2023 Lurani Trophy Round 1 – Hockenheim Historic; 5th – 7th May

A capacity grid, spectators aplenty and warm sunshine… the Hockenheim Historic delivered a fantastic start to our 2023 Lurani Season!

The Hockenheim Historic has been our traditional opener for many years now, and with a large and appreciative fan base for the event, it’s a warm welcome every time.

The weekend began with testing on Thursday, and a chance to meet our newcomers for the season; Mauro Scotti (ex-Serge Brison Lotus 22), Lukas Buhofer (ex-Amez-Droz Brabham BT6), Marco Coppini (ex-Lance Whitehead Lotus 20) James Astorian (Lotus 27 from Dan Setford) and returnee after many years’ absence, Giampaolo Benedini (ex-Comelli OSCA). It was 11 nationalities in total, including Marty Bullock (Wren) and Peter Strauss (Brabham BT6) back over all the way from Australia.

Unfortunately, Pierre Tonetti had a moment in Free Practice in his De Tomaso, and that was the end of his weekend, and before arrival, we had lost Lars-Göran Sjöberg, who yet again had a visit from the gremlins when his motorhome had a fault before even getting south of Sweden.

So, it was 35 out for qualifying, and Lurani newcomer Horatio Fitz-Simon was clearly going to be the man to beat, but not without maximum determined effort from Manfredo Rossi di Montelera and Clive Richards, making up the next 2 places on the grid. Then from fourth to tenth, there was only 1.3 seconds in it, so we were in for a treat come race time.

It was drama straight onto track for Race 1, as Clive Richards lost a wheel on the green flag lap, but luckily pulled up without damage, so we were down to 33 for the actual start, having also lost James Astorian in qualifying, with an engine issue. Manfredo kept Horatio on his toes for the first few laps, but an excursion or two off the black stuff had him down in 6th at the flag, unable to recover enough before the safety car came out on lap 6, after Adrian Russell (Lotus 22) contacted with Richard Bishop-Miller (Autosport) at the hairpin.

In the Classes, Marty Bullock had been the clear lead in the later drum braked Class D2, but a broken gear-lever had him stuck in 4th in the final laps, and when it came to the 1 lap sprint finish, it was Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk3) who capitalised and took the Class win.

Erik Justesen’s (U2 Mk2) position as Class B2 Front-engined winner was never in doubt, the same for Christian Lange (Envoy) in Class C2 and Daniele Salodini (Taraschi) in Class A.

A Coronation paddock party followed the race, and then it was once again warm and sunny for Sunday morning as the cars headed for a midday Race 2 start.  With Clive back on four wheels, and Andrew Hibberd’s fuel feed issue sorted, which had seen him have a pitstop in race 1, we were treated to a brilliant 3-way race long battle for second position, decided in the most unexpected of ways at the line.  It was Rossi hanging on to 2nd for the most part, from Richards, but rarely more than a car’s length between their pack throughout.  Hibberd was ahead of Richards on lap 6, and then up into second on lap 9 when Manfredo went wide at the hairpin during an overtake, allowing Clive through too.  He was wasting no time going off-line this time though, and was back up to third then second, before settling in behind what looked like a routine run to the flag for Horatio. It turned out to be anything but, when he too had a fuel feed issue in the closing few laps, and on the last lap was reduced to running in second gear, and just as he was coasting up to the line, Manfredo had caught him and took victory from right in front of him. 

Checco Tonetti was a solid 4th from start to finish, and that was enough to seal 3rd overall on aggregate, behind Horatio and Manfredo.

Marty’s luck in the Class D2 Wren didn’t improve, and he was out on the green flag lap with a broken master switch, leaving the Class double to Stuart Roach, having a good early race dice with Richard Smeeton (Wainer). Class B2 and C2 honours also went the same way as Race 1, but with Salodini a non-starter with a wheel issue, Benedini earned the Sunday Trophy.

There was close racing throughout the field too, including a spirited scrap between Gilbert Lenoir (Elva 200) and Carlo Maria Del Conte (Wainer 60). On the first lap Stephan Jöbstl had a spin at the Hairpin, as did Lukas Buhofer a few laps later. All-in-all it was a tremendous return to the Lurani Trophy spectacles we were used to pre Covid.

Round 2 takes us to Dijon for the l’Age d’Or meeting, and with an entry already featuring a handful of reserves, it’s set to be more of the same!

by Sarah