chris Ward/Andrew Smith (Cooper Jaguar T33) +20.341s
- Gary Pearson/John Pearson (Jaguar D-type) +39.886s
- Michael Lyons (Williams FW07B) 11 laps (116.0mph)
- Nick Padmore (Williams FW07C) +6.527s
- Jonathan Kennard (Arrows A3) +8.075s
- Mike Jordan (Austin A30) 7 laps (74.27mph)
- James Colburn (Austin A30) +0.889s
- Jonathan Lewis (Austin A35) +0.891s
- Gary Pearson (Jaguar E-type) 13 laps (84.90mph)
- Graeme Dodd/James Dodd (Jaguar E-type) +1.155s
- Ben Short (Jaguar E-type) +13.592s
- Martin O’Connell (Chevron B19) 21 laps (103.29mph)
- Rob Garofall/Philip Hall (Lola T212) +7.221s
- Andrew Banks/Max Banks (McLaren M6B) +8.155s
- Jon Fairley (Brabham BT11/19) 9 laps (93.24mph)
- Sam Wilson (Lotus 18 372) +5.309s
- Barry Cannell (Brabham BT11A) +39.560s
- Kriton Lendoudis (Mercedes C11) 12 laps (100.39mph)
- Steve Tandy (Spice SE90 GTP) +19.041s
- Philippe Scemama (Spice SE89C) + 48.353S
- James Dodd (Honda Accord) 8 laps (88.02mph)
- Jason Minshaw (Volvo S40) +1.187s
- Darren Fielding (Ford Mondeo) +28.318s
STARS OF THE SCREEN STEAL THE SHOW IN CLASSIC CELEBRITY CHALLENGE
The Screen Stars team won the Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge Trophy Race – a new addition to the action-packed programme at the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival yesterday evening (29 July).
Led by former Formula 1 ace and Le Mans winner Mark Blundell, the winning team includedDragon’s Den host Theo Paphitis, Wheeler Dealers presenter Ant Anstead, BBC Radio 2 sports presenter Vassos Alexander, Sky Sports F1 pundit Tony Jardine and former Top Gear anchor Tiff Needell. Between them, the speedy sextet helped towards raising £10,000 for the event’s official charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK.
Their victory did not come easy, however, with the race staged in increasingly difficult conditions as early evening drizzle turned into rain to leave grip at a premium on the famous 3.6-mile Silverstone Grand Prix circuit – a particular challenge for many of the celebrity rookies making their track racing debut in the star-studded encounter.
To add to the spectacle, all 26 entrants were behind the wheel of equally-matched Austin A30s and A35s kindly provided by members of the HRDC (Historic Racing Drivers’ Club) Academy, who have their own race today (Sunday).
Following a short familiarisation and afternoon qualifying session held under sunny skies, the rain began to fall as the cars took to the track for the early evening race, with a brief red flag intermission and safety car re-start adding to the drama.
In such tricky conditions, it was no surprise that the experienced team captains came to the fore, as Blundell, fellow ex-grand prix driver Martin Donnelly and touring car legends Steve Soper and Anthony Reid diced furiously at the front, exchanging positions with brio.
In a four-car slipstreaming thriller, it was Soper that prevailed, with a last lap spin for Reid elevating Donnelly to second and Blundell to third. Former Motorcycling 500cc World Champion Wayne Gardner came home ‘best-of-the-rest’ in fourth, with Jason Kenny CBE – Britain’s equal-most successful Olympic athlete and a man with a modicum of prior motor racing experience – finishing a commendable ninth.
Take That’s Howard Donald claimed rookie bragging rights, ahead of multiple super-middleweight boxing world champion Carl Froch MBE and gold medal-winning Olympian Amy Williams MBE.
Amongst those with hard luck stories to tell were former AC/DC front man Brian Johnson – who was unable to start the race after taking a tumble his car in qualifying – and all three Olympic gold medal rowers, with Jonny Searle MBE, Greg Searle MBE and Mark Hunter MBE all struggling to conquer the treacherous conditions. Thankfully, everybody emerged unscathed.
