Gillies uncatchable in special ERA birthday race at Silverstone

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Ten ERAs gathered for a special 80th-anniversary race of the Bourne-built voiturettes at the Vintage Sports-Car Club’s Spring Start race meeting on 12-13 April.

Mark Gillies secured pole for Dick Skipworth, the new owner of the ex-works team car R3A, by 1.2secs from a much improved Nicholas Topliss in R4A.

Charlie Martin winning the 1936 Nuffield Trophy at Donington in R3A as raced today by Gillies

Julian Bronson had a frustrating time guest-driving R4D in practice, its lurid cornering eventually discovered to be a tyre with low pressure. “It handled like one rear wheel was a threepenny bit,” reported the Bristolian. Sadly, Julian Wilton was a non-starter after the gearbox failed in his newly acquired ex-Arthur Dobson R7B.

David Morris in R11B made a storming start from the second row and for the first six laps the ERA specialist pushed leader Gillies all the way, attempting several bold undertaking moves into Brooklands, but Gillies determinedly held his line. Frustratingly, Morris pulled off at Maggotts with carburettor problems on his seventh circuit, leaving R3A to roar home and claim the fastest lap of 1:18.

ERAs have always been a star attraction at VSCC Silverstone events

Topliss finished an impressive second confirming that the development work on R4A over the winter had paid off, while Duncan Ricketts claimed third with the sleek E-type.

“That was terrific,” enthused Gillies, who'd jetted over from Washington DC for the event. “David gave everything and I’ve never seen him so sideways, but it was great to win for R3A’s returning owner Dick.”

40th Anniversary in 1974 at Silverstone with 10 ERAs plus the ERA Delage. Hamish Moffatt sits in R3A (second from left)

The impressive paddock display also included a rare outing for GP2 and the fascinating Challenger, a 1939 GP design started by Reg Parnell and later powered by ERA and Delage engines after WW2. The intriguing project is being restored by Ricketts.

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