This has been the longest gap between Friday Fixes for some time but we hope that the reports from Croft and Snetterton have kept you entertained.
One week of the delay was caused by a flood after the recent very heavy rains that brought water into the house (through the cat flap mainly!). Fortunately, although it got into my office, there was only a small amount of damage – mostly a couple of damp rugs – and certainly not to anything vital. In the past month or so, we have had a busy Formula 1 period and wasn’t it good to see those full grandstands and spectator banks at Silverstone. The Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen accident was somewhat frightening but in many ways predictable. It is easy to take sides but I hope that the FIA’s decision not to alter Hamilton’s penalty it will have sorted it out without a return to the rhetoric that we had to listen to after the race. In the Hitek Alfa Romeo Championship Barry McMahon’s 156 Turbo continues to dominate overall and this has lifted him to 9th in the National Drivers’ top 50 success list. The Championship’s next event will be the ever popular Festival Italia (Sunday August 15th) and for the first time we will be joined by the Classic Alfa Challenge which should make for a superb day of Alfa Romeo racing.
ALFA ROMEO COMMIT TO F1 FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE
A lot of the interesting F1 Alfa news has been off track with Alfa Romeo committing to a continuation of the association with Sauber for the immediate future. 2022 represents a new challenge for all the teams and Alfa are eyeing the possibilities of a move up the grid and could have a new driver line-up. An FIA prototype 2022 car was shown for the first time at Silverstone before the Grand Prix and it looked a sleek machine, if a bit wide and squat. However, the designers are not convinced that this will be the final “look” and we shall just have to be patient to see what they all produce.
Mention of a new driver line-up for Alfa comes in the wake of the possible replacement of Kimi Raikkonen by Valteri Bottas, should Mercedes decide to promote George Russell as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate. Bottas is not only a very quick driver, with Grand Prix wins to his credit, but is also very much a team player which would suit team principal Fred Vasseur. Another change might come about as a result of no longer having to use a driver from the Ferrari Driver Academy – a position filled by Antonio Giovanazzi at the moment. However, to maintain continuity, Giovanazzi may continue for at least another year although there are plenty of young stars pushing to make their way into F1, many of whom already have links with Vasseur, including British driver Callum Illott.
Oh Yes – there have been four F1 races since FF111 but with little to lift the spirits of Alfa fans. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a better result in Hungary this weekend.
CLASSIC ALFA CHALLENGE RETURNS TO LYDDEN HILL
As I tried to find my way off the A3 into Lydden Hill, I realised that the last time I had been there was in 2003. In 2020, Julius Thurgood ran “Historics on the Hill”, an all HRDC race meeting and he had decided to do it again on July 4th. This would once more include a race for the Classic Alfa Challenge but sadly his efforts were not rewarded by a good Alfa entry and only 10 cars appeared on the day. However, the main players from the earlier Thruxton race were entered, notably James Colburn, with his 2 litre Giulia coupe, the Alfetta GTVs of Chris Snowdon, Alex Jupe and Jonathan Horsfield and Gavin Watson’s Giulietta 1600 Ti. It was also good to see the re-appearance of Chris Whelan in the ex Jon Dooley Napolina Sud. Chris didn’t have great hopes for the car but in the end his pessimism was to prove unfounded. Another interesting car was the 1750/2000 Berlina of Ben Colburn. This is the ex Chris Taylor car with which Chris gave us so much entertainment, now repainted green and orange rather than the original red.
Qualifying saw James Colburn on pole, just 0.023” ahead of Chris Snowdon, followed by Ben Colburn and Alex Jupe which gave us hope of a good battle at the front of the field. However, in race 1, Frank Horsfield (Giulietta 116) spun and nudged the barriers, bringing out a red flag . When the cars returned to the grid, the marshals noticed that the door on Chris’s Alfetta was not properly shut and he had to return to the paddock to have it closed. This completely compromised his race that was won by the very quick James Colburn, although Chris had the consolation of making fastest lap while working his way up to eventual 3rd place behind James and Alex Jupe. Further back, Chris Whelan was entertaining us with the Sud with a fine 4th place while Gavin Watson won his class with the Giulietta.
