Historic Grand Prix Zandvoort

The Dutch GT and Touring Car Championship (NK GTTC) for cars from ’66 to ’81, produced a hec c eld of 57 cars Photos Charlie Wooding

Tim Havermans Reports

In 1948 was the very first time the Zandvoort racetrack hosted a race for Grand Prix cars.  Organised by the British Racing Drivers Club, Prince Bira won the race in his Maserati.  A tradition was born.

From 1948 to 1985 a Grand Prix took place each year at the circuit in the dunes, with the exception of 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1972. After 1985 the Zandvoort circuit was used for many races but the lack of a Grand Prix race was a thorn in the eye of many Dutch people involved in racing. Nostalgia for former times meant that in 2012 the boys were back in town. The Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix was born.

An event that is now in its fifth edition, it has become a major meeting on the classic international motor racing calendar, an event that satisfies the nostalgia of the Dutch fans, and, for the space of a weekend, brings Zandvoort back to what it once was. The Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix covers more than 60 years of motor sports history. From small touring cars to F1 cars and Le Mans prototypes, all of the nine racing series are historically linked to the Zandvoort track.

The Porsche museum brought some special cars for demonstration runs. The Porsche 917/30 was the only Porsche 917 that Gijs van Lennep never drove in his career, and he was extremely pleased to be behind the wheel of this race monster and to drive it on the Zandvoort track. Dutch car designer Harm Lagaay drove the Porsche 956 and Jan Lammers had the honour of driving the Porsche 917K. The last Porsche in the demonstration run was the Porsche 911 GT1 in Jever livery, a car that just had a factory restoration and was back on track again for the first time.

The action kicked off on Friday and started immediately with the big boys. The F1 drivers were first out, and for the first time in the history of the Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix, a Dutchman was amongst them. Frits van Eerd, sponsor of Max Verstappen, participated in the ex-Ronnie Peterson March 761.

The qualifying session, however, was more like an obstacle race. Daryl Taylor’s weekend ended early, as he had a huge crash, destroying his Shadow DN1/3A, fortunately escaping unhurt. During the subsequent red flag period Michael Lyons passed an opponent and was relegated by officials to start both Saturday and Sunday’s races from the pitlane. Later in the session he also lost a wheel from his Hesketh 308E, and there was another red flag when Robert Blain’s March 761 started leaking oil.

Nick Padmore was the expected fastest in qualifying in his Williams FW07C, the car that almost brought Carlos Reutemann to the World Championship title in 1982, followed by Christophe D’Ansembourg in another Williams, with an advantage of half a second. Greg Thornton qualified third in his Lotus 91, accompanied on the second row by Stefano Di Fulvio in a Tyrrell 012.

Padmore led the opening race from start to finish to claim his ninth victory of the season, controlling the gap to between two and three seconds to keep d’Ansembourg at bay. The Belgian had a feisty Thornton nipping at his heels for the entire race, but kept his cool.

Padmore again showed his supremacy in the second race, but this time Thornton, who outbraked D’Ansembourg into Tarzan on lap three, was in closer attendance. Stefano Di Fulvio, who also passed D’Ansembourg, in turn kept Thornton on his toes in his Tyrrell 012. Lyons took only six laps to catch class rival Jason Wright to top the Pre-’78 class. Van Eerd retired his March 761 with gearbox problems on lap 2.

Screen Shot 2016 10 03 at 19.56.23Ford Lotus Cortina was the most plentiful model in the Masters Pre-‘66 Touring Car race, won by Andy Wolfe/Michael Gans

With nearly 50 cars lining up for the Dutch Championship for Touring and GT cars (NK HTGT) a pair of exciting races was promised. Michiel Campagne led the qualifying in his Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport ahead of Alexander van der Lof in a Bizzarrini S300 and Sander van Gils in his Lotus Elan, but come the race van Gils could not make the start, allowing Hans Hugenholtz to move up one place in his Shelby Cobra.

