The 25th anniversary Silverstone Classic raced and rocked from dawn ‘til dusk today (25 July), with legendary Formula One machinery, iconic Group C cars, a plethora of touring car heroes and Status Quo providing flat-out entertainment for a record-breaking crowd.
Wall-to-wall sunshine marked a welcome contrast from Friday’s conditions and set the scene for 11 rip-roaring races and two dynamic demonstrations featuring cars spanning the past century, from standout single-seaters to title-winning tin-tops and giant-killing GTs.
The on-track thrills ‘n’ spills were enjoyed by a record single-day crowd, putting the event well on-track to break through the 100,000 barrier over the weekend for the first time in its quarter-century history.
The racing was complemented by a wide array of off-track entertainment including a sensational Spitfire aerial display – to commemorate the 75th year since the Battle of Britain – the JET Village Green, Adrenaline Zone, Giant Wheel, ever-popular 2CV Tin Snail Challenge and a headlining evening set from rock legends Status Quo.
Peter Arundell Trophy for Historic Formula Junior
From second on the capacity 54-strong grid, Sam Wilson got the best start when the lights went out to vault into a lead that he would never relinquish. Wilson’s cause was aided by a tardy getaway for pole-sitter Jonathan Milicevic on the damper side of the track, who subsequently spun his Cooper T59 out of contention at the beginning of lap two as he attempted to regain ground.
As Wilson’s Lotus 20/22 sped clear to an unchallenged triumph, the side-by-side action was all happening behind, with Jonathan Hughes’ Brabham BT6 and Andrew Hibberd’s Lotus 22 disputing second place until the latter spun, securing Hughes the runner-up spoils and promoting Callum Grant to the final podium position in his Merlyn Mk5/7 following an enthralling race-long duel with Westie Mitchell’s DeTomaso 63.
1) Sam Wilson (Lotus 20/22): 9 Laps
2) Jonathan Hughes (Brabham BT6): +5.168
3) Callum Grant (Merlyn Mk5/7): +8.022
Stirling Moss Trophy for Pre ’61 Sports Cars
Gregor Fisken fought his way through from fifth on the grid in his stunning scarlet red Ferrari 246S. After overhauling runaway early leader Gary Pearson’s Lister Jaguar Knobbly during the pit-stop phase, he eased away to secure a commanding victory in a car that was raced back in 1961 by Formula One legends Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips.
Lister Jaguars had filled the top three places to begin with, but Fisken was not to be denied as he powered his way past Shaun Lynn, Richard Kent and – following a long battle – Tony Wood. Once he took the lead, there was no looking back, with Pearson sliding sideways in his efforts to give chase. The podium was completed by Wood and Will Nuthall’s Lister Knobbly, ahead of Rob Hall and Andrew Willis’ Lola Mk1 and Kent and Crispin Harris’ Lister Costin Jaguar. The pole-sitting Jaguar D-type of Chris Ward and Andrew Smith faded to eighth at the flag, with former BTCC Champion Tim Harvey winding up 12th and former Le Mans winner Andy Wallace 16th.
1) Gregor Fisken (Ferrari 246S): 21 Laps
2) Gary Pearson (Lister Jaguar Knobbly): +13.737
3) Tony Wood / Will Nuthall (Lister Knobbly): +26.394
Warwick Banks Trophy for Under 2 Litre Touring Cars
British Touring Car Championship duo Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal avenged their cruel 2014 disappointment – when mechanical gremlins scuppered their victory challenge – by scything through the field from 14th on the grid behind the wheel of their Team Dynamics-prepared Ford Lotus Cortina.
After the nimble Austin Mini Cooper S brigade had mastered Friday’s wet conditions in qualifying, on race day – with the sun beating down – the more powerful Cortinas and BMW 1800s swiftly came to the fore. Richard Meaden immediately stormed into the lead and stretched his legs over the opening stint, pursued at a distance by Jackie Oliver’s BMW, Mark Sumpter’s Lotus Cortina and Neal – who gained an astonishing ten positions in barely the blink of an eye.
