With only a week to go before our 40th championship season kicks of on the National circuit at Silverstone, anticipation is understandably growing. We have almost always enjoyed good racing there with a layout and track width that encourages overtaking and side by side action. However, the latest government edict states that, unlike the situation last summer after lockdown 1, a limited number of spectators will NOT be allowed to come and watch. This is a severe disappointment to would-be fans, race organisers and circuit owners. It seems that the wide open spaces of Silverstone are more dangerous than sitting outside a pub or going to a car boot sale! Spectators or not, Andy Robinson will be providing his usual preview of the meeting and you can keep an eye on the entry elsewhere on the website.
NO POINTS IN BAHRAIN
There had been some optimism in the Alfa camp before the Bahrain Grand Prix that the new C41 would prove a more competitive package than its predecessor. But until you get on track with the opposition, who undoubtedly will not have stood still, you never really know. As it turned out, both Giovanazzi and Raikkonen made it into Q2 although they missed getting into the top 10 Q3. In the race it was all pretty frantic in mid field after an early safety car period. Both Alfa drivers ran strongly, Kimi indulging a brief and entertaining fight with George Russell’s Williams, only to fail by just 2” to take away the final point from Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin at the end of the race, finishing 11th with Giovanazzi 12th. There was a limited number of spectators in Bahrain but now we are back to a crowd-free Emilia Romagna GP at Imola this weekend.
A LOOK BACK AT THE ALFA CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSES – 2009
Continuing our review of the championship classes since ARCA took over from AROC at the end of 2001, we have now reached 2009.
The financial downturn that developed during 2008 meant that the outlook for club motorsport the following year was always going to be difficult. However, our final assessment of 2009 showed that things, for us at least, didn’t turn out as bad as some had predicted. In March we started with a healthy grid at Silverstone and in October we returned there with our best grid of the year. In between, during a 13 round season we visited Cadwell, Snetterton, Silverstone (three visits!), Castle Combe, Rockingham, Donington, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park. Of these, Cadwell, Brands and Oulton were double headers which proved popular and set a precedent for the future. This offered some genuine variety and even our Silverstone visits were on three different track layouts. The original Donington round was washed away by heavy rain and had to be rescheduled although qualifying did take place, drivers leaving the assembly area with lights on in the gloom. Some of the year’s grids were admittedly disappointing but others definitely not. Throughout, we enjoyed excellent racing with a trio of firsts – a woman driver (Mel Healey, now Freeman) leading the Championship and finally winning her class, a final overall winner (Paul Plant) who had not won a class, having switched from F to E mid year and an appearance on television, courtesy of Motors TV.
Class A produced some extremely quick cars in 2009 and some very spirited, and at times robust, racing. Tim Lewis was the pick of the field in his Alfasud Sprint, once her got over some early transmission problems which saw some hectic paddock scenes with Adie Hawkins heavily involved in trying to sort things out. On a couple of occasions, Tim was chased very hard by Roger Evans in his GTV and Roger would undoubtedly have finished closer to Tim in the points table if he had done more races. Neil Smith and Adie battled it out at Combe, Brands and in race 1 at Oulton, as did Lee Penn, Andy Page and Chris Snowdon in the second Oulton race. There were others who gave us great entertainment in the class, including Robin Eyre-Maunsell, Keith Waite and Christina Holley.
Class B came back to life with the return of Nev Simpson with his Alfetta GT 2.5 V6 and Gareth Heywood (156 2.5). Nev finished ahead in four of their outings together but by then, Gareth had done enough in other races to stay ahead on points to win the class. Their party was spoiled a litte, however, by Paul Plant’s one-off outing in John Griffith’s 156 at Silverstone. John himself had a troubled season, including a nasty accident at Cadwell and was never really in the hunt although his points tally left him third at the end of the year after fourth places in the races at Brands Hatch and Silverstone.
Class C was a little slow to get going in 2009, with Shaun Hazlewood (GTV 3.0) wondering where all the opposition had gone. But by the end of the season a further four GTVs had taken part. Kevin Evans and Barry McMahon both took one-off class wins while Graham Seager, before an accident at Oulton, and Ron Davidson put in some strong performances.
