Tintops shine in the Goodwood twilight

| 22 Mar 2017

A stellar line-up of motorsport royalty contested the revamped Gerry Marshall Trophy at the 75th Goodwood Members’ Meeting last weekend. Race 1 ran into the dark on Saturday evening, with former F1 and CART racer Mark Blundell on pole in Kerry Michael’s Ford Escort RS2000. The 1992 Le Mans winner got a flyer – too much of one, in fact – and was judged to have jumped the start, landing a 10-second penalty. 

Chris Ward was on a charge in JD Classics’ Rover 3500, and nabbed the lead out of Woodcote at the end of lap one. But he was soon under intense pressure from Stuart Graham in Nigel Garrett’s fabulous Camaro Z28, an exact copy of the Fabergé car that Graham raced in period. Double TT winner Graham soon dispatched the Rover, despite the bruising Chevrolets all being lumbered with 100kg ballast for 2017. Ward kept in touch and pitted just before half-distance to tag to the other half of last year’s victorious Revival RAC TT partnership – current BTCC holder Gordon Shedden. All Graham’s hard work was undone after a slow pitstop, though, during which Shedden went in front – 53 secs to the good by the time Garrett was on track. Oliver Bryant, meanwhile, in the family Camaro Z28, soon reeled in Garrett but it looked a vain chase with Shedden a minute clear – until a Safety Car session with just over 20 mins left. Bryant made light work of the dozen cars between him and the leader when they were released, but darkness brought out the chequer with 8 mins still to go. Ward and Shedden won, from Bryants father and son, with Graham and Garrett third.

The frantic second race featured a reversed grid, which favoured the slower finishers and those who’d had problems the day before – such as the Capris of Peter Ratcliff and Mike Whitaker. Jim Morris was on the outside of the front row in his beautifully turned out VW Golf GTI in Tri-ang livery, many spectators’ car of the meeting. Morris was in determined mood, too, taking the lead with a brilliant pass into Lavant. He made it stick for most of the race until the front-runners from race 1 made their way through the field, Ward chief among them. 

At one stage the two Patrick MotorSport SD1s were side-by-side round Lavant, with GT hotshoe Stuart Hall in Martin Thomas’ Rover. “The standard of driving was fantastic,” said Ward afterwards. “We were just a few inches apart, but we knew that we could trust each other.” Ward took the chequer, 2.65 secs ahead of Whitaker. “I pulled a move on Jim that he let me get away with,” Whitaker confessed, “and I thought that would that, but he really came back at me. That Golf is a quick car.” Patrick Watts pinched third from Morris in the closing stages with his Capri.

Andrew Hibberd had a brilliant weekend, taking a brace of victories. He romped away from the field with his Brabham-Ford BT18 for the first race of the fixture – the Derek Bell Cup for 1-litre Formula 3 ‘screamers’ – with Sam Wilson’s Tecno-Ford second. 

Hibberd and Wilson were back in the thick of it for Sunday’s Brabham Trophy for 1956-’60 GP cars. Hibberd had put Stephen Bond’s UDT Laystall Lotus 18 on pole, but Wilson got the jump in another 18, with Roger Wills and John Young chasing and Hibberd fourth. Andy Middlehurst stormed through from row three and was soon in front, but his 18 broke shortly after. Hibberd by then was back in touch with Wilson and found a way past into Woodcote to take the lead. Wilson kept him honest right to the end, though.

The top five contenders for the new all-Lister Scott Brown Trophy qualified within less than a second of each other. Martin Stretton was on pole, with Phil Keen alongside in Jon Minshaw’s Knobbly and Chris Ward, who won at the Revival in JD’s Costin. Ward was fastest away, but was soon being shadowed by Keen who went on to take the chequer almost 10 secs clear. “The car was brilliant!” exclaimed Keen. “This is my favourite of Jon’s collection.” 

