With practice and qualifying taking place on Saturday morning, the day’s racing finally got underway just after lunch — starting off with the PPG Classic Trial cars. As I have mentioned in previous race reports, Classic Trials differs from standard racing — it is about nominating a lap time in qualifying, then being consistently close to this time. Each race is 10 minutes long. A good mix of machinery was on track, ranging from the 1951 Jowett Jupiter of Neil Moore to latter-day cars such as Toyota MR2s and Porsche 944s. Three races were held over the Saturday, with the final honours and round points going to last year’s series winner, Paul Couper in the trusty Mazda MX-5.
ERC Classic Race Series
As the abbreviation ‘ERC’ suggests, this class is made up of European cars, predominantly pre ’77, and split into two groups — the ‘slow’ group, which is the AES / TradeZone Class, with the ‘fast’ group being the Arrows Wheels Sports GT Class. Race four was for the AES / Tradezone cars, and provided a tight battle between several of the runners. Ultimately, it was Paul Madeley in a Porsche 944 who was first to sight the chequered flag.
For their second outing, Race 15, the organizers decided to merge the AES and Arrows classes, the result being a win for the fast-flying New Zealand Firefighters Racing Team Escort of John Dennehy. The final race for the combined AES and Arrows saw Eddie Beresford take the chequered flag in an Alfa Alfasud Ti.
This series also provided some close racing. Its first race was kicked off by a rolling start, and soon saw a tight tussle break out between Graeme Cameron in a Swift FF and Dave Silverton in a PRS FF. Once all eight laps had been completed, it was Cameron who came out on top. The second race was a more conventional grid start, and this time a battle developed between Dave Silverton and David Banks. Unlike the earlier race, Silverton was victorious. Silverton and Cameron were also entered into the Historic Formula Ford class, and they once again provided some close racing in the first of the Formula Ford races. Silverton went on to win both of the Formula Ford races of the weekend. The final race for Formula Ford and Formula Libre was combined, and it didn’t come as a surprise that Dave Silverton would go on to win this by 3.6 seconds over David Banks.
The Alfa Trofeo Series kicked off the weekend, split into five separate classes. The winners of each class were Ron Dijkmans (Alfasud, GTA class), Eddie Beresford (Alfasud Ti, GT Junior class), Max van Maanen (Alfa 33, Veloce class), Ross Olifent (Alfa 33, Trofeo class), and Darron Curphey (Fiat 131R, Corsa Italiana class).
Historic Muscle Cars
The Historic Muscle Cars were also present at Hampton Downs — this class consisting of racers from the ’66 to ’74 era, and including the likes of Camaros and Mustangs. They’re not competing for points or a championship, the emphasis within the HMC series is on recreating a period when big-banger tin-tops were raced under FIA Group 2 and 5 regulations, as they were in New Zealand, Australia, England, and the US (Trans-Am) — and that’s the word according to Dale Mathers, the Historic Muscle Cars director. Unfortunately, numbers in this class were down, as several of the enthusiasts were still in the process of preparing their race cars for the summer season.
Concluding the racing on Sunday was the appearance of the Castrol BMW E30 class. With a field of approximately 40 cars split into Group1 and Group2, this class has become very popular over the years as it is a very cost-effective way to go racing. Winning the last race of the day was Richard Oxton, son of Kiwi motor-sport legend, David Oxton, a racer who made his name competing within various forms of motor sport, including a non-championship Formula 1 race at Silverstone.
If this weekend was anything to go by, we are in for a classic summer of motor sport, and, with upgrade works at Hampton Downs progressing at lightning speed, we may even be racing on the new, extended layout by the end of the year.
I can’t wait!