EVENTS
 
 

HISTORIC MOTORSPORT 2018

Article by Paul Stephens

 

Historic racing and Porsche go hand in hand, with the early 911 regularly being a car of choice.

 

Event organisers Peter Auto run a very successful endurance series to include these cars, but with their popularity rising, it has cemented an idea suggested to them for a one make championship called the 2.0 Cup, specifically for 1965/66 short wheel base 911s.

After a troubled season last year with a newly acquired 65 SWB, it is fair to say we had mixed views about competing this year, however when the new 2.0 Cup was announced for this season, we quickly signed up for the series.

 

Previously race preparation had been outsourced and we had a second driver, so for this season we decided to prepare the car in our workshop, run it ourselves and for the first race here, I would drive solo. If we didn’t finish the race now, we would only have ourselves to blame.

 

Round 1: SPA CLASSIC – Spa Francorchamps

 

Ask any racing driver which his favourite circuit is and if they have ever raced at Spa, it will certainly be in their top five.

 

Spa is in the Ardennes region of Belgium and despite its name, is not actually in Spa, but lies near the town of Francorchamps within the boundaries of Stavelot, and Malmedy. It is challenging, fast and renowned for its changeable weather conditions. It is quite common for it to be dry on one side of the circuit and wet on the other.

 

On arrival, it was incredible to find over 40 911s entered and a credit to the organisers. It quickly became apparent as with all one make championships, a few would be taking it very seriously with professional drivers entered, multiple sets of tyres and engines producing over 200bhp, an incredible increase over the standard 130bhp they originally had in 1965.

 

Although I raced actively 20 years ago, it is fair to say I am a bit rusty these days and it appears our car has some 25BHP less than the front runners, but our initial aim was just to finish the race, something we failed to do last year.

 

Qualifying was a pleasant surprise, although as predicted some way off the leaders, we lined up 11th out of 41, just in front of the Porsche GB entered car being driven by former touring car/Le Mans 24 podium finisher Anthony Reid and former Carrera Cup champion/current Supercup competitor Josh Webster in 13th place.

 

Given the race was to be an hour and a half and our main aim was to finish, our strategy was to start at a steady pace to preserve the car and then push later on after the pit stop. With this strategy we initially slipped back a few places, but after the pit stops it started to rain and this played into our hands, so I was soon back to 11th and closing down on my personal goal of a top ten finish when the race was red flagged as the rain turned into a torrential hail storm.

Frustratingly we had closed from 12 seconds to just under 4 seconds on the 10th placed car in 2 laps, so it looked like our top ten goal may have been on if the race hadn’t been stopped. And the car prepared by Mark and Martin in our workshop? It ran like a swiss watch all weekend.

 

Round 2: GRAND PRIX DE L` AGE D`OR - Dijon

 

Dijon is located in burgundy region of France, which is renowned for its fine wines and cuisine. The circuit is 15km outside the city at Prenois and is noted for its undulations and fast sweeping bends. After the free practice session, it quickly became apparent that it was well suited to the 2.0 SWB 911s, with the pack much closer than at Spa.

 

Temperatures were in the high 20s all weekend, although this didn’t prevent a sudden downpour just before qualifying. The circuit was very slippery early on, however was rapidly drying out and it became clear the fastest laps would be at the very end of the session. I set my fastest time of 1.44.659 just behind Mark Sumpter on 1.44.647 and we eventually lined up 13th and 14th as others went quicker on the last lap.

 

For the start of the race, I actually moved up one place to 13th, on the grid, as one of the cars in front of me had been put to the back for a technical infringement and I secretly hoped it wouldn’t be an unlucky 13th for us.

 

I started well and moved up to 11th before getting into a battle with Afschin Fatemi who was driving a very wide 911 to keep me behind. I knew he couldn’t continue to slide the car around lap after lap, so waited patiently behind for his tyres to go off. Also the pit stops were looming and I knew the slower second drivers in most of the cars would be replacing the current quicker drivers, which would play into our hands for the second half of the race.

 

Then that unlucky 13th starting position came out to haunt me as the car suddenly lost some power and I slowed straight away as I knew it was game over. Fortunately, by doing this I saved the engine.

 

A blocked jet in one of the Solex carburettors making the car run lean showed how cruel motor racing can be and I couldn’t help thinking as I looked at the final results with Fatemi finally finishing 7th, what might have been.

 

The next race is at the Le Mans Classic in July and the car will have to be meticulously prepared to survive this gruelling event.

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