With one race to go, Shaun even looked as though he could perhaps be the overall championship runner-up but his luck ran out at the final Silverstone so he had to be content with a well deserved class victory with eight wins to his credit. Barry McMahon ended 2nd in class with Ron Davidson 3rd although Ron was run close ny Graham Seager who ended just 2 points adrift after a good mid season run. Making his first appearance in what has turned out be more than a decade of Alfa racing was Dave Messanger at the wheel of a 3 litre 75. Not the easiest car in which to make one’s debut but Dave scored a best of third in class at Rockingham.
Class D was an area where the entry was disappointing in 2009. We knew of plenty of cars out there but they just did not appear. However, that should take nothing away from Mel Healey’s efforts with her Spur Motorsport 33 16v, taking 8 wins from 13 starts. Among the highlights were an unflustered win against Paul Plant at Castle Combe and the great battles with Emma Karwacki at Oulton.
Paul Plant won three rounds early on but he switched to class E mid season. Even so, he was able to maintain 2nd in class with his 33 16v at the end of the year. Gethin Llewellyn had some good outings in his 33 even if his starring role with Ian Brookfield and Mel on Motors TV at Brands ended up with a conversation with the Clerk of the Course afterwards (no action taken!). It was good to see Ian back regularly in the second half of the season although we had to commiserate with him after he ended on his roof at Silverstone after light contact with Chris Healey’s 156. However, he had done enough to share 4th in class with Steve Fletcher (33 16v) although strangely they never appeared on the same grid.
Class E was again the strongest class in 2009 and, as ever, unpredictable as far as the winners were concerned until the arrival in their midst of Paul Plant who had switched from Class D with a Bianco run 156. After a toe-in-the-water at Rockingham, he went on to take five straight wins before handing over the car to Gethin Llewellyn for the Silverstone final, Gethin maintaining the car’s record. Early in the year, class wins had gone to Paul Granger, Paul Buckley, Andy Inman and Chris Healey, all in 156s. After Rockingham (where Chris took his win) the interest had switched to who would be in the runner-up spot each time and variety here was maintained although Graham Heels came out ahead on three occasions to joined Paul on the podium with his 147. But if you are going to win a championship class, then you have to be consistent and score good points throughout the season and this is what Paul Buckley and Andy Inman did throughout 2009 to head the table after the final round. Keith Williams did well in his Avon Racing 145 to finish 4th, with good races to 2nd at Donington and 3rd at Castle Combe, heading home Chris Healey, Sarah Heels and Martin Jones. Keith also missed out on a possible win at Rockingham when the clutch on his 145 started to slip as he hit the front. Sarah Heels once again started and finished every race, completing a 100% record in her four years with the 156.
Some more 2009 pictures will follow next time.
Each year we give some special trophies and 2009 was no exception –
Best Driver: To a driver whose outstanding performances yielded neither the overall championship or a class win – ROGER EVANS
Best Newcomer: For her outstanding performances in Chris Snowdon’s 75 3 litre – CHRISTINA HOLLEY
Best Young Driver: Another very competitive year in his 156 2.5 including 2nd place overall at Brands Hatch – GARETH HAYWOOD
Most Improved Driver: Having moved from a Class D 33 to a Class E 156, his 2009 performances showed him in a new light and included a pole and class win at Rockingham. – CHRIS HEALEY
Preparers Award: A closely fought battle between Avon Racing, Bianco Auto Developments and AVON RACING, the eventual winners.
Co-ordinator’s Champagne Moment (or Moments): I enjoyed making this award in my role as Championship Co-ordinator, none more so than the award for 2009. This time it went to two drivers who battled throughout two races on one day and at the end were split by total times under 1 second apart. The drivers in question were MEL HEALEY and EMMA KARWACKI who gave us such great entertainment in Class D in the Oulton Park double header.
