A two day packed schedule, along with beautiful weather, brought fans through the gates in their droves. It was fantastic to see every bank and grandstand at least five people deep.
First to race was the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens. The superfast Lotus Seven-inspired grid set some of the weekend’s very fastest lap times. Christian Pittard headed the field once again this season with a win in the 40 minute Race 1. Second classified Jonathan Smith reversed the order of the Caterham CSRs and bettered Pittard in the shorter 15 minute Race 2 sprint.
Various iterations of BMW M3s took the top eight places come the chequered flag in the RSV Graphics New Millenium race. Driver pairing Mark Smith and Jamie Moulton-Smith were eventual winners in their 3.2-litre BMW M3 E36 Evo after Colin Bells was forced to retire owing to a broken steering belt.
Wetting the appetite for fans returning to the circuit for the British Touring Car Championship next weekend, the Tin Tops with the Enduro Series for Ford Cars race featured both Team Hard driver Jake Hill and former-BTCC racer, and father to 2013 champion Andrew, Mike Jordan. As expected, Richard Wheeler in the #53 Ford Fiesta ST looked strong early on but the Vauxhall Corsa of William Hardy gave chase. But when Wheeler made way for Hill during the pit stop, Jake’s prowess showed and he duly disappeared up the road. Nigel Ainge and Mike Jordan finished second in their Honda Integra Type R.
Laurie Grant romped to the outright Modern Classics with Nextec Puma Cup win, leaving Stuart Daburn in the wake of his BMW M3 E36 Evo by 44 seconds. Nick Jackson got off to a flyer in the Puma class, up into first and so remained. Puma pole position man John Attard gave chase and lost out by a mere seven tenths of a second. Nevertheless, it was to be Attard’s first podium. A worthy mention goes to fellow Panda Racing driver Hamish Brandon. Having taken over from Robert Ladbrook, the Scot smashed the class lap record by 1.5 seconds, but John Boult’s third place would allude Brandon by a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tenth of a second.
Meteor Suspension Open Series action kicked off the Sunday-only races. It was a weekend to be savoured for Mark Smith as the New Millenium winner repeated his efforts. This time, however, he teamed up with younger son Arran to take the glory.
John Spiers in the TVR Griffith took highest honours in the Mintex Classic K race. A fast starting James Barlcay, team director of the Jaguar Formula E team, leapt the grey Lotus Elan 26R from fourth to second and took the lead by mid-race distance but the car’s owner Nick Atkins fell back in the later stages. Paul Toons and Julian Barter had the pace advantage towards the closing stages and closed to within 0.8sec of Spiers by the end.
Adam Brown delivered what was quite possibly the drive of the day during the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics race. Having taken over the wheel of CSCC chairman John Hammersley’s Vauxhall Astra GTE on lap 9, the MSV Academy driver shot from 15th to sixth come the finish line. Meanwhile, race winner Stuart Daburn was as a good as untouchable up front in the rumbling TVR Tuscan Challenge.
A red-flag, owing to Chris and Andy Southcott’s MG Midget jettisoning a wheel, ended Adams & Page Swinging Sixties proceedings five minutes early. The incident granted victory to Raymond Barrow in the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro following an excellent dice with second place David Thompson in the TVR Tuscan V8.
Thruxton marked the first outing for the Special Saloons and Modsports this season and fans were treated to three races across the two days. Race 1 winner Ian Hall spent the winter replacing the 5.2 for a 5.9-litre engine in the Darrian-Wildcat. Paul Sibley still ran Hall close in the cannibalised Lotus Elan before an oil pressure problem forced him to retire. Sibley would resolve the problem and win from Hall in Race 2. The wonderful Alfa Romeo GTV6 was pushed to its absolute limit by driver Ian Stapleton and his efforts were rewarded with a victory in Race 3.
The Toyo Tires/Watchdogapp.com Jaguar Saloon & GT Championship gave fans another two great races, continuing its trend in 2017. Once again top honours were duelled out between Colin Philpott and James Ramm in their 4.0-litre XJSs. Dad-to-be Ramm was the victor on Saturday, getting passed on the exit of the final chicane on the last lap when Philpott overshot the complex. Honours were shared between the two drivers as Philpott won Race 2 from Ramm by just sixty-six thousandths of a second!
Aside from the wheel-to-wheel racing, there was Afternoon Tea delight as the Wessex Car Club put on a fine display of cars and the Ford GT40 Enthusiast Club let seven Ford GT40s (that’s GT280!) lose on the UK’s fastest circuit. The moving display of the 60s iconic Le Mans racer struck a chord with all those watching on.
Images courtesy of David Stallard