Tour Britannia - Leg 1



The fourth running of Tour Britannia - Britain's only historic Race Tour - got underway in earnest this morning when the crews left Cambridge for the first of three days of competition. Sean Lockyear and co-driver Roy Stephenson set the pace from the outset and the duo take a 34.1 second lead in the Competition category. They also lead the overall Tour Britannia, based on index of performance. In the closely-fought Regularity category, Emma Henchoz and Jeanne Taylor head the leaderboard in their Volvo P544.

Tour Britannia started on Monday with documentation and scrutineering at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, before a champagne reception and welcome dinner in the magnificent Great Hall of King's College Cambridge. Today, an early start saw the crews leave Duxford and head to Snetterton for the first race of the event. The route then took the crews to the Group Lotus HQ at Hethel for two special stages around the private test track. From here, competitors tackled two stages at Bruntingthorpe aerodrome before heading to Coombe Abbey for the overnight halt.

In Competition, Lockyear took the lead after the first race at Snetterton, the Porsche 911 driver winning the rain lashed eight-lap race by 24.6 seconds. Chris Chiles, driving an AC Cobra 289, finished second with Mike Anderson (Porsche 911S) hot on his heels, just seven-tenths of a second adrift. The trio have already made their mark on the leaderboard, with Anderson taking honours at Hethel, and Lockyear again at Bruntingthorpe, to arrive at Coombe Abbey with Lockyear, Chiles and Anderson split by 17.9 seconds.

Others fared less well at Snetterton, with a multiple accident at the start of the Grid 3 race. Sitting on the front row, Roger Wills (Bizzarrini 5300 GT) stalled at the start and despite taking evasive action, Steve Tandy (Ferrari Daytona 6), Paul Howells (Porsche 911ST) and Mike Newman (Jaguar E Type) were unable to avoid running into one another. The only lucky winner from that unfortunate incident was John Sheldon. The Lotus Elan driver went off in practice and broke the front suspension, thereby missing the start of the race as his mechanics worked furiously to repair the car. After the race was red flagged, he successfully rejoined and he and wife-to-be Lesley finished the day fifth in the category.

Overall Tour Britannia honours, which are determined on handicap, have seen a real David-and-Goliath struggle between the Porsches of Lockyear and Anderson, the mighty Shelby GT350 of David Betts and the two diminutive 1220cc Lotus Elans of Andrew McAlpine and Malcolm Ricketts. Thanks to the index, these five disparate cars are covered by less than 40 seconds.

In the Regularity, it's been 'Ladies Day' on Tour Britannia with the highest placed all-male crew down in fifth position. Nicolas Gatehouse look the early lead after Snetterton but with different winners at each of today's venues, the category has been closely contested. Overnight, it's the Volvo P544 crew of Emma Henchoz and Jeanne Taylor who take a 6.1 second lead. The duo, who normally rally with their husbands, are ahead of seasoned husband and wife competitors, Bob and Ann Linwood.

Tomorrow, the crews leave Coombe Abbey and head straight to Mallory Park before a further four stages, two each at Arbury Hall and Cornbury Park. After lunch in the Orangery at Blenheim Palace, the route takes crews to Silverstone for the closing action of the day around the Historic Grand Prix circuit.

Notes & QuotesRegularity

1 Margaret Diffey /Jeremy Haylock   Abarth 850TC

"Fantastic fun. And that was despite getting a puncture on the way to Hethel and having to change it on a dual carriageway in the rain. So there was a bit more drama that we could have hoped for on the first day. But marvellous stuff."

2 Marc Vandendijk / Stefan Vandendijk  Lotus Elite

On arriving at a wet Snetterton "It's like Spa on a bad day!  Actually we have a good run and didn't see much traffic because we were one of the first cars on the road. But this little car feels all the bumps ." The Alec Poole delivery service arranged to bring their trailer from Duxford to Coombe Abbey but their Range Rover is still at Duxford .