2009 CLASS RESULTS:
|A||1. Tim Lewis (Alfasud Sprint)||2. Roger Evans (GTV 3.8)||3. Neil Smith (156 2.0)|
|B||1. Gareth Haywood (156 2.5)||2. Nev Simpson (Alfetta 2.5||3. = Simon Bird (156) /John Griffiths (156)|
|C||1. Shaun Hazlewood (GTV)||2. Barry McMahon (GTV)||3. Ron Davidson (GTV)|
|D||1. Mel Healey (33 16v)||2. Paul Plant (33 16v)||3. Gethin Llewellyn (33)|
|E||1. Paul Buckley (156 2.0)||2. Andy Inman (156 2.0)||3. Paul Plant (156 2.0)|
A LOOK AT THE WOMEN DRIVERS WHO HAVE COMPETED IN THE ALFA CHAMPIONSHIP – PART TWO
SUSAN BLAND (1990 to 1993):
Sue made her first appearance at the beginning of 1990 after buying a Sud Ti that had previously been raced by Colin Wing. With this car she had a busy and successful season in Class C, good enough to end up 6th at the end of the year. When you consider that the class had people in it such as Ted Pearson, Bob Buttery, Andrew Economides (still racing, in Sports 2000) and Ian Johnson, this was no mean achievement. Her best race was at Brands Hatch where the Sud took her to a well merited 4th For 1991, Sue decided to move into Class E with a 116 Giulietta run by Avon Racing. This time, she went one better, ending the year 5th in class. Her best individual race was at Castle Combe where she finished 2nd behind the similar car of Kevin Johnston. With just two rounds to go, she was second in the class points table behind long-time leader Robery Dyball but eventually lost out to John Symes (also still racing), Mark Peers and Martin Clarke amongst nineteen points scorers. Although she did race occasionally in 1992 and 1993 her focus was now elsewhere but at Cadwell in ’93 she showed that she still was still able to produce a good result by taking a 2nd in class, beating Mike Buckler’s 164 Diesel and Ken Waite’s Giulietta in the process Over the years, Sue has often visited us in the paddock and we hope that she will do so again in the future.
YVONNE MAYNE (1992 and 1993):
Yvonne’s participation in the Championship sadly lasted only a couple of seasons, and even then she could only do a limited number of races in her Alfasud Ti. Although she was always at the tail end of the field, that didn’t mean that she was totally left behind and she usually found someone to battle with. At Castle Combe in August 1992 she spent the race sandwiched between the Suds of Dave Poulson and Nick Grimwood, setting a better fastest lap than either of them. Our records only show her at two meetings in 1993 – Brands and Donington GP circuit – having switched to Class C. At the former I remember her being very happy to have scored points with 6th in class.
JANE CHEFFINGS (1992 to 1995)
Looking back, it seems strange that Jane only raced with us for four seasons as she is certainly one of our racers, of whichever sex, who made a big impact both with her personality and her racing. Jane spent a couple of season learning the ropes with an Alfasud. She enjoyed her best results in Class C, finishing an excellent 7th in 1993 with a best race result of 3rd at Pembrey before taking a leap upwards with a 3 litre 164 in Class D for 1994. Here she enjoyed a very competitive yearalongside the GTV6s of eventual class winner Chris Gladwin and runner-up Gavin Watson. She was also up against the similar 164 of Ron Davidson and it was nip and tuck on the points table between them. For some reason, Ron didn’t appear for the final race, at Donington, leaving Jane to battle it out with the GTV6 of Richard Harman, finishing 3rd to cement her end season third in class. One of her best races that year came in the penultimate round at Oulton where Gavin, Jane and Ron were separated by just three seconds in 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the end of the 10 lap race on the Fosters circuit.
1995 brought a change of colour scheme for the 164, the car’s brown and cream livery of sponsors Prospero Motor Insurance not being easy to miss. Martin Parsons had switched from Class F, also with a 164 and he would prove to be the class leader although Gavin Watson ran him close all the way through. Jane would have more good results but lost out by not being able to join the Championship’s visit to Zandvoort. Then, at Oulton and with only one round to go, she made an unusual mistake and destroyed the 164, happily without hurting herself. For the final round at Donington she borrowed a GTV6 to finish 5th and cement her class third in the end season points table. Sadly, this was to be the end of Jane’s racing career as she decided to concentrate on her business activities which was a big loss to the Championship and also to the Italian Inter-Marque in which she had also competed at times with the 164.
