AMOC Season Signs Off in Style at Silverstone

Silverstone on Saturday September 30th saw the 2017 AMOC Racing season sign off in style with bumper grids and great racing, including a dramatic combined Intermarque and GT Challenge race where Rob Hollyman dominated in the Intermarque but third was enough to give Bob Searles the Individual Championship title.

The AMOC ‘50’s Sports Cars including the Vredestein JEC XK Challenge opened the day’s racing and on lap one the Cooper Bristol of John Ure slipped by poleman Dan Crowton’s Lotus at Luffield to take the lead, Crowton losing out again a lap later as the Cooper Monaco of Tony Ditheridge, up from fifth on the grid, moved into second.

Ditheridge closed on the leader and got a good run through Woodcote at the end of lap five to take the lead, now easily the quickest car on the track and opening out a three second lead over Ure, Crowton third but with Max Cawthorn’s MGA right with him. By lap eight they were lapping the back of the 25-car field, the gaps between the leaders varying as they encountered other cars round the short Silverstone National circuit lap.

Crowton suddenly tumbled down the order and out of the top ten, with Ditheridge holding a gap over Ure and Cawthorn. Battle of the race at this point was for fourth, with the Lister of Stephen Bond right behind Mark Ellis’ MG, Bond getting past on lap 13 only to lose out again eight laps later.

In the final laps the lead three closed up, and Ure was right with Ditheridge as they started lap 24 and came round ahead as they crossed the line going into the final lap, staying clear to take the win with Cawthorn third. Bond claimed fourth back with three laps to go in what proved the decisive move.

“I was with the pole Lotus at first and once past him pushed hard,” said Ure. “I saw Tony Ditheridge come up in the Cooper and knew he was faster over a lap but he got tangled with backmarkers and I was able to take advantage.”

Rob Newall was first of the XK Challenge runners home and seventh overall in his XK120, having run sixth overall for much of the race on the tail of the Bond and Ellis dice. Andrew Wenman and Paul Kennelly rounded out the Jaguar podium and also the top ten overall, Wenman having passed Kennelly on lap 15.

The St John Horsfall Memorial Trophy and Pre-War Team Challenge was run as a 16-lap handicap race, the impressive field flagged away at the start at timed intervals and with credit laps for some runners. Guy Northam’s Bentley led the early running courtesy of three credit laps with the Aston Martin International of Keith Piper second, but the quicker cars were closing in.

Pushing hard from down the order were Aston Martin runners David Ozanne and modern prototype racer Richard Bradley, who got themselves on the lead lap after five laps of racing, and set about reducing the deficit of over a minute and a half to the leaders. 

Like all the best handicaps everything came together in the final laps, Richard Bradley going past Northam as they crossed the line to start the last lap and taking the win, and the St John Horsfall Trophy as first Aston Martin home. Ozanne came through for second, with James Morley’s Bentley further demoting Northam on the final lap.

“I think I am sweating more from this than from racing a prototype at Spa last weekend!” said Bradley. “The Aston Martin is so much fun to drive, you just get in it and go as hard as you can.”

A large grid of 38 cars took on the combined AMOC Intermarque and GT Challenge race, and the  Intermarque runners were in the thick of the first corner incident that brought out the red flags and the race restarted without the Porsche 968 CS of Peter Mangion and the 911 RS of Josh Sadler and Mark Henderson. Once racing restarted it was Robert Hollyman who set the Intermarque pace in his Porsche 964, pulling away for the rest of the field in the opening laps to take a commanding win.

Behind, attention was on the battle for the drivers’ title, the Porsche team having already secured the marque’s crown, James Hilliard second in his 968 ahead with Ryan Hooker third and James Guess and Bob Searles fourth and fifth, Searles battling with Guess’s partner David Norton for the title. Hilliard was hampered by a wheel-bearing issue just before he was one of the first to stop, while the 911 of Ryan Hooker and James Neal retired on lap 21 having run in the top three.

Once the pit stops were complete it was Hollyman well ahead, with championship chasing Norton in second having taken over his Porsche 968 from James Guess, while third was Tony Jardine now in the Porsche 944 Turbo started by Searle.

At the chequer flag Hollyman was an impressive lap clear of the field, and Norton brought the Porsche 968 home second, but third for Jardine was enough to give Searles the title.

“I got the Intermarque lead on the first lap and then never really saw anyone else,” said Hollyman “we have had a good season, out of the four races we did we won three and retired in the other – a good year.”

“We have had a good season,” said Searles, who pipped Norton by two points after dropped scores were taken into account. “The series is on the way up, I started in it 1998 and the grids were huge and now we are really getting back up there. I only got to see the car yesterday after our incident at Brands Hatch and it packed up and took us ten hours to fix, then I was in the thick of the incident on the first lap today and spun round some of the other cars. We have had highs and lows this season and it is great to end it on a high!”

Final race of the day was a three-hour relay for the Equipe GTS series, which featured 27 teams of up to four cars. Overall winners were the Marcos 1800 GTS team of Richard Evans, Andrew Smith and Chris Keen, who took control of the race in the second hour and finished a lap clear of ‘Tall, Bald and Short’ the MGB team of Tom Smith, Simon Cripps and Tom Beresford. Winners after the Handicap laps were applied was the MGB crew Team Torque Motorsport of Peter Haynes, Nick Trott and Paul Latimer, and 1st of the Marque Teams home was the Howard and Hilda Healey crew of Mike Thorne, Nick Matthews and Robert Rawe.