If the last three weekends of national motorsport activity are anything to go by, the large entries for all the major clubs’ meetings have shown pent-up demand to be outstripping the effects of increasing costs.
Whether this can continue as the rises in energy bills start to bite remains to be seen. The 750 Motor Club opened its season at Croft last weekend and the entry seems to have held up well. It is now only two weeks before the opening rounds of this year’s Hitek Alfa Romeo Championship on the Silverstone National circuit and we look forward to assembling a representative grid. We hope that the owners of some of the quick 33s that are still around will realise that there is now a class aimed directly at them, and that they would have a genuine shot at winning the championship overall.
FORMULA 1 RETURNS TO MELBOURNE
One can but admire the persistence of Formula 1 in keeping the show on the road and no where was this more true than in making sure that team equipment reached Melbourne in time. It would appear that containers full of equipment destined for the Australian race were on board a ship that was unlikely to get there in time. No panic then!! It was diverted to Singapore where the containers were offloaded and put onto two Boeing cargo planes for a quick flight. Everything is now safely in Albert Park and the race can go ahead to the relief of the teams, organisers and the super enthusiastic Australian crowd – not to mention those who will be watching on TV or listening on radio. Actually it would seem that there are five sets of equipment which are spread around the world during a racing season – the logistics must be frightening!
ALFA SHOW UP WELL IN THE OPENING ROUNDS
To score points in the opening round of the “new F1 era” 2022 Championship in Bahrain was an achievement of which the Sauber Alfa team can be rightly proud and had it not been for a clutch/startline problem that left Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guaynu floundering could have been even better. As it was, Bottas recoverd to finish a fighting 6th while Zhou took the final championship point in 10th place. Their fastest laps were 7th and 9th quickest respectively after Bottas had qualified an excellent 6th, leaving him well satisfield with his move to Alfa Romeo.
The war in Ukraine had only affected Formula 1 indirectly , but having missiles fired at a fuel refinery only a few miles down the road from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah circuit was quite another, near enough to make practising drivers think their cars were on fire! Frankly I was amazed that everyone didn’t join Ralf Schumacher and the Sky TV crew, quitting immediately, but politics, money and the desire for the show to go on made a strong enough case for the programme to go ahead.. Has there been a similar situation in Grand Prix history – I can’t think of one. Whatever, all the practice sessions, qualifying took place. For Alfa, Bottas again got his C42 into Q3 and would start 8th with Zhou in 12th – still a good result. In the race, it looked as though Bottas would certainly finish in the points again but his car started to overheat with 14 laps to go and he was forcd to retire. Still, he had scored an 8 in the “Autosport” driver ratings. Zhou worked his way up to 11th despite another clutch issue and coming to the notice of the race stewards for exceeding track limits.
And then there is the matter of 3kg! Alfa had worked very hard to see that the C42 was right on the original minimum weight limit of 800kg. And then, the FIA decided in their wisdom that because other teams were having difficulty in reaching the limit, that they would raise to it to 803kg. Might seem a very small change but in f1 car terms it is a lot and our friends at Hinwil were understandably aggrieved.
The Melbourne Albert Park circuit has been much modified since the last race there in 2019 with the aim of encouraging more overtaking and better racing. I am quite sure, though, that after the missiles and “under the lights” of Jeddah, it was the welcome offered during the weekend by 400,000 or so dedicated Australian fans and back to racing in daylight that made for a happy F1 circus.
The Sauber Alfa team were ken to get back to the points scoring form they showed in Bahrain and Valtteri Bottas pushed hard in the race to 8th place (and 4 points) showing that he has lost none of the ability to race hard while in the rather unusual role he played as Lewis Hamilton’s team mate at Mercedes. “I really enjoyed the race today” he said afterwards “close racing and battles beginning to end. Zhou Guanyu just missed taking the fina point but considering it was his first visit to Melbourne, his performance was appreciated by Team Principal, Fred Vasseur. Now it is on to Imola over the weekend April 23rd/24th
I was very sad to hear recently that Martin Colvill had died after a lengthy illness. Many will remember that Martin was an enthusiastic supporter of the Alfa Championship in the very early days and, together with his business partner, Bobby Bell, provided the Bell & Colvill Trophy which was first awarded to Peter Cabrol as overall winner in 1983. Martin and his wife Linda also delighted us the previous year by racing two “straight out of the showroom” Alfasud Ti’s in the Brands Hatch round.
