Illness prevented the publication of this Friday Fix last week and, as a result, it is somewhat out of date.
In particular, the British GP has now taken place and Alfa Romeo featured for all the wrong reasons due to the horrific accident to Zhou Guanyu from which he miraculously emerged unhurt. In the race Bottas had climbed into the points but was called in to retire as the gearbox of his C42 was about to fail. The Classic Alfas were down at Lydden Hill where car owner Richard Melvin invited George Osborne to replace an unwell Chris Snowdon in his Alfetta GTV. The result – 2nd in qualifying and two hard fought race wins against Ben Colburn’s Sprint GT – was very special as George had never driven the Alfetta before. We will be reporting on this in due course.
Although the entry for Croft was not large, the quality was there and some excellent racing resulted, particularly among the closely matched Twin Sparks. This was caught superbly by the 750 Motor Club’s TV live streaming and, sitting at home, I was able to enjoy all the action. Next up, we have Anglesey – using both the Coastal and International circuits – with the backdrop of the Irish Sea. If the weather is kind to us, I can’t think of a better location to go racing and I hope that the final entry reflects this.
ALFA CONSOLIDATE IN CANADA
Everyone in F1 was looking forward to a return to the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal and the Sauber Alfa team were hoping that they could enjoy a strong outing with the C42. As it was they were in for a surprise by the performance of Zhou Guanyu who not only got into Q3 but then had a great race to finish a fine 8th, gaining an “Autosport” score of 9 in the process. Bottas had not managed to get out of Q2 but in the race raced strongly to 7th place although helped in the end by the appearance of the Safety Car. So, two good points finishes and Alfa now have 51 points in the Constructors’ Championship table, lying 6th. Team Principal Fred Vasseur was recently able to report that the team were out of their spare parts “special measures” which means that Bottas and Zhou can give it that little bit extra this weekend.
FOLLOW-UP PICTURES FROM 2013
Here are some more pictures of the 2013 season, following on from FF120. In the next Friday Fix we will be taking a look at what happened in the classes in 2014.
CLASSIC ALFAS MOVE ON TO THRUXTON.
After the season opener at Mallory Park, the HRDC’s Classic Alfa Challenge moved on to Thruxton on June 13th as part of what has become an annual Historic Festival. Nowhere near the size of Classic Silverstone, the quality of the circuit means that it deserves to have strong support and so the entry for this year’s meeting was something of a disappointment. Unfortunately a number of factors were at play here – including date clashes and the rising costs of just getting there. However, the addition of James Wright’s 75 Twin Spark, Richard Merrell’s (105 series GT Junior 2 litre) and Ben Colburn (1750 Berlina 2.0) lifted the level of competition on this fast and demanding circuit. Qualifying on a dry track saw the top five (including Jonny Horsfield’s Alex Jupe prepared Alfetta GTV) covered by just 1.8”, so a close race was in prospect. David Alexander (Sprint GT) and Gavin Watson (Giulietta Ti 1600) headed the “Monza” class while Sud honour was being upheld again by Richard Ibrahim in his smart Sprint 1700.
At the start of the 30 minute race it was James Wright’s 75 that made an initial break into the lead and held on to it until well into lap 2 ahead of Ambrogio Perfett and Chris Snowdon but by the end of the lap “order” was restored with Snowdon and Perfetti occupying the first two places although top three were covered by under a second. Anyone familiar with the Classic Alfa Challenge would have noted a potential for the podium, if not the race win, in Richard Merrell who had enjoyed a cautious qualifying but by lap 5 was up to third place, chasing Perfetti who, himself, was right on the heels of Chris Snowdon. Richard Merrell now started to hustle Chris Snowdon and on lap 11, coming into the chicane it all got a bit exciting and the resulting mix up on the grass gave James Wright the perfect opportunity to sail through and arrive at the line with a 4” advantage over Perfetti, But with almost half the race still to run he was going to have to work hard to stay ahead.
However, it was some 15” before Snowdon and Merrell made an appearance and the subsequent chase proved ineffective. When the flag came out even Perfetti had drifted away from James Wright – the gap 7” at the finish while Richard Merrell was 20” further back. Chris Snowdon was back in 4th place while a satisfied 5th was Richard Ibrahim. It was good to see series sponsor Richard Norris finishing 8th to win the Monza class with his Sprint GT. An unhappy late retirement was Gavin Watson’s Giulietta Ti while Geoff Turral (Sprint GT) and Ben Colburn (Berlina) had retired earlier.
It was all as case of “kiss and make up after the race but you couldn’t be other than happy for James Wright (and father Jonathan) who have supported the Challenge from its inception in 2018.