4 Nicholas Gatehouse / Neil McCann   Aston Martin DBS

"A pretty good day on the whole. However we did have the wipers stop. Not much we could do about it, a bit in the lap of the Gods, but they just started working again. Oh yes, and we ran out of fuel this morning. There is a reserve but I don't think it works but some really nice Lotus chap at Hethel lent us some fuel and we were OK."

8 Ding Boston / John Puliston   Bristol 401

Since Mark Berger is away in Kazakhstan on business and cannot get back in time, a replacement crew has been drafted in to fly the Oxford University Motor Sport Foundation flag. To help things along, they have two "spare" navigators in the back seat in the persons of Hannah Byrd and Nicola Bridge. "We went a bit fast at Snetterton but it felt right. Someone says we are laying fifth overall which can't be bad. The three navigators have all had a turn with the road book - it gets passed round, bit like musical chairs."

9 Mark Humphries / Matthew Humphries   Jaguar XK 120 Coupe

"We are going strong and enjoying the event very much."

12 Roland Duce / Neil Twyman   Alfa Romeo 8C 2300

"Splendid day with a lovely, enjoyable route. More please!"

14 Bob Linwood / Ann Linwood   Alfa Romeo Giulia

"No, we don't have any problem with our Alfa. After all, we drove it 1,100 miles from the South of France to the start so we would have found any problems already. We always try to drive to the start of the events we do - within reason! Route was bit tight after lunch, we even had to use three minutes of our half hour lateness thanks to the odd delay here and there. But a very nice day."

15 Peter Hall / Franca Davenport   Triumph GT6

"No problems with the car but it has been a long day. We had to hurry a bit after lunch. Looking forward to a relaxing evening."

16 Emma Henchoz / Jeanne Taylor   Volvo P544

"We've had a super day. The only possible blot is that we think we got given a wrong start time on the road regularity section. But it is all really wonderful."

17 Joey Beale / Giles Cook  Fiat Abarth   1000TC

"A good day, I think. Bit tired and the co-driver could do with a bit more leg room but great fun"

18 Rollo Beale / Stephen Beale   Alfa-Romeo Giulia

"Does the hotel have a Japanese masseuse? Can she walk up and down my spine? Our rear suspension gradually went during the day and I am sure that now we are both much shorter than when we left this morning."

25 Hamish Cooke / Henry Fyshe   MGB

The original co-driver, Patricia Spanopoulos, was at the last moment not able to come to Tour Britannia. Her replacement did some "tuning" on the name written on the side of the car and announced that he wished to be known as "P Rici Pan Pou" but I think we all prefer Henry Fyshe. "We've got no speedometer which makes it a bit hard getting our speed just right but we are managing quite well. My mother and father are competing in other cars on the event and we are beating both of them!"

26 Nick Faure / Mary Faure   Porsche 356 1500

Having decided to do the Regularity section of Tour Britannia as a running-in session for his immaculate Porsche 356 1500 Super before racing it at the Goodwood Revival, Nick and Mary were despondent when they arrived at Snetterton with a misfire. Despite lengthy examination, the source could not be found and they decided not to continue and risk more serious damage. Mary put it thus "It's not worth puttering round with a misfire. Better to take a penalty for failing to do the test and use the time to sort out the engine." A search for some softer plugs saw the Porsche returning to full song and the rest of day went really well.

27 Julian Taylor / Adam Taylor   Porsche 911 Carrera

This father and son crew had the pleasure of becoming a grandfather and an uncle on the day of scrutineering. In true sporting fashion, they returned home after completing all Tour Britannia formalities to wet the baby's head. But then "Not happy with the changes to the Regularity sections. Didn't have a good time at all today."

28 Timothy Saunders / Michael Chadwick   BMW 3.0 CSL

"Lovely roads through the fens, great scenery. We have had a really nice day though there was overheating on the road section. We bled the system and now it seems to be OK."."


31 Andrew McAlpine / Neville Alderson   Lotus Elite

"Our rally nearly got off to a very poor start on Monday when the service crew filled up the Lotus tank with diesel and the Land Rover tank with petrol. There was a lot of siphoning going on and eventually all was well. Snetterton was OK but I let Malcolm Ricketts in the other Elite get the jump on me from the start and then I was tied up battling with a Porsche."

