Thursday, 29 August 2013 21:39

41st Oldtimer Grand Prix Nurburgring - Part 1

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The 41st Oldtimer Grand Prix weekend combined all the ingredients for a world-class historic motorsport event. During this 3-day event the weather was terrific so no wonder that more than 50.000 spectators visited the Nürburgring. Entering the circuit grounds the journey begins in the historic paddock, where the sporting legends from the 20s and 30s like Bugattis, Talbots, Rileys, MGs and Alfa Romeos are parked. Walking from the historic paddock to the Grand Prix paddock the impressive Jaguar hospitality area is spotted on the right. Not only all new models are exposed but also some valuable historic cars. Jaguar Land Rover Germany is one of the main sponsors of this event. As stated by the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover Germany:  "We have been partners for over 10 years with the AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix. For us, this event is the perfect platform to bridge the gap of our classics to the latest models. Even the prototype hybrid-sportscar C-X 75 is displayed”. Sponsors BMW and Opel also presented their heritage cars. Porsche dedicated to the 50th Birthday of the legendary 911 a big parade.
Jaguar Heritage Racing

The Jaguar Heritage Racing programme was launched on 12th March 2012 and is operated and managed by JD Classics, based in Maldon, Essex. The Jaguar Heritage Racing programme supplements the activities of Jaguar Heritage - a charitable trust and custodians of an extensive collection of priceless models from Jaguar's past. It’s cars are not campaigned competitively on-track, but will continue to be exhibited and demonstrated. The Mk II, C-type and E-type competing at the 2013 AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix are owned and prepared by JD Classics. Jaguar Heritage Racing celebrated a double win this weekend as Alex Buncombe successfully campaigned both the C-type and E-type on the Grand Prix circuit. He won the 90 minutes Gentlemen Drivers race on Saturday with the 1961 E-Type. Buncombes second victory of the weekend came on Sunday in the Two Seater GT race (1960/1961 with Le Mans start), he drove the C-type once owned by Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio. The Mk II 3.8 was entered on Friday in the 210 minutes Historic Marathon on the Nordschleife. This 4-door saloon was driven by Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andy Wallace. It was his first time racing on the Nordschleife and he finished third in class.

The Historic-Marathon

Last year winners Marcus Graf von Oeynhausen and Frank Stippler had put their Jaguar E-Type on pole-position. Without doubt this successful duo would go again for the highest place on the podium. But already in the third lap the Cat of Coventry got into trouble.

The elimination of the spearhead of the Gotcha team was caused by a defect in the distributor. So it was Wolfgang Kaufmann taking over the lead in the Porsche 904/6.

After 1.5 hours he drove into the pits for a drivers-change and Afshin Fatemi graduated a strong middle stint. Kaufmann was behind the steering-wheel for the last hour of the race but suddenly the engine lost power. "Unfortunately, the engine lost it’s power when I was in third place, behind the two leaders. Therefore I could not attack at the end. The third place is still a great reward, because I would not expect any finish after the engine problem”, Kaufmann explained afterwards.

After three and a half hours it was the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA 1600, driven by the equippe Olivier Ellerbrock and Alexander Furiani, which was 30 seconds behind the leading duo Reinhold Gröpper and Horst Walther in a Ford Mustang Mk I. Only in the last round the strong Alfa team took over the lead from Gröpper/Walther. For the first time a touring car won the endurance race. We have certainly benefited from the fact that favorites have failed," concluded Olivier Ellerbrock. "We started from seventh place to get into fifth position before  the drivers-change”.  His co-driver Alex Furiani rejoiced: This victory is a real surprise for us. The decisive factor was that we’ve driven very constant lap times. Everyone can conjure up faster lap times - but the marathon at the Nordschleife must be driven constantly and in a gentle way to spare the car".

FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship

Michael Lyons took honours on the opening day of the event in his RAM Williams FW07. Heading an impressive grid of 24 cars he defeated pole-sitter Steve Hartley (Arrows A4), with Joaquin Folch finishing third in his Brabham BT49C. The podium for the Pre-1978 cars was for Kubota Katsu in the ex-Ronnie Peterson’s Lotus 72, second place was for Alex Furiani (Surtees TS20) and third place for James Hagan (Ensign N177).

It was Michael Lyons again winning the second race on Sunday but now Joaquin Folch finished second and Steve Hartley in third place.

Two-seater racing cars and GTs pre 60/61

One of the highlights of the Oldtimer Grand Prix is definitely the evening race for two-seater racing cars and GTs. These classics ran in legendary races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Surprisingly it was a real Le Mans car which won this race: it was the Ferrari 250 GT SWB "Breadvan", which was driven by Maximilian Werner and Gabriele Spangenberg.

This unique Ferrari received a lot of attention as it is a unique piece with a fascinating history. It was built on order of Count Volpi by Giotto Bizzarrini. The modification with the striking aerodynamic shape made the 250 GT SWB even faster than the factory-built GTO, and Carlo Maria Abate and Colin Davis actually took over the lead at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1962 in this vehicle before they dropped out of race after six hours.

At the Nürburgring it was professional racer Alex Buncombe in the 1952 Jaguar C-Type who dominated the race as Gaby Spangenberg slipped from first to fourth place after her start from pole position. Buncombes C-Type, was acquired in 1952 by the former Formula 1 world champion Juan Manuel Fangio. The C-Type (chassis number 018) was never driven by Fangio, but sold directly by him in his homeland Argentina. When Max Werner took over the wheel from Gabriele Spangenberg he started an impressive comeback and overtook the bronze Jaguar C-Type in the 23st lap. In third place landed the tiny Lotus Eleven Le Mans driven by the Philip Walker and Miles Griffith. Before the 30 minutes race on Sunday, the drivers and riders demonstrated the Le Mans start. During the subsequent race, the Ferrari 250 GT "Breadvan" with Max Werner initially claimed again the first position but in lap 10 he had to withdraw as the Ferraris brakes were worn. Buncombe convincingly won by almost 30 seconds ahead of the Lotus Eleven Le Mans by Philip Walker and the Lola Mk1 Climax of Jürg Tobler.

FIA Masters Pre-66 Gentlemen Drivers

Specifically for period GT race cars built before 1966, the Gentlemen Drivers Race took place on Saturday morning with the E-Type of Alex Buncombe having qualified in pole position. Despite his qualification in pole position, he had to start from the pits as he got stuck behind other entrants on the grid and he had to obey the rules of the organisation

Nevertheless, Alex Buncombe remained unphased as he stormed the back running lightweight E-Type through the 48-car field, claiming victory.  Second place was for the rumbling TVR Griffith of Sean McInerney. Third place was inherited by Yvan Mahé (AC Cobra) after post-race scrutineering issues shuffled the original result. Another hero always popular with the crowds is Jochen Mass, who raced a Cobra but, thanks to clutch failure, saw his beefy V8 blow on the last lap.

Lurani Trophy

A great number of cars and fierce position battles are synonymous for the Formula Junior Lurani Trophy. In the last minute of the training Michael Hibbert (Lotus 27) was able to grab the pole position just 0.157 seconds ahead of David Methley (Brabham BT6).

In the first race Methley won the race from Hibbert with a razor-thin margin of 0.75 seconds. In the second race Methley won again from Hibbert. Third place was claimed by Manfredo Rossi di Montalera (Lotus 22).

BMW race 

In this marque-race all BMW cars were allowed which were developed from 1970 until 1990.

Divided into several classes there were touringcars like the 2002 Ti, 3.0 CSL, 320, M3 and M1 Procar. Especially the M1 is a beautiful GT made between 1979 and 1981.

