The past month or so has seen plenty of Alfa racing activity, with a very successful Festival Italia topping the bill.
The Alfa Championship report has already appeared on the website, celebrating our biggest grid of the year while this was matched by the HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge which also produced another healthy entry when it appeared at Castle Combe on Bank Holiday Monday. One more success was National Alfa Day back in July when AROC brought together a record gathering and also celebrated reaching the 4,000 member level for the first time. What a pity that more don’t want to come racing! On the International front the Romeo Ferraris Giulia has begun to shine in the ETCR but the F1 team is still searching for elusive championship points while planning driver changes for 2022. Our season with 750 Motor Club comes to an end at Oulton Park on Saturday October 9th when we hope that a strong entry will contest the double header at this fabulous circuit. And finally, don’t forget the Awards Dinner on Saturday November 27th, details of which can be found elsewhere on the website.
ELECTRIC GIULIA PROVES A WINNER IN COPENHAGEN
The street circuit in the Danish capital of Copenhagen is one that is probably not too familiar to most racing enthusiasts. However, over the weekend August 7th/8th it provided the Romeo Ferraris Giulia ETCR team with a very welcome but totally unexpected 1 – 2. The winner was Philip Eng , released by BMW to make his debut for the team, who led home regular Stefano Coletti in the all important Super Final B. The Alfas carried tribute stickers to Aldo Cerruti who was one of the founders of the team who died recently. And it was fitting that his daughter Michela, in her first appearance as Team Principal, should be able to celebrate such and important success.
The Hungaroring saw the ETCR in action again on August 22nd, Philip Eng winning the A Super Final which leaves the Giulia in contention for the manufacturer’s title while Rodrigo Baptista has amassed enough points with his Giulia to keep him in contention for the driver’s award.
JAMES COLBURN CONTINUES TO DOMINATE CLASSIC RACES
The star of this year’s HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge races has undoubtedly been James Colburn with his 2 litre Giulia Sprint, winning all the races held so far – Thruxton, Lydden (twice), Brands Hatch and Castle Combe. Chris Snowdon had hoped to be able to match James with his Alfetta GTV but niggling trouble at Lydden and then a gasket failure at Brands prevented him from doing so. At Castle Combe he started third on the grid having just been pipped by Ambrogio Perfetti (2000 GTV) and then in the 25 minute re-started race he battled with Ambrogio all the way through, eventually managing to pass him with a lap to go. You can watch all the exciting action on the CRS website.
It was good to note amongst the 28 Classic Alfa drivers who eventually took to the track at Brands that so many had, at one time or another, been Alfa Championship competitors. Top finisher amongst them, in fourth place, was the ever improving Jonny Horsfield with his Alfetta GTV. A fine 6th was Stephen Chase in his recently restored ex Jon Dooley/Willhire 24 Hours class winning Alfetta followed hom closely by Antony Ross, giving his quick 1750 Spider another outing. The Alfasud Ti battle (in 9th and 10th places) was won by Richard Drake from Chris Whelan while others to note were Will Morton (Alfetta GTV), Gavin Watson (winner of the “Monza” class) in his Giulietta 1600 Ti, John Symes (GTAm replica), Richard Ibrahim (Alfasud Sprint), Micky Bolton (who won two Alfa races as far back as 1983) with an Alfetta, Max Haycocks (Sprint GT) and Simon Hampton Alfetta. Simon was having a busy day as he was also sharing a 33 in the Alfa Championship. We were also pleased to see James Wright having another good run into third place with his 75 although he couldn’t quite match Ben Colburn’s Berlina.
It was interesting that there were several different names that appeared in the Castle Combe entry list, most notable of which was Tim Child who started from the back of the grid and brought his 2000 GTV home an excellent 7th. Alex Jupe, who had retired at Brands, went well to claim 6th place, just beaten home by “team mate” Jonny Horsfield.
Well done again to Julius Thurgood for bringing together two such excellent grids. There is one more chance to see Classic Alfas in action again, at Silverstone, on the full GP circuit on Sunday, October 31st. Five races are planned for 2022, including we are pleased to say, at Festival Italia.
If you want to find outstanding collections of pictures from Castle Combe, take a look at David Harbey’s website, logging on to Flickr for his selection of event albums.
