300+ Photo Gallery: 2012 Silverstone Classic
This year’s Silverstone Classic, the 22nd in the event’s history, was the biggest yet, as we at MSR predicted it would be in our preview! (I’m definitely going to have to take an assistant next year!)
A new record of 83,500 spectators turned out to see 24 races, with over 1000 entries. The oldest car being Steven Shoosmith’s 1931 Bugatti T51 which appeared in the HGPCA pre-1961 front engined Grand Prix car races, to Neil Smith’s ex Tarquini/Thompson 2004 Alfa Romeo 156 S2000 WTCC car, which raced in the Fuji Film Touring Car Trophy 1970-2000 races.
Before I go any further I have to include a mention for the ‘flying Kiwi’ Roger Wills, I’d describe him as the petrol head’s petrol head. The Moscow based New Zealander, took part in no less than thirteen of the 24 races! and was possibly the busiest driver of the event. Starting with race 3 the Alan Mann Trophy he took third in class in a Mini Cooper S shared with Joe Twyman. Race 4 the Stirling Moss Trophy, again achieving third in class again sharing with Joe Twyman. Race 5 and 20, the Daily Express International Trophy Historic F1 race, debuting the newly restored Ex Patrick Depailler, 1976 Tyrrell P34 six wheeler finishing fourth in the first race and retiring after eleven laps in the second. Race 6 and 23, the Pre-66 rear engined Grand Prix cars, Roger qualified fourth in his 1959 Cooper T51 coming home eighth and fifth. Race 7 the gentlemen Drivers Pre-66 GT and He was out again this time partnering Michael Fitzgerald in a Bizzarrini 5300 coming home thirteenth. Race 9 and 18 the HGPCA Pre-61 Front engined Grand Prix Cars, he put his ex Graham Hill works Lotus 16 on pole and raced to a hard fought second on Saturday and win in Sunday’s race. Wills came home second in Saturday’s group C mini enduro and sixth in Sunday’s outing in a Lancia LC2. Roger and Joe again partnered up for Sunday’s RAC Tourist Trophy in a Lotus Elite and World Sports Car Masters in a McLaren M1C. Sadly, the little Lotus succumbed Mechanical maladies after 12 laps while on target for class Honours, and the McLaren over heated in the beautiful late afternoon sunshine after 13 laps. We at MSR salute you.
Friday’s qualifying sessions were blighted by the rain but the weather cleared over night and come Saturday morning glorious sunshine warmed the Grand Prix circuit and stayed for the rest of the weekend. Silverstone’s grass was still recovering from the previous weeks unseasonal torrential downpours which had caused so much chaos for the F1 fans and the car clubs which turned out had to negotiate the in places treacherous grounds. However a bit of mud didn’t seem to put people off and the queues to get in particularly on Saturday morning were epic!
As has become almost traditional, the Formula Juniors hit the track first on Saturday and Sunday. (Race 1 and 14)Last year’s races were two of the best wheel to wheel fights I’ve seen and this year’s didn’t disappoint either. Once again the protagonists John Milicevic and Sam Wilson were in the mix but not as dominant as last year, pole being nabbed by David Methley in a Brabham BT6 with Milicevic qualifying second while Wilson’s Cooper suffered a misfire and could only manage seventh. At the Start Milicevic got the drop on Methley to take the lead but couldn’t get away from the Brabham driver. Wilson didn’t get the best of starts and was seven seconds down on the leading duo at the end of the first tour, fighting his way through he took third on lap 6. Methley was not giving Milicevic any breathing room, matching the Coopers pace as the laps ticked over but not quite close enough to have a go for the lead. On the final lap Methley had a lunge at Brooklands but locked up and spun the feisty Brabham gifting second to Wilson. Milicevic crossed the stripe six seconds clear of Wilson with Methley recovering to a fighting third place a further six seconds down the road. On Sunday morning it was Methley who grabbed the lead with Milicevic in hot pursuit the pair got past the fast starting Lightning Envoyette of Pete Morton and battle was joined. Lap two saw the Cooper go round the outside of the Brabham at Stowe for the lead Not to be out done Methley reprised the move on lap 4 to retake the lead. Milicevic pulled his silent Cooper off at Aintree after having accidently turned the fuel pump off, this gave Methley a breathing space to reel off the remaining laps unchallenged. Wilson drove hard to close to within two seconds of the Brabham by the chequered flag with Andrew Hibberd in a Lotus 22 winning a spirited dice with Morton’s Envoyette for third.