Race 2 was again dominated by James Colburn from brother Ben and Alex Jupe, while Chris Whelan knocked almost a second off his previous best lap time to claim another 4th place after passing Jonny Horsfield’s Alfetta. Chris Snowdon suffered an electrical problem and retired after just 1 lap, to complete his worst ever day’s racing with the Alfetta. As the length of Classic Alfa races is normally 30 minutes, the timekeepers produced a combined result which saw James Colburn as the clear winner by 10” from Alex Jupe, followed by delighted and surprised Chris Whelan and Gavin Watson. We understand that Julius already has 20 entries for Festival Italia.
BACK IN THE COMMENTARY BOX
It was good to back in the commentary box at Croft and Lydden Hill although there were some technical glitches to cope with – like microphones and head sets that refused to work at times. However, both boxes provide excellent views of the racing, particularly the short layout at Lydden. What the situation will be at Brands Hatch remains to be seen but I hope that the previous Covid restrictions there will have been eased
STORY OF THE 155 IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
The introduction of the 155 to the International Press at Barcelona in January 1992 heralded a new era for Alfa, this being a front wheel drive replacement for the 75. It was also viewed by the company as a car that could be developed for racing and this was soon proved by successes in the ITCC and various national championships, notably in the BTCC in 1994. Inevitably, it also drew the attention of our own Alfa Championship and we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the cars and drivers that eventually took part between 1995 and still to the present day with Scott Austin’s Fiat engine version.
That great championship innovator Mike Buckler was quick to spot a possible contender in the 155 Q4 – four wheel drive plus Fiat based Turbo engine – and decided to build a car with these features for Ron Davidson. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be a great success and talking to Ron the other day he mentioned particularly the weight of the car and the questionable braking capacity which he discovered when the car was taken to Zandvoort. The car was never really on the level of the other cars in its class and it must have been galling for Ron to find that the class win went to Martin Parsons’ 164 from the GTV6 of Gavin Watson. The car didn’t appear again until 1997 and a year later it was fitted with a 2.5 V6 engine which took it to 2nd in Class D but unable to equal the 75 of class winner Enzo Buscaglia. For the 1999 season, Ron enjoyed another upgrade to a 3 litre 24v V6, running in the top Modified class. Best result was a 2nd in class at Snetterton but Ron decided that a 3 litre GTV would be his preferred choice for 2000.
In the meantime, Gus Lambrou had persuaded Les Gorman that a 155 2 litre 8v would be a competitive proposition for Class E and this car took him to 2nd in place the class in 1998 including a win at Oulton Park ahead of Chris Oxborough’s 75 Twin Spark. Les would continue to race this car until 2002, with wins at Donington and Brands Hatch in 1999 before finishing 3rd in class in 2001. As he had a roadgoing 16v , he decided to have this prepared for racing but used it only occasionally in 2002 and 2003 before disappearing from the scene. Sadly the 8v car was crashed by its new owner at Oulton Park and didn’t re-appear.
1999 saw the appearance of Tim Dackombe in a 155 prepared by Brunswick to replace his earlier 33. Tim was very competitive, taking wins at Snetterton and Silverstone but would lose out in the battle for the Class E title with Paul Buckley and Chris Oxborough (75 Twin Sparks) by missing Croft and the double header at Knockhill. In 2000 Tim was again up against some strong opposition as to Chris Oxborough, Peter Sloan and Steve Foley with their 75s was added Jonathan Griffin with his remarkable quick Giulia Super. Nonetheless, Tim would emerge 3rd at the end of the season although he only took one win, at Cadwell. Due to business and family commitments he only managed one race (at Brands Hatch) in 2001 before retiring from racing and putting the 155 up for sale.
