Algarve Classic Festival; 1st – 3rd November 2019

It was the end of season, yes- but a fun event nonetheless!

Late withdrawals included local man JP Campos Costa, the yellow Lola Mk 5 rebuild still not quite completed, but will definitely be back for Hockenheim, while new Hall and Hall recruit, Stefan Joebstl was at the last minute unable to attend for work reason.

for the rest however, it was a class field, led by the three Richards; Bradley, Wilson and Smeeton, BT2, BT6 and Wainer respectively, all arriving in the Delta truck with the “carrot”, while Delta patron Iain Rowley was sharing Stuart Olley’s Tiga sports 2000 against a bevy of McLaren M1s; it looked rather intimidating !!!

Almost all the FJs were together in one big Garage, Spitfire pilot Steve Jones with his 6 speed Cooper T67 Ex Duncan Dayton, which won the last Lurani round held at Jarama, back in the 1990s; nothing if not versatile, Steve reminded me that he had won his last 7 races in his Cooper 500; and that next year he hopes to comprehensively beat the World Record for an electric powered aircraft!

The Adam Bruzas Team were three-quarters present, Adam (but yet without his own ex Kim Shearn, Roger Ealand 18) looking after Martin Aubert’s 20, and the ex Alex Morton, ex Count Steve Ouvaroff Ausper T3 of David¬† Drew, Marcus Pye reminding us from the commentary box that it was another Drew, the late Roy, who drove this same car for Rodney Tollhurst.

From France came Croix-en-Ternois owner, Patrick D’Aubreby with his 22, now much improved since mid season; while Gluton Corporation electric road sweeper manufacturer Christian Lange has his ex Ian Raby Envoy Mk 1.

Completing the Formula Junior Garage were the front engined Elva 100 of Robin Lackford, mentioning that it has not had a rebuild for nigh on 20 years, and one might be due! And NZ visitor, Tony Olissoff with the front wheel drive, and BMC powered Elfin Mk1.

Further down the strip in garages allocated to preparers was Chris Drake in the remarkable Terrier Mk 4 Series 1 with downdraught Motor, also looking after an M1C McLaren being driven by the son of Kenneth McAlpine (now well into his 90s) who was the finance and strength behind the Connaught Grand Prix cars, and raced them regularly from 1950 to 1955.

Last but not least was Alex Ames, with Mags, in Martin Halusa’s ex Gary Ryan 22, revealing that he and Marin have bought both of the Rossi cars, the Manfredo 22 and Caroline’s ex Mike Hailwood BT6 for a full season of FJ racing next year.

Also present in support were Laurence and Emma Wilkins, Lawrence having all but completed the restoration of the late John Lord’s 18, which will then be available for sale: and Christoph Widmer, BT18 F3 owner, who had hoped to join in the grid as an invitee, when the proposed F3 race evaporated, leaving two full races for four very modern cars, ( one of which expired early) most actually with motor cycle motors: a request that they joined the FJs was politely declined; against memories of the recent Knockhill: and indeed here at Portimao a few years back, when the sole Portuguese FF nearly wrote off a Junior on the warming up lap!

A few FJ’s ventured out for a damp and mixed free practice on Thursday including Bradley, Steve Jones and Lange, with (inter alia) a JPS Lotus F1 for company, not that Bradley needed to learn the circuit, as he had been racing in LMP2 here the previous weekend, only to end up in a lurid 200 mph slide into the tyre wall at the end of the main straight when a brake disc exploded, on his in lap, fortunately without any injury.

Qualifying was dry on Friday morning, with Bradley comfortably ahead of Alex Ames but still outside Jonathon Hughes official FJ lap Record from 2014; a close third was Richard Wilson in that very same Hughes BT6. Chris Drake was amongst the E1s, just ahead of D’Aubreby, a previous regular here, but without his F1 this time.

Our first race was the last before lunch on Saturday, in the dry, and very sadly we were missing Richard Wilson who had totaled Tony Best’s E Type in the earlier GT and SCC race on the fast off camber sweep into the main straight: a damaged l3 vertebrae was successfully¬† operated on the following day at Faro Hospital.

Alex Ames was close behind Bradley for the first couple of laps, but thereafter Richard drove away, with Alex suffering fuel starvation, dropping well back on lap 7 and then on the final lap, almost teetering to a halt, passed by a very closely matched Smeeton and D’Aubreby, and the flying Drake, but just crossing the line in front of Steve Jones. It was lonely races for the rest, except the race long battle between David Drew and Duncan, David just holding in front, after the first corner to the end.

Richard Bradley had only just failed to beat Jonathon Hughes 2014 lap Record, but Chris Drake convincingly thrashed the front Record, held by Andrew Tart in the Bond from 2013.

Race two on Sunday, again before lunch, was most definitely damp, Richard Bradley describing it as one of the slipperiest races of his career, but that did not prevent him winning with a commanding margin over a really exciting and race long dice between Ames and Drake, with Smeeton up with them for the first four laps.

Ames and Drake were side by side after 5 laps and Chris kept the advantage to stay ahead till the very last lap, with Alex taking the flag by 0.1 s. D’Aubreby had Smeeton still in sight, but in mid field, Duncan had another great race in the wet, slipping past both Aubert and Drew on the inside of turn three and then chasing Christian Lange’s Envoy, eventually passing on that same turn 3 on lap 7 while Christian was struggling with his downchange and held off for another lap, but slightly drier (or less wet !) conditions had Christian back ahead a lap later, but together they were catching Robin Lackford’s Elva 100, although they finished in that order. Duncan being happy to have lapped faster than Robin, and both front engined drivers joined Chris Drake for the separate front engined podium, after Chris had taken the 3rd spot on the overall one as well.

Lange and Aubert were happy winners of the aggregate C and D Trophies, to cap their enjoyable weekend.

Poor Tony Olissoff petered to a halt on lap 6, the Elfin not revving above 5500 or under 4000, and eventually dying completely.

Good racing, and the social side had been fun too, mixed groups enjoying the cheap and very cheerful Churrasqueira Mercado De Alvor in the old village on Thursday, the contrasting fantastic atmosphere and view on Friday of the rock cave Canido Restaurante, and finally Restauranto Atlantida on the beach on Saturday.

And so on to a most exciting prospect for FJ in 2020 ….