MOTUL Tour Britannia 2007

This year’s Tour Britannia, the three-day classic event for pre-1976 race, rally and touring cars, was a roaring success. From 3rd to 6th September, the Tour took place over a mix of circuits, hills and stages, linked by relaxed road sections meandering through English countryside.

It was clear from the outset that the Tour Britannia (this year supported by MOTUL) has gained hugely in popularity since its inception in 2005. A record 76 entry applications were received by the closing date, almost double the previous year's figure, ranging from Minis and Ford Escorts to competition Ferraris and Porsches. The organisers were particularly pleased at the high number of Touring-Regularity Category entries.

The Tour began on Monday 3rd September with scrutineering at Brands Hatch, followed by a gala dinner overlooking the circuit. The following morning saw the competition get underway – with Porsche cars dominating the early battle for honours. The first day’s action covered racing on the Brands Hatch circuit, as well as speed tests over sealed-surface roads at the Brooklands race track and the Longcross testing ground. At the end of the first leg, the Porsche 911 of Howard Redhouse had the Competition category lead by the slimmest possible margin – just 0.1 sec – from John Grant's Chevron B16. Nick Whale’s Porsche 911 Carrera RS was a further 2.8 seconds adrift. Meanwhile, the Regularity category was led by Paul Hernaman and Ray Crowther in their Porsche 911.

The first of the muscle cars was the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Richard Lloyd and Alan Rivers. “Brands Hatch brings back a lot of memories,” said Lloyd. “I think the last time I raced here was in 1974!”

Wednesday saw the crews leave the overnight stop at Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire for another full day of action, including two runs at MIRA and races at both Donington Park and Mallory, along with a number of stages linked by quiet country roads. In the Competition category, John Grant/Charles Elwell took their Chevron B16 from fifth overnight into the lead of the 43-strong category. Paul Hernaman and Ray Crowther continued to lead a closely-fought Regularity in their Porsche 911, while John and Chris Clark snatched the overall Tour Britannia lead – based on Index of Performance – despite a handling problem with their Jaguar E-type: “The car was understeering a lot on the quick corners at Mallory Park,” we were told.

MOTUL Tour Britannia 2007 MOTUL Tour Britannia 2007

The final day saw the competitors head north from the Coombe Abbey base for two stages at historic Cholmondeley Castle, followed by a hillclimb and then on to Oulton Park for some racing. Then it was back to Coombe Abbey for the finish. Mere seconds split crews as they fought for category honours. In the Competition category, John Grant and Charles Elwell powered their awesome Chevron B16 to victory, while in Regularity Michael Birch’s Porsche Carrera RS claimed honours in his first year in the event. He was, it must be said, co-driven by former two-time winner of the category, Jeremy Haylock, who has previously navigated John Ruston to two Tour Britannia victories. The overall MOTUL Tour Britannia Index of Performance award was won by Porsche 911 driver Paul Howells, navigated by Travis drummer, Neil Primrose.

The award for the highest-placed pre-1965 car went to John Sheldon and Leslie Stevens in their Lotus Elan, while the ‘Hardest Triers’ award went to Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and Andrew Hall in their Frazer Nash – a car the crew constantly rebuilt throughout the event. They rolled into a ditch in the final test at Weston Park, but neither was seriously injured and – courageously – they still made it to the finish. “I’d like to thank everyone who has stopped and helped us when we broke down over the last few days,” said a mildly bruised Blakeney-Edwards. “It gave us the will to carry on.”

The date of the 2008 Tour Britannia will be announced shortly.

Text: Charis Whitcombe
Photos: Tour Britannia

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