The 2014 Silverstone Classic soared into action yesterday as the qualifying sessions were completed in sizzling conditions at the world famous Northamptonshire venue.
With more than 1100 cars on the bill – from pre-war Grand Prix machines to 1990s GT Legends – the Silverstone Classic is firmly cemented as the World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival.
Sensational cars spanning the full spectrum of motor sport wowed the crowds ahead of a packed weekend schedule of 22 races, glittering parades, dazzling displays of classic cars and a whole host of further family entertainment.
2012 British Touring Car Champion and Silvertstone Classic debutant Gordon Shedden proved to be one of the stars of the show as he secured a pole position and a third place in his Ford Lotus Cortina, which he’ll share over the weekend with his regular BTCC team-mate and triple champion Matt Neal.
Scotsman Shedden set the pace in the Sir John Whitmore Trophy for Under 2 Litre Touring Cars and will line-up on row two for the Mustang Celebration Trophy Presented by Pure Michigan – a session that was topped by Mike Gardener’s Ford Falcon.
These were not the only tin top stars and cars on show, however, as the hugely popular Jet Super Touring Car Trophy boasts an entry of more than 40 cars from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Honda Accord of James Dodd took the honours ahead of former World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff, who was piloting one of the legendary Prodrive-built Ford Mondeos. The #1 Accord of Stewart Whyte was third, whilst old BTCC rivals Patrick Watts and John Cleland will start the race from fourth and fifth respectively.
The FIA Masters Historic Formula One is always one of the highlights of an umissable weekend and it was Michael Lyons – the youngest ever winner of an F1 race – who stole the show in qualifying with a blistering lap of 1:54.303s in the Hesketh 308E. A packed grid of DFV-powered Lotuses, McLarens, Tyrrells, Marches and Williams’ will contest two races during the event and represent the most modern era of F1 on show.
Single-seater action came thick and fast with the Peter Arundell Trophy for Historic Formula Juniors kicking off proceedings this morning. David Methley set the fastest lap with a last gasp effort, pipping Sam Wilson’s Lotus to the first coveted pole position. The father and son combination of Michael and Andrew Hibberd led the way early on before having to settle for fifth and third respectively. The Cooper T59 of Jonathan Milicevic was sandwiched between them in fourth.
Formula 3 cars are making their Classic bow in 2014 and it was Nick Padmore who took the honours in a March 783. A 1962 Brabham BT4, driven by Jason Minshaw, fittingly topped the Jack Brabham Memorial Trophy for HGPCA Pre ‘66 GP Cars, whilst the Lotus 16 of Philip Walker claimed pole position in the Maserati Centenary Trophy for HGPCA Pre ‘61 GP Cars.
The quite stunning yellow Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB of Gary Pearson and Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver claimed the sports car headlines, edging out its rivals for pole position in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Pre ’63 GT cars after trading blows with the Jaguar E-type of Jon Minshaw for much of the session. Times were close at the head of the field, with the top five all covered by less than 0.7s. Derek Hood and Chris Ward cruised to a pole position in their Cooper Jaguar T33 in the RAC Woodcote Trophy for Pre ’56 Sports Cars.
The blast for 90s GT Legends came to a dramatic and premature end when a Jaguar XJ220 GT set on fire following an engine problem. Supermodel Jodie Kidd – runner-up in the recent BBC Celebrity MasterChef – ran in the shortened session but will get a further chance to showcase the sensational Jaguar XJ220 in the remaining high-speed demonstrations over the weekend.
Phil Keen kept his powder dry until it really mattered in the Stirling Moss Trophy for Pre ’61 Sports Cars qualifying session as he claimed pole position on his final tour in the glorious Lister Jaguar Knobbly. The car was already running well in the hands of team-mate Jon Minshaw but it was Keen’s lap that eventually relegated the Lotus 15 of the McIntyres down to second. Chris Ward’s Lister will line-up alongside the Ferrari of Bobby Verdon-Roe and Nick Leventis on row two.
Chief Silverstone instructor Chris Ward set the pace in the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for pre-’56 Sports Cars. The Cooper T33 pilot saw off the challenge from the Cooper T38 of Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and Frederic Wakeman, whilst last year’s winners – the Pearson brothers – had to settle for third in the beautiful Jaguar D-type.
The TVR Griffith of Sean and Michael McInerney snatched pole in the Chopard International Trophy For Pre ’66 GT Cars by just 0.252s from the Jaguar E-type of Chris Scragg and Matt Nicoll-Jones.
FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars and Group C Endurance rounded out the opening day action in enthralling fashion, with the famous cars from Le Mans covering nearly four decades of history.
The Lola T70 topped the former with Simon Hadfield and Leo Voyazides sharing driver duties. The session also featured former FIA GT Champion Jamie Campbell-Walter piloting the spectacular Ferrari 512, the model in which starred in the Steve McQueen blockbuster movie Le Mans.
