Zandvoort Historic GP; 21st – 23rd June 2024

Lurani Trophy Round 3;

Exciting racing, sunshine and seaside socials, what’s not to love about Zandvoort?!

It was the first time for FJ on the new banked circuit, and suffice to say the drivers relished the chance, and loved what they found.

The early Wednesday arrivals were soon followed by the overnighters from the Harwich-Hook ferry, and many were already set up ready for scrutineering by Thursday lunchtime.  This allowed for a leisurely afternoon before the track walk and Swedish midsummer FJ paddock party kindly hosted by newcomer Jan Christians and Lotta, Lars-Goran Sjoberg, and Hans and Merja Hillebrink.  Not too much schnapps though, as it was a 9am briefing on Friday morning, a chance to welcome our other newcomers Arnold Herreman (ex-Ashley-Brown Volpini), Tony Lees (ex-James Murray Lola Mk 5A), and Luca Hoefer (Lotus 22), having his first ever race!

So it was a fantastic sight of 30 FJ’s out onto track for qualifying at 10.20, and once they’d spent a few laps learning the lines, and establishing whether to go low or high into the corners, the order started to be set. It was Series leader Clive Richards (Lotus 22) who took pole, but less than a second covered 1st to 4th on the grid, made up behind him of Alex Ames (Brabham BT6), Manfredo Rossi and Lukas Halusa (both Lotus 22s).  Marty Bullock (Wren) was clear Class D leader, Clinton McCarthy (Lotus 18) was ahead in Class C, with Erik Justesen (U2 Mk2) a couple of seconds clear in Class B, while newcomer Arnold Herreman was clearly having no issues first time out in his Volpini, leading Class A. 
Most impressive however was Luca Hoefer, taking 15th on the grid, on his racing debut.  

We had the best of the Friday weather on track, as not long after our qualifying, rain came, and got progressively heavier.  It eased up just in time for our evening BBQ at Sablon, one of the beach pavilion restaurants, and a brilliant evening enjoyed by all, with the sky clearing completely just in time for us to enjoy the wonderful sunset. 

Saturday morning was an early race start, and very sadly for young Fabien Fabek, his Lotus 22 ceased on the start, thankfully everyone safely avoiding him, but when the tow truck pulled him off the grid through the pit wall gate, it broke his donut which in turn caused chassis damage so that was the end of his weekend.  In a very kind gesture, he then offered his wheels to Paul Booth if needed, after Paul had a puncture in the race.

So it was the safety car out, but only for one lap, and on the restart Ames was tucked right up behind Clive keeping him in check until he got past on lap 3.  Meanwhile Manfredo and Lukas, in almost matching white 22’s, were place swapping until lap 5 when Lukas started to pull away in pursuit of the leading pair.

Danny Baker was making cracking progress on his qualifying position and had worked himself up from 10th to 6th by lap 3, and was ready to pick up the battle with CTL teammate Lee Mowle for the rest of the race, taking the edge by a second at the flag.

Another great race unfolding was between Tony Lees and Luca Hoefer, in fact they were side by side on the last lap, and most definitely both grinning from ear to ear on arrival in parc ferme.

Back at the front though, Clive kept Alex in touch the whole way, but it was to be Ames who took a well-deserved victory, with Lukas 13 seconds adrift in third, and it was a jolly awards presentation on the main stage podium, following live music to warm up the crowd gathered.

Saturday evening was the usual fun parade into town, no FJ’s taking part this year, perhaps wisely, given the low nature of the cars on the public roads, however we were back in action on track at primetime on Sunday, just after midday. Non-starters from Saturday’s retirees were Nick Taylor (engine) and Fabian, but David Watkins had repaired the Elfin radiator, Booth his puncture, Sjoberg the Lola’s floor, Clinton’s 18 had undergone a gearbox change by the Setford boys, Sam Wilson had changed the leaking clutch cylinder on Lees’ Lola,  and Hall and Hall had changed just about everything electrical to rid Buhofer’s Lotus 27 of its gremlins, so it was 27 cars who lined up on the grid for race 2.

This time Clive held on to his advantage from the go, but not without serious chase from Lukas Halusa, who was past Manfredo across the line at the end of lap 1.  Alex sadly picked up a misfire a few laps in, so let Lukas through to give charge on the leader, the result being just 0.6 of a second at the flag separately the first two, and both thrilled at the fun of it.

This left Manfredo to race with Lee and Danny this time round, the CTL Lotus’ having the edge at the end, with Danny once again the victor of the two.  Behind them, Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk 4) was chasing down Buhofer’s 27 and making up the top 10 were Adrian Russell (22), finally putting the bad gearbox luck of Hockenheim and Pergusa behind him, and Rudi Friedrichs, having just got his car repaired in time to catch enough laps of qualifying on Friday morning.

Another jolly prizegiving on the stage, with the Class Winners [Marty Bullock – D, Keith Pickering – C, Erik Justesen B, Arnold Herreman – A], getting the opportunity to be on the podium spraying champagne too, before goodbyes until Brno in mid-July.

by Sarah