I spent the bank holiday weekend with Mark and James from EB Motorsport at the Donington Historic Festival. The boys were racing their 3-litre cars in FIA World Sportscar Masters, and also debuting the Tuthill-built 1965 2-litre Porsche 911, so plenty to see and do.
The first surprise of the weekend came on arrival at Donington Park racetrack. Paved circuit perimeter roads! Been a long time coming but this on its own should convince you that changes are afoot at Castle Donington. Walking in the paddock gate, the new building for Formula E – the FIA’s all-electric single seater championship – is coming together nicely.
Donington’s car park was buzzing and there was no shortage of spectators inside. Over 46,000 people attended on the Saturday and Sunday, which is a great testament to the power of Donington: still my favourite UK race circuit to drive. Arriving at lunchtime on Sunday, I settled in to the EB garage and caught up on some news before walking out on track with the camera.
First race of my visit was pre-war cars, fun to watch but as one driver put it on Donington FM, “half the battle is getting the old cars to the finish”. Some very fast machinery has attended, but a few needed time out in the pits half way through, before coming back out on track towards the end. Meanwhile, the lighter equipment kept doing the laps in perfect vintage “drift me” style.
After the pre-war cars came pre-’66 touring cars – saloons like the Lotus Cortina, BMW Tisa and a number of Alfa Romeos. Mini Coopers also race in touring cars and look great fun to drive. The leading Tisa seemed super fast compared to the Lotus Cortinas which dominated in period. Texting an historic preparation mate to enquire, he suggested slightly looser regulations might be favouring the BMW. Eventually, an Alfa made it to the front and some Lotus Cortinas also found their way forward. It was excellent racing to watch.
Maserati Trophy was next, which was a close scrap for the win between a Birdcage and something else. Not a huge Maserati fan so I relocated back to the Craner Curves and Old Hairpin for the FIA World Sportscar Masters.
At 5pm, the sportscar race started and the Lola T-70s were immediately flying. One slid off at the hairpin and backed into the gravel. The marshals pulled it out and got it back on track. In Pescarolo class, the Corvette was out in front, about a second faster than the yellow EB RSR. The Corvette owners reckon that is now producing 900 horsepower, but I’m not sure what the FIA papers status is. We’ll see what happens with it through the year.
As the race wore on, the Corvette hit problems, retiring after 30-odd laps. This brought EB’s RSR back into play. The mandatory pit stop was soon followed by a second one, as there was some concern on the EB pitwall that they might have missed the official pit window. Forty seconds or more was lost on that misunderstanding, but with the Corvette failing to hit the minimum number of laps required to classify, Mark squeaked ahead of his rivals and took maximum points from the race. We think he now leads the FIA Masters championship, but are waiting for official results to be posted.
James’ Red 1974 Porsche 911 3.0 RS came home behind the yellow car, but now starting his second season in the 911, James’ lap times were a good deal quicker than last year. This brought a few smiles, as James gave Mark quite a hard time when the previous champion emerged from the pits behind his brother and tried to get past. Looked great on the in-car video!
My next post will share the 2-litre Porsche breaking cover on Bank Holiday Monday, but was already a top weekend at the end of Sunday night. I headed for my hotel in Derby and had a few beers before hitting the sack. The faithful Cayenne was with me as always.