Historic Motorsport: Stars align for Le Mans Classic

Ten former winners of the Le Mans 24-Hour race will be among the mass of competitors in the latest Le Mans Classic event

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Ten former winners of the Le Mans 24-Hour will be among 1,000 drivers competing in this weekend’s ninth running of the Le Mans Classic.

In the course of 24 hours, six grids will each race three times as cars spanning the Le Mans history from 1929 to 1981 take to the famous track. Nearly 400 cars of a type with a period Le Mans history will be in action.

Jürgen Barth, Romain Dumas, Loïc Duval, Jan Lammers, Gérard Larrousse, Klaus Ludwig, Jochen Mass, Stéphane Ortelli, Henri Pescarolo and Marko Werner are on the roll of honour of former 24-Hour winners.

The former winners have accumulated a total of 19 victories and 145 starts in the 24-Hour race between 1967 and 2018. The outstanding driver among them is Pescarolo who holds the record for the most starts with 33, topped by four victories.

However, five-time winner Derek Bell (now 76) will not be taking part after electing not to race a Porsche 917 due to concerns over the range of driving ability in the field.

Dumas will race several cars, including a Porsche 917, while Pescarolo is due to race an Inaltera prototype from 1978. Both Mass and Ortelli, as well as BTCC racer Sam Tordoff, will race Porsche 356s in the series of hour-long races.

More leading names entered Alain Serpaggi (1978 Alpine A443), Guy Fréquelin (1964 René Bonnet Djet) and Willi Kauhsen (Porsche 917). Support races include Group C, a Porsche race and a race for the Jaguar Classic Challenge.

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Cramer to roll back the years

Former British Hillclimb champion Chris Cramer will end a 30-year break from competition to take part in Prescott’s 80th anniversary event on Saturday July 14.

Cramer started competing in 1969 in a Mini Cooper S and won the Prescott Gold Cup before progressing via a Mallock into top level single-seaters. In 1985 he won the British Hillclimb title in the new Gould 84G and he will return to the cockpit of the Gould at Prescott.

The Stroud-based architect retired from competition the following summer but went on to coach and mentor young drivers including Andy Priaulx.

“I have no intention of doing anything heroic,” said Cramer. “But I am grateful to Gould Racing and the Bugatti Owners’ Club at Prescott for giving me this chance to roll back the years.”

Cramer will be joined by a host of other hillclimb stars for the Prescott celebration.

Chateau Impney contenders ready

Brabham BT21 driver Martin Jones will take on several young chargers at Chateau Impney this weekend in a bid to repeat his 2016 fastest time of the day.

Jones, who lives very close to Prescott, will be among an entry of up to 200 cars for the fourth running of the hillclimb in the grounds of the Worcestershire hotel.

Jones will go head-to-head with double winner Jack Woodhouse and Callum Grant in Formula Juniors. “Most of them are a third of my age,” said Jones of his young rivals.

The Brabham has spent most of its life on the hills and was first built for Sir Nick Williamson in 1967.

Young Stiles makes Brands Hatch debut

Ben Stiles, the 23-year-old son of former Brands Hatch FF1600 star Trevor, made his race debut at the Kent track at the weekend in an FF2000 Van Diemen RF82.

Stiles senior was a renowned FF racer at Brands in the 1980s but to date Ben has done most of his racing in New Zealand.

“I’ve been racing a Formula Ford on South Island and started racing in the UK in June,” said Ben, a driver coach who now plans to develop a race preparation business near Christchurch.

“I plan to do some more URS FF2000 races and then go back to New Zealand. I hope to spend six months in each country so it’s an all-year summer!”

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More rally action at the Chateau

The second event in the new Ralli22 speed series for period rally cars will run at Chateau Impney this weekend.

Around 20 Group B, Group A and WRC cars from between 1982 and 2004, hence the 22 in the title, are expected at the hillclimb and more are due at Classic Nostalgia at Shelsley Walsh at the end of the month.

Series organiser Steve Davies said: “This is the start of it all and it’s just a nice mix of cars. We’ve already had interest from other venues for next year. This is the only competition available to some of these cars.”

Danish teenager joins Historic F3

Danish teenager Mads Gravsen has joined the Historic F3 grid in the Cooper T76 owned by Len Selby after impressing the car owner with his pace on his Historic Formula Ford debut at Silverstone last October. The car has recently come back from New Zealand, where it spent many years.

Harry Flatters Rally getting plenty of interest

Entries are building fast for the Harry Flatters Rally, round five of the BHRC on Sunday July 29. Over 30 historics are already entered including half a dozen Category 1 cars. New to the challenge of the Epynt ranges will be former racer Andrew McAlpine in the Lancia Fulvia he has been using on classic rallies like the Rally of the Tests.

Besley brothers team up

Charlie and Hugo Besley, sons of Formula Junior racer Crispian, have teamed up to share a Tiga SC82 this season in the Pre ’80 Endurance Series. Charlie (19) has a little Formula Junior racing under his belt, while Hugo (21) made his race debut at Silverstone recently. Both ran strongly and Charlie took a best of second in class.

Lyons joins Historic F2 in little-used Chevron

Frank Lyons recently joined the Historic Formula 2 grid in a little-used Chevron B29. Lyons forsook his usual Formula 5000 cars for the Silverstone weekend to race the Chevron last used by Mark Charteris on loan two years ago. That was the car’s only race outing in the last seven years. In period, it was used by the Irish Racing Cars team.

Meins run out in rebuilt Group C Spice

Prolific historic racer Richard Meins had a first run out in his newly rebuilt Group C Spice SE89 V8 at Donington Park last week. “It was raced by Paul Newman in 1991 and before that it was a works car, but I’ve owned it for about a year,” said Meins. World Touring Car champion Rob Huff also drove the Pete Chambers prepared car and will race in at the Le Mans Classic meeting while Meins campaigns his Jaguar XJR9.

Fane's life marked with 1930s car display

The life of AFP Fane was marked at Shelsley Walsh on Sunday with a display of cars from his 1930s racing career. The display was organised by Patrick Blakeney-Edwards who owns the Frazer Nash that Fane used to set the hill record at 38.77s in 1937. Fane raced across Europe and won the 1939 RAC Rally in a BMW 328 before being killed in a wartime aircraft accident in 1942 aged 30.

Classic Touring Car races at Lydden event

Races from the Classic Touring Car Racing Club will be central to Sunday’s Classic Festival at Lydden Hill. Saturday’s action will feature a celebration of Group B and rallycross, with a full programme of classic touring car races on Sunday in the Club’s fifth event of eight this season.

Pictures courtesy of Paul Lawrence

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