Also on the Thruxton programme was a race for the Sixties Touring Car Challenge with U2TC. Andrew and Max Banks had entered their Giulia Sprint GTA but must have been disappointed to find only 7 others on the entry list, even if one of them was the quick Lotus Cortina of engine builder Neil Brown. In the race it was no contest as the Banks brothers drew away, remarkably evenly matched, to win by 7.1”
ALL PICTURES FROM THRUXTON Courtesy of JEFF BLOXHAM
GERRY MARSHALL TROPHY AT SNETTERTON
Does Julius Thurgood ever stop coming up with new ideas? His latest is the Gerry Marshall Trophy for pre 1983 Group 1 and Group 1 ½ Touring Cars. From the Alfa Romeo point of view it would include the GTV6 which had been a mainstay of the European Touring Car Championship, first appearing 1982. A splendid 29 car entry was assembled, including examples of the dramatic Rover SD1 and 3 litre Ford Capri. However, from our point of view there was a healthy nine Alfas in the entry, including the GTV6s of Chris Snowdon/Paul Clayson and Jake Margulies. It was good to see the ex Dealer Team Alfasud Ti of Chris Whelan which he was down to share with James Colburn. The East Anglian contingent were out in force with Stephen Chase and Micky Bolton (Alfetta GTVs), Paul Webster sharing Richard Drake’s Sud Ti (but sadly a non starter) while other Alfettas were in the hands of Will Morton and Jonny Horsfield. Finally there was the 116 Giulietta of Frank Horsfield.
The race was run over 45 minutes and was pretty well dominated by a Rover SD1 but there was an interesting contest for 2nd place between a Ford Mustang, VW Scirocco and another Rover. An interesting 6th was the evocative Ford Datapost Fiesta which used to give Alfa Romeo Dealer team a hard time. Highest placed Alfa was Jake Margulies GTV6 with Jonny and Frank Horsfield 11th and 13th. It was only when Chris Snowdon jumped into the “Alpilatte” GTV6 at the half way stage it started to go quickly, motoring to 14th amongst the 19 finishers.
“WAKE UP MILANO!”
Big cities are noisy places but Milan must have been even more so when Alfa Romeo Team Orlen took the C42, with Valtterti Bottas at the wheel for a run round the city streets on June 24th to celebrate Alfa’s 112th Anniversary. Setting off from the Piazza Duomo the route took Valtteri through the most iconic landmarks of the Italian city, including Piazza San Babila, Porta Nuova, the majestic Stazione Centrale and the futuristic City Life district before arriving at Alfa Romeo’s new flagship store in the Via Gattamelata. This is a site, of course, that is of great and historical importance to Alfa Romeo where, as ALFA, production first started in 1910.
Mind you, this is not the first time that Alfa Grand Prix cars have run on the streets of Milan. With the war only just over, a team of 158s ran in the Circuito di Milano in September 1946. Carlo Felice Trossi was the winner on that occasion, leading home Achille Varzi and Consalvo Sanesi, while Nino Farina retired. The following year, with Monza not ready for racing, Milan saw the Italian Grand Prix on its streets, with Trossi and Varzi again leading the way.
TOO MUCH TO TAKE IN?
I was going through some old trophies recently and came across one going back to 1972, presented to AROC as regional winners of The Castrol Quiz. At the time this was quite a big deal as most of the biggest clubs, and teams from the major magazines, fought it out all over the country during the winter months. For a couple of years I was part of the AROC team and the club magazine records our visit to Gloucester where we came up against strong teams that seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of rallying which we didn’t really know too much about – for example, who came 6th in the 1962 Scottish Rally? We were also somewhat surprised to find that the reason so many of our opposition were quick on the buzzers was that there were many question repeated and that teams had been sending “spies” to other rounds to tape record questions and answers!
Anyway, this made me reflect on what has happened over the intervening years and how much you would have had to absorb to compete effectively now. You only have to look at a couple of issues of “Autosport” to realise that! Maybe quizzes would have to be grouped in various categories but apart from at very local level (Area sections for example) I think the concept is outdated.
Over the years there have been a number of drivers whose careers I have followed. It was sad, therefore, to hear of the death of Tony Brooks at the age of 90. As far as I know, he never raced any kind of Alfa Romeo but he did drive for Ferrari and became a leading Lancia and Fiat dealer in the UK. I was certainly at Aintree when he and Stirling Moss took that ground breaking win in the British Grand Prix with Vanwall in 1957. A year later I was at Monza when the Vanwall and Ferrari teams fought it out. He had a brilliant recovery drive from 9th place to overtake Hawthorn’s Ferrari just before the finish to take an unexpected victory. I saw him drive the last front engine Ferrari Formula 1 car (in 1959) at Monza and also have a fine day at Goodwood as the Ferrari team tried to resist Aston Martin’s successful challenge to take Sports Car Manufacturer’s title. Somehow, his later seasons with Yeoman Credit Coopers and BRM didn’t have the same attraction and I was not surpised when he retired to concentrate on business and family at the age of 29, He was undoubtedly one of the best, but most underrated drivers of his era. If you ever manage to find a copy of Brooks’ authobiography, “Poetry in Motion”, grab it. He was very proud of writing it all himself – no ghosting- and it is an excellent read.
NATIONAL ALFA DAY – Sunday, August 7th
If you thought you had missed National Alfa Day, fear not. For various reasons it is a bit delayed this year but will take place on Sunday, August 7th, at the Bicester Heritage Centre which is proving to be a good permanent home for the event. Tickets (£13.95) are now available and full details are available on the Alfa Romeo Owners Club website. Last year there were over 1000 Alfas on site and with an ever increasing membership, the Club will be looking to see even more this year.