The GT & Sports Car Cup, which having earned its reputation as one of world historic motor racing’s finest series fiercely guards its proud traditions for fair competition, is excited to have won a place on the Castle Combe Autumn Classic bill for the first time in 2017.
For more than 10 years the GT&SCC has delivered the finest racing for genuine Pre-1966 Grand Touring cars and Pre-1963 Production Sports Racing cars of a type which contested period World Endurance Championships. With more power than grip on treaded Dunlop tyres, the action at the cream of European events is always spectacular.
Founded and still organised by husband and wife Flavien and Vanessa Marcais, industry professionals steeped in the sport as both competitors and promoters, the exclusive invitation series is renowned for its magnificent machinery and the finest in driving standards, camaraderie and off-track hospitality. What’s not to like?
“We are thrilled to have accepted Castle Combe’s invitation to join the sixth Autumn Classic” said Flavien. “Many of our staunch competitors have previously raced at the event, in a variety marque grids, and following their recommendation it went on our wish list.”
Castle Combe is the third fixture in a four-event calendar which kicked off at the Donington Historic Festival in April, then graced the HSCC’s International Trophy on Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit in May. It concludes at the end of October at Portugal’s Algarve Classic Festival. A one-hour pit-stop race, it will be fought over by a capacity entry.
The battle for outright race victory is invariably fast and furious between the snarling 4.7-litre Ford V8-engined AC Cobras and a host of Jaguar Etypes in the GT4 category. Former BTCC star Anthony Reid – who finished third at Le Mans in 1990 – rejoins fellow Scot Robert Bremner
in the latter’s Silverstone-winning Cobra.
Jaguar ace Gary Pearson and Scottish motor baron John Clark head the Etype quintet which includes Martin Hunt/Patrick Blakeney-Edwards – who have an enviable record at Combe, their favourite event of the season – Canadian Read Gomm (with Andy Keith-Lucas) and Jamie Boot/Mike Wilkinson.
Add to the mix a mighty 5.3-litre Chevrolet-powered Iso Grifo A3/C – designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, already the brains behind Ferrari’s immortal GTO – a Sunbeam Tiger and a Shelby Mustang GT350, plus a pair of nimble Lotus Elans capable of running rings round the ‘big bangers’ and spectators on the ultra-fast 1.9-mile circuit are in for a treat.
Austin-Healey 3000s have a massive following at the circuit – thanks to Bristol guru John Chatham – and the swiftest of them, renowned for their swashbuckling sideways progress, regularly claim strong top 10 finishes. Marque specialist Jeremy Welch is the man to beat, sharing Martyn Corfield’s car which justly wears number 1.
Dutchman Karsten Le Blanc, local heroes Chris Clarkson (born in North Borneo) and David ‘Meerkat’ Smithies, young Theo Hunt and Dorset’s Mike Grant Peterkin are sure to be in hot pursuit in the straight-six posse which dominates the GT3 class.
Also in with a strong shout are Jaguar E-type duo Chris Milner and Nigel Greensall – holder in perpetuity of Castle Combe’s original pre-chicane lap record, having piloted a 3.5-litre Tyrrell 022 F1 car round at a staggering 130.93mph average in August 1997. Two of the three Morgan Plus 4 SLR aerodynes, driven by Jersey-domiciled Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger and Simon Orebi Gann/Mike Bell, are contenders too.
Likewise, Karl Wetherell/Ben Ferguson are doughty competitors in the former’s ‘works blue’ Triumph TR4 – motivated by the same torquey engine as the Sprinzel Lawrencetune Racing Morgan derivatives – and the pretty Ford ‘six’ powered Reliant Sabre 6 of Simon and Alex Drabble is not to be discounted.
While two-litre Porsche 911s might at first glance look to be the cars of choice in GT2, their drivers – including multiple HSCC Classic Sportscar champion Robert Barrie – will have to work overtime to keep the best of the lightweight TVR Granturas, MGBs and lone Welsh Gilbern, all powered by lusty 1800cc BMC B-series engines, in their mirrors.
The tussle between Rick Bourne/Malcolm Paul and Joe Ward (this time with fellow Chevron B8 racer Hugh Colman) is always a tactical one, but French-based Briton Phil Hooper and handlebar moustachioed German Ralf Emmerling could upset the status quo.
The SP1 prototype set brings a classic inter-marque contest between Peter and Ben Adams (in the Lola Mk1 which won the final race before Goodwood’s first epoch closed in 1966) and Rick Haythornthwaite/Andy Keith-Lucas (Lotus 11).
Family teams have always been among the GT&SCC’s standout features. In addition to five dad and lad duos the field which makes history at Castle Combe, hopefully inspiring more aspirants, sees stalwart husband and wife Chris and Beverley Phillips sharing their MGB.
For further details regarding the GT & Sports Car Cup please contact Automobiles Historiques on + 44 (0) 20 8343 9202, or by email: