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The Silverstone Classic The RAC’s ‘Woodcote Trophy’ The Grand Prix Circuit

The Silverstone Classic

25th, 26th, 27th and 28th
July 2013

 

This is some spectacle with over 1000 racing cars

 

The 2013 Silverstone Classic not only lived up to its billing as ‘the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival but surpassed all expectations. The huge three-day festival had its biggest ever entry as well as unrivaled on-track parades plus a mass of famous faces and a record attendance of 90,000, up from 83,500 in 2012.

Spanning nine decades of glorious motor sport history, with an incredible line-up of 24 races that set a new world record.

In 2011 there were 1103 entries, the Silverstone Classic was already in the record books as the biggest race meeting ever staged anywhere in the world.

This year’s event has broken its own record with an unprecedented entry totaling no fewer than 1113 of the world’s finest and authentic historic racing cars.

    


The Loop Complex with The Wing in the background

Arriving on Wednesday together with the CKL Transporter we quickly set up our pitch in the Outer Paddock as we knew there would be little space left later on. Then I set to work on the car as, Andy Keith-Lucas and I would be ready for a day of ‘Testing’ early on Thursday morning.


Concentrating hard and Steve setting up the Lap
Timer and Camcorder

    

TESTING


We decided that I would take the car out for the morning stint at 09:35 hours and that Andy would take the afternoon session at 14:05.

I pulled the short straw as my session turned out to be a wet session and I was unable to set a good dry lap time.

Andy’s session was clear, sunny and dry, even if the circuit was a little ‘GREEN’ and Andy was some four seconds faster than my early morning stint at the wheel.

QUALIFYING


Friday dawned bright and breezy but at least it was dry. Once again I went out first and hopefully achieve a better lap time than yesterday’s Testing results. However, I only managed just three laps and I came in and let Andy (My new ‘Hot Shoe’) to improve on my times, which he did. He achieved a 2 min 53 secs fastest lap (A PB of course).
This was some three seconds faster than my own PB for the day.
 

We / Andy(!) also achieved the fastest Jaguar XK time for Qualifying. 

I’m sure we could have gone faster but my ‘NEW’ 1955 Moss Gearbox decided that it didn’t like 2nd Gear. The one and only corner where we definitely needed 2nd was going into the new ‘Loop Complex’.

On the over-run 2nd gear decided to pop into ‘Neutral’, which seriously hampered our performance. Keith my trusty Mechanic tried to adjust the Selector Detents by adjustments and stretching springs etc.

Our race was scheduled for Sunday at 09:40, which gave us a leisurely Saturday to watch other races and carry out some additional adjustments and to attend the concerts at the circuit.

    


The MWS Hospitality Marquee

Following a wonderfully warm Saturday the weather all but caved in on us on Saturday night. We had the storm to end all storms with tornado style winds and torrential rains and we all got a thorough soaking whilst hanging on to our awning legs and marquees while the storm persisted.

What was going through my mind was what sort of race to expect for the following morning. The storm and rains abated around 3am.


Andy K-L at the wheel in full flight

    

THE RACE
 

Race day dawned, once again, bright and sunny and, we were the second race of the day. Hopefully, the circuit conditions would be dry due to the usually windy environment on this WW2 Airfield. The race was, as usual a Rolling Start and I started the race. I must say, that my start was not as good as last year as I was shuffled to the outer then the inner part of the circuit going through the Loop Complex.

The first lap was pretty spectacular as the Maggotts and Becketts complex turned into a place of carnage when Nick Ruddell in his DB2/4 collided with another car and I ended up scything through the middle of them.

This is always a difficult part of the track on the first lap with so many cars because, if you don’t have the correct wide line, you will either go across the grass at Chapel Curve or, try to correct your error and usually hit another car. The latter being the case on this occasion. In fact there were seven DNF’s during the race. I maintained a good pace with Steve on the Pit Wall showing me my lap times dropping lap by lap to around 2 min 53 secs and gaining on the Aston Martin DB2/4 in front. 

Then, looking at the Pit Wall, Steve showed me the JDR Pit Board to come in on this lap. So, without backing off too much, I went around Copse Corner and then headed up to the Maggotts / Becketts complex of curves. As I went through the second phase of Becketts, the car jerked violently to the left, but I wrestled her straight then, my
near-side rear wheel overtook me and ended up hitting another crashed car against the Armco opposite Chapel Curve.

I checked all my gauges as my incident unfolded including the fact that this happened at some 97 mph. I was able to wrestle her straight and headed towards the grass and out of harms way.

This was, I’m afraid ‘GAME OVER’. To say that I was gutted was an understatement, for not completing a second race this year and, not least of which was that once again, Andy did not get his opportunity at the wheel during the race.

    


The broken Half-Shaft damage for all to see

POST RACE ANALYSIS
 

The race was going well up until the 26th minute, and then the car was out of it. On returning to the Paddock we realised that the Half Shaft had snapped which also took the rear wing with it and damaged the boot surround, thus affecting the shut line on that side. Another expensive outing due to the obvious substandard quality of the Drive Shafts.


JDR with Steve, struggling to load the stricken XK
into the Race Box

    

This will need some serious thinking through, not only to rectify the damage before Spa in September but for next season’s performance and reliability. This will also include an unreliable gearbox and general front-end handling.

I must finally add here that the attrition rate of this race was very high and, with some very dangerous driving with only 34 cars out of 43 finishing the race.

There seemed to be a lot of ‘Red Mist’ from drivers in this race. This was a very unusual experience since I started racing in the Woodcote Trophy some three years ago.

Now we have seven weeks to prepare for our next event which will be at:

The Spa 6 Hour Event in Belgium on the

20th to the 22nd September


Chris Keith-Lucas will take over the proceedings at Silverstone from ‘Son-and-heir’ Andy and, we hope to attend the pre-race Free Practice day on Thursday the 19th September, so that we can get our heads firmly into gear for the Belgian Formula 1 GP circuit.

Will we see you there? I hope so!!

John D R

NOTE: Action photography taken by John Retter, of www.johnretterphotography.com

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