FIA Lurani Trophy Round 6; Dijon Motors Cup; 7th -9th October 2016

The last Lurani round of the season, and our second trip to France with Laurent Vallery-Masson, brought 28 cars to Dijon, several, including Duncan’s, already being en route to Australia for the Jubilee Tour.

Pierre Tonetti (blue BT6) was back from China after the great Peking-Paris escapade, having overcome his early dramas, Pietro Vergnano in the ex-Tonetti yellow (now black) BT6 is now a regular, while Serge Kriknoff (22/47) was making his Lurani debut after having had his first FJ race appearance at Spa, as was Lee Mowle with the ex-David Wild, Phil Ingle Lotus 20/22 B 796. It was, however, Manfredo Rossi (Lotus 22) who was fastest in practice and destined for pole position. Sadly J.P. Campos Costa was to be a non-starter after the stub-axle failed and there were dramas in the Chris Drake camp as the Championship contending Terrier needed an engine change, but not so simple as the unique downdraft head had to be reassembled on to the spare block, a job completed by Malcolm Davis and his team with only minutes to spare before the race next day.

Race 1 saw Rossi heading Tonetti – very closely matched – with Richard Smeeton (Wainer) in third. Unfortunately, as Richard lapped Daniele Salodini in the black Taraschi with two laps to go, there was a coming together which caused immediate retirement for both, and a red flag brought the race to a close with the podiums awarded to Rossi, Tonetti and (still) Smeeton, with Pete Morton up there in contention with the Lightning Envoyette, ahead of John Fyda’s BT6 and Mark Pangborn’s Lotus 20B. The ex-Tony Steele Lola Mk2 of Larry Kinch sadly broke its Steele Ford engine and gearbox problems sidelined both Lotus’ of Serge Kriknoff who did not get to race, and Lee Mowle who subsequently non-started in Race 2.

As a superb gesture, but at least with the excuse that this was to atone for dropping all the oil at Zandvoort, Manfredo and Caroline Rossi brought a car load of Martini from Switzerland and put on a brilliant party – every drop was drunk, and for those capable, there was a Martini glass for everybody to take home as a souvenir.

Overnight Salodini packed up for Italy, although the car was fortunately not badly damaged; whilst Luc Deneve was another overnight departee as he had crashed his E-Type Jaguar in the long distance GT race.

Race 2 did not go as planned; both Rossi and a hard charging Tonetti were eliminated in a first corner accident, whilst Pete Morton was also caught up in the melée, and was left with both radiator and front body damage. Richard Smeeton (Wainer) took advantage of the situation and was to lead for the rest of the race – that is, except when it really mattered, as John Fyda (BT6) managed to steal victory on the line by 1/10th of a second from Pangborn, he himself some dozen seconds ahead of the remarkable Bruno Wiebel in Peter Studer’s drum-braked Lotus 20. But this year Bruno would have to be satisfied with a class Lurani Trophy as Chris Drake, after a cautious Race 1 to try to ensure  points, started to put his foot down in earnest as Race 2 progressed and came home second Front-engined FJ, behind Robin Longdon.

On combined classification, Richard Smeeton was a delighted winner, while Manfredo Rossi would collect the 2016 Lurani Trophy for class E1. Another enjoyable meeting with LVM, and an excellent, if not classic, Lurani Trophy series.