We live in hope (with all fingers and toes crossed!!).

After the postponement of the Alfa Championship’s opening rounds at Silverstone on Easter Saturday, we were able to celebrate quick work by the 750 Motor Club who rescheduled their two day meeting to include us on Saturday, April 24th. This will come a fortnight after some loosening of government lockdown regulations which will presumably allow teams and drivers to stay on circuits overnight either before or during a two day event. Andy Robinson will no doubt be updating us on this before long. In the meantime, there has been plenty of motorsport activity around the world. Including formula 1 testing and the Sebring 12 Hours. This coming weekend we should be able to enjoy the Bahrain Grand Prix, the first race for Alfa Romeo’s C41, with Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovanazzi continuing their partnership into a third season. In this “Friday Fix” we have some more pictures from the busy 2007/2008 seasons and also take a look at some of the 25 women driver who have raced with us since the Alfa Championship started in 1982.

BAHRAIN TESTING

Formula 1 testing moved this year from its traditional Barcelona venue to Bahrain, offering a direct comparison between the end of last season and the start of 2021. Interestingly, Alfa Romeo was one of only three of the ten teams that had not changed its driver pairing. Both Raikkonen and Giovanazzi had as their first task a comparison between the C39 and the new C41 although much of the media focus was on the move of Carlos Sainz to Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo to McLaren-Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel to Aston Martin (ex Racing Point) and Sergio Perez to Red Bull. Not to mention the return of Fernando Alonso with Alpine (Renault re-branded) and the arrival of rookies, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin at Hass and the much praised Yuki Tsnoda at Alpha Tauri.

During the three days of testing, the C41 much impressed some other drivers, particularly George Russell who thought Kimi was “very, very quick” while pundit Karun Chanduk thought it now seemed well balanced as against its rather unruly predecessor. The drivers also felt that the Ferrari engine was giving better performance. Only Raikkonen was able to drive in what turned out to be the fastest testing session , the afternoon of the third day.  Using a soft tyre he was able to set the fourth quickest time, under a second slower than the benchmark set by Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. Undoubtedly, had Giovanazzi also been able to drive in that final session, and judging by the rest of the test, he would have matched his team mate’s times. Antonio showed that was possible by heading Kimi in the first Friday practice session – the pair ending up plum in the mid field, 10th and 11th on the timesheet.

ROMEO FERRARIS ANNOUNCES ETCR PLANS

My fears about Romeo Ferraris plans for their ETCR participation have been allayed by the announcement that they have signed 31 year old Monegasque driver Stefano Coletti as their first driver for 2021. Coletti started his racing career in karting before moving into single seaters in the BMW Championship in 2005. Since then he has appeared in Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5 (where he was a front runner), Formula 3 and GP2 plus a full year in Indycar.  In 2016 he concentrated on ELMS, did the occasional formula 2 race in 2017 before doing four races in the International GT Open in 2020. Certainly no lack of experience.

ETCR has announced its provisional calendar for 2021, as follows –

June 18-20VallelungaItaly
July 2 – 4ZolderBelgium
July 9 – 11Motorland AragonSpain
August 6 – 8CopenhagenDenmark
October 15-17Injem SpeedwaySouth Korea

MURRAY WALKER

There must have been many occasions over the years when I was at race meetings where Murray Walker was commentating for one of the radio or TV channels but, sadly, I can never remember meeting him. However, looking through my own archive I did find a picture that I took of him in the pits at a British Grand Prix. He was watching a fly-past by the Red Arrows at the time. With James Hunt and Martin Brundle,  Murray brought so much to our enjoyment of Formula 1, not to mention Rallycross and Touring Cars and judging by all the memories that have flowed out through the press and social media he is still very much missed although he has been absent from our screens for a little while. Following on from the loss of Brian Jones earlier in the year, the sounds from the commentary box are now very different.

Murray Walker watches the Red Arrows for a change

MORE PICTURES FROM 2007/2008

As promised, here are some more pictures from 2007 and 2008 –

A LOOK AT THE WOMEN DRIVERS WHO HAVE COMPETED IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP  –   PART ONE

Enzari and the AROC website have recently published at article covering the careers of many Alfa Romeo drivers at International level – Lella Lombardi, Anna Cambiaghi and Tamara Vidali amongst them.

For some time I have wanted to look back at stories of the 25 women drivers who have competed in the Alfa Championship since 1982 – some of them for just a single race and others for several seasons. Sadly, only Stacey Dennis remains active today and then only occasionally although she is registered for 2021. I also debated whether I should cover them alphabetically or chronologically and have decided on the latter, starting with Linda Colvill who raced an Alfasud on our first visit to Brands Hatch in November 1982.

LINDA COLVILL – (1982)

Linda made her mark as the first woman to compete in the Championship when she and husband Martin took two “straight off the forecourt” Alfasud Ti’s to Brands on 21st November 1982. This was the last of five handicap races that the BRSCC ran for us that that year. As with all the races this was a 10 lap handicap in which Linda started with a 2 lap advantage over the scratch cars. The result is immaterial. It was just good to see her out there supporting Bell & Colvill’s sponsorship of the series.