2000 saw the arrival of a Peak Alfa 155 with Roger Evans at the wheel of his easily recognisable black 2.5 V6. He only competed in four races that year but it was clear that the car had good potential. This was proved in 2001, with wins at Snetterton and Castle Combe, and a final 2nd in class only beaten by Anthony George’s 33 16v. Roger’s 2002 season was limited but he did score more class wins at Oulton and Mallory. He also shared with brother Kevin in the Kevin Griffiths Trophy mini-enduro at Brands Hatch, coming home to a well deserved 3rd overall and a win in the Production class. Using Kevin’s newly built 155, they satisfyingly beat the 3 litre GTV of Ron Davidson and Martin Parsons. Commenting recently Roger said “It was a really successful race for us because neither of us had driven at Brands before!”.
At Southern Alfa Day in 2000, Chris Snowdon arrived with the 155 that had been rolled by Gabriele Tarquini at Knockhill and now rebuilt by Alfa GB. This was subsequently fitted with a Delta Integrale engine by Dave Ashford at Brunswick for new owner Gary Lucas. Gary raced it at Brands Hatch, Mallory and Croft with little success after which it disappeared from sight after Gary moved to Australia.
A 3 litre engine was Roger Evans’ innovation for the 2003 season but a limited programme was not enough to allow him to run Peter Sloan and Chris Oxborough close for the class title, despite two class wins. Kevin Evans would also appear with a very smart 155 built from scratch and fitted with a 2.5 V6 engine. This would run in the old class C which attracted a range of 1.7 33s, 8v and 16v, plus the Alfetta GTV 2.5 of Nev Simpson (the eventual winner) and John Griffiths in a 156 2.5V6. After 2nd places at Castle Combe and Silverstone, Kevin completed his season with drove a superb drive to 2nd in class at Oulton Park. Kevin kept his 2.5 for the 2004, winning with it a Oulton, while Roger took the step of fitting a 3 litre engine to his 155 and enjoyed an excellent season to win Class D. At the end of the year he would sell the car to Graham Seager having decided to prepare a GTV for 2005. Kevin would keep his 155 for two more seasons, finishing 2nd in D in 2006 behind Roger’s GTV.
Graham Seager took to the 155 pretty quickly and battled for points with Roger during 2005, to win class D by a mere 2 points. The following year saw Graham retire on several occasions but Kevin Evans upheld 155 honour with a fine 2nd in class which included a win at Donington. 2006 would be Kevin’s last 155 year as he too had his eyes on a GTV and sold the 155 to John Pogson to race in 2007. Both John and Graham suffered from a lack of entries in the class but on the occasions when they were racing together, Graham had the upper hand. Nonetheless, Pogson amassed enough point to win the class, despite handing over to one of his team, Matt Shaw for a race at Snetterton. John sold the car later and we believe it went hillclimbing.
Another name had entered the 155 list for 2005, was that of John Day who now had the ex Tim Dackombe car repainted black and prepared by Bianco. This replaced the 146 he had been racing. John enjoyed several Class E podiums, including a second place at Silverstone. Thereafter he only did two races with the car in 2006. He also represented the Championship with the 155 at “Race Car Live” at Brands at the end of 2004.
Barry McMahon and Graham Seager both used the Peak Alfa 155 in 2008, Barry getting the best results, second at Brands Hatch and Donington. Michael Walsh had forsaken his GTV for the ex Ron Davidson 155, now repainted in a very smart gold livery. Michael enjoyed some good races with it, including a second in class at Silverstone, finishing third in the class at the end of the year. He only did one race in 2009, fourth again Silverstone.
