A thundering, six-car battle in the second Derek Bell Trophy race brought memories of the Gold Cup’s heyday flooding back as the HSCC helped to celebrate Oulton Park’s 60th birthday last weekend.
Greg Thornton looked set for the double in his F1 March 761 (32 in main photo) after winning the first race (above) – red-flagged after five laps following a pile-up – but Michael Lyons had other ideas.
Lyons came second to Thornton after an uncharacteristic spin in race one, but his F5000 Lola T400 (64) lost top gear so he started from the back of the grid in the evocative Penthouse F1 Hesketh 308E (24) driven earlier on by dad Frank. He was soon up with the leading pack, including Neil Glover’s Lola T330/332 (10) and Mark Dwyer’s nimble F2 March 742, as they threaded their way through the rest of the field.
Lyons took the chequer – ahead of Thornton then Dwyer – posting the weekend’s fastest lap en route at a blistering 1 min 34.140 secs (or nearly 103mph).
James Dodd took three wins over the weekend, including a brace with his recently acquired Honda Accord in the Super Touring Trophy.
Some authentic BTCC-style argy-bargy between Patrick Watts’ Peugeot 406 and the Labatt’s Sierra RS500 of leader Paul Smith left the way clear – post safety car – for Stewart Whyte (in another Accord, above) to chase Dodd all the way to the finish.
The pair picked up right where they left on the Monday, though Whyte initially had his mirrors full of the Vauxhall Vectra of twice BTCC winner John Cleland – another convert to the hugely popular series.
Dodd, meanwhile, pulled clear to take a comfortable win in the ex-James Thompson Accord that his mum tracked down via the internet to Montenegro where it had been hillclimbed.
“There’s been a lot more interest in the series since the Silverstone Classic,” explained ’92 BTCC winner Tim Harvey, who took third in Smith’s Sierra. “Quite a few people are now looking for not just Super Touring but Group A cars.” He said that a couple of Cossies have been found in Australia.
A delighted Dodd had jumped straight into the Accord from winning the second Martini Trophy race in his Chevron B31.
Sadly there wasn’t to be a repeat of Sunday’s scrap between Dodd (no 21), Nick Fleming (36) and Martin O’Connell (19) – won by Fleming from Dodd – after an over-eager (and later very apologetic) O’Connell clouted the back of pole-sitter Fleming’s Chevron B36 forcing him into a spin.
O’Connell went in front for a few laps, only to retire as a result of damage sustained in the collision, which left Dodd almost a minute clear of Michele Ligouri’s Lola T296 at the flag.
It was friends reunited in the Historic Formula Ford 1600 as current champion Callum Grant (1) went head to head in an outstanding race-long tussle with his likely successor Sam Mitchell (40).
The two teenagers regularly traded places – Mitchell usually taking the lead into Old Hall, only for Grant to reclaim the advantage and pull the same move a few laps later – while David Wild had the best seat in the house in third.
“It was fantastic!” enthused Grant afterwards. “We’ve had some great races.” “Callum drove brilliantly and deserved to win,” conceded his sporting rival Mitchell.
There was barely a bumper – but no contact – between the Lotus Cortinas of Tim Davies and Neil Brown as they diced for second in the Historic Touring Car race.
Brown, second in the HTC championship, tried in vain to find a way past current leader Davies while Mark Jones gradually pulled clear to make it a Cortina 1-2-3.
Various track demonstrations included Robs Lamplough in the F2 Lola-Cosworth in which John Surtess won the ’65 Gold Cup.
There was plenty to see away from the circuit action, too, including Group B rally car demonstrations, a special Porsche Club GB area to mark 50 years of the 911 and a vast array of clubs covering the banking opposite Clearways.
The quattro Owners’ Club, supported by Audi UK and MSV, showed an awesome Sport quattro rally car and an exacting replica of an 80 raced by Sir Stirling Moss in the 1980 BSCC, flanking one of only two ’99 R8C Le Mans Prototypes.
A fine selection of Jaguars included the oldest-surviving E-type roadster – registered 77 RW – owned by Michael Kilgannon. Alongside was the Dellow of fellow Chester Vintage Enthusiasts’ Car Club member Roger Reed, who attended the first Gold Cup in ’54 – won by Moss in a Maserati 250F.
And a stunning, super-rare XJR-15 drew the crowds all day long – wherever it was parked.
Gold Cup regulars the Gilbern Owners’ Club brought eight cars including Howard Wadsworth’s ’64 GT – twice road-tested by Motor Sport in period – Stuart Massey’s Invader Mk2 and Barry Cole’s Invader Estate.
Photos: Jeff Bloxham (action), David Evans (clubs)