Mugello; 6th – 8th October 2023

Mugello; Lurani Trophy Round 4
6th – 8th October 2023

Scenic and sunny, Mugello delivered another special weekend for the Lurani Trophy travelling circus. 

Two dedicated FJ free practice sessions on Friday saw Horatio Fitz-Simon, just flown in from Laguna Seca, the only one to break 2m 10s, although for most of the second session the time screens were showing Lukas Buhofer as fastest, which was surprising as he had only just emerged from his temporary sick bed to reach the drivers briefing on time!! Not the weekend’s only drama with the timing electronics, but eventually corrected; and poor newcomer, Luciano Biamino, in Franco Fraquelli’s Elva 100 was immediately in engine trouble which was to for-shorten his weekend. For the rest, after a few laps of this fantastic circuit, all thoughts of the long journey south were gone, especially as this was followed by the Italian party organised by the Tonetti brothers, wives and friends.

Qualifying on Saturday morning saw Horatio (Lotus 22) set a 2:09; no surprises and all safe and sound, although Lukas Buhofer explored the gravel, and Christian Lange stopped his Envoy on his last lap, but fortunately his worries were assuaged on later closer inspection by Fred.

It was at least starting to cool as race 1 assembled late afternoon; Horatio made the best of the start and drew clear of Clive Richards 22, but behind was a battle royal, ending with Andrew Hibberd in the Monza wager 22, just keeping his nose ahead of Roberto Tonetti’s BT6. Class D, and with overall Champion also in play, saw another round of the yearlong Titanic battle between Pierre Guichard’s Australian Lynx and Stuart Roach’s Alexis Mk3, this time Stuart getting the edge by 0.3s. Last, literally, but not least, was a David and Goliath encounter between Bob Birrell’s Lotus 20 and Duncan Rabagliati’s earlier Alexis HF1; after several changes of position, it was Bob, with the superior Ford motor, who powered past on the final straight to win by a very short head.

Race two was in the heat of the sun on Sunday, but unfortunately, with a delayed start to the races earlier in the day, due to overnight mist, the cars were held rather long in the pre-grid: at least all got away from the start with Horatio heading the field, but approaching Palagio on lap 1, Stuart Roach was unsighted and too late to avoid a spinning BT6 blocking the track, so to end his Championship hopes. The safety car boards went up, followed not long after by a red flag, after Danny Baker, late to notice the SC boards, lost control on the start finish line. The race was restarted behind the safety car, but Duncan was also now missing as his brake fluid was so hot that the brakes had locked solid during the pit lane stop!! 

Once again there was no stopping Horatio, and with it, he took the 2023 Lurani Trophy, but this time it was a close race between Clive Richards and Andrew Hibberd for 2nd, with Hibberd just snatching the place on the line. Pierre Guichard thus comfortably won Class D, returnee Valerio Leone in his Elva 200-BMC inflicted an unusual defeat on Christian Lange’s Envoy for class C, and Nigel Lackford did Elva proud again in Class B; but for purists to see not only one but two original OSCA, was a real pleasure, Paduan, Emmanuele Benedini taking Class A.

Mugello circuit, with its adjacent historic town of Scarperia is difficult to surpass amongst the FJ battlegrounds, but two weeks ahead will see us at Jerez in Spain, another historic circuit for the final round.

Charles Pringle