Rain makes the action more thrilling at epic Goodwood Revival

| 17 Sep 2013

A raft of motor-racing royalty contested Part 1 of the Mary’s Trophy at Goodwood over the weekend in what many Revival regulars – including commentator Marcus Pye of Autosport – rated as the best tin-top contest in the event’s history.

Venezuelan former motorbike and saloon champ Johhny Cecotto looked to be fastest in a BMW 1800TiSA on the wet track, but four-time Le Mans Series winner Oliver Gavin nabbed pole at the end of the session. Dry conditions the day after played into the hands of the more powerful machinery, though.

Former Lotus F1 star Jackie Oliver got the best start but soon had his mirrors full of the Galaxie of fellow Le Mans winner Jochen Mass, who was soon under pressure from Frank Stippler storming through from 15th on the grid to challenge for the lead in Alex Furiani’s Alfa Giulia GTA.

German GT ace Stippler pulled off a demon move to take the lead – sideways through Woodcote – to leave Mass contending with the Galaxie of nine-time Le Mans victor Tom Kristensen, who eventually found a way past and set off after the Alfa. In a nail-biting finale, Kristensen snatched the lead on the penultimate lap and held on until the end – prompting a massive round of applause for all three from the packed crowd.

The Alfa won on aggregate, though, with Furiani taking a strong second after Bill Shepherd, who owns the ex-Holman & Moody Galaxie raced by Mass, had been unable to make up the 21-second deficit he needed to win following a safety-car period in Sunday's race.

There was more rolling thunder straight after, with a sensational array of 27 GT40s – including one MkIV – for the celebration Whitsun Trophy. A stunning, six-car train dominated the early stages – featuring Andy Wallace and Steve Soper – until five-time Le Mans Emanuele Pirro built a 20-second advantage in the 45-minute race. After a slow driver change, though, owner Shaun Lynn emerged behind ’99 Indy 500 winner Kenny Bräck, who’d taken over Red Bull Racing designer Adrian Newey’s car in which he’d been the star of the wet practice session.

Julian Bronson looked set to follow up his Silverstone Classic victory with another win aboard his sublime Scarab-Offy but was lucky not to roll following contact with an Aston DBR4 that pitched him airborne. He rejoined, but by then Gary Pearson was well clear and took a comfortable win – his 12th at the Revival – in a BRM Type 25.

A glorious field of pre-war machinery had kicked off Saturday’s racing, with ERAs to the fore in the Brooklands Trophy but it wasn’t to be for previous multiple winner Mark Gillies who was sidelined after a lap in the over-heating R2A that he’d put on pole.

California-based Irishman Paddins Dowling got the jump in R10B but fellow ERA old-hand David Morris was soon in front in R11B and made it stick. It wasn’t an ERA clean sweep, though: GT star Calum Lockie had a fine debut to take third in Sean Danaher’s glorious Maserati 8CM.

A chuffed Morris said of his maiden victory in the race: “I’ve been somewhere close before but never won. The old man would have been delighted with that!” (His dad Martin used to race the ERA better known as ‘Humphrey’.)

Sunday’s predicted storm-force winds and driving rain arrived with 20 mins of the RAC TT Celebration to go. Journalist Chris Harris made an outstanding Goodwood debut aboard Richard Frankel’s Lister-Jaguar coupé, initially running fourth but in turn passing Pearson’s E-type, Jean Alessi in the JCB Ferrari 250GTO ’64 and the rapid AC Cobra of Dutchman David Hart.

Harris relayed to tin-top ace Anthony Reid but the safety car bunched up the field and, following the deluge, rainmaster Simon Hadfield had the drive of the weekend, having taken over Wolfgang Friedrichs’ Aston Martin Project 212. He picked off car after car ahead of him in the atrocious conditions – without the wipers running – and took the lead with 2 mins to go.

Race-prep and restoration specialist Rob Hall also shone in the wet. Fittingly, with the event’s special Jim Clark celebration – he took a fine second in the Glover Trophy in the ex-Clark Lotus 21, part of a Lotus 1-2-3 between the 25s of winner Andy Middlehurst and Nick Fennell.

The meeting finished as it had began, with a fine array of ’50s sports cars battling in the wet for the Sussex Trophy. Hall showed awesome car control aboard a Maserati 300S, taking the lead from Reid’s Jaguar D-type but the wily Scot staged a comeback to retake the lead and make up for his second place in the TT.

Other on-track highlights included Sir Chris Hoy, who was also racing a Mini in the St Mary’s Trophy, taking part in a special Tour de France tribute, while the Jim Clark celebration featured some amazing kit from a DKW 3=6 Sonderklasse to Bräck in the Lotus 56 gas-turbine ‘STP Special’ (below).

As ever with the Revival though, it was as much about the off-track attractions as the racing. The Revival Car Show for tax-free classics was adjudged one of the best ever, while the Le Mans-style pits for the GT40s was an inspired idea, and the Aston Martin centenary display in the Earl’s Court Motor Show was spectacular.

Other elements included the usual mods and rockers sideshows, a St Trinians Great Train Robbery and, of course, the fantastic air displays starring a Canberra, as well as a touching Dambusters tribute.

Click here for our previous report on Friday’s Freddie March Memorial Trophy, one of most treacherous yet thrilling races in Goodwood history.

Click here for our report on the Bonhams auction, at which a Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo 8C-35 made £5.9million.

Lots more photos