Mathias Sielecki made up for last year’s disappointment – after he was beaten to the chequer by 0.23 secs by Duncan Pittaway in the inaugural SF Edge Trophy – by going one better in his Delage DH V12. He was hounded all the way, though, by the GNs of Mark Walker and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (driving the 2016 winner). The nimble tiddlers would nip by through the corners, to the crowd’s delight, only for the Delage to blast past down the straights.

Pittaway, having started from the pitlane in deference to its clutch, chuffed through the pack in the fearsome 28-litre Fiat S76, aka ‘The Beast of Turin’. He had to treat corners with respect, though: “It’s running better than ever, but stopping it is more of a problem because it only has brakes on the back wheels. They’re smoking by the time you’ve slowed down, and I didn’t fancy drifting it round bends because the centre of gravity is about 2ft above the chassis.” 

Graham Hill would have loved the epic battle for the GT race named in his honour. Andy Wolfe had put Jason Wright’s Cobra on pole, just ahead of Mike Whitaker’s TVR and Rob Huff in Richard Meins Jaguar E-type ‘CUT 7’. Five-times Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro got a great start in Shaun Lynn’s Willment-liveried Cobra, soon shadowing Wolfe’s co-driver Michael Gans. A mesmerising battled ensued, watched by Whitaker from the best seat in the house. Pirro nipped through when Gans locked up in the first part of Lavant, and gradually pulled clear. Gans tagged to Wolfe at about half distance while Pirro eked out an advantage, and battle recommenced after all the swaps. Wolfe went in front down the Lavant Straight, while Mike Jordan (lapping quicker than the Cobras in the TVR) first went through the inside of Lynn at Lavant and then – with the move of the weekend – around the outside of Wolfe to take the lead into the Chicane.

A breathtaking field of pre-war French and Italian GP cars contested the Varzi Trophy. Christian Glasel went fastest in practice with his glorious Alfa Romeo Tipo B – almost 5 secs quicker than Sean Danaher’s Maserati 6CM – and Julian Majzub’s Bugatti Type 35B. Majzub was on a mission, though, beating the bigger-engined Latin machinery from the off but Glasel soon got the hammer down to take the lead. He temporarily slowed at one stage, putting his rivals back into contention, but went on to win from Danaher and Majzub.

An action-packed Weslake Cup (for A-series-engined sports cars) had kicked off Sunday’s racing. Richard Woolmer’s Sebring Sprite (38) had the edge over James Colbourn’s Lenham (12), until he spun at Madgwick and was clouted by James Dean’s Sebring, which thumped the tyre wall before pirouetting, badly damaged, back onto the track. The drivers were OK, but neither car made the restart, won by Colbourn from Thomas Grindall, with Mike Haigh a strong third having gained a place each lap.

Richard Attwood paid a moving tribute to John Surtees, with a demonstration of the Cooper-BMC Formula Junior that the late F1 World Champion had put on pole in his first race at Goodwood 57 years ago to the day. Lord March (above) continued the tribute by leading the parade lap – the field mostly with lights ablaze – for the Surtees Trophy in Mike Whitaker’s ex-Team Surtees Lola T70 Spyder while there was a minute’s noise in his honour back in the paddock. “I should be fine if I stay in second,” said Lord March. “I’ve been told it’s good for 110 in second.” 

Simon Hadfield dominated the race from pole (in Howard Jones’ T70 Spyder), but Tony Sinclair was quickest away in an ex-Team Surtess T70. He led as far as the first corner, when Hadfield nipped through up the inside. Sinclair did his best to keep in touch, but the action was interrupted by a Safety Car session.

All the while the light was fading and the chequer was shown a couple of laps after they were released. “It was basically dark out there,” said a relieved Hadfield, “so I’m glad they stopped it when they did.” Sinclair was delighted with second: “I’m the luckiest guy in the world, to be here racing a car that John Surtees had raced.”

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Photos: Jeff Bloxham/LAT