There is a young man who is rapidly making a bit of a name for himself particularly on the historic racing scene, his name is Michael Lyons and he is quick, with a smart racing brain. Having earlier this year blitzed the opposition down under, expectations were high for the ‘Felsted Flyer’ in the pair of F5000/F2 races for the Peter Gethin Memorial Trophy (Race 2 and 15). Lyons put his Ex-Unser Parnelli Jones Racing Lola T400 on pole the thick end of a second faster than second placed man Martin Stretton’s March 742, Historic’s ace Simon Hadfield was third on the grid in his ex-John Watson Trojan T101 with Lee Dwyer lining up 4th in a March 782. The ground shook as the 34 car field rumbled and screamed to take the rolling start in front of the Silverstone wing. Lyons got a good getaway into the lead but Stretton bogged down in his March gifting second to Hadfield. With better top end than Lyons’ Lola, Hadfield swept by into Stowe on lap one and a titanic battle ensued. At times it was difficult to see where Lola stopped and Trojan began such was the closeness of the racing. Lap 9 and Lyons came past in relatively free air, Lyons had mugged the Trojan driver in traffic for the lead and Hadfield had tried to get the lead back round the outside at Stowe but lost the back end, spinning the car. Skilfully gathering it all up Hadfield resumed the chase. While this was going on Martin Stretton in the little March had put in some blistering laps to put himself on the tail of the Lola but with a straight line speed advantage, Lyons held off Stretton to win by just 0.144 of a second with Hadfield rueing what might have been in a distant third. Lyons mused, “he (Hadfield)seems to have less downforce, it was quicker at the end of the straights but I was faster in the high speed corners”. Sundays race was another close run thing, once again the impressive grid formed up to take the rolling start, this time Stretton made a much better start and at the end of lap one Lyons Stretton and Hadfield crossed the line with less than a seconded covering them. Unfortunately the expected three way dice was not to be as the Chevy engine in the back of the Lyons Lola blew up in a cloud of white smoke as he tipped it into Abbey for the second time. This left ‘old stagers’ Hadfield and Stretton to slog it out for the win and what a performance from them it was the shear grunt of theF5000 Trojan versus the nimble handling F2 March. Stretton briefly got his nose in front with an opportune dive round the outside at Village setting himself up nicely for the loop only to run wide allowing the Trojan back through, the pair crossed the line after eleven frenetic laps 0.124 seconds apart, Neil Fowler found himself on the final step on the podium, helped by the demise of Autosport scribe Ben Anderson’s Ex Peter Gethin Chevron B37 with diff issues and Lee Dwyer being taken out by a back marker.
The Alan Mann Trophy for Under 2 litre Touring Cars (Race3) was Mk1 Ford Cortina affair, 29 of the 60 strong field, being the diminutive saloon, with four of the top five places taken by ‘Tina’s after an action packed race. That man Hadfield along with Leo Voyazides put their Lotus Cortina on the pole with the fantastic Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA of David Fitzsimons and Alex Furiani lining up second and Richard Shaw sharing his BMW1800 TiSA with Jackie Oliver third with Phil Keen and Mike Gardiner completing the second row. It was Furiani who made the early running with Keen chasing hard in second with Oliver, in what looked like a lurid handling Bimmer in third. The front running three all got penalised for late driver change stops demoting them down the order. A safety car deployed (the only one of the weekend) and a red flag, when a Cortina rolled in the gravel at Village, later and the order had changed somewhat, the Hadfield/Voyazides ‘Tina had kept the leading trio in sight in the early stages and was closing in and looked set for an easy win but they to collected a 10 sec penalty for an unsafe pit release demoting them to second, it was Sean McInerney who started 38th that inherited the lead when the flag fell. Third was Andy and Max Banks upholding Alfa honours with there Alfaholics Giulia Sprint GTA, the Oliver/Shaw ‘Tina came home 4th and rather fittingly Henry Mann and BTCC star Matt Jackson brought there red and gold Alan Mann Racing Lotus Cortina home 5th.
