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Silverstone GP Race Report.


Mark Paulson brings us up-to-date on all the action at our Silverstone GP meeting:


Three weeks after a successful meeting on Silverstone’s National circuit, the club returned to the British Grand Prix venue, this time racing on the full Grand Prix layout.

 

A fantastic entry, nudging towards 300 cards, was the club’s second best for a single day. And, with some creative scheduling and grid sharing, it allowed 15 of our 19 championships and series to take part in the Silverstone GP Spectacular.

 

Fine weather and a terrific paddock atmosphere made for a superb day’s racing. With very little in the way of incidents, there was an early finish too!

 

 

Racing commenced after an early lunch break with Verum Builders Open Series and Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens. Running in the Open Series, Stephen Nuttall’s Caterham Seven had set a searing pace in qualifying, recording a time almost five seconds faster than Dylan Popovic’s Chevrolet-engined Ginetta G50. Half a second further back, Oliver Smith’s BMW M3 E36 Evo and the Ginetta G55 GT4 of Simon Griffiths/Naif Alshawaf were separated by just 0.035s. Stephen Collins was the fastest Mag Sevens qualifier, putting his Caterham 420R fifth overall, more than a second clear of Darren McCormack’s similar car, with the pair separated by three more Open Series BMWs.

 

With Popovic unable to start, Nuttall shot clear and held an incredible lead of more than 7s after a single racing lap. After firing in a 101.04mph fastest lap on the third tour, Nuttall’s pace barely dropped as he continued to push, even outbraking himself on occasion. Such was his dominance that Nuttall managed to lap the entire field before the 40-minute race concluded. “It was harder than it looked because I was a bit worried about fuel on the final lap,” he admitted. “So that could have been hero to zero!”

 

Behind Nuttall, Collins initially jumped into second, before Smith dived ahead at Chapel on the first lap, with Griffiths following into third. Smith then had to withstand some pressure from the Ginetta before it dropped back after the less experienced Alshawaf took over. Smith went on to a relatively comfortable second at the flag, despite both he and his Agar Engineering car suffering in the heat, and picking up a track-limits penalty.

 

Tommy Grout was delighted to complete the podium in his own E36. He faced pressure from the Bradley BMW, started by Ronan and finished by Adrian, in the closing stages, with Adrian diving ahead at Brooklands on the final tour. But a short-pitstop penalty dropped them back to eighth overall.

 

Jasver Sapra had looked set for a good result until a puncture pitched his E46 out of fourth position around a quarter of the way through the race. So Dave Griffin’s Diet Coke E36 was the fourth Open Series car home, sixth overall after dropping back when he stalled on the grid.

 

Collins managed to take Magnificent Sevens victory and fourth overall despite spinning twice on the same lap midway through his second stint. He pipped Bruce Wilson’s Caterham CSR Superlight by just 0.057s on the line. McCormack completed the category’s top three in seventh overall.

 

 

A combined field of Adams & Page Swinging Sixties and Mintex Classic K cars were next up. A magnificent field of 62 cars was topped in qualifying by the returning Morgan +8 of father and son duo Richard and Will Plant, nearly 3s quicker than Nick Pancisi’s Lotus Elan 26R, the Classic K pacesetter.

 

After two Classic K wins in his Elan, Malcolm Johnson switched to his venerable Lotus Europa in Swinging Sixties for this event, neatly sidestepping the pitstop penalty that hung over him. He qualified third fastest, just ahead of Jon Wolfe’s TVR Tuscan. Row three would comprise Neil Armstrong (Ginetta G4R) and Steven Osborne’s Classic K Jaguar E-type, ahead of Geoff Taylor (TVR Griffith) and Ben Snee in another Classic K Elan. Fastest of the smaller cars was Sam Polley’s Mini Marcos, more than half a second clear of Connor Kay (MG Midget).

 

Perhaps trying to match Nuttall’s incredible run, Plant Jr roared into an early lead that extended to 20s within five laps. Among the last to pit, lad relayed dad with a healthy advantage that allowed Plant Sr to cruise to victory. It marked a very successful return to the series for the pair and their first win since September 2020 at Donington Park. It was nice to see “the car still has the power and we have the ability to drive it,” surmised Will in victory lane.