NOTES FROM THE FESTIVAL
Festival Italia is always an opportunity to meet up with many old friends and this year’s edition was no different. It was good to see the Healey/Freeman family particularly as Mel’s old rival Emma Karwacki was making a re-appearance. We asked Mel if she had any plans to return but it seemed that it was unlikely. I think the last time we had two of our women competitors racing together was when Mel and Stacey Dennis both competed at Brands in 2018. Stacey was in action again at the this year’s Festival. Class winner in 2000 with a GTV6, Nick Suiter, who these days is much involved with the Thames Valley Section of AROC was a cheery presence as were Chris Taylor, watching how his old Berlina got on in the hands of Ben Colburn in the Classic Alfa race (2nd as it turned out!) and “Ding” Boston making a rare Alfa appearance rather than with his usual Riley 1.5. “Ding” of course is the leading light in the very active Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation. We were grateful to Jonathan and James Wright for bringing along the ex Jon Dooley John West liveried 75 3 litre joining Rob and Harri Kirby (John West GTV6), Stephen Chase’s Alfetta GTV and the Napolina bedecalled Alfasud Ti’s of Chris Whelan and Richard Drake in an Alfa Romeo Dealer Team line-up during the lunch break. “Auto Italia” contributor Peter Collins paid us a visit as did Steve Fox who continues in his active marshalling role while Ron Davidson was around with the Bianco team all day. It was also nice to chat with Ian Brookfield, both us sad that Matt Daly couldn’t be racing his 145 but expressing optimism that he might be out again in 2022.
I should like to thank official commentators Chris Dawes and Matt Suckling for making me so welcome in the commentary box for all the Alfa Championship and Classic Alfa sessions. This was nearly two hours of talking during the day.
CONTINUING OUR LOOK AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSES OVER THE YEARS – THIS TIME 2010
2009 had been a reasonably strong season and we had high hopes that 2010 would continue in the same vein. The year’s points table might give the impression that this was so, with 53 drivers taking part in the 14 rounds, mostly single headers but with double races at Cadwell, Anglesey and Brands Hatch. In reality it was a constant battle to put together a decent entry with a low point at Rockingham in July. However, our perseverance was rewarded by excellent grids for the final two rounds at Silverstone and Donington, helped a little by our Irish Fiat friends and we were optimistic that 2011 would see that trend continue.
With a change in the class structure which split the Modified class into two – A1 and A2 – with a capacity split at 2 litres with a few special cases on the way, one of them being the sequential gearbox in Neil Smith’s fabulous ex WTCC 156, it was hoped that we could expand the modified field but this didn’t produce what we were looking for and we were relying on the Production Modfied (B) and Production classes (C, D and E) to keep the numbers up and give us the best racing.
We were supported for another season by Alfashop, Toyo and MMC Motorsport Insurance (through Andy Hancock) with race meetings organised by the BRSCC, Britcar and SRO. The Championship Panel – Graham Heels, Gary Walker, Clive Hodgkin, Lee Penn, Neil Smith and David Thomas continued to keep things humming along behind the scenes and make plans for the future.
An engine disaster in the very first round at Castle Combe meant that Neil Smith missed five races and didn’t reappear until we went to Anglesey mid season. Thereafter, he was never challenged except at Brands in qualifying and at Silverstone where we saw the return of Tim Lewis with his Alfasud Sprint, Tim taking the win there after a hard contest. The final round at Donington saw Neil dominant again and he was the winner of the championship class with ease. Keith Waite and Chris Oxborough did four rounds apiece to find 2nd and 3rd in class while other good results were achieved by Alastair Iles in his 147 GTA and Andy Page, carrying on with his everable Giulietta Turbo.
Looking through the results file, there are other names that made brief appearances in A1 such as Ian Brookfield who took two fourth places on Anglesey with his 164, Sam Laird finishing third in one of the Brands Hatch races and Clive Hodgkin (75 3.0) taking a fourth place at Rockingham. Joining our list of women racers, Bryony Snowdon ran father Chris’s 75 3 litre on two occasions, finishing 4th in class at Snetterton.
|1. Neil Smith (156 2.0 WTCC) 176
|2. Keith Waite (75 3.0 V6) 74
|3. Chris Oxborough (75 3.0 s/ch) 63
The idea of creating A2 was to encourage some of the more modern 2 litre cars and also some of the 33s that were still around. Chris Snowdon campaigned the Lahoma (John Sismey) 33 16v most effectively and in Neil Smith’s absence profited with race/class wins at Snetterton and Cadwell. Thereafter there were class wins at Snetterton, Oulton and Silverstone, leaving Chris a comfortable A2 championship winner although had runner-up Steve Dymoke competed in the early season races, the result might have been different. Steve had bought Neil Smith’s 2004/2008 championship wining car and adapted to it very well scoring three overall 2nd place finishes. Nick Anderson only ran in three races with his 33 8v as he was busy setting up a new bakery school business but was well on the pace at Snetterton. Louise West brought a very smart new 33 16v to Oulton, only to have it severely damaged after which it was not seen again.
