Historic Motorsport Round-up: Bland is back on track

Shane Bland returns to Donington 17 years after British GT smash, Warren Briggs races ex-John Watson McLaren M29C and Jim Clark is remembered 50 years on

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Shane Bland will compete at Donington Park next month for the first time since breaking his neck in a British GT accident at the same circuit in 2001.

The Leamington Spa racer is set to appear at the Donington Historic Festival on May 4-6, behind the wheel of a Geoff Steel Racing BMW 635i CSI. He will again share the Group A machine with Andre d’Cruze, whom he drove alongside at the 2017 Oulton Park Gold Cup. The pair failed to finish that event due to a gearbox problem.

Bland, who 17 years ago crashed an Eclipse Motorsport GTO-class Marcos Mantis at Redgate when the brakes failed, said: ‘I always wanted to race at Donington Park again, just to finally put that bad memory to bed. I’m not nervous about racing at Donington again – as soon as you get behind the wheel, that’s all you think about. I’m sure there will be nothing to spook me.’

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Bland added that taking part in last season’s Gold Cup had rekindled his interest in long-circuit racing. He is currently a partner in a 3-litre Ford Capri that’s being rebuilt by ex-British Touring Car Championship Production Class racer Matt Kelly. The pair aims to use that machine at the Silverstone Classic if it’s ready in time.

‘I just really enjoy the atmosphere in historic racing, and you get to handle some really iconic machines,’ said Bland. ‘It will be a hectic weekend for me because, after Donington, I will be heading to Hednesford Hills for the tenth round of the National Hot Rods campaign.’

Briggs reunited with McLaren for Historic F1

UK-based New Zealander Warren Briggs will step up to Historic Formula 1 this season in an ex-John Watson McLaren M29C, chassis number two.

Briggs has more recently raced a Ford Mustang with great success. However, he’s always wanted an M29, as his first job upon arriving in the UK in 1978 was carrying out early work on the M29 with McLaren.

After a first run at Brands Hatch, Briggs said: ‘The car is fantastic. I feel very privileged to be able to own it, let alone race it. It is M29-2, and was built and introduced part-way through 1979 to replace the M28. Patrick Tambay drove this car in the German GP during that season. For 1980 the car was upgraded to C spec, and John Watson drove it that season.’

Briggs plans a limited 2018 campaign, before a full programme next year.

Jim Clark remembered at Donington Park

An estimated 500 people stood in silence on the Donington Park grid on Saturday to remember Jim Clark, 50 years to the day from the Scot’s death at Hockenheim. At the head of the grid was the Lotus 18 now owned by John Chisholm – the car in which Clark scored his first major single-seater win in 1960.

Ex-David Purley F3 Brabham returns

The ex-David Purley Brabham BT28 1-litre Formula 3 car recently raced for the first time since the mid-1970s, when new owner Steve Jones contested the Historic F3 races at Donington Park.

The Brabham had been stored at Retro Track and Air for 20 years, before Jones bought it and commissioned the Retro team to rebuild it.

Purley raced the BT28 in 1970 on his way up to Formula 1, and it was then fitted with a Lotus twin-cam for Formula Libre.

Said Jones: ‘I bought it at the beginning of the project.’ He qualified the car at Goodwood, but elected not to start in the snowy conditions.

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Jackson targets Historic Formula Ford

Historic single-seater racer Cameron Jackson is planning a full assault on the Historic Formula Ford title in a Lola T200 from Neil Fowler’s stable. Jackson opened his season with a second and fifth at Donington, and will also race his Formula Junior Brabham BT2 in the three-event final leg of the category’s Diamond Jubilee World Tour in the UK this summer.

Teacher learning FF2000 ropes

Cumbrian school teacher Jono Baines has finally made his Historic FF2000 debut at Donington Park. Plans to start racing last summer in the Royale RP30 were thwarted by an engine failure in his first test at Croft, but he’s since done a couple of sprints to get a feel for the car. At Donington, he achieved his target of two finishes.

Porsche Le Mans stars in 911

Porsche’s first-ever Le Mans winner Richard Attwood and 1990 962 podium finisher Anthony Reid recently teamed up to race a classic 911 in the Guards Trophy at Donington Park. Masterminded by Road and Race Restorations for the Porsche Classic Partners programme, the car is destined for the new 2.0L Cup for pre-’66 2-litre 911s this season. After a rocker problem in qualifying, Attwood and Reid raced to a class-winning 12th overall.

Bromyard postponed

Due to water-logged car parks, the Bromyard Speed Festival ‘on tour’ event scheduled for Shelsley Walsh last Sunday was postponed. The new date will be Sunday May 13, 2018, when a wide array of competition and classic cars will take part in demonstration runs at the Worcestershire hillclimb venue.

Price overcomes testing dramas

A mighty effort by Iain Rowley and his team at Delta Motorsport got Roger Price on to the Historic FF2000 grid at Donington Park, after his Delta T78 was significantly damaged in testing on Thursday. Price was hit from behind by another car, and all four corners were damaged, but a dash back to the team’s Reading workshop had everything ready for qualifying on Saturday morning.

Park returns with Hawke

Historic FF2000 champion Andrew Park made his Formula Ford debut at Donington in a Hawke DL2 recently rebuilt by Tom Smith at TS Historic Motorsport. ‘It was a bit of a project,’ said Smith, who entrusted it to Park for a debut race. With no testing, Park finished midfield in the two championship races.

Images courtesy of Paul Lawrence and LAT

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