The well-known former GP motorcycle racer and F1 and salooncar racer Johnny Cecotto participated in the BMW race, driving a BMW M3 E30. In the first race Cecotto had started from fifth place after setting a time of 1 min. and 53 seconds during practice, just 0.678 seconds behind Hans Wagners M1 Turbo. The first race was won by Christian Traber but towards the end of the race Cecotto was within 2 seconds behind the powerful M1 and ended in second place. During the Sunday-race Cecotto started from the front row, next to Swiss Christian Traber, but at the start another driver tried to overall Traber from the inside and during this dangerous manoeuvre Cecotto lost control of his car, but with a lot of skill and quite fortunately he managed to avoid a collision. Traber finished first and Cecotto ended on a disappointing 23th place.

Pre-war race

Particularly rare and precious cars served the pre-war race cars. Most impressive was the Bugatti 35C from 1927 which ran again on a European track for the first time in 85 years.

This car was used by the factory in 1927 at the Grand Prix of San Sebastian. The car was hidden for many years but was sold to the USA in 1961. Finally the car came back to Europe.

Austrian owner Martin Halusa drove it this weekend the first time since the operation in San Sebastian 85 years ago. "Actually every part of this car is original, engine, radiator, crankcase and suspension is original", explained Halusa. In race1 Halusa  finished 16th overal and in race 2 even 10th overall with an average speed of 99.068 km/h.

John Sutton won the first race in his very fast Alta, race two was won by Josef Otto Rettenmaier in a Maserati 8C 3000.

The other race for valuable race cars was the Historic Grand Prix race. The large number of Maserati 250Fs made this a special event. Fastest driver in both heats was Philip Walker in a Lotus 16. Julian Bronson was able to keep just ahead in the American Scarab Offenhauser.

In the FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars class Stefano Rosina's impressive McLaren M8C scooped honours in both 30-minute races. During the first race the Italian surged clear of the pack in the CanAm McLaren, whilst a spirited drive from Martin O'Connell (Chevron B19) earned second place for Jason Wright (Lola T70). The second race Jason Wright finished second and John Sheldon (Chevron B19) joined them on the podium with a third place. More than 30 well prepared cars were entered in the  revival  race "German Motor Racing Championship 1972-1981". A very diverged field with Porsches 911/935, BMW M1, Ford Capri RS 3100, Ford Escort RS 1600, Chevrolet Stingray and a hot De Tomaso Pantera. The Jagermeister Porsche 935 K3 from Wolfgang Kaufmann took victory in both races. Last race of this event was the Touring Car Trophy including GT cars up to 1965. In the previous years this was one of the most exciting races but it was a bit of a disappointment to see just  twelve cars on the starting grid. Most of them were GTs, there must be more touring cars in Germany, like the Ford Lotus Cortina, BMW 1800 TiSA or Mini Coopers. So the drivers of the GT cars ended on top of the podium, a Lotus Elan 26R, Ginetta G4 and again a Lotus Elan.

Not only participants and spectators, but also the sponsors of this event came to a positive conclusion. With a total of 14 different raceclasses and demo runs, the organizers had a satisfactory result. The AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix is still one of the best historic motor sport events on the European continent.
Text and photos by Guus Docen

Key to images:

Top row – left to right:
Winner of the Historic-Marathon  -   Talbot AV105   -  Maserati 4CM  -  Stefano Rosina (McLaren M8C) and Jason Wright (Lola T70)

2nd row – left to right:
German Revival race  - BMW M1 “afterburner” - Porsche 935 K3  -  Lotus Elans in Touring Car race

3rd row:- Left to right
Mustang & Porsche finished 2nd and third  - Michael Lyons in RAM Williams - Ferrari 250 GT SWB "Breadvan" - Alex Buncombe in Jaguar C-Type

4th Row -  Left to right:
Gentlemen Drivers AC Cobra and Morgan  -  BMW M1s and BMW M3 - Martin Haulsa 1927 Bugatti T37C - Sue Darbyshire Morgan Super Aero  - 

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