A safety car period for an accident erased Meaden’s 5.5-second advantage, and once the pit-stops had all shaken out, Oliver’s team-mate Richard Shaw and Shedden staged a spectacular tussle for the lead, both pushing very hard with plenty of sideways, side-by-side and tail-happy thrills. ‘Flash’ got the move made into Stowe on lap 12, and after fighting off a renewed challenge from Shaw, he edged away to seal a popular success, with Neal praising his BTCC team-mate for driving ‘like a demon’. The BMW dropped to fifth after a post race penalty was issued for speeding in the pitlane.
A late retirement for Andrew and Max Banks’ Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA and a further pit-lane speeding penalty for Andrew Smith’s BMW elevated Sumpter and former BTCC battler Mike Jordan to second on the rostrum ahead of Meaden and Grant Tromans.
The closing laps, meanwhile, witnessed a mesmerising scrap for class honours between the Minis of Matt Kelly, Martin O’Connell and Graham Churchill and Graham Pattle’s Lotus Cortina – with Kelly prevailing by a breathless whisker.
1) Matt Neal / Gordon Shedden (Ford Lotus Cortina): 18 Laps
2) Mark Sumpter / Mike Jordan (Ford Lotus Cortina): +13.867
3) Richard Meaden / Grant Tromans (Ford Lotus Cortina): +34.142
Kidston Trophy for Pre-War Sports Cars
A slow getaway from Frederic Wakeman in the front row-starting Frazer Nash Super Sports was a mere distant memory when the 40 minutes of racing drew to a close as both he and team-mate Pat Blakeney-Edwards eventually claimed a hard-fought victory.
The early eye-catching laps were fought out between Gareth Burnett’s huge Talbot 105 Alpine and the other front-running Frazer Nash of Charles Gillett, with the pair swapping positions several times. The nimble Nash cleaned up through the corners before the high-powered heavyweight Talbot blasted back past along Silverstone’s long straights.
An engine problem unfortunately halted Gillett’s charge and attention immediately turned back to Wakeman. He was busy scything his way through the order and chose to stay out longer than the lead Talbot before handing over to Blakeney-Edwards. A series of speedy laps followed and by the time the silver #11 emerged from the pit-lane it was leading. Blakeney-Edwards pulled away to claim a comfortable victory while Burnett’s Talbot clung on to second by just 0.630s from Rudiger Friedrichs’ Alvis Speed 20 SA.
1) Frederic Wakeman / Pat Blakeney-Edwards (Frazer Nash): 14 Laps
2) Gareth Burnett (Talbot 105 Alpine): +19.208
3) Rudiger Friedrichs (Alvis Speed 20 SA): +19.838
FIA Masters Historic Formula One
Martin Stretton survived a slow start and a late scare to triumph behind the wheel of his Tyrrell 12 in a thrillingly close-fought encounter. Sam Hancock snatched the lead when the lights went out in the Fittipaldi F5A, and when Stretton straight-lined Maggots on the opening lap, enabling Steve Hartley’s Arrows A4 to steal through into second at Becketts.
The pole-sitter reclaimed the position at Brooklands next time round, before pulling off a spectacular manoeuvre on lap four to sweep all the way around the outside of Hancock through Village and The Loop. As Stretton made good his escape – scampering away to the tune of eight seconds – he left a five-way scrap in his wake between Hancock, Loïc Deman’s Tyrrell 10, the Tyrrell 11 of Andy Wolfe, Gregory Thornton’s Lotus 91/5 and Hartley.
Stretton looked to be home and dry, until a couple of laps from the end, when wheel issues saw his advantage dramatically reduced and enabled his pursuers to latch right onto his tail – but with Hancock’s hands full fending off Deman, it was close but not quite close enough to mount a challenge. The top six cars all flashed across the finish line blanketed by barely six seconds – harking back to the good old days indeed!