LISA STARNS (1994)
Lisa was a friend of the Parsons family and ran in Class F at Snetterton, Mallory and Castle Combe in Martin’s 33 during 1994. She managed to score a point at Snetterton.
KELLY BEVAN (1997)
Phil Bevan created a two car Class E Alfetta team, PJB Racing, in 1997 with his daughter Kelly and Bob Ridgard as the drivers and cars that were always immaculately turned out in a white and green livery. RAF pilot Jethro Nelson (Alfetta GTV) dominated the class for most of the year but Jonathan Griffin (Giulia Super) and Bob were always in the hunt, both taking class race wins, while Kelly was a consistent finisher in the points, including a second and third in the two races at Croix-en-Ternois and a fourth place at Cadwell. This was enough to leave her 4th in the points table at the end of the year ahead of Jeremy Robinson’s Giulietta and the 75 Twin Sparks of John Norrington and Bill Gray. Unfortunately, the PJB effort did not continue in 1998 and we didn’t see Kelly racing again. I am sure that if she had been able to race on she would have developed into one of our leading women drivers.
BARBARA WRIGHTING (1997 to 1999)
Barbara raced infrequently with a 33 that she shared with her son Paul Winter and scored points in an outing at Anglesey in 1998.
ETRC ALFA GIULIA ON TRACK.
The news from Italy continues to be good on progress with the prototype ETCR Giulia which has now had its initial track tests under the watchful eye of battery pack provider Williams Advanced Engineering. Both Romeo Ferraris and signed driver Stefano Coletti have been mightily impressed with the car’s performance, both finding it a pleasure to return to rear wheel drive after so many seasons spent with the power being directed to the front.
HRDC CLASSIC ALFA CHALLENGE.
We have now received what Julius Thurgood hopes will now be the final 2021 HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge calendar, as follows –
|Sat/Sun June 12th/13th||Thruxton|
|Sunday July 4th||Lydden Hill|
|Sunday, August 15th||Brands Hatch – Festival Italia|
|Bank Holiday Monday, August 30th||Castle Combe|
|Sat/Sun, October 30th/31st||Silverstone GP|
THE BIMOTORE AT BROOKLANDS – 1937
The Bimotore Alfa Grand prix car (one engine in front and one behind the driver) was a brave experiment by the Scuderia Ferrari in 1935 in an effort to match the might of Mercedes Benz and Auto-Union. That it did not succeed was shown by the rapid development of more suitable solutions. However, one of the cars was sold to British driver Austin Dobson who brought it here in 1937 in the hope that it would prove a winning proposition at Brooklands and maybe capable of taking the banked Outer Circuit speed record. It never managed to do that but in September that year, Dobson shared the car with Chris Staniland in a 500km race, all on the banked Outer Circuit. After Staniland had taken over he lapped at 132.8 mph on his way to a 6th place finish. My father was present at that meeting and took a photograph of the car high up on the banking, with trees ever present for anyone who went over the top!
CARACCIOLA v NUVOLARI FEATURE in “AUTOSPORT”
This week’s “Autosport” carries an interesting artlcle by Robert Fearnley on the rivalry between Rudi Caracciola and Tazio Nuvolari, with particular emphasis on their brief time a team mates driving works P3 Alfas in 1932 and 1933. There is a particularly nice photograph (which I can’t recall seeing before) of Caracciola sitting in his car surrounded by the Alfa team, including Enzo Ferrari. In the same issue there is another wonderfully evocative photograph (under “From the Archive”) of the Hon.Brian Lewis (8C 2300 Monza) on his way to winning the 1933 Mannin Moar on the Douglas Isle of Man’s street circuit, leading home an Alfa 1-2-3. How I would have loved to have been one of those spectators, camera in hand, behind sandbags and the stone wall. What we miss these days!
Seen in Verona while on holiday a few years ago!
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