32 Colin Pearcy / Linda Pearcy   MGB

Winner of the first Snetterton race in fine style. "Well, in the rain it was just perfect. But on the rough fens roads we broke a rear spring. I drove really slowly through Bruntingthorpe so I am afraid that didn't make our score look good. But we'll fix it this evening and look forward to tomorrow."

33 Malcolm Ricketts / Robin Longdon   Lotus Elite

"We lost the clutch at Bruntingthorpe, went away from the start and the pedal was going up and down. Got through the test and discovered there was a loose hydraulic joint. With that fixed, it is fine again

36 Harvey Death / Elaine Macleod   Mini Cooper S

Often leading the first Snetterton race and indulging in major dices with Neil Hadfield and then Colin Pearcy but had to be content with second place.

39 Neil Hadfield / Margaret Jackson   Alfa Romeo GTA

Spun at Riches and continued. "We got a bit lost at one point after lunch which meant we were running a bit late, but rumours of our retirement have been grossly exaggerated."

41 Robi Bernberg / Steve Winter   Porsche 2 litre

Third in the first Snetterton race. "But we very nearly didn't get there. The car has not been used for some time and there must have been dirt in the fuel tank. And of course we had to grind to a halt on the narrowest part of the road section up to Snetterton. But we got it cleaned out and we haven't had any more trouble."

42 Tim Lewis / Richard Challon   Ferrari 250GT

"We had a water leak develop at Bruntingthorpe. Nothing shows on the gauge but we must get it fixed tonight. Otherwise it was a good day, very enjoyable."

43 Stanley Gold / Andy Prill   Porsche 356 C

"The car is simply perfect and we have had a great day. Of course, it would be nice if the car was just a little bit faster ."

47 Richard Frankel / Peter Flood   Alfa Romeo GTAm

"I think we would have won that one [the first Snetterton race] but I lost second and third gears about half-way through. I had a bit of a spin trying to make sense of what was going on. It takes four hours to put a new box in so I'm hoping that it is just something on top of the box that can be fixed." It wasn't possible to fix so they missed Hethel and drove off to Peterborough to change the box overnight and rejoin Wednesday morning.

48 Ian Tandy / Jerry Thomas   Porsche 911 Carrera

"Excellent. The car has not missed a beat all day. Simply looking forward to more of the same."

49 Graeme Jennings / Paul Jennings   Porsche 911S

Initially stuck in the service area at Snetterton with the rear brakes locked on. Problem not fixed until only eight minutes of practice left but got its laps in OK.

50 Peter Egerton / Jon Cropper   Porsche 911S

"Well that wet race Snetterton was my first ever so I am really pleased about it. Great fun - and now I'm looking forward to a beer and shower after that long road section in East Anglia."

51 Doug Allen / Richard Lugg   Ford Falcon Sprint

A spin at Snetterton's Bomb hole did not deter Doug Allen from finishing strongly. "It has been a wonderful day. I'm just getting to know the car and it is real fun. Well worth crossing the Atlantic to do this event. Wonderful."

52 Tim Bryan / Brian Cowan   MGB GT V8

"We had a good day but found some of the road sections a bit too bumpy for our liking."

53 Mike Anderson / Colin Grant   Porsche 911S

"Snetterton on slicks - wow! But enjoying ourselves."

54 Chris Chiles / Dave Mountford   AC Cobra 289

Ten days ago this car had a bad time at the Nurburgring when its limited slip differential broke apart. With a new unit, its handling felt more normal and it was able to take a hotly contested second place in the second grid race at Snetterton. "No problems with the car now and it's really handling and going well."

55 Paul Howells / Neil Primrose   Porsche  911 ST

"Our original Porsche was extensively damaged in the Snetterton start line accident. But we had a spare machine scrutineered and we were able to rejoin and came in about half-way through the re-started event."