1) Martin Stretton (Tyrrell 12): 13 Laps
2) Sam Hancock (Fittiapldi F5A): +1.763
3) Loïc Deman (Tyrrell 10): +2.275
Super Touring Car Trophy
Frank Wrathall marked his return to the Silverstone Classic by storming to a superb victory in his Audi 80 Quattro – from right the way down in 12th on the starting grid. James Dodd made the early running in his Honda Accord from the similar car of Stuart Whyte and Patrick Watts, who subsequently spun his Peugeot 406 on lap two.
Wrathall, meanwhile, was wasting no time at all in charging his way past his rivals into second position, and following a brief duel with Dodd, the former BTCC race-winner took full advantage of his powerful German tin-top to successfully make his move on the entry to Maggotts on lap five.
Thereafter, Wrathall was never again threatened, with Dodd securing a solid second and pole-sitter Stuart Whyte completing the podium in third. Behind the top three, Simon Garrad’s Opel Vectra, Neil Smith’s Alfa Romeo 156 and Graeme Dodd’s Honda Accord energetically disputed fourth position – a battle that was curtailed when Smith tipped Garrad into a spin at Stowe in the closing stages. The Alfa driver spent the remainder of his race staving off Dodd for fourth.
1) Frank Wrathall (Audi 80 Quattro): 9 Laps
2) James Dodd (Honda Accord): +4.418
3) Stewart Whyte (Honda Accord): +25.264
Maserati Trophy for HGPCA Pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars
Tim Harvey continued the theme of BTCC stars proving their mettle in a variety of different machinery by overhauling Will Nuthall’s Cooper T53 for victory on his first outing in the Cooper T51. Both men out-accelerated pole-sitter Julian Bronson off the starting line, as Jon Fairley rocketed up the order from 13th into third.
The leading trio rapidly broke clear, before oil smoke from Fairley’s Brabham BT11 reduced it to a two-horse race, with barely half-a-second blanketing the two pace-setting Coopers as Nuthall and Harvey traded fastest laps. The latter finally found a way past through Brooklands on lap five, and although Nuthall attempted to regain the initiative, Harvey held on and worked the traffic to his advantage to celebrate his first single-seater victory in more than three decades.
“That was incredible! I gelled with the Cooper straightaway, even in the rain yesterday – I’ve obviously got a lot in common with Jack Brabham!” he quipped. “I can’t even remember the last time I drove a single-seater, and the sensation was absolutely fantastic. Will and I were quick at different parts of the track and it was very much nip-and-tuck – I really enjoyed it.”
From all the way down in 26th on the grid, the Lotus 18/21 of Peter Horsman stormed through to snatch third from Barry Cannell’s Cooper T51, with Bronson ultimately taking the chequered flag eighth.
1) Tim Harvey (Cooper T51): 9 Laps
2) Will Nuthall (Cooper T53): +2.035
3) Jon Fairley (Brabham BT11): +12.549
Jet Battle of Britain Trophy
Mike Whitaker proved unstoppable, darting immediately into second place from fourth on the grid and relieving pole-sitter Matt Nicoll-Jones of the lead later around the opening lap. Thereafter, the TVR Griffith stretched its legs and went on to claim a comfortable victory, with Nicoll-Jones’ Jaguar E-type clinching the runner-up spoils and former BTCC legend Steve Soper rounding out the podium following a solid drive in a similar car.
1) Mike Whitaker (TVR Griffith): 9 Laps
2) Matt Nicoll-Jones (Jaguar E-type): +17.468
3) Steve Soper (Jaguar E-type): +37.368
FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars
Martin O’Connell flew solo as he sped to victory in a hotly contested race that could have gone any of four different ways. Former World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff’s Lola T70 Mk3B led away from pole position ahead of a feisty O’Connell in his Chevron B19, with Grant Tromans in another Lola T70 Mk3B giving chase and Marino Franchitti soon up to fourth from 14th in a similar car.
