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Silverstone Classic
More than 1,000 historic race cars competed at this year’s Silverstone Classic, which organisers hailed as the ‘biggest motor racing event ever staged’.

Racing was conducted on the new Grand Prix Formula 1 circuit, which has been completely reconfigured for this year’s British F1 GP. It has been extended to 3.66 miles and, with a new International Paddock, called ‘The Wing’; a very impressive feat of engineering.

In taking to the circuit on Friday for Qualifying, I soon realised that even the older parts of the circuit had been re-profiled to fit in with this very different look and feel experience. Silverstone used to be fast and flowing, but with the introduction of Village Corner and ‘The Loop’, the racing driver is slowed to some 30 mph turns and forces change-downs into 2nd gear. This is not as easy as it sounds with a 1955 three synchro Moss gearbox.

All the grids were full and, for my Woodcote Trophy race, there were 52 cars that packed the grid.

QUALIFYING

Having not ‘Tested’ on this circuit before, Mel and I were on a very steep learning curve, not knowing what gears to use on many parts of the circuit. I was even confused about having two Start and Finish Straights and with two Paddocks confronting me while I flew past them looking for Pit Boards that were at’ The Other Pits’?!
So the best that Mel Floyd and I could do was a 2min 59.6 sec lap. As a newly designed F1 circuit with fifteen corners and three long straights, now of differing lengths to learn (and re-learn) it took some time.
Therefore, we only qualified 44th out of 52 cars. Quite disappointing, but the car went well. It was just the drivers who lacked the ‘Local Knowledge’. Luckily, and with all the rain we have experienced lately, Quali was dry, thank goodness!

THE RACE

Saturday was race day for us and I started the race as usual. With the 52 cars in the line-up it comprised many driver nationalities from GB, such as Rob Hall, Ludovic Lindsay, Patrick Watts, and Gary Pearson and, from Brazil, Carlos Monteverde, and from France, Sweden and Swiss contenders for this 50 minute endurance race.
The race started well and I started to set about reducing my lap times as an objective for the race. Very quickly I had succeeded in beating my Quali times by some 5 seconds to 2mins 54 secs and proceeded to be as consistent as I could possibly manage. The race started at 11:00 and the ambient was 20°C. This was good for the car in keeping her as cool as possible for the fifty minute duration.

However, the brakes which Keith and I had adjusted on Friday after Quali, did not feel good, as I developed a very ‘Hard Pedal’ during the race. The circuit is very fast in the main, where one has to break hard at the end of three very long straights and then with further hard braking into Village, The Loop and Brooklands going into Luffield.

I took to the grass at Becketts, as I couldn’t stop and I shot across the circuit in front of three other cars on my tale closely missing them. Thank goodness someone was on my side?!

The result of this was that I calmed my racing style, developed some consistent lap times and proceeded to close the gap on my ‘Overtakees’.

It was then time to end my first stint at the wheel and to let Melvin take over. We had a quicker change-over than normal, lasting just 42 seconds and Mel was off and racing for the second and final stint. With only one spin to his ‘Credit’, he passed the Chequered Flag in 38th position from 52. Not blisteringly good, but it was all we could expect given the variables we had to contend with.

POST RACE ANALYSIS

A good, but not as excellent a race as Dijon! The car performed well, but not so the drivers with such a lack of knowledge of this new circuit and a lack of track time. But the good news was that we did not suffer four punctures as we did in Dijon. It appears that the new inner tubes seem to be a vast improvement on the previous ones. Certainly, the car is capable of a lot more on this circuit but, the net result was that we ‘Could do better’, as my school teacher used to tell me!

Our next race will be held at:

The Oulton Park Gold Cup on the weekend of the
26th, 27th, 28th and 29th August

Will we see you there? I hope so!!

John D R

PS
Action photography taken by John Retter, Motor Racing Legends Photographer
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