Motor sport is going to look very different when competition resumes at the beginning of July.

“Behind closed doors” will be the “new normal”, for a while at least,  and many of us are going to be looking at ways to enjoy racing that do not involve travel abroad or getting into our cars and motorhomes to enjoy the British countryside on our way to Snetterton, Silverstone, Anglesey or Oulton Park. Under the various controls in place, there will be restrictions on the numbers that can attend each event in addition to drivers, essential team members, race officials and marshals. We await further clarification. However, it was good to know that the 750 Motor Club have confirmed that there will be live streaming from our opening meeting, now a one day double header at Snetterton on  Saturday July 18th. This will come from Alpha Live, accessible through youtube and facebook.

Photo: We’ll never see this kind of Drivers Briefing again but Don Trueman’s efforts at Mallory Park years ago were always a highlight! He wanted drivers to note that “The black stuff is yours but the green is ours!

Those following Formula 1 are waiting to hear how their favourite “fix” will be covered during the eight European races that have so far been confirmed, starting with two during the first couple of weekends in July on Austria’s Red Bull Ring. This will be followed by a single race in Hungary two weeks later and then another double weekend at Silverstone in early August. It seems that teams will be restricted to 10 personnel per car and that only 10 media respresentatives in total will be allowed to be present. As this is usually 400 (!) it is going to present quite a conundrum for those who decide who will be there and who will not. And moreover how those who are there will be allowed to function. The same applies to TV and Radio. We hear that the BBC, Channel 4 and Reuters will not be represented in Austria but it possible that some broadcasters might try to operate from studios based in their own countries. A big task for the likes of  Ben Edwards, Jack Nickolls and Jolyon Palmer watching the Sky feed.

Sauber and Alfa Celebrate

It seems to a be a year for Alfa Romeo connected anniversaries. Alfa themselves are celebrating 110 years with a number of events, albeit not as widespread as they might have been had Covid-19 not arrived and certainly not on the scale that we enjoyed in 1990 with the Eurotrophaeum, and in 2010 in Milan.

Sauber was founded by Peter Sauber in May 1970 and after starting on the then popular Swiss hillclimb scene, has enjoyed involvement with a number of major manufacturers at the top ranks of sportscar racing and formula 1, including Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo by virtue of its high level engineering expertise. The wind tunnel at Hinwil, the team’s base, remains on of the best in the business while Sauber’s other interests in healthcare, packaging and in the automotive sector generates profit that is separate from the motor racing involvement. You can’t win the Le Mans 24 Hours two years running (1990 and 1991) without developing a strong will to win but in the world of Formula 1 this has proved much more difficult and year after year it has been a case of “if only”. Having said that, the list of drivers who have spent time in a Sauber cockpit has been pretty impressive and includes the likes of Kimi Raikkonen,  Felipe Massa, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Nick Heidfeld and Johnny Herbert. Unboubtedly the best year was 2007 when, with BMW engines, the team took not only its first win, with Robert Kubica at the wheel, but also second place with Heidfeld. Kubica had an outside chance of winning the drivers’ championship until it all went wrong in the penultimate race in China.

The much delayed 2020 season is eagerly awaited by current CEO Frederic Vasseur and his drivers Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovanazzi and the returning Robert Kubica. Up the time of writing, they hadn’t taken advantage of an “filming days” to get back into action, so Austria could see the new Alfa Romeo C39’s first run since Barcelona testing February. We will undoubtedly be wishing them luck.

Modified 33s

Following on from the successes achieved by modified Alfasuds, the 33 became a popular car for the “modified classes” and we thought it would be interesting to cover some of the most prominent or, in one case  a car seen only once, in a photo biography. The car referred to is the Class B 1.7 16v lovingly prepared by Louise West and Charlotte Smith with input from Peter West. It caused quite a stir for the quality of its preparation when it appeared for the Championship September Oulton meeting in 2010 (was it that long ago!!). There was no time for pre weekend testing and in qualifying (Louise’s first time on slicks) she found the car undriveable because of a tight limited slip. Things were improved for the race and Louise was working her way up the field when contact with another car sent her into the barriers hard at Knickerbrook. The car was not seen again and I was lucky to have taken a photograph at Lodge in qualifying.