(Race 4) the Stirling Moss Trophy for Pre-61 Sports Cars was a nice Saturday afternoon drive for Alex Buncombe and Chris Ward in the Costin bodied Lister Jaguar, comfortably winning with a margin of 12 seconds. The entertainment in the race coming from the dice for second between father and son Greame and James Dodd in there Cooper Monaco T49 and the Lotus 15 of the Mcintyre brother’s. Things hotted up after the driver changes, Ewan Mcintyre handed over the Lotus to brother Jamie but it was a slow change which dropped them into the clutches of James Dodd in his first drive in his fathers Cooper, the pair put on a brilliant show for the remainder of the race with some good fair racing. Dodd made his move with a lap to go into Copse and held the highly polished Lotus off for second.
(race 5 and 20) were two of the highlight races of the Silverstone Classic weekend,(for me at any rate) the Historic F1. The sight and sound of 26 Cosworth DFV V8’s and one BRM V12 Robs lamplough’s gorgeous Marlboro BRM P180 was truly an awe inspiring one. The oldest car starting being a March 721 of 1970 vintage, driven by Rudolf Ernst, the newest being Gary Culver’s Tyrrell 012, the race also featured for the first time a pair of 6 wheeled F1 cars from different manufacturers, Roger Wills P34 Tyrrell and Jeremy Smith’s March 2-4-0. The Felsted Flyer, Michael Lyons was out to play in his beautifully turned out Hesketh 308E out to set the record straight after last year’s brace of DNF’s. Lyons duly stuck the Hesketh on pole a full 4 seconds quicker than second on the grid Bill Coombs in the Ex J P Jarier, Didier Pironi Tyrrell 009! The writing appeared to be on the wall, with Lyons bolting at the start opening a huge lead, chased gamely by Coombs who had gapped Steve Hartley in his Arrows A3. After 8 laps Lyons failed to appear, Bill Coombs came round in the lead followed by Hartley and Michael Fitzgerald in his Williams FW08, the red flag being thrown shortly after for an accident. Lyons Hesketh had stopped out on track the fuel pump switch failed gifting the win to Coombs. Sundays race was a cracker, Lyons had to start at the back having stopped out on track in the previous outing, so with the fastest car at the back and old rivals, Bill Coombs and Steve ‘the jam baron’ Hartley on the front row, it was going to make for a good one. Coombs got away well but Hartley got jumped by Fitzgerald’s Williams FW08 for second Hartley slotting into third at the end of lap one. Hartley piled the pressure on and Fitzgerald spun at the loop on lap 2, freeing Hartley up to go after Coombs. All the while Lyons was slicing through the pack by the end of lap three Lyons had worked his way through to sixth behind Richard Mein’s Williams FW07. Next time round he’d caught and passed Simon Fish in the Ensign MN180 for fourth then the chase was on. All the while Coombs had been driving out of his socks to keep Hartley at bay and Hartley had been trying every trick in the book to find away by the Tyrrell. With three laps to go Lyons was on the tail of Hartley, getting great drive out of Aintree, Lyons surged past only to go wide at Brooklands when the Hesketh’s brakes cried enough, allowing the Arrows back into second. Hartley gathered it all up, got back on Coombs tail, but couldn’t find a way past the Thruxton Circuit Managing Director who took his second win securing the Daily Express International Trophy in the process. A beaming Bill said “two wins at my favourite weekend of the year, the Silverstone Classic. Absolutely fantastic and it more than makes up for the disappointment at the Grand Prix support meeting two weeks ago.”
The Historic Grand Prix Car Association’s Pre-66 rear engine Grand prix Car Races (Race 6 and 23) provided Jason Minshaw in a Brabham BT4 with a brace of wins, from John Harper also in a BT4 and Rod Jolley in a Cooper T45/51. Front row man and VSCC race winner earlier this year Peter Horsman and Will Nutthall had an argument about the same piece of track in Saturday’s race taking them both out. The Gentleman Drivers GT (race 7) saw 57 beautiful GT cars take to the Grand Prix circuit, the Cobra’s of another father and son partnership Rick and Rob Hall on Pole and the Hadfield/Voyazides car, next up two TVR Griffith’s of Sean McInerney and Mike Whitaker they were followed by no less than six E Type Jaguars and the rest of the field. Off the start it was McInerney who took the lead and draw a gap, Whitaker got very out of shape in the Loop collecting the Hall’s Cobra, which suffered a puncture and removing them from contention. Up front the little powder blue TVR romped away until the stops where some great pit work put the E Type of Minshaw and Stretton into the lead, McInerney gave chase homing in on the Jag, but within sight of the flag the the TVR began to smoke forcing McInerney to ease off being cruelly robbed of a well deserved podium by the Hadfield/Voyazides Cobra and the E Type of John and Gary Pearson. The Celebrity race followed being won in dominant fashion by Soap star and part time club racer Kelvin Fletcher, with AC/DC front man Brian Johnson second and Jamiroquai singer Jay kay third. The Jaguar E Type Challenge (Races 8 and 24) were both dominated by Alex Buncombe who won Saturdays race despite losing coolant and seeing his temperatures raise alarmingly. On Saturday, he was chased home by Jason and John Minshaw and on Sunday Gregor Fisken led the chase followed by John Pearson.
