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“You can open the door if you want to, mate…” There – in an instant – on my first snap of the day and my first interaction with a competitor, is a perfect illustration as to why Dep-O loves the Silverstone Classic.
It’s all about the access, baby – to the cars and the enthusiasm of the owners and competitors. Here we are all car people. There’s none of that society schmoozing and if there is any corporate hospitality, we didn’t see it – let alone have it rubbed in our faces. Yes, the Silverstone Classic still feels like a case of ‘Admittance only for petrolheads’.
The supposed weather experts were doubtful about the heavens’ dryness on the Saturday and Sunday, so we went on Friday for the qualifying sessions. Given the booming popularity of this event year on year, we were somewhat surprised at how relatively quiet the place was. Not merely in visitor numbers but in the number of club stands present. Certain clubs for Rootes and Fords which have been there in previous years, were strangely absent. Although it has to be said, that there were more attractions and commercial stands present.
All in all, the show felt as sizzling as usual, with most of the day was spent in the new cool of the ‘Wing’ pits, amid the hustle and bustle of qualifying. Highlights included:
Michael Lyons – the youngest ever winner of an F1 race – set one of the fastest laps of the day on his way to taking pole position in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One. The packed grid of DFV-powered Lotuses, McLarens, Tyrrells, Marches and Williams’ represents the most modern era of F1 at the event.
The Jim Clark Trophy for HGPCA Pre-66 Grand Prix cars – named in honour of Clark’s first F1 world championship 50 years ago – was dominated by Jason Minshaw in a Brabham BT4. Andy Middlehurst, piloting Clark’s original Lotus 25 in which the Scotsman won the 1963 British GP, performed admirably by putting the car on the second row of the grid and second in class.
Of particular note was the sheer number of machines lined up for the Super Touring Car Trophy – a series celebrating the great paint-swapping era of the BTCC.
Patrick Watts stole the headlines in the Super Touring Car Trophy after claiming pole position in the closing minutes driving the Peugeot 406 that he originally raced back in 1997. Other notable stars on the grid for the hugely popular trophy includes Frank Wrathall and former-BTCC champion Tim Harvey.
Sticking with the Touring Car theme, three times World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx narrowly missed out on pole in the Sir John Whitmore Trophy for under 2-Litre Touring Cars. Priaulx, driving a BMW 1800 Ti, was pipped to the post by the 1964 Lotus Cortina driven by Simon Hadfield.
A sensational shootout for pole position in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars was another particular highlight. Hadfield, this time sharing the famous Aston Martin DP212 with owner Wolfgang Friedrichs, traded blows with former Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver and his historic racer team-mate Gary Pearson in the striking Ferrari 250 SWB. Hadfield eventually won the battle as he squirmed across the line to go fastest late on, having punctured his left-rear tyre on the final corner of his pole lap
The day concluded with some classic sportscar action. A Porsche 917 turned heads during the FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars qualifying session. Le Mans’ GpC cars rounded out the action as the sun set over a sizzling Silverstone. Nic Minassian incredibly clocked the fastest lap ever seen at the Classic, the Frenchman lapping the circuit in 1:46.428s at an average speed of over 123mph in a Jaguar XJR14.
Dep-O highlights of the day? It was fantastic to see JXC 808D the ex-Comps 1970 Marathon de la Route Rover P6B in action – after spotting it last year at Race Retro (click here) and Gez couldn’t get enough of the captivating Bizzarini streaking around in naked alloy. Phwoaaarrr! However, for me, it had to be the vast field of ex-BTCC machinery – seeing them back together again was as fantastic as it was daunting. Can it really have been so long ago!?!
For more details and race results from Saturday and Sunday, visit the official Silverstone Classic website at: www.silverstoneclassic.com
Once again the Silverstone Classic gets a thumbs up from us and in 2014, we fully expect to have to spend more than a day at this booming event because gone are the days when you could squeeze everything into a single day.