Alfa back in European based TCR

After indicating earlier in the year that they would not compete in World TCR in 2020 in order to concentrate on their new TCRE Giulia, our good friend at Romeo Ferraris, Michaela Cerruti, has announced that they are looking to take part in the European based series after all, having failed to sell the Giuliettas they used last year. So far, no drivers or commercial tie-ups have been announced, so we await further news with interest.

AROC Magazine Archive goes on-line

The Alfa Romeo Owners Club’s initative to put the whole club magazine archive (all 55 volumes of it) on-line will undoubtedly be met with considerable interest. In my role as editor for some 26 years, from April 1974 when I took over from Jon Dooley, to 2001 I wonder just how many words I wrote in support of the considerable number articles and reports that we received from club members and others. In those early days, it was a matter of “hot metal” and typesetting by large clanking machine down in Hendon, overseen by Nick Baughn (who later raced with us). Later, of course, digital took over and in 2000 we moved from the original C5 format, that was somewhat restricting, to A4. I hope that current members enjoy reading it all much as I enjoyed editing it. One thing I do hope, though, is that the Club will also publish the index of articles between 1969 and 1997 that was put together by Chris Savill. I still find this an invaluable and saves much time when searching for something in particular.

Jamie Chadwick takes another step up.

With the cancellation of the 2020 Formula W series 2019 champion, Jamie Chadwick, has been looking for other outlets to keep her career on track and particularly one that would produce Super Licence points. The answer has come in the form of the Inter Regional F3 series that uses, as did Formula W, Tatuus chassis with Alfa Romeo 1750 turbo engines. Perhaps even more important is that her sponsor Rodin Cars has formed an alliance to put her in a leading team, in this case Prema. And it may not be coincidental that Prema has close links with Ferrari which has announced a move to support women drivers.

Number recognition

I have mentioned in previous Friday Fix items that I have been undertaking a thorough sort of my photo archive. While doing so, and labelling as many pictures as I can, it is often proved difficult to name a particular driver quickly because some numbers, particularly those with three digits, need race results to be sure. Then you get some numbers that moved around different competitors more than others, while many were able to keep their’s throughout several seasons. Obviously this got better when the co-ordinator was able to allocate numbers at the beginning of the season, but you can still get caught out by those who joined halfway through or switched cars. Still I think I’m getting there!

Car Proud

I have been extremely lucky over the years that so many drivers in the Championship have been all too willing to pose with their cars to ensure a place in our archives. So I thought it was about time to share a few with alfaracer.com readers.

Reliability

Going through race results as I have been doing during this self-isolation period, you occasionally come across one where 100% reliability sticks out. Castle Combe on 11th September 1993 was one of those. 32 cars started the classes A to E 10 lap race and 32 finished. Winner was Chris Snowdon’s GTV6 from Pete Cate’s Class B Alfasud Ti while the class victories went to Richard Harman GTV6 (D), Richard Sykes 33 (C) and Martin Clarke’s Alfetta GTV (E). Later in the day, Class F let things down a little with 20 starters and only 18 finishers led by old rivals Paul Smith (33) and Nick Baughn (Arna) with Paul Edwards completing the podium, a car in Combe in those days.

Keith and Guy Turner

After the last Friday Fix I was pleased to receive an appreciative e-mail from Guy Turner who, with his father Keith, raced an Alfasud Ti in the early 90s before switching to the “parts box” 33 which they had bought from John Liddle. At the same time, it was sad to hear that Keith had died earlier in the year and I recalled that after he had stopped racing he always used to come and find Diana and I when the championship visited Oulton Park. As with “Reliability” above, results sheets can highlight a result that stands out beyond expectations. For Keith that came at Mallory Park in March 1994 when Keith qualified the Sud 2nd in class F behind Dave Ashford’s Alfasud Sprint and ahead of Graham Heels (Sud Ti), Martin Parsons and Mark James 33s. In the race he finished 6th in a 25 car field.

Postscript

In present times, this picture probably speaks for itself!

Michael Lindsay
[email protected]
01223-891219