Championship Co-ordinator Andy Robinson started racing with the ex Graham Seager 155 in 2010, finishing 4th in Class C with a best finish of third at Rockingham and then second to Sarah Heels’ 147 GTA in 2011. The lure of extra power and move to Modfied class A1 would follow. There was then something a gap in the story until Ian Brookfield filled a long held desire to prepare and race a 3 litre 155 which appeared in time for 2017 season. The opening races at Silverstone brought a seemingly incurable fuel feed problem but by its third appearance at Snetterton this appeared to have been fixed. But sometimes dreams don’t work out and at Festival Italia Ian got involved with the two Fiat Puntos that were racing with us at the time. Contact sent Ian hard into the pit road barrier, the 155 being very badly damaged. That might have been the end of the story if Scott Austin and friends had not come along, buying the wreck and rebuilding it in time for the 2018 season to run in the Power Trophy. That this was a sound decision was shown by Scott’s finishing record and a fine second in class and third overall behind Tom Hill and Paul Webster. Scott only raced in the first two rounds in 2019 before going on the perennial search for more power which he found in the shape of Fiat 20v turbo engine and a move into the Modified class. Probably the car’s most outstanding race in Scott’s hands has been on a damp track at the 2020 Festival Italia when he charged through from the back to claim an overall race win despite a last minute challenge from Graham Seager’s GTV. More recently, he was running in second place at Snetterton when a front tyre deflated causing inevitable retirement but Scott’s efforts with the 155 have added spice to the Championship and we hope that some of the problems that have afflicted the car, such as brakes at Donington will not recur.
The final car to add to the 155 story came in 2019 in the shape of Jamie Thwaites 3 litre V6 that had spent most of its life in Japan. It proved a difficult car to tame, with various transmission and fuel feed problems but nontheless finished third in the Power Trophy that year behind Dave Messenger and Paul Webster. We won’t forget the last minute overtake of Dave by Jamie on the entry to Mallory Park’s Gerards corner which took him to a race 2 win, Sadly Jamie seems to have deserted us for the moment but we hope that he will return in due course.
It has been a 26 year long story for the 155 in the Championship, with the Evans family crucial to the many successes achieved, either preparing the cars or driving them. Now Scott Austin has taken on the 155 mantle to good effect.
PURE ETCR GIULIA SHINES IN SPAIN
The Romeo Ferraris electric Giulia showed itself to be well on the pace at the second ETCR meeting at Motorland Aragon in Spain with a second and third in the Sunday Super Final. After the weekend, Operations Manager Michela Cerruti wrote that “we are continuing to reap great satisfaction from the Giulia ETCR. We arrived at Motorland not knowing what to expect because our rivals had already been able to carry out tests on that track during the winter. I am very happy for Rodrigo (Baptista) because he gave us great joy by conquering the first podium in our electric adventure”. The next round is on the very different street circuit in Copenhagen.
FORMULA W RETURNS- STILL WITH ALFA ROMEO POWER
The Alfa Romeo derived 1750 Turbo engine continues to provide the power for the Tatuus chassis being used again for the all women drivers championship that returns after a year gap due to Covid concerns. The Championship has seen a major boost by joining the Formula 1 support package with the first two rounds in Austria before the British GP meeting at Silverstone. So far, 2019 Champion Jamie Chadwick has taken one win while main rival Alice Powell has been on the top step of the podium twice. This weekend they are in Hungary where the battle will undoubtedly have ramped up with several drivers who have suffered problems so far, notably Bietske Visser, wanting to make their mark.
CARLOS REUTEMANN 1942 – 2021
It was sad to read of the death recently of Argentinian Grand Prix driver Carlos Reutemann. So near to being a World Champion with Williams one tends to forget Carlos Reutemann’s connections with Alfa Romeo. In 1974 he drove in three races for the Autodelta with second place finishes in the Nurburgring and Imola 1000kms, sharing with Rolf Stommelen. At the time he was also leading the successful Brabham-Cosworth team in Formula 1 but in 1976 came the adventure with the Alfa Romeo flat 12 engine. For Reutemann this was a lost year as his Martini sponsored Brabham Alfa proved either unreliable or uncompetitive, only finishing in three of the 13 races with a best result of fourth in the Spanich GP. Before the year was over he left Brabham to become a controversial Ferrari driver. His best years would come later with the Williams team before retiring suddenly in 1982 after which he would enter politics in Argentina to become Governor of Santa Fe Province.
Over the years we have had a number of “different” spectators. Here the Mallory Park ducks take a look around the paddock.
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