“Our first Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge Trophy Race proved to be a superb addition to the bill this year,” enthused Event Director Nick Wigley, who participated in the race himself as a team captain, taking the chequered flag tenth. “Considering the distinctly inclement weather, I think everybody did really well – most notably the complete rookies in the field who had never done anything like this before.
“It was anything but a straightforward baptism for them, and I must congratulate Mark and the Screen Stars team on winning and helping to raise so much money for such a worthy cause. I also need to thank all the owners of the cars, who kindly entrusted us their pride and joy yesterday. We look forward to seeing them take to the track themselves today.”
Steve Soper (1st)
“That was very, very tricky. It was all about trying to find the grip, with different drivers finding it in different corners. It was huge fun – my heart was really pumping and the adrenaline was flowing. Everybody who finished did a fantastic job, so all credit to them. I know he was in my team, but for Wayne Gardner to finish fourth was incredible.”
Mark Blundell (3rd)
“That was great fun, but they were extremely difficult conditions. Out of all the races I’ve done, it was probably one of the most difficult because of the cars’ limited grip and the conditions. That made it impossible to predict. Just about everybody was sideways and for the rookies, I think, it was particularly hard work. Hats off to those that finished – they’re in good company!”
Wayne Gardner (4th)
“That was a challenge! They’re very difficult cars to drive – especially to drive fast – and to add to the difficulty, it rained. It took me a little while to understand where the grip was, and I really only got that on the last lap by studying the drivers ahead. I was getting faster and actually catching the leading group and then the chequered flag came out! Overall, I’m pretty happy. I didn’t spin, I made it home and I think if it had been dry, I could have been on the podium. It was great fun – I really enjoyed it.”
Jason Kenny (9th)
“That was brilliant! I got really nervous when it started raining, but that only made me enjoy it more. I just tried to keep all four wheels pointing in roughly the same direction. It was a great experience, especially given my position on the track just behind all the pros. I was trying to hang onto their coat-tails, which was really good fun.”
Howard Donald (12th)
“Once the weather changed, everything changed – it became very slippery! When I saw cars spinning in front of me, it made me happy as it wasn’t me! I would do it again. It was great to learn in one of these cars as, if you can race one of these, you can probably race anything – that’s my theory!”
Theo Paphitis (15th)
“Those were the worst conditions I have ever driven in. I made the mistake of wearing white pants; now they’re going to call me ‘Skiddy’ as there were a lot of skids going on in more ways than one! If someone asked me to do it again, I’d tell them to ‘get lost’ – but, as it happens, I’m doing it again on Sunday in the owners’ race.”
Carl Froch MBE (16th)
“To be honest, it was petrifying, but I’m really happy to have finished in 14th and moved up two places. After I saw the car in front of me go off, I decided to play it safe as these cars are not exactly forgiving, especially in these conditions.”
Amy Williams MBE (17th)
“I loved it! That was the most amazing experience and I’ve really enjoyed learning a whole new skill. As far as the race was concerned, I think I was the Sunday driver at the back! I saw too many others spin in front of me to push too hard, particularly as I’d spun myself in qualifying. I really wanted to bring my car – who I’ve named Humphrey – home in one piece, so I was thrilled to finish with both of us intact. I would really love to do it again; I want to get better, faster and just be a mega racing driver.”
Vassos Alexander (18th)
“That was the most fun you could probably have, certainly in the rain – just great from start-to-finish. Those are sweet little cars. They’re ridiculously difficult to drive – way outside my talent level, but I kind of enjoyed it for that. I must have spun a dozen times, but every time I had a big grin on my face. I loved every second, and we made a load of dough for charity, which is the main thing. People had a great time – fantastic. All-told, 360 degrees of win!”
