The world’s biggest classic motor racing festival - the Silverstone Classic powered – roared into action today (26 July) with qualifying sessions ahead of the weekend’s 24 races.
Boasting the largest showcase of historic cars on the planet, more than 1000 cars are featured on the glittering entry list with classic machines from the full spectrum of motor sport including F1, Le Mans and Touring Car racing.
As you’d expect at an event of such stature, Formula 1 cars of varying eras wowed the crowds. Michael Lyons – the youngest ever winner of an F1 race – set one of the fastest laps of the day on his way to taking pole position in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One. The packed grid of DFV-powered Lotuses, McLarens, Tyrrells, Marches and Williams’ represents the most modern era of F1 at the event.
The Jim Clark Trophy for HGPCA Pre-66 Grand Prix cars – named in honour of Clark’s first F1 world championship 50 years ago – was dominated by Jason Minshaw in a Brabham BT4. Andy Middlehurst, piloting Clark’s original Lotus 25 in which the Scotsman won the 1963 British GP, performed admirably by putting the car on the second row of the grid and second in class.
British Touring Car Championship legend Patrick Watts stole the headlines in the Super Touring Car Trophy after claiming pole position in the closing minutes driving the Peugeot 406 that he originally raced back in 1997. Other notable stars on the grid for the hugely popular trophy includes Frank Wrathall and former-BTCC champion Tim Harvey.
Sticking with the Touring Car theme, three times World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx narrowly missed out on pole in the Sir John Whitmore Trophy for under 2-Litre Touring Cars. Priaulx, driving a BMW 1800 Ti, was pipped to the post by the 1964 Lotus Cortina driven by Simon Hadfield.
A sensational shootout for pole position in the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy for Historic Cars was another particular highlight. Hadfield, this time sharing the famous Aston Martin DP212 with owner Wolfgang Friedrichs, traded blows with former Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver and his historic racer team-mate Gary Pearson in the striking Ferrari 250 SWB. Hadfield eventually won the battle as he squirmed across the line to go fastest late on, having punctured his left-rear tyre on the final corner of his pole lap!
The day concluded with some classic sportscar action. The stunning Porsche 917 – made famous by the film Le Mans starring Steve McQueen – turned heads during the FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars qualifying session. Le Mans’ Group C cars rounded out the action as the sun set over a sizzling Silverstone. Nic Minassian incredibly clocked the fastest lap ever seen at the Classic, the Frenchman lapping the circuit in 1:46.428s at an average speed of over 123mph in a Jaguar XJR14.
Today’s qualifying sessions were merely a taster for the feast of racing and entertainment planned for the weekend, which will kick off tomorrow morning with capacity grids of 50 plus Formula Juniors and Formula Fords.
A number of huge car parades will also be on show across the weekend, with Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Porsche celebrating important anniversaries.
Aston Martin - the Silverstone Classic’s official ‘Featured Celebration Marque for 2013’ - will complete a 100-car parade tomorrow to commemorate its historic 100th anniversary. Lamborghini is celebrating its half-century with a parade on Saturday, believed to be the biggest ever gathering of the legendary Italian machines in the UK. The Porsche 911 takes centre stage on Sunday with a world record parade of 911 911s covering all generations of the 50-year-old iconic sportscar.
Aside from the parades, a host of manufacturer car clubs will also be in attendance with more than 8,000 classic cars on display.
Silverstone Classic’s ‘Rocking and Racing’ mantra will be upheld in style with live music concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings. ‘Stars from The Commitments’ and two tribute bands - Floyd Reloaded and Boot Led Zeppelin – are performing on Friday evening, before The Hollies headline Saturday’s action along with further tribute bands Ultimate Eagles and the Guns N’ Roses Experience.
With record ticket pre-sales added to a fun fair, air displays and a whole host more for families to enjoy throughout the weekend, this year’s Silverstone Classic is shaping up to be the best yet.