Report and pictures by Roger Gage
The Group C XJR-14 racing at Silverstone
Just about every model of classic racing Jaguar was represented at Silverstone from 26th to 28th July, even if, this year, the total number seemed to be fewer. With such variety of cars and races there is plenty of scope for each enthusiastic spectator to nominate a different favourite, and my clear winner, even if this turned out to be more of a demonstration run rather than wheel to wheel action, was the Group C XJR14 from 1991, the car conceived by F1 designer Ross Braun and driven by Nicolas Minassian.
The planned Saturday evening twilight race had to be abandoned as a violent storm passed through, and Sunday’s race was therefore extended. Minassian has twice occupied the podium at Le Mans and won last year’s classic Group C race at Silverstone in a Peugeot 905, so has proven credentials, and the world’s only surviving XJR14 was just stunning in paint and performance. Watching this car power out of Luffield and into the flat-out Woodcote bend, and listening to a roaring exhaust that excited emotions, it seemed so absolutely planted and secure, in contrast to every other car that weekend which struggled for grip to control power oversteer. The Jaguar romped away straight from the lights and won by almost two minutes, crushing, by over a second, the previous lap record set by a Mercedes C11 two years ago.
A second Jaguar, an XJR 16 driven by Richard Eyre, finished two laps down in twelfth place.
The Clark/Bronson E-type racing at Silverstone
There was no single model E-type race this year, but this does not mean that they were absent. The International Trophy Race for pre ‘66 GT Cars, run in extremely wet conditions, included fifteen E-types and allowed in the lightweights. The race was won by Gary and John Pearson in their E-type, from a Cobra, a Lotus Elan and two more Cobras. A second E-type (Minshaw and Dodd) was sixth.
Catering for the heavier steel bodied cars limited to running with SU carburettors, the RAC Tourist Trophy Race for pre ’63 GTs saw ten E-types pitched against Ferraris, Astons, Ginetta, Lotus Elites, Porsche and Morgan. Best E-type was the Cottingham/Smith car in third place, with Chris Scragg seventh and JEC Racing’s John Burton eighth. Michael Quinn shared a car with Ben Eastick, but the pair finished down the field.
The Cottingham/Smith E-type racing at Silverstone
C-types, D-types and XK’s
Gary Pearson in his D-type
Another great success for Jaguar came in the Woodcote Trophy for pre ’56 Sports Cars. Gary Pearson in his D-type scampered off into the distance at the start and just when the result looked settled, the Cooper Jaguar T33 of Smith and Young began to close the gap, and they in turn were challenged and then passed by the C-type of Young and Ward to produce a thrilling end to the race. Two Jaguars first and second, separated by just half a second after an hour of racing. Another lap and the C-type might have got the win. The Cooper, too, was only nine seconds adrift.
Jaguar were well represented in this race with five C-types, three D-types and three XK140’s, and as an aside, winner Gary Pearson handed over his car to brother John at mid distance and jumped into the Monteverde D-type, so in this race he was classified first and fifth.
Chris Ward in his C-type
XJ-S and XJ Saloons
Touring cars were featured over the weekend, mainly to include more modern machinery. There were, however, two Jaguars in the Super Touring Car Trophy, and which, although outclassed, made an interesting display. Paul Pochiol brought his XJ12 painted in Broadspeed colours and looking the part, whilst Richard Masters entered his red 6 litre XJS V12. (Sporting the Xclusively Jaguar logo, you’ll notice!)
Richard Masters 6 litre V12 XJS
The Silverstone Classic claims to be the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival, and with over 1,100 cars entered into 24 races, it is certainly hugely impressive. Perhaps though, it is the quality which really stays in the memory. Here are famous drivers from the period together with top exponents of today’s classic racing, meeting on equal terms with true amateur enthusiasts.
There is completely free access to the paddocks and drivers, and walking around between races is just as enjoyable as the races themselves, looking at historic cars of great value, that raced in period, now restored, prepared, painted and maintained to a better standard than many road cars, almost to a concours standard. Absolutely mouth watering.
And then they go out and race them, and in some cases, bend them and break them.
And come back next year for more of the same!
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All information correct at time of publishing.