DEBBIE PONTON – (1983)

Debbie was a regular competitor in AROC Autotest meetings at places like North Weald in company with her partner Brian Hammond and was a regulat at AROC Snetterton practice evenings, In 1983 she decided that she would race her Alfetta 1.8 saloon a couple of times and entered at Snetterton and Cadwell Park, taking a fine 4th place at the latter. She and Brian later moved to the Isle of Man, so her time in the Championship was short.

JANET SHERRY – (1987 & 1988)

With her red Alfasud Ti, Janet was the first woman driver to make a real mark on the Championship although perhaps because of the high level of competition she could never get herself into a points scoring position. Nonetheless, she had several excellent drives and one I remember particularly in May 1987 was on the Brands Indy circuit where she battled with Jonathan Frankel (Sud Ti), and Lawrence Garnett (Alfasud Sprint) but was only rewarded with 12th place – but it was a 27 car field! In 1988 she carried on in the same vein and no doubt surprised Rob Emberton and Will Morton when she qualified between them at Castle Combe. In a big field at Donington that October, Janet finished 15th, yes, but was just ahead of the competitive Will Winterson. We were sorry to lose Janet from the Championship but we were able to able to reminisce when we met up by chance at a Classic Silverstone several years later.

YVONNE CHONG – (1987)

In her smart 33, Yvonne contested a few races during 1987 but she always seemed far happier when at AROC practice days, especially Goodwood, without the pressure of competition.

SALLY BISHOP – (1988 to 1990)

Sally Bishop erupted onto the Championship scene in the second half of 1988 as one of our youngest ever newcomers at the age of 19. More surprising was that she went straight into the Modified class B at the wheel of Nigel Cottee’s very quick Alfasud Ti. With that car she had some excellent results in 1988 in very strong company and probably her best race being to 4th overall behind Jon Dooley (75), the GTV6s of Vic Woods and Tim Stewart and ahead of Piero Pesaro’s Giulia Zagato. Sally continued with the Sud until June the following year but it was then decided that Nigel would build her a class F car for which she had sponsorhip from Thorn Security. This very smart car first appeared for round 2 of the Championship at Snetterton in April 1990 finishing 8th but reckoned that there was a lot to get used to with less power and the transition to road tyres. However, she had a good coach in Paul Edwards with whom she had formed a “team”.

A major interruption to her season came at Thruxton in June on a wet track. Stephen Milne (Sud Ti) spun at the fastest corner on the track, Church, and was hit by Sally whose car overturned, the incident bringing out the red flag. Although taken to the medical centre, Sally was unhurt but the accident was to result in an event that, for those involved, remains memorable. Her father had flown into Thruxton unexpectedly, saw his daughter’s car upside down on the track but could couldn’t get information on her condition. There was then an altercation with the Clerk of the Course, as a result of which Paul and I later accompanied Sally to an RAC Tribunal which could have cost her her race licence. Happily we were able to prove her father was not one of her team. BARC’s Dennis Carter remembers the incident well and often reminded me of it at subsequent BRSCC dinners at which he was a guest.

Paul Edwards built a completely new car for Sally which made its debut at Cadwell a couple of months later where she finished 8th. But somehow, the results in the very strong Class F didn’t come as the season progressed although she was always battling with well known drivers in the class at time, such as Gary Walker and Nick Bayntun. 1990 was her final year of racing.

It was a shock, though, to hear from Phill Snelling in 2014 that Sally had died at the young age of 45. She had become well known in the dog breeding and showing world and had married just three years before. We miss her.

MARY ELLIOTT – (1989 & 1991)

When Hugh Elliott bought an Alfasud Ti to compete in Class F, his wife Mary was also interested in racing the car and did so between 1989 and 1991. As the entry was split into two races, it was possible for Hugh to run in Class F and then Mary in Class C. This she did to good effect, particularly in 1991 when she had some excellent results, particularly at Castle Combe and Knockhill where she finished 4th in class, also taking 5th at Mallory and Snetterton. She ended up the season 7th in the points table in a year in which C had 24 points scorers and included in its top six Ted Pearson, Steve Dymoke and Pete Cate. Mary also competed in the Italian Intermarque challenge, scoring points along the way.

STELLA SHUTLER – (1990 & 1991)

Stella was often thought of as Alan Marshall’s “team manager” so that her own efforts on the track are often forgotten. This was probably because she never managed to score points in either the blue and white Alfasud Ti or 33 that she raced alongside Alan. However, there were some outstanding moments. One I recall in particular came in April 1991 at Mallory Park when she qualified 13th, in a field of 25, the last car to beat the 1 minute barrier. As she beat the likes of Mike Buckler, Keith Waite, Keith Fawdington and Mark Peers, maybe this was all too exciting as she turned into Gerards a mite early on lap one and was rammed by Ed McDonough’s Alfetta. Dhe was then hit by several other cars in the chaos, ending in the barriers. Happily she did return to racing as the season progressed.  Stella was also a fine musician (trumpet I think) and was part of a “big band” that Alan brought to an AROC dinner at the Reigate Manor Hotel – excellent entertainment I recall.

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT TIME……

POSTSCRIPT

We have often admired George Osborne’s sleeping arrangments above his van at race meetings but you were certainly not the first George. I can across a picture of this young lady with a tent pitched above her Giulia many years ago.

Michael Lindsay
Tel: 01223-891219
E-mail: [email protected]