Historic Motorsport Round-up: Bell, Pescarolo, Ludwig, Werner to star at Le Mans Classic

Six Le Mans 24 Hours winners will feature at the French classic later year, and historic F1 grids will support the British Grand Prix – in this week's historic racing news

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Former winners return to Le Mans

Six former Le Mans 24-hour winners, with a total of 16 wins between them, are set to return to the Sarthe for the 2018 edition of the Le Mans Classic (July 6-8).

Heading the entry is five-time winner Derek Bell who is scheduled to race a Porsche 917LH, marking a very rare racing appearance for the long-tail evolution of the 917 that was developed for Le Mans in 1971. Though still to be confirmed, it is possible that Bell and Nicholas D’Ieteren, the Belgian Porsche distributor and a historic car racer, will drive the car that normally resides in the Porsche museum in Stuttgart.

Now 76-years-old, this summer’s races will come more than 30 years after Bell’s final victory in the 24-hour and 48 years after his debut in the race with a works Ferrari 512S shared with Ronnie Peterson.

Three-time Le Mans winners Klaus Ludwig, Henri Pescarolo and Marco Werner are all due to race in the Classic, which features six 50-car grids all racing three times during a 24-hour period. Ludwig will race a 1978 Porsche 930, Pescarolo will drive a 1976 Inaltera prototype and Werner will handle a Lola T212 from 1971. Stephane Ortelli is due to race a Porsche 904/4 and Jochen Mass a 911 Carrera RSR.

Porsche has a major presence at the event, marking 70 years of the marque with a special Porsche-only race on Saturday afternoon ahead of the main event. The promoters are targeting a grid of 70 cars spanning the early 356s to the 2.8 RSR from 1973.

Historic Formula 1 races for British Grand Prix

Historic Formula 1 cars will return to the support race programme for this year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone (July 6-8), marking the 70th anniversary of the circuit.

Masters Historic Racing, which also runs the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship, will manage the races, with entrants from the European series and the corresponding series run by Masters in North America.

A grid of around 30 cars from 1966 through to 1985 will tackle the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit just two weeks before a round of the FIA Masters Championship runs at the Silverstone Classic.

Masters Historic Racing founder Ron Maydon said: 'The fact that we have been asked to organise a support race at the British Grand Prix certainly reflects the quality of the show we put on at Montreal, Austin and Mexico City last year.'

Finch goes Classic Formula 3

Long-time FF2000 racer Jon Finch will switch to Classic Formula 3 racing this season, at the wheel of Ralt-Toyota RT1 chassis 27 which Gaudenzio Mantova and Roberto Manzoni raced in Italy in 1976.

Andrew Hibberd had restored the car to original livery to race himself but is flat-out preparing other cars. URS’s Ken Thorogood will run it for Finch.

'I plan to do the five UK Classic rounds and some European races including Zandvoort,' said Finch.

His long racing career started in 1972, with an FF1600 Merlyn, and peaked in US Formula Atlantic in the early 1990s. He also raced a Chevron B34 with success in Derek Bell Trophy events, winning the title in 2014.

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Beggs heading for Goodwood

Two rare New Zealand-built Begg Formula 5000s will be among up to 30 cars taking part in high-speed demonstration sessions at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting (March 17/18).

Scott and Lindsay O’Donnell will bring two of the seven Beggs built between 1968 and 1974 from Christchurch in New Zealand.

'For me it completes a mission of restoring and racing this car over the last 15 years to celebrate the "Kiwi ingenuity" of characters like George Begg,' says Lindsay, who drives a 1972 FM4.

'Apart from celebrating the tiny Begg marque in the 50-year demonstration of F5000, it’s a great privilege to be invited to take part in a Goodwood event.'

Nigel Rockey - obituary

Nigel Rockey, one of Britain’s leading rally drivers of the 1970s, has died aged 74 after an illness.

The Bristol motor trader started rallying in a Ford Anglia in the mid-1960s but it was in Ford Escorts that he enjoyed most success.

Co-driven by Paul White, he won the 1973 Motoring News Rally Championship and was a leading contender on national stage rallies through the 1970s. He finished 11th overall on the 1974 RAC Rally.

He stopped competing at the end of the 1970s due to lack of finance and in later life Rockey lived in Bourton-on-the-Water. 'He was a hard-working guy and a great character,' said White.

Hetherington confirms more Escort Mk2 rallying

Northern Irish charger Adrian Hetherington plans to contest at least four gravel rounds of the MSA BHRC this season in the Ford Escort Mk2 he debuted on the Roger Albert Clark Rally. 'We’ve got a family wedding on the weekend of Rally North Wales, so I can’t do that one,' said Hetherington who plans to join the series for the Pirelli Rally at the end of April.

HSCC confirm EXCEL line-up

The Historic Sports Car Club will show four iconic cars at Historic Motorsport International, which runs from February 15-18 at EXCEL, London. The ex-Frank Gardner Ford Escort Mk1 from Alan Mann Racing will be joined by the ex-Eggenberger Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, the Gurney Eagle FA74 Formula 5000 of Frank Lyons and a Chevron B16.

Clarkson's 20th season

Chris Clarkson will tackle his 20th season of racing this year with a selection of historic races in his Austin Healey 3000 and Ford Falcon. The Bristol-based driver will take in rounds of the GT and Sports Car Cup as well as some Masters events, sharing the driving with fellow Bristolian David Smithies.

Purley memorial

British F1 racer David Purley has been honoured by a memorial near to the entrance to the new Rolls Royce logistics facility at Bognor Regis. The stone memorial was unveiled last Friday on what would have been Purley’s 73rd birthday. After racing in F1, Purley died in an aircraft accident off the coast near Bognor in July 1985.

Road Sports adds Silverstone Classic

The two HSCC Road Sports categories will have a race at this year’s Silverstone Classic. Competitors from the 70s and Historic Road Sports will share a grid for a 30-minute race on Saturday afternoon of the July 20-22 event. A capacity grid of 58 cars is expected for the race, which will include several Morgan Plus 8s in the model’s 50th year.

Wilson's rallying return

After a long break from rallying, Yorkshireman Steve Wilson has returned to field a Category 1 Ford Lotus Cortina. Wilson competed internationally in the 1980s in a Group A Rover Vitesse and later competed in the UK in Ford Escorts and Vauxhall Chevettes. He will start his 2018 campaign on Rally North Wales.

F5000 McLaren to Members' Meeting

The ex-Sid Taylor Racing McLaren M10B of Peter Gethin will be a star car in the Formula 5000 50th anniversary celebrations at Goodwood in March. Now owned by Martin Longmore and driven by Matthew Wurr, Gethin’s 1970 title-winning car will take part in high-speed demonstrations. The late Gethin ran his race coaching business from Goodwood for many years.

Mini madness

A superb field of 30 Minis are included in a total entry of 50 historics for the AGBO Historic Stages at Weston Park on Saturday March 17. The Mini turn-out is for the opening round of the HRCR Mini Cup, while the field also includes three Ferrari 308GTBs for Kevin Jones, Lee Jones and Neil McMahon. Ford Escort Mk2 driver Darren Moon should set the overall pace.

Images courtesy of Paul Lawrence and LAT

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