Last weekend saw the Historic Festival return to Donington park, this is the second Festival to hit the park and after the fantastic success of the weekend last year, this year’s event was set to be even better and boy was it!
Saturday started off chilly and that was looked to be the setting for the rest of the day. 9am came and engines started up with the first qualifying session being the Pre War cars. Crowds started to build as they headed onto track, a session split between two drivers ahead of the 45 minute race. The session finished with a pole position for Wakeman/Blakeney-Edwards with a time of 1.33.407. The race seemed to shape up the same way with the duo storming to victory as well as setting the fastest lap.
Next up was Formula 2, the qualifying pace was set my Martin Stretton by 6 tenths of a second as he threw his March 742 into the final chicane to the delight of the crowd.
The race seemed to be set the same way but it didn’t go all Martin Strettons way. From the off leaving the assembly area, Martin’s car seemed to snap and headed towards the wall damaging the front wing, this meant a delayed start and Martin not starting the race, he reported a tyre issue was the problem. After another warm up lap the race was started, the Formula 2 cars screamed around the 1.9 Mile track. The cars reached the chicane where there was contact between Peter Meyrick and Jamie Brashaw causing cars to scatter through the gravel. Out in front was Matthew Watts who drove away to the win in Race 1.
Race 2 came on a slightly warmer day at Donington, everyone was hoping for Martin Stretton to start the race; he would have been starting from the back which would be exciting to watch as he makes his way through the pack. But that wasn’t the case; there was no sign of him which tells us it was possibly more than a tyre issue. The race was far more spread out than the Saturdays race 1 and was won by Philip Gladman who had retired in the previous race, he stuck with the front runners for most of the race but problems with others including previous winner Matthew Watts who had an Injection pipe split gave him the lead. He then drove a great race to the finish.
Then came the Woodcote Trophy, a fine selection of cars from Jaguar D-types to Maserati’s. The top of the field in qualifying was dominated by the Pearson’s, one whom was driving with Monteverde , both pairs in Jaguar D-types. The Pearson’s duo qualifying time was 1.2 seconds faster than the Pearson/Monteverde time. The Race saw a brief shower but it didn’t really slow these drivers down, drifting through every corner. The race saw the two paired drivers battling against each other at the top of the field, although the Pearson pair had been fastest in qualifying they were being caught every lap by the Pearson/Monteverde pairing to conclude a great race and win.
After the recent success of the E-type Challenge it was added for the first time this year at Donington Historic. Qualifying saw a short rain shower that caught a few drivers out, especially under braking to the old hairpin, after drivers sorted themselves out and got a lap in it ended up with Melling/Minshaw pairing heading the pack with a lap time of 1:20.259.
The first race of the weekend was a highlight of the weekend, a very close battle between Buncombe and O’Connell was the race the lead. Swapping positions through the race the drivers were racing very clean. On the last lap both made contact with O’Connell coming of worst and ending up the in the gravel trap and damage to both cars. Buncombe took the flag to win the first race of the weekend.
Race 2 on the warmer Sunday started like the second Formula 2 race, the cars were spread out and unfortunately didn’t finish the full race time. A car further down the field had a massive blow up, most of the pack saw the oil and flags but a couple of other cars didn’t causing a large amount of damage to a number of cars and a 30 minute delay.
The JD classic field is the smallest grid at the Donington Historic with only 12 cars, but has some of the nicest machinery. The TWR Jaguar XJS was fastest in qualifying but it didn’t go that way in the race, with Mark Wright leading the way in his beautifully prepared Zakspeed Escort. The Zakspeed Escort won the race by 8 seconds from the XJS. A moment from the BMW CSL 3.0 at the chicane causing it to lose control and bounce over the red kerbs into the gravel, putting it out of the race.
The big and final race of the Saturday was the 1000k, as the darkness ascended and the temperatures dropped the thundering Lolas, Fords, Ferrari, Chervrons and a Matra went storming round the Donington Circuit lights ablaze. The race was led by Simon Hadfield in his Lola T70 who will be later shared with the returning Frank Sytner, followed by Paul Knapfield in his very fast Ferrari 512M and then Coplowe in the bright blue and yellow Lola T70. After a few safety car periods and driver changes Martin Stretton was in charge in the Lola T70, followed by Rob Hall in the Matra. A retirement for the Ferrari 512M moved the Hadfield/Voyazides Lola into third place. Simon Hadfield was massively catching Leo Voyazides with still 20 minutes to go. After catching Leo up Simon let himself known with the flash of lights, the following lap at the chicane, Leo seemed to leave Simon some room but a misunderstanding caused light contact between the two cars leaving Leo in the gravel with a damaged tyre being forced to retire. Martin Stretton brought the Lola home to win the 1000k!
The first session on a nice Sunday Morning was the Stirling Moss Trophy, a nice collection of cars such an Aston Martin DBR1, Maserati Birdcage and Lotus Knobbly. Qualifying was dominated by the Minshaw pair but it was Verdon-Roe who powerslided his Aston Martin DBR1 to victory in a thrilling race, followed closely by Stretton/Minshaw.
Then came the Pre 63 GT race with an electric mix of cars including Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins. Qualifying was topped by the Oliver/Pearson pair with a time of 1:23.344 which is a whole 1.4 seconds faster than Wood/McCabe in the Jaguar E-type. The race was just as good as qualifying but no one could touch Oliver and Pearson who won the race by a comfortable minute, perfect driver changes and faultless driving.
Another highlight from this event was the Under two Litre Touring Cars, these range from BMW’s, the popular Cortina and the fantastic Mini aswell a Alfa Romeos. The Furiani /Stippler Alfa Romeo took control of a close qualifying as cars were being slung into corners to the crowd’s joy. The hour race wasn’t one to miss, Simon Hadfield made up for his mistake to Leo by bringing the Cortina to the finish first with a fantastic drive from both of them. Second place was Furiani and Stippler who lead the race for a while in their Alfa. A minute down the road was the BMW driven by Oliver/Shaw.
Now the one everyone wanted to see, the highlight of the Donington Festival and the most impressive. The Group C cars are not to be missed. Qualifying was a bit of a wash out and turned into more of a test session to begin with as the rain fell. With 10 minutes to go the rain had stopped and cars started to set times on a drying track. At the end of the session everyone’s favourite Mercedes C9 driven this year by Gareth Evans topped the times closely followed by the Aston Martin of Andy Meyrick. The race started with Drama, the Tandy Nissan on the start line lost control and hit the inside wall putting it out of the race. The Race continued with Andy Meyrick diving up the inside of the Evans Mercedes. The Mercedes then had issues and spent most of the race in and out of the pitlane. Pitstops done and the final stretch of the race left and the Donavon SPICE was catching the Meyrick Aston. The laps were running out and the two were having a great race but Donavon couldn’t do anything about the super fast Meyrick who won the race!
That concluded a fantastic weekend at Donington Park, big crowds and fantastic racing, although the weather started out cold on the Saturday the decent weather on Sunday was welcomed. Lets hope 2013 will be even better!
Report & Photos: Matthew Barrington