Group C ran into the sunset and was dominated by Bob Berridge in the Silver Arrows Mercedes C11. The chasing pack included an evocative line-up of Jaguars, Nissans and Porsches.
There were the first of the weekend’s many celebratory on-track parades during the day, most notably for the Mazda MX-5 Owners Club, with further cavalcades planned over the weekend for Maserati’s centenary celebrations, Ford Mustang’s 50th anniversary and a record procession of Grand Prix cars.
Silverstone Classic’s ‘Rocking and Racing’ mantra will see live music concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Canned Heat headline the action this evening, whilst Bonnie Tyler will be performing tomorrow.
The BRDC Silverstone Classic Dinner presented by Hattingley Valley, which is honouring the unique career achievements of John Surtees, is also on Friday evening’s menu.
The busy schedule of classic car races kick off first thing on Saturday morning and will run until dusk with the highly anticipated Group C Endurance.
All of this plus a fun fair, air displays and a whole host of further family entertainment on offer suggests we’re in for a spectacular and successful 2014 Silverstone Classic.
2014 Silverstone Classic - Qualifying Final Classification:
Peter Arundell Trophy for Historic Formula Junior
1) David Methley (Brabham BT6): 2:20.499
2) Sam Wilson (Lotus 20/22): +0.259
3) Andrew Hibberd (Lotus 22): +1.039
Stirling Moss Trophy For Pre ’61 Sports Cars
1) Jon Minshaw/Phil Keen (Lister Jaguar Knobbly): 2:22.922
2) Ewan McIntyre (Lotus 15): +0.881
3) Chris Ward (Lister Jaguar Costin): +1.621
Brian Henton Trophy for Classic Formula 3 Cars
1) Nick Padmore (March 783): 2:08.005
2) Martin Stretton (Martini MK39): +1.660
3) Richard Trott (Chevron B43): +2.669
Sir John Whitmore Trophy for Unter 2 Litre Touring Cars
1) Gordon Shedden (Ford Lotus Cortina): 2:32.115
2) Grant Tromans/Richard Meaden (Ford Lotus Cortina): +0.889
3) Alex Furiani (Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA): +1.329
Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for Pre-’56 Sports Cars
1) Derek Hood/Chris Ward (Cooper Jaguar T33): 2:30.827
2) Frederic Wakeman/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (Cooper T38): +0.815
3) Gary Pearson/John Pearson (Jaguar D-type): +1.735
Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy For Historic Cars (Pre ’63 GT)
1) Jackie Oliver/Gary Pearson (Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB): 2:33.378
2) Jon Minshaw (Jaguar E-type): +0.322
3) Wolfgang Friedrichs/Simon Hadfield (Aston Martin DB4GT): +0.469
FIA Masters Historic Formula One
1) Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308E): 1:54.303
2) Gregory Thornton (Lotus 91/5): +2.452
3) Martin Stretton (Tyrrell 012): +2.453
Jet Super Touring Car Trophy
1) James Dodd (Honda Accord): 2:12.639
2) Richard Meins/Rob Huff (Ford Mondeo): +0.191
3) Stewart Whyte (Honda Accord): +1.421
Mustang Celebration Trophy Proudly Presented by Pure Michigan
1) Mike Gardiner (Ford Falcon): 2:31.859
2) Leo Voyazides (Ford Falcon): +0.387
3) Gordon Shedden (Ford Lotus Cortina): +0.788
Jack Brabham Memorial Trophy for HGPCA Pre ’66 Grand Prix Cars
1) Jason Minshaw (Brabham BT4): 2:19.405
2) Miles Griffiths (Cooper T51): +2.255
3) Andy Middlehurst (Lotus 25 R4): +3.359
Chopard International Trophy for Pre ’66 GT Cars
1) Sean McInerney (TVR Griffith): 2:23.606
2) Chris Scragg/Matt Nicoll Jones (Jaguar E-type): +0.252
3) Mike Whitaker (TVR Griffith): +1.607
Maserati Centenary Trophy for HGPCA Pre ’61 Grand Prix Cars
1) Philip Walker (Lotus 16): 2:25.514
2) Julian Bronson (Scarab Offenhauser): +0.814
3) Tony Wood (TecMec Maserati F415): +3.498
FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars
1) Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield (Lola T70 MK3B): 2:07.598
2) Sandy Watson/Martin O’Connell (Chevron B19): +1.672
3) Jason Wright/Andy Wolfe (Lola T70 MK3B): +1.798
Group C Endurance
1) Bob Berridge (Mercedes C11): 1:49.257
2) Steve Tandy (Nissan R90): +3.429
3) Katsu Kubota/Joaquin Folch (Nissan R90CK): +4.133