Mike Wedderburn (19th)
“Yep, that was scary and then some, as I thought it would be. The conditions suddenly changing like that was terrifying and drivers were spinning everywhere around me, but overall, I was just relieved, proud – and a bit embarrassed – as I got lost in the pits. Absolutely delighted to finish the race with me and my car intact.”
Mark Hunter MBE (20th)
“It was epic, awesome – I loved it! Some rain in qualifying would have been useful. My accident in the race has not deterred me and I’d do this whole experience again – absolutely!”
Ant Anstead (DNF)
“I’m in the winning team – it’s just a shame I couldn’t have contributed to the points total. In fact, I probably hindered us by damaging the car! The accident was really strange. I’d overtaken three people and was feeling good. I was really ‘in the zone’, but the conditions suddenly went from grippy to ice-rink when the rain started. I had a few little wobbles but I corrected them, then I came into Copse with no-one near me and in the middle of the track. I started to go, tried to correct it and it just bit me. I cut my finger and I’ve got a bit of a bruise, but the worst injury is my pride. I’ll be sore tomorrow but what the hell, our team won! Would I do it again? 100 per cent.”
Orla Chennaoui (DNF)
“Wow! What a day… The whole experience has been amazing. I loved it so much, but it was so frustrating not to have completed the race. I really found my inner racer, and the thrill of overtaking was just incredible. I just got a bit too confident, but I would 100 per cent do it again in a heartbeat!”
Jonny Searle MBE (DNF)
“Well, everything we got taught sort of went out of the window – literally – once the rain came down. Prior to that, I was really getting into the racing spirit and with it came a healthy dose of competitive red mist! Maria [Costello] was in front of me and I went to overtake her, got excited and started to spin. I tried to correct and overdid it – and the next thing I knew I was rolling. The windscreen came out, which was fortunate as I couldn’t get out of my door! I feel bad that I broke the car but delighted to have taken part and, yes, I’d do it again. The whole experience makes you just want to get better at this whole thing!”
Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge Trophy – Race Result
- Steve Soper (Austin A35 Academy) Bike Legends 11m 21.946s
- Martin Donnelly (Austin A35 Academy) Rocking & Racing +1.568s
- Mark Blundell (Austin A35 Academy) Screen Stars +2.003s
- Wayne Gardner (Austin A35 Academy) Bike Legends +6.618s
- Tiff Needell (Austin A35 Academy) Screen Stars +10.989s
- Neil Primrose (Austin A35 Academy) Rocking & Racing +11.449s
- Tony Jardine (Austin A30 Academy) Screen Stars +14.497s
- Anthony Reid (Austin A35 Academy) Going for Gold +17.765s
- Jason Kenny (Austin A35 Academy) Going for Gold +22.480s
- Nick Wigley (Austin A35 Academy) SKY Sports Stars +24.685s
- Steve Parrish (Austin A30 Academy) Bike Legends +27.397s
- Howard Donald (Austin A35 Academy) Rocking & Racing +28.822s
- Peter James (Austin A35 Academy) Rocking & Racing +33.202s
- Freddie Spencer (Austin A35 Academy) Bike Legends +59.350s
- Theo Paphitis (Austin A35 Academy) Screen Stars +1m12.743s
- Carl Froch (Austin A35 Academy) SKY Sports Stars +1m13.505s
- Amy Williams (Austin A35 Academy) Going for Gold +1m26.986s
- Vassos Alexander (Austin A35 Academy) Screen Stars +1m33.032s
- Mike Wedderburn (Austin A30 Academy) SKY Sports Stars +3m11.720s
- Mark Hunter (Austin A30 Academy) Going for Gold +1 lap
Ant Anstead (Screen Stars), Maria Costello (Bike Legends), Orla Chennaoui (SKY Sports Stars), Greg Searle (Going for Gold) and Jonny Searle (Going for Gold) did not take the re-start after the red flag in the race. Brian Johnson (Rocking & Racing) did not take part in the race following the qualifying session.
Source. Silverstone Classic/Photos. John Paytterson