Various dramas back in the pack – from spins to collisions, damage and blow-ups – precipitated the intervention of the safety car, and at the re-start, Huff and O’Connell resumed battle as Franchitti relieved Tromans of third.
Once the pit-stops had shaken out, Huff’s team-mate Richard Meins held the advantage over Simon Hadfield’s Lola T70 Mk3B – all the way up from 27th on the grid – followed by O’Connell and Franchitti’s team-mate Richard Meaden, with less than 12 seconds blanketing all four.
It didn’t take long for the flying Hadfield to move to the front of the field, sweeping around the outside of Meins at Stowe, but his charge would be halted less than a handful of laps later when his car ground to a halt. With Meins falling back through the field, O’Connell assumed the lead, with Meaden slotting into second – and the order would remain that way right the way to the chequered flag.
Having spun on his ‘out’ lap following the pit-stops, Tromans’ team-mate Martin Stretton made amends by relieving Meins of third, with the Lola T70 Mk3B of Jason Wright and Andy Wolfe, Anthony and Ollie Hancock’s Lola T212 and Daniel Gibson’s Broadley Lola T70 Mk3B all similarly deposing the early race leader before the end.
1) Martin O’Connell (Chevron B19): 21 Laps
2) Richard Meaden / Marino Franchitti (Lola T70 Mk3B): +8.874
3) Grant Tromans / Martin Stretton (Lola T70 Mk3B): +20.693
International Trophy for Classic GT Cars (Pre ’66)
Martin O’Connell proved that 50 minutes of flat-out racing had not wearied him by making it back-to-back triumphs in this terrific hour-long encounter after overcoming a brace of fierce rivals.
Following a brief spell at the front for pole-sitter Matt Neal in the Sunbeam Le Mans Tiger, Michael Gans moved to the head of the field in his AC Cobra, initially pulling away – until O’Connell in his Jaguar E-type and Mike Whitaker’s TVR Griffith began to home in, the former from all the way down in 25th on the grid.
By lap five, it was three for the lead and what ensued was a superb spectacle as Gans used all of the Cobra’s straight-line speed to gamely defend from his marauding adversaries.
The trio ran side-by-side as they weaved their way spiritedly through the backmarkers and even past a spinner immediately across their bows. Gans’ phenomenal defensive effort under intense pressure only came to an end when he hung the tail out once too often and a tank-slapper on the exit of Copse on lap 11 finally released O’Connell.
Whilst Gans’ team-mate Andy Wolfe briefly threatened to redress the balance once the pit-stops had been completed as hunter turned hunted, O’Connell was up to the challenge and responded in fine style. Whitaker wound up a distant third, just two seconds ahead of Sean McInerney’s TVR Griffith, which stormed through from 54th on the grid and even had time to serve a stop-go penalty along the way!
1) Martin O’Connell (Jaguar E-type): 25 Laps
2) Michael Gans / Andy Wolfe (AC Cobra): +12.508
3) Mike Whitaker (TVR Griffith): +41.026
Christophe d’Ansembourg and Bob Berridge waged a no-holds-barred early battle in the final race of the day, as the iconic Group C cars brought some Le Mans fever to Silverstone by racing evocatively into the twilight. The 1991 Silk Cut Jaguar XJR14 and 1992 Nissan R90 exchanged places on several occasions in a captivating duel, before the Belgian pulled clear. Pole-sitter Steve Tandy in a 1990 Spice SE90 GTP finished third.
1) Christophe d’Ansembourg (Jaguar XJR14): 14 Laps
2) Bob Berridge (Nissan R90): +15.868
3) Steve Tandy (Spice SE90 GTP): +28.065
A further thrilling nine races are scheduled for tomorrow, along with a number of parades and family entertainment, as the 25th edition of the Silverstone Classic is brought to a close.