 

Wolfe initially ran second but toured in at the end of the second lap, by which time Osborne had passed Johnson and therefore inherited the position. But the man on the move was Steve Hodges in his Lotus 7. Having qualified only 12th, Hodges made rapid progress and enjoyed an entertaining scrap with Johnson and Taylor before seeing them off. He then closed up to Osborne and snatched second position in the final sequence of corners, only for the 7 to expire a couple of laps later.

 

Classic K’s longer pitstops – and his own winner’s penalty – dropped Osborne back, leaving the battle for second overall between Taylor and Johnson. It was the former that prevailed by just over a second, more than half a minute down on the winner.

 

Osborne worked his way back up to fourth at the chequered flag, but was pushed back to seventh by a penalty for his stop being too short. That dropped him to second in Classic K behind Snee who had put in an impressive drive. He enjoyed battling with the leading small-engined Swinging Sixties cars, only to spin from fourth overall while lapping traffic on the penultimate tour. Snee then got stuck in second gear on the last lap but still brought the car home safely, classified sixth overall, for a maiden Classic K victory.

 

Those smaller Swinging Sixties cars provided typically close battles. Polley was delayed by traffic in a yellow-flag zone which helped Kay get back in touch, with Ian Burgin’s Austin-Healey Sprite (started by John Faux) also in touch until it lost time on the last couple of laps. Even losing the entire front bodywork of his Midget didn’t appear to hamper Kay but Polley held on to finish fourth overall by just 0.3s after the gap concertinaed in traffic.

 

 

The RamAir BMW Championship was combined with WOSP New Millennium and Liqui Moly Slicks, together with a trio of JMC Racing Special Saloons & Modsports entries, for its pair of entertaining sprint races.

 

Unsurprisingly, a quartet of slick-shod GTs were the fastest qualifiers, topped by the sister GT3 Cup Porsche 991s of David Harrison and Nathan Luckey, followed by Andrew Christopher’s Ferrari 488 Challenge car and the Ginetta G55 of Michael Knibbs. But they, along with the New Millennium and Special Saloons entries, started from a secondary grid behind the BMW Championship cars, setting up an intriguing pursuit.

 

Championship leader Jason West’s M3 E46 was the BMW polesitter, having qualified four tenths faster than James Card’s similar car. Bryan Bransom, the ‘art car’ of Graham Crowhurst, Niall Bradley and Paul Cook completed the top six.

 

West converted his pole into the lead of race one, while Bradley – with more pace unlocked after his qualifying issues were remedied – picked his way through the cars in front. As Bransom challenged Card, he lost out to Bradley, before the pair both managed to demote Card. Their battle wasn’t done, however, as Bransom managed to drag past Bradley before the Irishman squeezed through an ever-closing gap at Brooklands to retake the position on lap six of nine.

 

In the meantime, the GTs were working their through the BMW pack. Harrison and Christopher traded the advantage in a thrilling contest before the Ferrari lost ground. Harrison managed to clear Card and then Bransom on the final lap but ran out of time to catch Bradley and West, who won overall by 2s. “I’m just chuffed I didn’t get overtaken by a Porsche,” smiled West. “It was incredibly hot out there.”

 

New Millennium was dominated by Danny Cassar in Nigel Ainge’s Honda Integra, winning by 16s from Dave Griffin – having a busy day in his Beemer – and the newer E92 model of Mark Wyatt.

 

The sequel came later as the final race of the day. With his car sorted and now starting alongside West on the front row of the grid, Bradley was in confident mood – and with good reason. While the Underscore-backed car led away, Bradley’s Team Legacy machine got in front on the second lap and never looked back, charging to a comfortable victory – his second of the season – to keep the pressure on West in the title race.

 

Bransom also demoted West on the second tour and fended off his attempted retaliations to be second BMW home. Both, however, were beaten across the line by the leading Slicks pair. This time Christopher got in front and led the way through the BMWs. He managed to pass both Bransom and West on the seventh lap, with Harrison following next time around, and had closed to within a second of Bradley when the chequered flag flew a lap early with the Nairn family Porsche stranded in a dangerous position.