The HGPCA were out to play again for (Race 9 and 18) this time with Pre-61 front engined machines and it was fitting that in their 60th anniversary year Lotus 16’s were to the fore, Roger Wills put his ex Graham hill machine on pole with Philip walker lining up alongside Julian Bronson put the Scarab Offenhauser third with Rod Jolley’s magnificent Lister Jaguar Monzanapolis in forth. The two nimble lotus’ drew well clear of the chasing pack in both outings and both times Eddie McGuire in a third Lotus 16 made it a clean sweep for the marque.
New for this year was the Fuji Film Touring Car Trophy 1970-2000 (Race 10 and 19) having seen most of these cars race in period it was good to see that old Touring cars don’t get scrapped or put in museums, they are raced! BTCC full timer Frank Wrathall put his ex James Kaye Vauxhall Cavalier on the pole from Rick Pearson’s Ex David Leslie Nissan Primera in a wet qualifying session. Although beautifully driven in his historic racing debut, Wrathall could do nothing about the Primera in the dry, but he kept Pearson honest in both encounters. Richard Hawken in another of the Primera’s followed the lead duo home in both races. Always pleasing to see, was the sight of a gaggle of Ford Sierra RS 500’s being driven hard Craig Davies Brooklyn sponsored example taking class wins.
The RAC Woodcote Trophy for pre -56 Sportscars (Race 12 and 16) was next and saw the Pearson’s Jaguar D Type romp home in Saturday’s race from John Young and Andrew smith’s Cooper Jaguar T33 with Nigel Webb and ex BTCC Champ Anthony Reid in a C Type Jaguar taking third. Sunday saw first and second reversed with the Young and Smith winning by 6 seconds from the Pearson Jaguar with Reid and Webb coming home third, with a possible second cards but for a 5 second penalty as Reid exceeded the track limits on too many occasions. Next up, Group C, (Races 13 and 21). What a sight twenty Group C1 and C2 endurance machines thundering in to Abbey lights ablaze. The Jagermeister Porsche 962 of Christophe D’Ansembourg was on Pole sadly the Peugeot 905 which Endurance ace Nicholas Minassian had put second in qualifying developed clutch problems and didn’t take the start, so the Sauber C9 of Gareth Evans was next. it was Evans who quickly established lead in Saturdays dusk encounter pursued by Roger Wills in his sweet sounding Lancia LC2 with D’Ansembourg coming home a distant third. Sundays race and the Orange 962 this time driven by Herve Regout Who had put the beast on pole, and the Evans Sauber diced wheel to wheel for much of the race, Evans made better of the traffic in the closing stages, Regout didn’t get the rub of the green and was mugged for second with a couple of laps to go by Minassian driving Rupert Cleevley’s LC2 a car he’d never driven before!
The RAC Tourist Trophy (Race 17) a 50 minute mini enduro for pre 1963 GT cars was a frantic race Jackie Oliver put the canary yellow Ferrari 250 SWB on the pole and apart from James Cottingham slinging his E Type under the Ferrari into Abbey, leading briefly before retiring with head gasket problems Oliver reeled of the laps handing over to Gary Pearson and looked set to win but ominous puffs of blue smoke under braking and with oil pressure dropping alarmingly Pearson was forced to retire the beautiful coupe. This handed the lead and win to Nick Naismith and John Young in an Aston Martin DB4 with the Turner MK2 of Ben Adams 19 seconds adrift and Wolfgang Friedrichs and David Clark the Aston Martin Project 212, a further 20 seconds down for the final podium spot.
Thus closed the Silverstone Classic of 2012, another triumph for the organisers, beautiful cars, great racing, stars aplenty and really too much to see and do over three days, if I was asked “how can we make it better next year?” I’d say, take a leaf out of Goodwood’s book and extend it to four days to give the race fans a chance to savour the other delights on offer, but don’t change anything else.
By Graham Dalley