2018 FIA Lurani Trophy Round 1; Hockenheim Historic. 20th – 22nd April
The two heats on track matched the heatwave of the weekend, with reigning Lurani Champion Bruno Weibel taking two late victories from 4th on the grid.
Lap records were also broken in Classes C1 (Deneve), D1 (Hillebrink) and E2 (Wishart), with Duncan also equalling his best ever time at Hockenheim.
Spring may have been late coming, but Summer clearly felt impatient, and we enjoyed scorching 28-degree sunshine and blue skies all weekend.
Qualifying took place early Friday afternoon, with a full grid of 37 FJ’s taking part, having unfortunately lost Oliver Hartmann (Lotus 20) after Thursday Free Practice with a stripped crown wheel and pinion in the gearbox. Jim Timms didn’t manage a lap, but the rest of the field were improving as the session progressed. Unfortunately, half way through the session, Peter Knöfel had an engine blow up in his Emeryson, leaving oil on the track, and the session was red flagged. Iain Rowley retired Team Delta for fear of damage back out on a slippy track, but most others headed back out to continue to improve their times.
Besides Peter there were a few others to suffer maladies in qualifying, Ivo had a core plug out but the German team effort got him out again for Saturday. Richard Bishop-Miller, having nearly not made it in the first place after a breakdown en route in his van on the M6, was going great until the red flag, after which his Autosport decided to only fire on 3 cylinders and, with Iain Rowley’s help he changed the gearbox, but more terminal problems were Fyda Senior’s Brabham engine, and Lars-Goran’s Cooper suffering no compression in 2/3 cylinders.
The session finished with Pierre Tonetti (Brabham BT6) in his familiar top spot on pole, Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6) second, and Philipp Buhofer (Lola MK 5A) third, with Bruno Weibel (Lotus 22) fourth, all representing Class E1.
Fastest in the other classes were 12th Ivo Göckmann (D2 Jolus FJ) 18th Colin Nursey (C2 – Lotus 18), 20th newcomer Hans Hillebrink (D1 – Lotus 20), 21st Malcolm Wishart [E2 – Cooper T65), 22nd Tom de Gres (A – Stanguellini), 23rd Luc Deneve (C1 – Lotus 18) and 24th Floris-Jan Hekker (B2 – Rayberg).
It was the very first time out for Bruno in the disc braked Class E1, having upgraded from the drum braked Peter Studer Lotus 20 to the Lotus 22 of Colin Nursey recently imported from the States. Some very long nights right up until loading the car paid off as he made the grid. First off the line was actually 2nd placed man Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6) but sadly as soon as he reached for 2nd gear, the clutch went, which allowed Pierre Tonetti in his familiar blue Brabham to pull away and dominate for the first few laps. Next round at the end of lap 1 were Philipp Buhofer (Lola Mk 5A), Weibel and Smeeton (Wainer) all together, with Werner (Lotus 22) just hanging on, and by the next lap Buhofer and Weibel were beginning to pull away. Bruno had passed Philipp by the close of lap 3, and immediately started to make up ground in pursuit of Tonetti.
Meanwhile in this season’s other hotly contested Class, A, newcomer Enrico Panigalli was out after lap 1 with water pump problems, having borrowed wheels from fellow Taraschi team mate, Tony Bologna, meaning he was a nonstarter. This left team leader Salodini to chase Class honours from Tom de Gres, who was going well in his Stanguellini, with Carlo Incerti getting more confident and familiar with his Stanguellini just a few places behind. The chase paid off and on lap 4 it was Salodini leading the class. Tom spun in excitement when he recaught Daniele on lap 6, while “attempting to take him back in a ‘Vettel like’ undercut which ended up being more like a Vertstappen uppercut to myself!’.
A couple of laps previously Ivo’s luck hadn’t improved since qualifying and his problems moved from the back to the front, when he broke a front wishbone. This, coupled with Jono Fyda having forgotten a key ingredient in his U2 Mk3 (fuel), meant that Class D2 honours were gifted to Pierre Guichard in his ex-Andrew Wilkinson Lynx T3. Gunther Leidig also dropped out with overheating issues in his Elva 100, as did Marty Bullock (Lotus 27) with all manner of problems on lap 8, including broken throttle cable, and a valve gear failure in the engine, fuel spilling out, and lucky not to have gone up in flames. He was also later disqualified from the results for the car being underweight.
On the final lap Jim Timms stopped with a rotor arm problem and Hans Hillebrink, having started very well, dropped to the back from lap 6 but did suceed in taking the chequered flag, but had to stop short just after the finish line as his wheel was about to fall off!
For the front runners however, lap 10 was still a few minutes from the flag, and the excitement was far from over! It was on this lap that Bruno took his first ever overall Lurani race lead, when Pierre ran wide at the hairpin, and he continued racing on the limit to take the flag and an elated place on the top step of the podium.
In full afternoon sunshine, 32 cars made it to the pre-grid, but unfortunately only 31 to the grid, as Timms’ Cooper T59 cut out on the warming up lap. Ivo had welded up his ailments with the help of Iain Rowley, but Marty Bullock joined Lars-Goran, John Fyda, Tony Bologna and Peter Knöfel as non-starters.
At the lights it looked to be Salodini who made the best start and by the end of lap 1 he was already up to 18th from 26th on the grid, having taken both Incerti and de Gres to lead Class A. Tom was feeling a little less dizzy this time round, and managed to overtake Daniele on lap 2, and hold position until the end, but with not quite enough of a gap to take the aggregate Class win.
Back at the front though it was Tonetti, Weibel, Buhofer, Shaw together first-time round, before the leader started to pull away again but Buhofer was holding on to Weibel, with Shaw and Werner not letting go either.
Duncan’s Alexis was going as well as ever at the start and he even took Floris-Jan Hekker (Rayberg) to lead B2 for a lap, but unfortunately it started to lack power and he dropped back later on.
Jonathan Fyda (broken throttle cable), Luc Deneve (gear issues) and then Marco Werner (overheating car and driver) all retired in the first half of the race, but Marc Amez-Droz (Brabham BT6) and Richard Smeeton (Wainer) were racing hard in that order, in matching aubergine colouring, until the very end when Richard dropped off the pace, likely due to a hot engine losing power.
Very much enjoying his first races with us was Marc Schmitz in his Elva 100, and Hans Ciers was going really well in his Lotus 20, admiring Bob Birrell’s experienced line for a while before getting past him.
Leaving it a lap later this time, Bruno seized his chance on lap 12 and once again was first to greet the chequered flag, from Tonetti and Buhofer.
Aside from a few mechanical issues, it was an incident free relaxed sunny meeting, the perfect way to start the season.