Busy month for Bianco
The title deciding races at Donington in mid October started a particularly busy four week period for Bianco Auto Developments (or “Squadra Bianco” as carried on most of their cars) led by Gary Walker, Harry White and Paul Plant. First imperative was to see the outcome of the BRSCC Alfa Romeo Championship title deciding races with Andrew Bourke and Tom Hill as the main contenders. Nothing is ever straightforward in motor racing as we know, but the shifting fortunes at the end of this year might not have been easily predicted. However, you will all have read that with accidents and punctures thrown in for good measure it was Andrew who triumphed – a remarkable comeback from his frightening accident at Brands in 2016.Well done Andrew! Happiest driver at Donington, though, was probably Andy Hancock. Andy hasn’t raced all year but arrived as determined as ever, still eager for that first ever Twin Spark Cup win. No one would have predicted the style in which he would win both Twin Spark races, also taking the coveted Kevin Griffiths Trophy for his win in race 2, notable for the way in which he held of James Browning to the end. Bianco was involved with 9 cars at Donington which must be one of their largest turnouts ever – Andrew Bourke (156), Tom Hill (156), Andy Hancock (156) Mike Tydeman (156), Simon Cresswell (156), Ron Davidson (164 3.2), James Browning (147), Jeremy Chilton (156) and welcome newcomer Riccardo Losselli with one of their 147s. Anyway, well done Bianco for another Championship drivers title. Also, Jeremy Chilton who won the Grove & Dean Driver of the Weekend trophy.
A week later, having left their base in Surrey on the Wednesday, the team was at Spa for – wait for it! – a 24 Hour race with a Citroen C1. The newly created Citroen C1 Championship had created the race alongside 2CVs – regularly used to these endures – a total field of 120. Bianco had prepared a very easily identifiable car to take part with Paul Plant, Andy Hancock, Mike Tydeman and Simon Cresswell at the wheel. They managed to qualify 3rd in a class of 48, finish 10th in class and 20th overall held back only by the speed of their pits stops. A lesson to be learned for 2018!
Not content with Spa, the team were off again for the 750 Motor Club’s annual Birkett 6 Hour Relay on Saturday, October 28th (but arriving on the Thursday before for testing). This time it was with 6 cars and drivers – Jon Billingsley (in the Grove & Dean 156), James Browning (147), Gethin Llewellyn (156), Joshua Lambert (a welcome return with his rebuilt 147 – now with Minilite Wheels sponsorship), Paul Plant (156 2.0) and Ray Foley in the green Bianco 147 that Riccardo Losselli drove at Donington. Andy Hancock had taken over the role of Team Manager this time and seemed to be enjoying it. Hopefully we shall have longer reports of the Relay and Spa in due course but the main aim this time was get a good result (a win?!) in the Handicap category which is really more highly regarded than the scratch outcome. Last year, the team had been given 30 credit laps over the scratch cars but this time it was 35 laps. Would it be enough? Sadly the answer is “no”. The plan was for everyone to run 30 minute stints and after 2 hours, the team was running a fine 14th. Fluctuations over the next 4 hours still resulted in an eventual 24th which was nonetheless a highly creditable outcome as there were 70 teams that started the event. We enjoyed a bewildering selection of cars that went from a Rolls Royce (!), through Radicals, to the usual plethora of BMWs, Seats, Caterhams and Minis with the odd Lancia and Classic Alfa thrown in. The traffic jams into Copse were something to behold.
This coming weekend it is off to Silverstone again where Stacey Dennis has entered the BWRDC Handicap Race for women drivers as part of the Walter Hayes Trophy Meeting. The last time she did this, Stacey finished on the podium, so we wish her the best of luck this time! Qualifying and the race are both on Sunday afternoon. Also taking part in the meeting are Barry and Arthur McMahon who are contesting the Britcar 2 Hour race with Barry’s Donington winning 156 Turbo, the race going into darkness on Sunday.
BTCC Alfa Launch
It looks as though the official launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta destined to compete in the 2018 British Touring Car Championship will take place at “Autosport International” in January. Since the original press release there have been some changes, in that Handy Motorsport has been re-branded as HMS Racing which was its original name back in 2011. It will still be run by Simon Belcher with the experienced Rob Austin as the driver. It seems that despite the financing structure that was suggested, there are no plans to enter the car under the “Alfa Romeo Dealer Team” banner.
