Donington Historics 2016

In spite of the British weather throwing almost everything it had at it, the Donington Historic Festival presented three days of hugely exciting historic motor racing over the Bank Holiday weekend (April 30th-May 2nd).


Classic motorsport fans were treated to a vast range of competition cars from the 1920s up to the 1990s, campaigning in a challenging range of climatic conditions ranging from torrential rain and hail to high winds and even a scattering of snow! Happily these were not constant throughout the weekend, and there was plenty of sunshine to show Donington off in all its park-like beauty; and the frequently wet track made for some very interesting racing indeed.


The rare and valuable historic competition machines were in safe hands, however, with drivers such as Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver and Touring Car giants John Cleland, Tim Harvey and Steve Soper representing earlier generations of racers, and present-day BTCC stars Andrew Jordan, Matt Neal and Colin Turkington showing that today’s drivers are just as comfortable behind the wheel of a decades-old race car as they are battling it out in the latest works offering. Andrew Jordan and his father Mike took the chequered flag in the final contest of the meeting, steering their Austin A40 – rebadged Austin GT40 for DHF – to victory in the HRDC Touring Greats race.


Other well-known faces spotted around the paddock included musician Chris Rea, who turned in an arresting performance in his Morris Minor ‘Police’ car, and motorsport pundit Tony Jardine, who took to the track in an E-type in the Jaguar Classic Challenge. And a familiar face to fans of 70s and 80s motor racing – Tony Dron – was on hand to present the trophies for the inaugural round of Motor Racing Legends’ Tony Dron Trophy, incorporated within MRL’s packed Historic Touring Car Challenge grid.



The Festival saw a mass presence of pre-War sports cars in the ‘Mad Jack’ race, and the DHF debut of the Pre-80 Endurance series, which pitched Lola T292 and T282 against Chevron B19 and March 75S in a fantastic battle.   And it was also Lola vs. Chevron (though this time T70s and B8s) in the mammoth, three-hour HMRN ‘1000km’ race into dusk on the Saturday evening.

Flying Scotsman 2016

Picked Dave up from Newton Aycliffe on Friday afternoon to intercept the Rally after it left the special stages at croft, however the weather was being rather unkind to the drivers with a combination of heavy rain, then hail then snow.  We eventually gave up following the cars near Edmunbyers as we couldn’t see them through the snow blizzards.


Ford A 

We decided to start again early on the Saturday morning to follow the cars through Northumberland and along the fantastic coastline.



We picked up the cars after their short stop at Acklington Station and managed to find a few picturesque location for shots.


Alfa Romeo

Sean Bramhall had a more interesting start to the day than he bargained for though when one of his wheels fell off. A passing local, a Mr Charlie McGowan, who competed in the 2010 Peking to Paris also happens to be a more than handy mechanic. He took Sean and his stricken Triumph back to his workshop and got the problem sorted. What a result.



By now the sun was shining, the sky was blue and all was well with the Rally as we sped along past Bamburgh Castle alongside Budle Bay before we pointed ourselves westwards for more regularity and navigational challenges in and around The Burns. Crews had to be on their mettle in this section.

Goodwood 74MM

Just in case you don’t know what Goodwood #74MM stands for: no worries. I did not either. It stands for the 74th edition of the Goodwood Member Meeting, an event at Lord March’s Goodwood estate that is not only about racing, but also about heritage and responsibility.


2016 is an important year for the GT40 as it marks 50 years since the Le Mans 1-2-3 finish. Seeing such a variety of the machines line up for a race was amazing.


The greatest contemporary flamethrower is the McLaren P1. Go back in time though, and the fire from those exhaust only get more violent.  Yet it’s only Faberge Racing’s #1 ‘74 that keeps spitting flames year after year.


Commenting on the 74th Members Meeting, the Earl of March said, “I am very proud that we managed to pull together one of the best selections of racing cars and bikes ever at Goodwood, and despite some challenging moments, the event was a great success.”

Mid Wales Stages 2016

The opening round of the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship takes place in Newtown.  Using stages that form an integral part of Wales Rally GB, the World Rally Championship proved to be a real test to the start of everyone’s campaign.


Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry claimed victory on the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship for the DMACK British Rally Team. The Welsh pairing used their Ford Fiesta R5 to good effect to conquer the competition and conditions.


It was not to be plain sailing as they were pushed all the way, after an event long battle with the Scandinavian pairing of Fredrik Ahlin and Morton Erik Abrahamsen in a similar Ford Fiesta R5. The final winning distance was a mere 17.1 seconds between the two young protagonists. Tom Cave and James Morgan finished a fine third overall making it three Fiestas on the podium.


Treacherous icy conditions greeted the competitors on the opening two tests on Saturday evening. The darkness coupled with the tricky road surfaces was a real baptism for the crews as they challenged the grip and pushed as hard as they dared on the gravel and snow covered stages.


The first car away was Evans with co-driver Parry sitting alongside. The Welsh pairing have come off the back of two wins in the WRC2 category in the FIA World Rally Championship and are dovetailing the full British series with their WRC commitments in 2016.

WRC 2015 – Wales Rally GB


WRC – Wales Rally GB

Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier has concluded the 2015 WRC season by taking an emotional win on a typically wet and muddy Wales Rally GB, his eighth victory of the year.
There were no celebrations, however, as a mark of respect to those that lost their lives in the Paris terror attacks on Friday.


WRC – Wales Rally GB

Ogier took the lead in the very first stage on Friday, finishing it 0.8s up on team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala. The Frenchman was then quickest again in SS2, and with Latvala crashing out, after going off into a ditch, he headed to SS3 with a 6 second lead, which he more than doubled with his third stage win in a row.


WRC – Wales Rally GB

Meanwhile, Meeke was the only one anywhere near Ogier after Latvala’s early exit. The Citroen man put in a near-faultless run in his DS 3 WRC, posting top-three times in every test on Friday – including winning SS4 – and posting 13 top-three times in total from a possible 19.


Hayden Paddon rounded out the top-five in his i20 WRC, 9.2s the difference, despite struggling for much of the event and never really feeling comfortable with the wet and slippery roads. He was also slowed by hydraulic problems on Friday afternoon.

DTM (German Touring Cars) 2015 & Porsche cup

As part of my  2,500 mile European roadtrip with the wife in the MX5 (Western France, Southern France, Italian Lakes, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium & Holland) I decided a visit to “The Ring” was on the cards.


Fortunately the way things worked out resulted in  a visit on Saturday 26th September which happened to coincide with one of the rounds of the DTM (German Touring Cars) on the GP circuit.  I was really surprised as to how quiet the roads were approaching the ring, no massive traffic jams as per rounds of BTCC, perhaps that was down to German efficiency.


The sound from the cars was amazing and an added bonus was the Porsche cup, unfortunately due to time constraints I was only there for 2 hours so missed the main race, but definitely worth the effort.














Spa Summer Classic 2015

So a 0700hrs start (well Matty eventually joined us at 0730) for the two & a half hour drive down to Spa from Halluin , where we had stayed the previous night after our Ypres ERC & Historic rally coverage.

We rolled into the car park at Spa and immediately you are greeted with the roar of mighty V8’s blasting their way up Eau Rouge, an absolutely amazing sight.


Eau Rouge

A quick wander through the pits to collect our press passes and we were off, a bomburst, there was that much to see.  Matty decided he would walk the full circuit on day 1 , then cover the pits on day 2.  Dave & myself wandered along to the inside of La Source still gobsmacked at the fantastic collection of cars waiting to race and the screaming engines from the track.


La Source

We then headed back through the pits where Dave started to drool when he spotted a Lancia Stratos parked up, 20 minutes later I had to drag him away so we could have lunch.


Lancia Stratos

After lunch we both headed to the top of Eau Rouge (a very steep climb, nothing like it looks on TV), Dave continued on to the far side of the circuit collecting more classic shots on the way.  I eventually bumped into Matty at the top of Eau Rouge, him having completed a full lap of the circuit.