|1. Chris Snowdon (33 1.9 16v) 101
|2. Steve Dymoke (156 2.0) 76
|3. Nick Anderson (33 1.7 8v) 29
Class B was a little bit of a hybrid but again proved capable of offering some excellent racing between many different models. In 2010 it was mainly 156 versus 75 until Anthony George came along to win the class with his 33 16v at the final two races although Nev Simpson’s Alfetta 2.5 V6 was a strong contender until it was seriously damaged at Cadwell. However, present all the time – missing only one race and having only one retirement – was John Griffiths with his 156. His efforts, and those of Bianco Auto Developments and Harry White in particular, not only brought him the Championship class but a well deserved 4th overall.
The Avon Racing 75 3 litre shared by Robin Eyre-Maunsell and Peter Sloan gave them plenty of opportunity to shine and they finished the year 2nd and 3rd in the class. We should also mention Sam Laird who only raced twice, at Oulton and Brands Hatch, winning both times and Emma Karwacki (147) who shone on her appearances at Silverstone and Donington.
|1. John Griffiths (156 2.0) 196
|2. Robin Eyre-Maunsell (75 3.0 12v) 106
|3. Peter Sloan (75 3.0 12v/156 2.5V6) 106
The large capacity Production class had turned into what was one of the best classes in the Championship producing some excellent racing during the year. Highlights were provided by Chris Healey leading overall until the final lap at Castle Combe, Shaun Hazlewood (GTV 3.0) leading Chris Snowdon’s modified 33 on a wet track at Cadwell for half the race and an intense battle between Sarah Heels (147 GTA) and Graham Seager’s GTV at Rockingham. Despite his extreme frustration at the end of the season when his GTV was virtually destroyed by an errant manhole cover(!!) lurking in the wet grass at the side of the track at a wet Silverstone, Chris Healey had already done enough to keep the class win but only by a single point from Sarah. Chris enjoyed 6 wins and 10 podiums during the season.
Sarah Heels enjoyed a superb year, finishing 2nd in the class and 5th overall. The only downside was that she lost her 100% finishing record (held since 2004) when her gearchange fell apart at Brands. Graham Seager overhauled the unlucky Shaun Hazlewood, winning the class on three occasions, to finish 3rd, acknowledging the preparation skills of Roger Evans at Peak Alfa. Roger also had a role to play in the debut of Andy Robinson (155) while Ron Davidson re-appeared with his GTV, Dave Messenger continued to race his 75 3 litre effectively while on his only two appearances, Barry McMahon was a winner in another GTV 3 litre.
|1. Chris Healey (GTV 3.0 24v) 194
|2. Sarah Heels (147 GTV 3.2) 193
|3. Graham Seager (GTV 3.0 24v) 103
It has to be said that this was the “lame duck” class for most of the year, the old glory days of Class F long gone. However, by the end of the season there was something of a mini revival and we had hopes that this would continue into 2011. Throughout the year we watched the determination of a new driver to the Championship, Matt Abell, who came through thick and thin with determination and good humour, despite a constant misfire, a broken engine and rolling a borrowed car at Silverstone! But when it was possible, he had some excellent drives, notably Anglesey and Brands Hatch, which allowed him to win the class by 3 points from Steve Fletcher. It might have been different if Steve had been able to do more than five races in his 33 16v, but he did take a win at Silverstone and a second at Donington.
Third in D, joining the Championship at Brands for rounds 10 and 11 was Paul Plant’s dad, Tony Herbert with the ex James Burland 33. With two wins, a second and a third As with Steve Fletcher it would have been very interesting to see where he would have ended up had he done more races. Others to run occasionally in D were Paul Gillett (33 16v) and Leon Bailey (33 8v), Leon distinguishing himself with a class win at Donington when the class had its largest grid of the year.
|1. Matt Abell (33 1.7 8v) 89
|2. Steve Fletcher (33 1.7 16v) 86
|3. Tony Herbert (33 1.7 16v) 73
The outcome of Class E and, as it turned out, the Championship overall distilled down to a three way fight at the end of the year which didn’t perhaps reflect the reality of the season which had seen some intense and sometimes bruising competition between Mel Healey, Andy Inman, Ray Foley, Chris Finch and Paul Plant. Mel took three wins, Andy and Ray two apiece, Chris one and Paul an outstanding six. However, the fact that Mel was on the podium on no fewer than 11 occasions swung the balance her way and she emerged those important 7 points clear of Andy Inman to win the class and the championship title, as the first woman to do so. Andy Inman had a few scrapes along the way but, all importantly, finished 13 of the 14 races to be right in the title hunt at the end. 3rd in E, with the highest number of wins was 2009 champion Paul Plant who drove three different 156s during the year and crossed the line first with each of them.