Martin coming home an excellent 4th in the handicap event. He went on to race successfully in historic events, with many successes in a GT40, and then a Can-Am Lola-Chevrolet and was he was a prominent member of the BRDC, leading them through many difficulties as a Board member. Bell & Colvill were Alfa Romeo dealers for many years and I remember being asked to help out by Martin and Linda on their stand at the London Motor Show when they were promoting their right hand drive conversions of the Series 4 Spider. Our condolences go out to Linda and their family.
A LOOK BACK AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSES IN 2012
The Championship continued with its 6 class structure in 2012 and a 14 round calendar spread over 9 race meetings which meant that some were single headers. Alfashop remained as our title sponsors again with Graham Heels continuing as co-ordinator. However, it was becoming clear that that there would have to be changes in the future with possible amalgamation or a complete re-think to make the numbers in each class sustainable. Having said that, the year produced a nail-biting final when Neil Smith, having raced the Emma Karwacki 147 in Class E all year, brought out his WTCC Class A1 156 for the last two races at Donington, in an effort to notch enough points to defeat Roger Evans who himself had switched from his familiar GTV to the rebuilt Sarah Heels 147 GTA mid year, running in Class C. The whole thing was nearly scuppered by early morning fog that covered the Donington circuit which could have given us that unsatisfactory anti-climax of cancelled races. Luckily, at the last possible moment, visibility improved and a revised programme went ahead. This meant that Roger Evans started one point clear of Neil and provided that he continued the Class C domination he had recently enjoyed, he would take his first championship title, 13 years after he first took part. Despite a couple of tense moments as we watched the timing screens, Roger did all that was required of him, ending just 2 points clear of Neil who was a double race winner that day.
Unusally, neither of the top two overall won the class in which they completed the year. Neil Smith only raced the 156 three times, including a losing battle with Adie Hawkins newly supercharged 33 at Brands Hatch. Roger started the year in Class A1 before his switch to Class C, winning at Silverstone (twice) and Snetterton. Barry McMahon ran strongly at times in an ex Swedish and Danish championship 156, found by Paul Plant, taking a class win at Cadwell but undoubtedly Adie Hawkins – who won the only three races he contested, at Snetterton and Brands, would have been a class and championship contender if he had been able to race more. As it was, Guy Hale took A1 through consistency and wins at Cadwell and Castle Combe. Anthony George only raced his 156 Turbo occasionally, taking a fine win at Rockingham while Steve Dymoke appeared with an ex ETCC156 he had sourced in Portugal and managed a second in class at Cadwell
Class A1 results:
- Guy Hale (147 3.2 GTA) – 146 points
- Barry McMahon (156 2.0) – 105
- Roger Evans (GTV 3.2 s/ch) – 65
Class A2 suffered from a lack of numbers and unreliability, but that shouldn’t detract from John Griffiths efforts with his 156, gathering enough points to pass Bryan Shrubb (33 16v) who had withdrawn mid season after a major engine disaster. Chris Snowdon had a very disappointing year with the Lahoma 16v 33, suffering two non starts and two retirements, while the only other car in the class, Nick Anderson’s 33 disappeared after Silverstone with more engine problems that were never resolved.
Class A2 results:
- John Griffiths (156 2.0) – 64 points
- Bryan Shrubb (33 1.8 16v) – 53
Class B was a home for some of the older cars in the championship, providing some excellent races for the 3 litre 75s of Robin Eyre-Maunsell and Clive Hodgkin and the 33 16v, the 2002/2005 Championship winning car that Anthony George had decided was easier to race regularly than his A1 156. Robin took top spot at Brands Hatch and Donington while Clive enjoyed three straight wins at Oulton Park and Cadwell. All this left Anthony as the end-year class winner from Robin and Clive. An interesting arrival in the championship was the (smoking!) GT Diesel of Darrell Wilson, taking a third in class at the end of the year at Donington.
Class B Results
- Anthony George (33 16v 2.0) – 126 points
- Robin Eyre-Maunsell (75 3.0 V6) – 94
- Clive Hodgkin (75 3.0 V6) – 60
Class C started with a bang, literally, at Silverstone when Sarah Heels and her 2011 class winning 147 GTA were eliminated in a multi car accident at Copse on the first lap of race 1. This immediately changed the dynamic of Class C as Sarah decided not to have the badly damaged 147 rebuilt and sold the remains to Roger Evans who engaged in a major project to have it back racing later in the year. Meanwhile, the class saw some close racing between the GTVs of Ray Foley, Graham Seager and, occasionally, Vincent Dubois until Roger appeared on the scene and proceeded to dominate. However it was Graham who emerged as class champion, with early wins at Silverstone and many second places, good enough to place him third overall at the end of the year. Ray Foley was also a happy winner at Snetterton and Cadwell.
