Historic Motorsport: special Thruxton races could become annual

Last weekend's 50th anniversary celebrations at Thruxton proved such a hit than a yearly historic festival at the circuit is being planned

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An annual classic and historic racing festival at Thruxton is now likely after the success of the circuit’s 50th anniversary meeting over the weekend.

After a large and enthusiastic crowd watched a mix of races and demonstration sessions, circuit boss Bill Coombs said he hoped to build on the event and create an annual historic festival at the high-speed Hampshire track.

With races from Motor Racing Legends, the Historic Sports Car Club and the Mini Seven Racing Club, the 50th anniversary meeting celebrated the heritage of the UK’s fastest circuit and some fine racing was capped by two slip-streaming thrillers for the Historic Formula Fords.

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'We’re very keen to have a flagship historic meeting covering all the ages, to appeal to a wide audience,' said Coombs, an accomplished historic single-seater racer. 'I hope the 50th event is not a one-off and I’d like to try and build it into one of the big events of the Thruxton season. This weekend worked very, very well and there is plenty of content out there. The track has a great history.'

If Coombs is able to develop the meeting into a regular fixture, it will join the British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes as key dates in the Thruxton calendar, which has been limited to just 12 days of qualifying and racing each year since the early 1970s.

Highlights of the demonstration sessions included former Formula 1 racer Karun Chandhok pushing hard in an ex-Rosberg Williams FW08C. 'It is a very special car and I love Thruxton from my days in Formula 3. It’s got a lot of character!'

Cortina first in Kielder

Paul Mankin’s Lotus Cortina will run first on the road on Friday night’s leg of the Carlisle Stages as the Motor Sports Association’s relaxation of running order rules starts to take effect.

For the first time since the move to one field of cars was implemented early in 2015, historic cars will lead the field on the joint British Historic Rally Championship and BTRDA (British Trial & Rally Driver Association) championship event.

The Friday night leg of stages in the Newcastleton region of Kielder forest will feature a field of 50 historic and 2WD cars, with the first 14 Category 1 and 1600cc historic running first in reverse order. After a short gap, the balance of the field will be headed by the Escort Mk2s of Paul Barrett and Matthew Robinson.

Saturday’s stages will feature a revised order with modern 1400s joining the older cars at the front before the historic section finishes at main service.

Mr Brown’s grand-daughters

Welsh rallying veteran Terry Brown will be joined in competition this month by his two grand-daughters Angharad and Cathy.

All three of them will compete in the annual Epynt hillclimb, which uses the section of the famous ranges on the climb up from Four Ways Bridge. Terry will drive his modified 2500cc rally-prepared Escort Mk2 while the ladies will share his familiar historic specification Mk2.

'They wanted to have a go and the historic car needs a new shell, so it doesn’t matter if they bend it,' said Brown, who has raced and rallied extensively over a 50-year career. The two-day Brecon Motor Club hillclimb runs over the weekend of June 16/17.

Lauda’s F2 March returns

The UK racing return of the ex-Niki Lauda Formula 2 March 722 was one of the highlights of the Thruxton 50th anniversary meeting, although owner Stephen Weller was thwarted in his bid to match Lauda’s 1972 podium finish.

Ex-pat Australian Weller also owns the ex-Hiroshi Kazato March 722 but ran the Lauda car at Thruxton in the pair of single-seater races. The car ran strongly and was as high as second in Sunday’s race before engine issues prompted a late retirement.

'I’ve been amazed at the interest shown in the car,' said Weller who is on a summer UK racing tour. 'I would have loved to finished third, to match Lauda’s 1972 finish.'

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ERA heads for New Zealand

The Endurance Rally Association has unveiled a new 21-day event in New Zealand, running from February 15 to March 8 2020.

Rally New Zealand 2020 will take a field of classic and historic cars on a route around both North and South Island, taking in special tests and regularity sections along the way.

Highlights should include the spectacular 47km Motu Road Gorge as used in the World Rally Championship and the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park at Taupo.

The event will start in Auckland and finish in Christchurch and the ERA will organise shipping of cars from Europe.

Lamplough makes F2 return

Half a century after he raced in the inaugural European Formula 2 race at Thruxton, Robs Lamplough returned to the Hampshire track to mark its 50th anniversary by racing his Winklemann WDF2 in the weekend’s Historic Formula Ford races. Now 75, Lamplough finished 12th in 1968 in a McLaren M4A.

F5000 join US SpeedFest

Formula 5000s from the Derek Bell Trophy will race as part of this weekend’s American SpeedFest at Brands Hatch. Michael Lyons will head the field in one of the cars from the family stable while the ex-Peter Gethin title-winning McLaren M10B makes a rare race outing in the hands of Matthew Wurr.

Championship leaders head to BHRC

Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts will head the field into round three of the MSA BHRC – this weekend’s Carlisle Stages in Kielder. The Northern Ireland/Welsh pair has a 21-point lead after two rounds but will face another stern challenge from Matthew Robinson when the action starts on Friday evening.

Pearson turnaround

Ian Pearson worked wonders to get his FF2000 Van Diemen rebuilt overnight at Thruxton after Martin Bloss rolled it twice on Saturday following a clash of wheels at the chicane. Pearson got it fixed ready for Bloss to finish fifth overall in the second single-seater race on Sunday.

Rare FAtlantic up for sale

The Formula Atlantic Chevron B45 raced by Jim Crawford is being offered for sale via Alan Cornock. One of only four B45 built in 1978, the car was raced when new by Eje Elgh and Keke Rosberg in the US before coming back to the UK for Crawford. Chassis 4 is ideal for Derek Bell Trophy and Historic F2 races.

Three-figure Red Kite entry expected

More than 100 two-wheel drive entries, including over 60 historics, are already entered for the Red Kite Stages on June 24, which will run to the Rally 2WD format. The total entry for the event is now at 120 cars with more due before the closing date as the rally moves to the seldom-used forests of South Wales for the first time.

Ex-Skoda works driver to rally 130

Former Skoda works rally driver John Haugland will return to driving a rally prepared Skoda 130 on the Titanic Déjà vu Ulster celebration event on September 1. The Norwegian ace, a three-time class winner on the Ulster Rally, will use the car owned by rallying Skoda dealer John Mulholland, re-visiting stages he tackled in the 1970s and 1980s.

Pictures courtesy of Paul Lawrence and Motorsport Images

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