Other drivers in E who made their mark included Andrew Bramah (147), Martin Jones and Keith Williams with their 145s while Autosport’s Ben Anderson had a one-off outing at Oulton in Graham Heels 147, finishing 4th in class but scoring no points as a guest driver.
|1. Mel Healey (156 2.0) 214
|2. Andy Inman (75 Twin Spark) 207
|3. Paul Plant (156 2.0) 128
At the awards dinner to celebrate the end of each season, we have had many special awards and that for 2010 was no exception.
KEVIN GRIFFITHS TROPHY: The most prestigious award was the Kevin Griffiths Trophy, usually given to the winner of the final race of the year. “I have always wanted to have my name on that” said Neil Smith after winning at Donington. His name joined the likes of Tim Lewis, Andy Page, Julian Birley and Ian Flux.
MOST IMPROVED DRIVER: Before announcing the winner of this award at the annual dinner I said “ there are some drivers who have been in the Championship so long that it is difficult to know if they are still improving or going backwards!” However, there was one driver whose progress was impossible to ignore. Getting a new car, having previously raced a 33 and a 156 was the motivation and with great support from family and team members at Bianco, Sarah Heels took her 147 GTA to 2nd in Class C (losing out to Chris Healey by just 1 point) and 5th overall.
BEST NEWCOMER: The winner of this award, Tony Herbert, didn’t race until Brands Hatch (Round 10) in August but immediately featured well, didn’t make mistakes and finished all four of the races he started, taking two class wins along the way.
PREPARERS AWARD: This is the equivalent of a Team’s award and always highly prized in the Championship. By virtue of the efforts of Sarah Heels, John Griffiths and Paul Plant in particular, the winner’s were BIANCO AUTO DEVELOPMENTS led by Gary Walker and Harry White.
There will be a more 2010 pictures with FF 114.
BERNARD COTTERELL 1953 – 2021
We were very sad to hear of the death recently of Bernard Cotterell. During his time as BRSCC Chairman (2003 to 2017), an International Clerk of the Course and more recently part of the 750 Motor Club team he was always very supportive of the Alfa Romeo Championship. He also served on the UK Motorsport Council and various UK Motorsport Committees, and was proud to be Clerk of the Course for both of the Grand Prix held at Silverstone in 2020. He was also Haymarket Publishing’s events director for events such as the Autosport Show. He was to lose a bravely fought seven year battle with leukaemia. To his partner Anne and large family, we send our sincere condolences.
BOTTAS JOINS ALFA FOR 2022 SEASON – RAIKKONEN RETIRES
The rumour that we put forward in FF 112 that Valtteri Bottas would join the Alfa Romeo F1 team for 2022, and beyond, has proved to be correct in the wake of George Russell being promoted at Mercedes at Lewis Hamilton’s team mate. For the past five years Bottas has had the uncomfortable situation of being on a series of one year contracts, so a deal that takes him to at least the end of 2024 will leave him with one less thing to worry about. Kimi Raikkonen, at the age of 41, has decided to retire from Formula 1 but may possibly become a consultant and ambassador for the Sauber Alfa Romeo team, only a cycle ride away from his home in Switzerland.
The other question mark is who will have the second Alfa seat. There has been constant talk of Antonio Giovanazzi being replaced, even by the much derided Nikita Mazepin with Russian family money but I’m not sure that politically Russian and Polish sponsorship, plus a Finnish number one driver, in the same team is such a good move. Giovanazzi himself was impressive in qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, ending up 7th, although he did not fare so well in the race itself. As Raikkonen had tested positive for Covid 19, we saw Robert Kubica in the C41 for the Dutch race at the last minute and this will continue for the Italian GP at Monza this weekend. If Giovanazzi doesn’t get the nod for 2022, there are plenty of drivers out there to choose from – Callum Illott, Stoffle Vandoorne, Theo Pouchaire – a very young favourite of the team – to name a few. My feeling is that continuity, and the Alfa connection, would be best served by leaving Giovanazzi in the role.
BARRY McMAHON HOLDS ON TO THIRD IN AUTOSPORT TABLE
Barry McMahon has continued to hold on to third place in the Autosport top 50 drivers list by virtue of his overall Alfa Championship wins with the 156 and two class wins with the Giulietta he shared with Paul Plant in Britcar Endurance.
Who got the job of sorting this lot out then?
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