Festival Italia

Festival Italia is one of those events that brings out old friends and supporters of the championship, both on the track and in the paddock. It was particularly pleasing to see the return of George Osborne with his pristine 75, now with 3.2 engine and to know that he hopes to race with us at both Silverstone and Donington. Another entry came from Simon Hampton who last raced in the championship in 2007 with the white “Panther” 33 that he shared with Mark Bevington.

He now has a yellow and white 33 8v that saw action briefly back in 2019/11 in the hands of Mario Lavergata. Simon has been racing in longer events, including a recent visit to Spa but, encouraged by Chris Snowdon, he decided that taking part in Festival Italia was a good way to see if he still enjoyed our 20 minute race format. As it turned out, he had a very successful weekend, finishing a fine 4th overall in race 1 and followed that with 3rd behind George Osborne and Dave Messenger in race 2. It was so good to see another 33 back in the championship, acting as a pointer to other owners who could actually have some enjoyable racing with cars that may have been hidden under tarpaulins for some time. Bring them out! And while on the subject of 33s, we have already had Keith Waite racing his green 1.5 but at Brands, son Tom made his racing debut with the car in the Allcomers race and although it was hardly going to compete with Ferraris, Ginettas and a Porsche 997(!) he far from disgraced himself and we hope that he will make his Alfa Championship debut before too long.

In the paddock it was a joy to have Martin Parsons’ parents, Jean and Jim,  with us, bringing back many memories of the days when they supported Martin throughout his time racing regularly, and successfully,  back in the 80s and 90s.

Ron Davidson was also there having tested his 164 on the Friday, as was Nick Anderson, telling us that he hadn’t had time to do his marshalling training as he had become involved with a historic racing team. Also out on the Friday was Riccardo Losselli with his 4C, now all stickered up and ready to race but still requiring some essential Motorsport UK approval. However, he told us that he was taking the car to the Spettacolo Sportivo Alfa Romeo meeting at Zandvoort the following weekend where he could race it in the Alfa Challenge. That seems a bizarre state of affairs! Stacey Dennis also came to visit us at Brands and only lack of funds is stopping her racing her 147 which is what she really wants to do – not sell it!

Mallory Thoughts

I was amused, when looking at the BRSCC’s website, to see that the circuit plan for Mallory shown was the bike track, complete with chicanes after the hairpin and Gerards and the left/right approaching the Esses which was built in the mid 2000s. I remember wandering over to look at the latter as I thought it was going to be used for car racing at some point. It would have significantly reduced the speed into the Esses but in the end it was only used by cars once, as far as I know, at a BARC meeting where a number of Rover V8s arrived in the braking area together, overshot the corner, and made a nonsense of the whole concept. Since then it has only been raced on by bikes. Bit of a waste really! Suffice it say that, this coming weekend, we shall be on the normal circuit, minus chicanes.

The Championship’s first visit to Mallory was in August 1982 when a 13 car field contested a 10 lap race in the rain with usual handicap format. The winner that day was a very surprised Phil Rowley in his Alfasud 1.5 Ti who had started with a 1 lap and 10” advantage over scratch man Peter Hilliard’s Alfetta GTV. However, Peter had started on slicks (I seem to recall he didn’t have any wets!) and after a couple of hairy slides decided a heavy crash was just round the corner and pulled off. Second car home, 10” behind Phil, was Richard Redding’s Alfasud 1.2 Ti ahead of the Peter Cabrol’s 1600 Junior Zagato and the Alfetta GTV of Roger Veall. There had been plenty of spins on the wet track none of which resulted in damage.

Looking through the photo archive, I came across an interesting Production Class startline photograph taken in March 1985. The front row, left to right, was eventual winner Bob Buttery (GTV6), Ian Jacobs (2000 Spider) and Richard D’Cruze (GTV6) with Graham Cossar’s GTV and the Alfetta GTV of Joel Wykeham on row 2 ahead of Colin Roberts (Giulietta), Peter Hilliard (33 1.5) and Paul O’Hanlon (2000 GTV). Bob and Ian fought throughout the 10 laps with only 0.9” dividing them at the finish. But the race is probably best remembered for one of Paul O’Hanlon’s worst accidents, on the final lap, when he and Graham Cossar touched on the exit of the Esses.

The second picture is from 1988 with the rare sight of a 2000 Berlina (driven by Paul Jaggard) leading Colin Wing, Charles Hill and Frank Manning (all in Alfasud Ti’s) into the braking area for the hairpin. 

Back from the Summer Break

Formula 1 had a quick fire return from its summer break with races at Spa and Monza on successive weekends at the beginning of September. At one point it looked as though Kimi Raikkonen might not be able to drive at Spa as he had suffered a “sporting injury” of some kind, so Marcus Ericsson – a 2018 Sauber-Alfa driver – was recalled from Indycar duty as the Alfa team’s nominated reserve. As it turned out, he was not required, or even given an FP1 consolation run which he found somewhat irksome. As it turned out, Raikkonen was on fine form throughout all three practice sessions and then in qualifying where he ended 8th quickest to start on the fourth row alongside Nico Hulkenburg’s Renault. Antonio Giovanazzi looked as though he was going to have a good weekend, ending 9th in FP3 and then 9th again, quicker than Kimi, in Q1. Unfortunately, his Ferrari engine let go on the exit of La Source which meant that he would have to start near the back of the grid.

However, the whole weekend was to be overshadowed by the accident in Saturday’s Formula 2 race which took the life of Renault junior team member Anthoine Hubert and seriously injured Alfa junior, Juan Manuel Correa. It was clear that no-one felt like racing on the Sunday but the Belgian GP went ahead nonetheless. Correa, who had just completed a test at Paul Ricard with an older Sauber, alongiside Tatiana Calderon, suffered broken legs and other major damage and was transferred to a London hospital where he remains in a critical but stable condition.

The Belgian Grand Prix brought Ferrari and Charles Leclerc their first win of the season after coming so near earlier in the year. For Alfa, nothing worked out well. Raikkonen was in a collision with Max Verstappen at the first corner after the Red Bull driver went for an inside gap that was never really there and launched Kimi onto two wheels. The resulting damage meant a significant loss of performance and he eventually trailed home 16th which was a major disappointment. Even worse was the outcome for Giovanazzi who had fought his way to a comfortable 9th place when, with just 2 laps to go and 2 points seemingly in the bag, crashed heavily at the Pouhon left hander. Team Principal Fred Vasseur was not amused and the media started once again to question Giovanazzi’s ability and whether he would on to his Alfa driver for 2020.

Just a week later it was the turn of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. I first went there in 1956 and it was second time post-war that the banked track was in use. The spectacle of cars leaping their way round the two steeply banked parts of the track was frightening but the major plus was that they passed the main grandstands twice per lap, the track being divided by cones. Imagine that today! Kimi Raikkonen was to have a really off-form weekend, crashing twice at Parabolica and then being fitted with an illegal set of tyres in the race. By contrast, for the under pressure Giovanazzi it was a Grand Prix weekend that he could be reasonably proud of. He started 10th and climbed to 7th after his pit stop before degradation of his Medium tyres left him unable to fend off Perez (Racing Point) and Max Verstappen, Still, 9th and two more points was a good result that should quieten his critics for the moment at least. And as the only Italian driver currently in F1, he does have a lot of vociferous fans.

Formula W pleases at Brands

Putting the DTM and Formula W together seemed to have worked very well, plus the latter’s coverage on Channel 4 which had raised the awareness of the all women single seater championship, using Alfa Romeo powered Tatuus single seaters. The five rounds prior to Brands had seen widely diverging fortunes, but Jamie Chadwick came with her points lead intact and with Beitske Visser as he only possible challenger. Having said that, the experienced Visser represented a strong challenge and there were various permutations for the outcome of her possible tilt at the title. With Festival Italia only a week away, I decided not to go to Brands but settled down in front of the television to watch what turned out to be an absorbing race. In fact I was on the edge of my seat as Jamie Chadwick fought to retain the race lead and was then shuffled back by eventual winner Alice Powell and Emma Kimilainen.

Jamie was passed before the end by Visser before finishing 4th but the championship was hers. She said it has been “the worst 30 minutes” of her life. Jamie goes away with $500,000 in the bank but is undecided about her 2020 options. It may be another year in Formula W  or maybe a season in Euro Formula Open which is a very competitive old F3 based series. The top 12 in this year’s Formula W points table have the right to come back and there is a long list of drivers who will face a new selection process, including Indycar and IMSA racer Katherine Legge who I recall derided the concept early on. The Tatuus-Alfa will remain Formula W’s spec car and there will possibly be more races than in 2019.

Brief Notes

Congratulations to Jamie Thwaites on taking a win in the Coppa Shell class, finishing 8th overall,  in the Ferrari 488 Challenge at Croft. The final rounds are on the Silverstone GP circuit over the weekend September 21st/22nd.

4C in Holland. Further to the mention in the Festival Italia item above, it seems that Riccardo Losselli enjoyed an excellent first race in the Alfa Challenge at Zandvoort, finishing 8th overall. You can find the in-car footage of his qualifying lap on Facebook. Unfortunately, the car was then badly damage in a paddock incident before he could take part in race 2 and it is now a race against time to have it repaired in time for an event at Alfa’s Balocco test track next week. Also at Zandvoort were Alex and Gavin Hearnden who thoroughly enjoyed themselves on their first visit abroad with their 156, taking a best 14th place finish.

Simon Bird called the other day saying that he would like to sell the pristine 156 that he raced up to 2009.  The car is generally to Power Trophy specification with modified 2 litre Twin Spark engine and anyone interested should contact Simon on birdsimon@btconnect.com

Former double Alfa Champion, Ted Pearson, has continued his foray into Historic Formula Ford with a successful weekend at the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting at the end of August. His Merlyn Mk 11/17 had been damaged in a collision at Croft but was back in action at Oulton and, if the results are anything to go by, seemed to be going better than ever. In a another large field, Ted managed 6th overall and 2nd in class in race 1 and was then able to improve on that to 5th overall in race 2, although still 2nd in class.

Dealer Team GTV6 Painting. Going through the several thousand photographs that have their home on my computer, I came across a picture of a painting done in 1986 by AROC member (at the time) Peter Thwaites. Sadly, I don’t seem to have a contact for him, so if anyone knows where he can be found I would be most grateful to hear from them on unabated@talktalk.net As far as I recall, Peter lived near Bournemouth and owned one of the South African spec GTV6 3 litres.

ARCA Video Archive. If you haven’t taken a look at the video archive being developed by Matt Daly for the website, then spend a rainy afternoon re-living Alfa Championship history. There is both trackside and in-car footage here and during the winter we may put items on Friday Fix with some notes on the cars and drivers you may see. I am also in the process of passing on to Matt more tapes and DVDs that have lain unwatched in a cupboard for many years. It will take time for us to sort them all out but keep an eye on progress by clicking onto “NEW! Videos” in the 2019 column. I have just been watching film of Mallory 1988 and 1994, the latter including Chris Snowdon (GTV6) v Roberto Giordanelli (GTAm) and the rare sight of Jane Cheffings in her 164. See you at Mallory tomorrow – and remember the racing is all on Saturday.

Michael Lindsay