56 Jeremy Cooke / Mike Dowd   Porsche Carrera RSR

"We had a real fright there. The car was just undriveable with the brake balance the way it was and I only found that out in practice. There was no chance to do anything before the race but when it was stopped, I shot back into the pits and got it fixed and then joined in. We had a slight over-rev at Bruntingthorpe and since then there has been a vibration from the engine and we have a small oil leak. Hopefully, neither of these is serious."

57 Robert Hartley / Rupert Clevely   De Tomaso Pantera

"It's only when you drive this car on normal roads and lanes that you realise how big it is. But it's given no problems and we are going well."

58 John Clark / Chris Clark   Porsche 911

"It's been a nice event except for the weather which has been far too variable for our liking!"

59 Steve Tandy / Mariella Tandy   Ferrari Daytona C

Unable to miss the parked Bizzarrini, Steve Tandy - elder brother of Ian in the Porsche 911 Carrera RS - was himself struck on the rear by the lightweight E-Type of Alec Newsham. The rear impact dismounted the exhaust and seriously distorted the rear bodywork. The Ferrari was promptly headed for its trailer and retirement.

60 David Betts / Robert Betts   Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

"No problems with the car and, apart from the rain, pretty enjoyable."

61 Roger Wills / Olga Wills   Bizzarrini 5300 GT

Second fastest in practice for the second grid at Snetterton, the Bizza bogged down off the line and promptly collected an unwanted Ferrari in the rear. At the re-start after the race had been red flagged, went out with hasty repairs, starting from the pit lane but pulled up after just a couple of laps and needed a tow back to the pits. "I did everything right but when I lifted the clutch at 5,500rpm, it just died on me. We got the rear panel beaten out and joined in but then the master switch - nothing to do with the accident - cut out and marooned me on the circuit. Just one of those things, must be old and not making good connection."

62 Eric Woolley / David Smithies   Austin Healey 3000

"We got up to third in our race at Snetterton until we spun. I think we may just have some kind of gearbox problem as there is an unfamiliar noise when you are in top overdrive. Towards the end of that race I was starting to ignore the overdrive just in case. And then we spun at Hethel where it was so slippery going into the hairpin. But the gearbox is behaving itself. And some really nice guy in an Aston DB6 stopped on the road section when we ran out of fuel and let us have some."

66 Alan Rivers   Alexander Rivers   Chevrolet Camaro

Normally accompanied by the much-missed Richard Lloyd who died in a plane crash earlier this year, Alan Rivers is accompanied by his son while Richard's widow, Philippa, is once again with us following the event and helping with the catering arrangements. On surveying the rain falling in Cambridge this morning, Alan commented that "I'm not sure that this is Chevrolet weather". To a certain extent his fears were realised when he had a spin in the race at Snetterton.

67 Armand Adriaans / Susanne Adriaans   AC Cobra Mk1

"A lovely day even if there has been more rain than would have been really nice. And no problems from the car."

70 Alec Newsham / Mike Newman   Jaguar  E type

Got a good start at the Snetterton race until it struck the Ferrari Daytona. "It was such a shame. I had promised myself that I was going to take things easy for that first morning especially as it was wet. I just could not believe that the Ferrari was stopped."

71 Jon Goodwin / Martin Hine   Aston Martin DB6

"Well it is not as fast as I thought it might be. But if it carries on like this then I don't think I will be too displeased."

72 John Sheldon / Lesley Stevens   Lotus Elan

An incident during the second practice at Snetterton saw John Sheldon uncharacteristically nudging the tyre barrier at Riches. He was still fixing the front bodywork back when the race originally started and would have had to join in a lap or so down. But when it was stopped, he was able to take his original place on the grid. "I was trying to go that little bit faster, got it on the grass and that was it. And we were lucky with the race being stopped as it means that we can still be in contention. Though it pains me to think of all that beautiful machinery getting damaged."

74 Sean Lockyear / Roy Stephenson   Porsche 911

"We lost the front brakes before Hethel and were really relieved to get them fixed before going in to the test. Otherwise, it's been a good day."