 

Another lap, and the Ferrari would likely have taken the flag. As it was, Christopher didn’t even secure the Slicks honours as he was slapped with a 5s track limits penalty. That dropped him to fifth overall, second in Slicks, and allowed Harrison to complete his double.

 

With Cassar handing the Integra back to Ainge for race two, the battle for New Millennium laurels effectively became an all-BMW affair. Mark Wyatt took it from Oliver Faller and Jonathan Strickland.

 

Among the small entry of Special Saloons and Modsports cars, Steve Mole scored a double in his BMW E30, leading home Jeremy Burgoyne’s Davrian Imp on each occasion as Gary Cole’s long-serving Citroen BX failed to make the finish in either race.

 

 

The combined field of Turbo Tin Tops and Co-ordSport Tin Tops, also featuring the Puma Cup and RX-8 Trophy, produced another packed entry with 63 cars on track in qualifying.



Andrew Windmill set the pace aboard his ‘even-more-lightweight’ Honda Civic, now cheekily dubbed a Honda CSL (Civic Super Leggera!), managing a best lap more than 1.7s faster than Adam Brown’s Ford Fiesta ST150. Josh Brooks was the fastest Turbo Tin Tops runner, third overall in his Toyota Starlet GT, but a failed wheel bearing would mean a race against time to be ready for the race.

 

The Simpson family Peugeot 206 was next, ahead of Russell Hird (Honda Integra) and Turbo twins Andrew Marson (Abarth Assetto Corse) and Carl Chambers (Peugeot 208 GTI).

 

Brooks would have been one driver ruing the efficient running of the meeting as, despite his crew dashing half-way to Brighton to collect a spare, he didn’t quite make it in time to take the start and was forced to join a from the pitlane, a few laps down.

 

Brown briefly led away before Windmill regained the advantage at the Maggotts/Becketts complex, where Marson’s promising run was also brought to a premature halt by cambelt failure. Chambers slotted into third, ahead of James Slater (Civic) and Hird, who lost out to a strong run from Nigel Tongue, starting John Hammersley’s VW Scirocco, after a couple of laps.

 

With a one-minute penalty to come, having won the season’s opening two races, Windmill’s task looked impossible, but he stretched his lead to more than 5s before pitting on lap six of an eventual 16.

 

Once the cycle was complete, Brown found himself with an advantage of around 6s over Slater, with early stopper Chambers third. Danny Cassar, in for Nigel Ainge, was setting a blistering pace as he climbed to fourth in the rebuilt Integra that had been hampered by a misfire in qualifying. Hammersley was fifth until running wide at Aintree and allowing Steve Simpson, in for dad Colin, and the charging Windmill ahead.

 

A mistake at Abbey dropped Slater to fourth, giving Brown a 19s lead over Chambers, who had Cassar looming large in his mirrors. Cassar made his move with a little over four minutes remaining but any thoughts of an unlikely chase of Brown were quelled by the Integra’s misfire returning.

 

So Brown cruised to a comfortable 24s victory, his first of the season, over Ainge/Cassar, with Chambers the Turbo Tin Tops winner in third overall after a fairly quiet latter part of the race.

 

“At last!” smiled Brown. “We were very close at Thruxton but couldn’t quite make it work. That one’s for my dad – he’s worked so hard this week.”

 

Windmill picked off Simpson and then Slater to claim an impressive fourth overall. His 29s deficit to Brown at the flag appears to set things up nicely for round four at Anglesey next month when Brown will have his own 30s winner’s penalty to serve.

 

Slater and the Simpson Peugeot completed the top six, ahead of Hird and the Tongue/Hammersley Scirocco, which was the second forced-induction car home.

 

Among the Puma Cup field, Luke Johnson was victorious by 10s from James Clare, while Jack Hordley was the sole RX-8 Trophy finisher after Stuart Eardley’s early retirement.

 

 

Fifth race of the afternoon was for the Morgan Challenge, together with Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport Future Classics.

 

The Morgan Challenge championship cars started from the front half of the split grid, with Will Plant’s +8 setting the pace in qualifying, some nine tenths faster than Andrew Thompson’s similar car. John Emberson (+4 Babydoll) and Richard Plant (+8) qualified on the second row, ahead of the modern ARV6s of Gail Hill and Simon Orebi Gann, sharing on this occasion with 2021 champion Brett Syndercombe.