Giuliettas in TCR International
Despite taking three wins early in the 2017 season in the hands of David Kajaia and Dusan Borkovic, the Romeo Ferraris developed Giuliettas have slipped out of contention as the opposition headed by the Honda Civic Type-R and VW Golf GTi has moved ahead. VW’s Jean-Karl Vernay took the 2017 driver’s title with his VW. To an extent the Giulietta has been held back by having a smaller capacity engine but rumour has it that a 2 litre motor will find its way into the car for 2018. No news, so far, of a Giulietta entry in TCR UK which is part of the BRSCC’s 2018 portfoglio.
Alfa Media Coverage
I suppose that we always like reading about our own marque in the motoring press and recently there has been some excellent coverage. When the Alfa BTCC project was announced “Motorsport News” carried an excellent two page article by David Addison on previous involvement including the Dealer Team and the Tarquini year (1994).
There were some excellent Napolina (Alfetta and Sud) and John West (75) pictures to accompany it. This week’s “Autosport” has an interesting article about Ian Stapleton’s GTV6 which has just completed a successful season in the CSCC’s Modsports and Special Saloons series. We also saw it at Festival Italia where it took a couple of wins against several more powerful Ferraris, much to the delight of Alfa enthusiasts present. My own favourite magazine,“Motor Sport” has recently undergone a complete re-vamp. Sometimes, this doesn’t always work for long-term readers but we have to get used to change although the red cover that was used a few years ago was almost unanimously disliked and soon replaced. The November issue carried two articles of Alfa interest – the first covering the Steve Soper/Dickie Meaden Giulietta’s superb weekend at the Goodwood Revival in September and the secondly in the “Racer Rebuild” section, the story of a Group 2 Alfasud Sprint being restored to racing trim by Geoff Gordon with involvement on the engine side from Dave Ashford at Brunswick Racing. Progress with the Sprint is continued in the December edition with some excellent workshop pictures.
There was a time when I could afford to buy quite a number of 1/43 or even 1/18 scale die cast models a year as my collection would show – but not any more! Prices have risen dramatically over the past few years and it is now a matter of choosing carefully. So, in 2016 my only purchase was a model of Felipe Massa’s Williams – for £90!!! However, despite the costs, it would seem that there are enough people out there to keep the model industry flourishing although not, sadly, on the High Street. I regularly receive a booklet from Diecast Legends which lists a wealth of mouth watering options, including a large number of Alfas. The latest issue, for example, shows a 1;18 model of the original 33 V8 “Periscopa” race car as driven by Nanni Galli and Ignazio Giunti in the 1967 Targa Florio – all for a cool £239.99.
If you can’t afford that, then perhaps a Maxichamps 1/43rd Alfasud in either red or white at £34.99 would tickle your fancy. I mentioned that the High Street is mainly devoid of model shops these days but if you are in London you can go to St.Martin’s Models in Cecil Court, close to Leicester Square Underground or, alternatively, to the Legends Warehouse near Guildford if you live in Surrey. They also have a new website www.diecastlegends.com
Ferrari 70th Anniversary Celebrations
As Ferrari have been carrying the Alfa Romeo name and the Quadrifoglio on the engine covers of their 2017 Formula 1 cars, I feel justified in mentioning the 70th Anniversary Celebrations which took place last weekend at Mugello. Sadly it clashed with the Mexican GP, so the F1 race team and drivers Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen could not be there. But that didn’t stop no fewer than 37 Formula 1 Ferraris from past eras being on display, many of them being demonstrated on track. Must have been quite a sight!
If you want to get your hands on a Giulia Quadrifoglio, Forza Motorsport 7 has announced it will be included in their latest car pack, available now. The first Giulia to be featured in a game we believe.
Annual Dinner & Prize Giving
And lastly, don’t forget our annual dinner and prize giving which takes place on Saturday, 18th November at the The Mercure Warwickshire Walton Hall Hotel. All the details are on alfaracer.com with a ticket booking form. If you are intending to stay at the hotel it is essential you get our room booking in now.