For the first seven laps Campagne and van der Lof continuously swapped places, but then a nasty crash caused the race to be neutralised. Dierk Adoms braked too late at the Audi-S chicane and hit the curb hard, causing his car to go airborne. It flipped a few times, but the driver was uninjured. The red flags came out and ended the race prematurely.

Things got very hectic at the start of Sunday’s race in which both Campagne and van der Lof played leading roles again, but this time Campagne ruled out any surprises by making sure he stayed in the lead and crossing the line just under one second ahead of van der Lof.

There was plenty of spectator interest in the 90 minute Saturday race of the Gentlemen Drivers. It was no wonder, as, after an extremely exciting qualifying, two of the first three places were taken by Dutch teams. Father and son David and Olivier Hart took pole in the AC Cobra, only 0.2sec ahead of the Ferrari 250GT of Nicky Pastorelli and ex-F1 driver Jan Lammers - they in turn only 0.1sec faster than Michael Gans and Andy Wolfe in another AC Cobra.

The Lola Mk 5A of James Murray started in pole position in the FIA Lurani Trophy race with nearly a 1.5sec advantage to Mark Pangborn in the Lotus 20B. In the first race however they both had to cede to the supremacy of Manfredo Rossi Di Montelera in his Lotus 22, who had started from fourth behind Bruno Weibel.

Mechanical problems sent Rossi into retirement in the second race, which was won by Murray ahead of Weibel and, in true FJ style, all by a narrow margin.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of BMW, not only was there a huge exhibition with BMW cars, but also a BMW Centenary Trophy, a one-off race for BMW 2002s and the 3.0 CSLs.

Early in the race for Historic F2 cars, the supremacy of Matthew Watts in the March 772 and Richard Evans in the March 79B became apparent to all.

Mark Pangborn started the first F3 1000cc race on pole, which was not a very good indicator of what was to come. Overtaken by first one, then another of his opponents, he finished the race in the middle of the pack.

For the first time pre-war cars were at the event, producing a rather small field with only 16 entries, to no one’s surprise the vast majority of them British. Steve Smith won the race in the 1930 Hotchkiss AM80, followed by Sam Stretton in his 1936 Alta Sports. Ewen Getley in a 1931 Bentley 3/4½ completed the all-British podium. The only Bugatti in the race, driven by father and son Martin and Niklas Halusa, failed to finish.

Ford Lotus Cortina was the most plentiful model in the Masters Pre-‘66 Touring Car race, which was won by Andy Wolfe/Michael Gans in their example despite having their advantage wiped away by a safety car period.

The last single seater series was another one new to the historic event, but whose cars were once a familiar sight at Zandvoort. With the race of the 500 Owners Association MSA Circuit Racing Championship, the small engined single seaters made a welcome return to the track in the dunes. Pole and first race of the weekend was won by Peter de la Roche in a Cooper MK5. With de la Roche’s retirement from the second race, Brian Joliffe took victory in his Cooper Mk9.

The Dutch GT and Touring Car Championship (NK GTTC) that continues on in years from the pre-’66 NK HTGT, is for cars from ’66 to ’81, and produced a field of 57 cars. Leonard Stolk started in pole in the first race in the Porsche 911 Carrera RS and defended himself brilliantly from the attacks of Steve Dance’s Ford Capri RS.

Rain started falling during the second race and that changed the situation completely. While Folk and Dance fought a stubborn battle for the lead, Lex Proper, who was a front-runner in the first race in his RS Porsche until he suffered brake calliper problems, started his catch up. Having started in 48th place, he overtook everything in his path. When Stolk spun on the penultimate lap, Proper ambushed a surprised and pre-occupied Dance just as the rain grew so bad that the race was stopped, leaving Proper the race winner. The champagne flew on the podium after he received the Zandvoort Grand Prix Award and the specially designed Tudor Heritage Chrono Winners Edition watch.

For a fuller report and results, see our October Issue

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