We all then met up at the close of racing and headed of to the nearby town of Malmedy to find our Hotel.  A quick shower and we were off out to eat & re-hydrate, then a Gin nightcap and off to bed.

Day two would be shorter as we had to leave by 1300hrs to catch the ferry back to the UK.  The racing was no less impressive and 1000’s more photographs were taken, and I think Dave summed it up perfectly when he said, “what could be any better than standing on the start/finish line at Spa taking a photograph of a Ford GT40!!”


Ford GT40

The Lancia Stratos had gone and was replaced by a Jaguar D Type, more drooling and eventually I had to drag both of them away or we would be late in leaving.


D Type Jaguar

I’m sure I saw tears in their eyes as we pulled away from Spa, but one thing was definitely agreed, this is one of the most spectacular circuits in Europe and we would be back in 2016 for the Spa Summer Classic!!  More details can be found here:

Ypres ERC & Historics 2015

The team left the North East just after lunch on the Thursday for the 2 hour drive to Hull to catch the ferry to Zeebrugge.  Once boarded we located our cabin, dumped the bags and headed for the bar. Eight hours later and the whole trip was planned with finesse & flair, with the timing down to the last second……so off to bed full of beer and giggling like a bunch of school kids.  An 0600hrs wake up call over the tannoy brought us back down to earth, after a cooked breakfast it was time to disembark in Zeebrugge.

Our destination for the first day was the Ypres ERC & Historic Rally bit firstly we made for Tyne Cot Cemetery to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers of WWI, a very humbling experience seeing the 12,000 gravestones 80% of which are unknown soldiers and the backdrop of the 35,000 names of soldiers who were never found.

We headed to Ypres centre & collected our media passes then had a wander around the servicing area for the ERC entries in Ypres Market square, a beautiful setting for the cars.


Freddie Loix SKoda Fabia

We then travelled to Boezinge for the historics servicing area which was an amazing wander down the main street with fantastic machinery being tinkered with on both sides of the street


Martini Lancia Delta Integrale

So we headed of to stage 1 at Langemark to see the ERC cars and boy were those front runners giving it their all, no holding back on the tarmac roads through the fields of Belgium.


Ypres ERC Rally

We then headed to Dikebus for the final stage of the evening and were blessed with a beautiful sunset on a warm evening with the raucous sound of rally cars crackling through the twilight.  Results from the event can be found here

A quick ride to our digs for the night, a few drinks to re-hydrate and off to bed for an early 0700hrs (well for me & Dave) start for the journey down to Spa Francorchamps for the Spa Summer classic


Safety Car

Harewood Historic Hill Climb 2015

Dave & myself set off for Harewood just after breakfast on a fine Saturday morning.  We had been to the hill climbs at Harewood before, but never  a historic one, and oh boy were we in for a treat!!!  We arrived just before 11 o’clock and were open mouthed just at some of the cars in the car park 🙂


1957 Aston Martin DB2-4 mk11, 3.0, one of only 199 made

We wandered into the paddock and started drooling straight away at the amazing sights, sounds and smells (oh the wonderful smell of Castrol R, better than aftershave).


Riley 9 Special – Harewood Historics

It would be hard to pick out a favourite as there were so many beautiful cars, some were pristine showroom condition others were how we like to see them, used originals that scream a racing pedigree, no less loved but battered and bruised due to racing, superb!


Bentley 4.5 Litre – Harewood Historics

One vehicle worthy of special mention was the 24 litre Napier-Bentley, oh my goodness what a beast of a motor and a sound to send a shiver down your spine, I don’t think the driver was particularly bothered about his hill climb time, his sole purpose of being there appeared to be to see how much rubber he could lay down on the track and the wheels were spinning in thick clouds of rubber smoke at every opportunity, mad as a hatter 🙂


24 Litre Napier-Bentley Harewood Historics

It was a bright and breezy day but we were blessed that there was no rainfall and hold ups were kept to a minimum, usually due to a breakdown halfway up the hill!  The meeting drew to a close at 5:45pm and as we headed back North  we both agreed it was one of the best historic meetings so far this year and a definite for next years calendar.


MG C Type – Harewood Historics