 

The overall pace was set by Dave Griffin’s hard-worked BMW M3 E36, running in Modern Classics, a mighty 2.7s faster than the Paul Winter/Tim Speed Porsche 911, which would sadly fail to start after being pushed off the grid. Fastest in Future Classics was Alex Taylor’s diminutive Mazda RX-7, ahead of the Blake family’s glorious Porsche 911 RSR, making its long-awaited return after an engine rebuild that ended up taking nearly four years!

 

When the starting lights extinguished, Thompson got the jump before he and Plant Jr enjoyed some enthralling side-by-side running. Plant looked to have regained the advantage at Brooklands on the second tour, only for Thompson to respond at the same place next time around.

 

Thompson then edged clear but undid his hard work with a spin in traffic on lap six of an eventual 16. So Plant was back in front, but took his mandatory pitstop at the end of the lap, with Thompson following suit a lap later. When he returned to the circuit, Thompson had Plant back in his sights. He closed in and made his move around the outside at Village, but Thompson cut back to retake the lead as the pair continued their duel. But Thompson managed to make it stick and was pulling away when Plant was sadly forced to park up on the penultimate lap.

 

Meantime, the leading Modern and Future Classics cars had been working their way through the field of Morgans. Griffin’s typically tardy start let both Taylor and Michael Russell (M3 E36 Evo) ahead, with Russell emerging in front. But the yellow M3’s lead did not last long: a wide moment at Brooklands on the opening lap precipitated a lengthy pitstop and, although the car eventually re-emerged, it did not complete enough distance to be classified.

 

So Taylor, Griffin and Aston Blake began an entertaining scrap – including a three-abreast moment at Club – which no doubt helped Mark Chilton (Nissan Skyline GTR) and Jasver Sapra (M3 E36) get on terms, as Chilton set a fastest lap. Griffin and Chilton both managed to pass the little Mazda on lap five, but the Aussie’s joy was only brief as the Diet Coke Beemer took an excursion. Perhaps trying too hard to make up for lost time, he went wide again at Brooklands, losing over 30s in total.

 

Any thoughts that this section of the contest was now a three-horse race were quickly dispelled by Clinton Ewen, in another E36. His Agar Engineering car took fourth in Modern/Future Classics when Sapra ran wide and would benefit from the Blakes’ 20s pitstop penalty for their (TVR-mounted) Donington victory to be a net third.

 

In fact, Ewen stopped last of the frontrunners and his pace in the meantime was enough to elevate him into second in Modern/Future Classics, behind Chilton, from Taylor, Sapra and Tony Blake. Ewen passed Chilton – who was being made physically ill by a severe vibration on the Skyline – and set about closing in on the leading pair of Morgans.

 

Ewen passed Plant, who used his V8 power to briefly fight back, before clearing Thompson at Club with around four-and-a-half minutes remaining. But when Plant pulled up, it meant Thompson no longer had to focus on his mirrors and released the Morgan for one last bid for overall race victory.

 

Ewen withstood Thompson’s last-lap challenge to win by just a quarter of a second. “I just kept going,” said the breathless winner. “It was a really good race.” Thompson added: “The last four laps were really hard work but fabulous fun!”

 

Behind them, Chilton’s fatigue let Taylor back onto his tail, despite the RX-7 having lost its fourth gear. The pair traded the advantage before Taylor prevailed to win Future Classics by a scant 0.116s. The pair have enjoyed plenty of duels over the years but Taylor enthused: “That ding-dong with Mark Chilton was the best so far!”

 

Tony Blake brought the 911 RSR started by his son home fifth overall, 33s down, with Andrew Duce’s Porsche Boxster completing the top six ahead of Griffin and Geoff Taylor (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus).

 

It was arguably the race of the afternoon, a credit to all concerned, and a fitting climax to a thrilling day’s racing.



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1 Comment


Steele Nickle
Steele Nickle
2 days ago

Nuttall’s pace barely dropped as he continued to push, even outbraking himself on occasion. snow rider 3d

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