Class C results:
- Graham Seager (GTV 3.0) – 203 points
- Roger Evans (147 GTA) – 194
- Ray Foley (GTV 3.2) – 162
Class D almost completely disappeared in 2012, despite the efforts of Championship Co-ordinator Graham Heels to raise some interest. However, at the final Donington, two names from the past – Leon Bailey and Dean Hamilton – emerged in their 8v 33s to join the similar car of Dave Lambourn. It was Leon Bailey who had the best of it and was rewarded with the championship class win with Dean as runner-up.
Class D results:
- Leon Bailey (33 1.7 8v) – 44 points
- Dean Hamilton (33 1.7 8v) – 36
- Dave Lambourn (33 1.7 8v) – 32
And so, finally, we come to the best supported group in the Championship – Class E. Twenty one drivers competed in the class during the year and once again gave us some closely contested racing. Neil Smith had taken over Emma Karwacki’s 2011 championship winning 147 and was the dominant factor throughout, taking 9 wins from 9 starts. However, his absences allowed for some other well merited results. James Ford took fine wins at Snetterton and Donington (twice) and showed himself to ba a consistently quick performer. Matt Daly enjoyed a successful on-off in the Spur Garage 156 at Snetterton, winning the second race there, while Chris Finch also enjoyed a victory at Brands. Strong performances also came from Andy Inman, Dave Messenger (particularly at Rockingham), Peter Tervet and James Thomas which all added up to good entertainmet. Sarah Heels had raced brother Graham’s 147 in E for most of the year but Adie Hawkins took it over at the end of the year to take three second places at Castle Combe behind Neil Smith and then at Donington where he had to give way to James Ford. Paul Plant raced his 147 twice, taking second places at Snetterton and Brands Hatch There was a strong group of 145 drivers – Tom Eastwood, Dave Peddie and Martin Jones. 4th places for Tom at Snetterton and Martin at Oulton were their best results. Elsewhere in the class we noted the arrival of ex international superstar footballer Luther Blissett with a 156, which certainly woke up the media, while there was also a driver who was to make a major impact on Class E over the next couple of years – James Bishop.
Class E Results:
- Neil Smith (147 2.0) – 194 points
- James Ford (156 2.0) – 164
- Andy Inman (156 2.0) – 125
ARCA also ran two pre ’91 races in 2012, at Cadwell Park where Ted Pearson took victory wih his glorious Alfasud Ti while Anthony George was the winner at Snetterton. However the entries were disappointing despite efforts that were ongoing to get AROC more involved.
BIANCO GIULIETTA IN PIT STOP SILVERSTONE
A lot of work has gone on to make the Barry McMahon/Bianco Giulietta a more competitive proposition and although it still has ECU issues, it went well enough for Paul Plant and Richard Ford to finish 3rd in class (won by a BMW Z4)at Silverstone (GP circuit) in a 45 minute pit stop race as part of a Britcar programme, with the unlikely title of “Uncle Luke’s Snetterton Saloon with Z cars championship”. They were also 15th overall after an amazingly varied 46 cars made up the grid and Paul reckoned that only time lost under the pitstop handicap stopped finishing higher. Barry McMahon had great hopes after topping Class B (also 4th overall) but ran into problems during the race
YESTERDAY TV AT BROOKLANDS
Have you been watching the excellent Yesterday TV (Channel 27) 10 part series – “Secrets of the Museum” – featuring cars, bikes, buses and planes that are part of either the permanent displays or arrive for special themed days at Brooklands? I have been thoroughly entertained by the efforts to get a whole variety of engines running using expert knowledge built up over many years, backed up by the enthusiasm of the many volunteers who regularly meet up on site. Just to see their delight when something bursts into life is worth it, even if we know that some things are staged. There are some episodes that stick in the mind such as the Routemaster on the skidpan, a pre 1900 bike that hadn’t run for many years emerging for a run and the Napier Railton up against the Hassan Bentley at the MIRA test track. I think this can all be found on “catch-up” if you have a free evening or two.
Now here’s a mystery – set-up for a short wheelbase Alfa special perhaps?
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