2019 FIA Lurani Trophy Round 5; Zandvoort HGP – 6th – 8th September

On Monday prior, Michael O’Brien got the call up for testing by McLaren; then on Wednesday, Richard Bradley had similar news from Nissan, so two withdrawals; one might say that this is the changing face of Historic motor racing, but in fact these are two young drivers from historic racing families who really enjoy their FJ racing, and as a helpful contrast to their modern “day job”!

It was a late start setting sail on the Stena Line crossing from Harwich to Hoek van Holland on Tuesday night. Arrival the following day to Zandvoort was in the pouring rain, for the last event before the Circuit modifications ahead of the 2020 Formula 1 Grand Prix. All tickets already sold out to the Orange Army.

The Zandvoort HGP is a popular event, and this year in addition to the FIA Lurani Trophy, HSCC Formula 2 also had a full 38 car field, together with the usual races for the three Masters grids, the now annual FIA Historic F3 European Cup, but no class for 1600s, HGPCA, and demos to commemorate both the 1948 Zandvoort GP and the 1961 GP: while Jo Bonnier’s 1959 Dutch GP winning BRM looked positively stunning under the watchful eye of Rob Hall.

The 20 FJ reserves had gradually reduced, but a full grid passed scrutineering, Roger Woodbridge, spannered by Brother Rob, being a newcomer to the Lurani trail in his ex-Fabio Verin Volpini, and good to see Peter Edbrooke back in his ex-Michaela Axelsson light blue Lotus 18, under the wing of Adam Bruzas, as well as the two CTL entries for Andrew Beaumont (22)and Greg Thornton (20/22).

With the weather now improving, Duncan and Mair, now joined by Sarah, enjoyed a candlelight dinner atmosphere in the Envoy trailer, with meal expertly cooked by Christian Lange, joined by Fred and Jean Pierre Peteux (constructor of the Siréne FF in Period).

Our Friday 9 am briefing was expertly given by Masters’ Richard Cuene-Grandidier, who was to be Race Director for all the FIA races over this weekend, with strong emphasis on yellow flags, SC rules and respect for fellow competitors.

Dry qualifying followed: poor Lars- Göran, this time in the Swedish blue T59, moved only as far as the front of the assembly area before complete electrical failure halted his session, while David Innes’ seemingly endless problems with the green Stanguellini continued and he parked up half way round his first tour, the cause later found as the fuel regulator fitted in reverse. Roger Woodbridge also pulled off half-way through the session when the half-shaft broke.

Bruno Weibel was all conquering and delighted to take his first FJ pole, with Shaw, Thornton, Pete Morton and Rossi all within two seconds.  It was a fine performance from Rudolf Ernst in the ex Paul Smeeth Lotus 22, rebuilt by Andrew Hibberd, leading some of the Lurani regulars, Richard Smeeton, and John Fyda, with the yellow duo, Andrew Beaumont (CTL run, 22) and Marty Bullock (leading Class D, Wren), splitting them;  Jono Fyda was also going extremely well in his Class D U2 Mk 3, while current Champion, Colin Nursey (18) headed the T56 team, with Alex Morton in his Condor SII leading front engined runner.

Friday evening is the traditional FJ party on the beachfront at Restaurant 25 , Sandy Hill; the food was excellent, the atmosphere jolly, with many additional FJ drivers joining us, despite racing other cars this weekend, including the Murrays, Futters, Bob Juggins and Alex, Drake and team. We were also pleased to welcome FIA guests Henri Pluton, Pauline Schoofs, John Hopwood and Pat O’Dowd and 500 emigre, Chris Wilson  with Andrea, who was racing in Masters saloons with Simon Frost. The full K Team and Setford crew (looking after the two F1 shark nose Ferraris of Jason Wright, as well as Tom De Gres) were there and Larry Kinch and Iain Rowley were both heard to say that it was the best party ever, enlivened when Sarah read her “Ode to Grant” to much applause.

Saturday was a very early 8.50 start for Race 1, and caught a number of drivers off guard arriving late to the assembly area.  There was further chaos placing people on the grid, before a slow green flag lap which was probably a  blessing to allow the drivers to relax before the start.

Bruno led off to the flag, but not without challenge from Manfredo, who having made a great start from fifth off the drier side of the grid, set fastest lap by over a second on lap 7, before being unlucky in traffic. The third spot on the podium was settled on lap 6 when Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6) got ahead of Greg Thornton, with Pete Morton (Lightning Envoyette) also passing the Lotus 20/22 a couple of laps later for fourth spot.

Jono Fyda had a very spirited race, very much in honour of dear friend Tony Dyer, indeed not far off the pace of his father, John also going very well, and coming home easily fastest of the drum braked cars.  In contention for drive of the day was definitely Alex Morton, relishing the damp conditions and handling in his front engine Condor, and outpacing many of the later cars to finish in the single digits.

The other battle of significance was a medley of Class C and D cars, with much place swapping, partly due to numerous spins between them, with the T56 twins of Besley and Deeley, and Aubert and Longdon for Class D.

Class A’s strong six car entry unfortunately didn’t live up to much, with Malcolm Wishart also not making the start with clutch problems, and Tom de Gres lasting just three laps in his Stanguellini before it dropped a valve seat.

Proceedings were brought to a racing halt on lap 9 when Floris-Jan Hekker rode over the rear wheel of Christian Lange’s Envoy , and did a roll into the (fortunately soft and muddy) outfield, extremely lucky to be without injury, not quite so for the Rayberg, but the strength of both roll over bars were a testament to their absolute requirement in FJ racing.

So the race finished under the safety car, with a couple of penalties applied in Class C for overtaking between the safety car pulling in and the control line, leaving Jeremy to take the honours in the results sheet.  Let that take nothing off the faultless drive from Bruno Weibel though, and his delight was evident for all to see on the podium as he was joined by his two boys Romeo and Orlando.

Saturday night was the traditional drive into town with race cars, but the weather was inclement and only one wild Scot in an HGPCA car ventured out from the single-seaters, although we still enjoyed the traditional pizzas watching the cars parade.

Sunday was really wet, and sadly Christian Lange had departed, a family bereavement calling him home, and continuing efforts to get David Innes’ Stanguellini promised much, but all in vain.

The battle up front was magic, despite the conditions, with a three way tussle between Bruno Weibel, Manfredo Rossi and Mark Shaw, with Pete Morton and Greg Thornton in their wake. Thornton spun off at half-way, with some damage, and Rossi spun towards the end, letting Pete through to third. Up front this time Mark Shaw had the “psyche” and magically headed Bruno to the line. Alex Morton had a star drive in the Condor SII, just failing to match Andrew Beaumont’s Lotus 22 while Marty Bullock spoilt an excellent race by spinning off into the gravel at Boch 10 on the last lap – beached but without damage. In the exciting C2 class, Deeley and Besley were split by the winning cars, Deeley just ahead of Robin Longdon’s Lola Mk3, going well, at the flag.

Post race, events were dominated by a horrific crash (on his own) by Brian Joliffe with his Cooper in the HGPCA race. How Brian emerged unscathed is a miracle, but, amongst others, FJ came to the fire, and Stuart Roach, at Zandvoort to support Jason Wright’s two Ferrari “shark-nose” F1s, (for which they had built the bodies), co-ordinated the loading of the wreck of the Cooper into Brian’s van. Duncan sorted out the insurance, and Stuart set off driving the van to England overnight, leaving Peter Jackson to look after Brian and bring him back the the UK the following day.