The Silverstone Classic 2017 was held 28-30 July at the historic 3.6-mile Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in Northamptonshire, England. The 27th annual historic race again welcomed more than 100,000 enthusiasts to witness a field of more than 1,000 race entries covering the full spectrum of motorsport greats, from evocative Pre-War Sports Cars all the way through to DFV-era Formula 1 machinery and tin-top icons from the much-loved Super Touring era.
Away from the circuit, a veritable treasure trove of classic cars saw no fewer than 10,000 packed into the infield, from Ferraris to Aston Martins, Lotuses and Maseratis — and everything else in-between. The display included another massive turnout from Porsche Club GB, Jaguar’s F-type drift experience and the Gaz 21 Club, all the way from Russia.
One car that travelled to Silverstone from even further afield was the striking, shark-nosed BMW 635 CSi, which made the trip from Australia to be piloted in both JET Super Touring Car Trophy races by its original driver, ‘Gentleman Jim’ Richards — one of which saw the New Zealander indulge in an entertaining wheel-to-wheel duel with fellow tin-top hero Steve Soper.
The JPS-liveried BMW was brought over by its owner Peter Sturgeon, who was rewarded for his outstanding endeavour with the Stuart Graham ‘Scarf and Goggles’ trophy. Introduced in 2015 to mark the festival’s 25th anniversary, the award is now presented annually to what is judged to be the most admired car competing at the Classic. Sturgeon received the accolade from Graham, one of the inspirations behind the original Classic event staged at Silverstone and a TT winner on both two wheels and four.
Enthusiasts were additionally treated to the wonderful sight and sound of Nigel Mansell’s 1992 British Grand Prix-winning Williams FW14B in two commemorative high-speed demos. Another undisputed highlight was a track parade of 115 McLaren road cars — an unprecedented figure that is hoped will be certified as a Guinness World Record. Fittingly, Bruce McLaren’s daughter Amanda was present in what would have been her father’s 80th birthday year.
Racing is what the Silverstone Classic is most famous for, of course, and nobody earned spectators’ applause more than historic single-seater exponent Sam Wilson, whose three victories from four starts — and a runner-up finish — deservedly earned him the Motor Sport Magazine Driver of the Weekend Award.
The Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars (Pre-1963 GT) was arguably the highlight of Sunday morning — with a dramatic final twist in the tail for good measure. Lukas Halusa overhauled early leader James Cottingham’s Jaguar E-Type behind the wheel of his unique Ferrari 250 GT SWB ‘Breadvan’, and went on to comfortably control proceedings up to the final few laps. Despite losing a chunk of time a handful of laps from home, Halusa remained in charge and finished first-on-the-road — before being handed a retrospective 45-second penalty speeding in the pit-lane, relegating the scarlet Ferrari to fifth.
Halusa’s misfortune meant the duel for the runner-up spot between Simon Hadfield and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards was in actual fact the battle for victory. When Hadfield took over in the Aston Martin DP212, the car was languishing down the order, and notwithstanding a brace of off-track excursions, a string of fastest laps saw him charge back through the field to pip the AC Cobra within sight of the chequered flag.
Making up for his disappointment in the previous race, Blakeney-Edwards produced a tremendous performance to triumph in the following Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for Pre-1956 Sports Cars, with the Cooper T38 he shared with Frederic Wakeman leapfrogged the Jaguar D-type of the Pearson brothers during the pit-stops to take the lead. John Pearson subsequently fell back into the clutches of the hard-charging Chris Ward, who stole second place in the closing stages in his Cooper-Jaguar T33.
In the FIA Masters Historic Formula One race, Silverstone instructor Michael Lyons led home Nick Padmore and Jonathan Kennard. In Williams’ 40th anniversary year, it was somewhat fitting that both races should be won by the team’s FW07 — the car that delivered the squad its first grand prix victory here at Silverstone back in 1979.
The FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars contest was even more dramatic and ended behind a safety car after several damaged cars were abandoned around the circuit. Martin O’Connell’s fast-starting Chevron B19 burst past the front row sitters to lead the pack. Behind him, a fierce battle for second developed between Dan Gibson’s Lola T70 Mk 3B and Nick Padmore’s Chevron B19. Just as Padmore appeared to have taken the place, the cars touched with the Chevron spearing into the barriers. Gibson’s luck ran out later in the race. Dicing with O’Connell for the lead, the Lola suffered a rear puncture when forced off the circuit, paving the way for the former British F3 National Class Champion to sprint clear to victory.
The Group C contest was affected by rain, with the field starting on slick tyres but obliged to pit for wet weather rubber as the precipitation intensified. When the race was rejoined, the ex-Michael Schumacher ‘Silver Arrows’ Mercedes C11 held a commanding lead, with driver Kriton Lendoudis even able to afford a couple of off-track excursions on his way to victory. Following a pit-stop delay, the first race winner Steve Tandy charged back through to snatch the runner-up spoils.
The JET Super Touring Car Trophy appropriately brought the curtain down on Silverstone Classic 2017, with Jason Minshaw and James Dodd waging a titanic duel for glory on a drying track. Dodd’s Honda Accord ultimately got the better of the ex-Rickard Rydell Volvo S40, as former European Touring Car king Gianfranco Brancatelli winning the simultaneous Group A race in his flame-spitting, Spa 24 Hour-winning Ford Sierra RS500.
Similar to 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, Sports Car Digest also documented the Silverstone Classic 2017 with the following images from the 27th edition of the “World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival”.
Silverstone Classic 2017 – Photo Gallery (photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography)
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