Fenn & Hill take dramatic Transatlantic Trophy for Pre-66 Touring Cars win at Silverstone
Rob Fenn and Jake Hill took a sensational Transatlantic Trophy for Pre-66 Touring Cars win at the Silverstone Classic, as Hill dramatically crossed the line on three tyres and a wheel rim. Their victory was valiantly defended by Craig Davies – the man that a few laps earlier had been the cause of the damage.
After the stops it was game on, a perfect three-way fight”, said Hill. “I got past the both of them, and the fight with Craig was awesome. Credit to Craig being a gentleman.
Hill and Davies had been warring over first place with Olivier Hart’s Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA until that dropped out, and then Davies tried a lunge at Vale that ended in one red Ford Mustang T-boning the other. The smash caused Hill’s bodywork to rub against the left rear tyre until it blew half a lap from the end. Davies had briefly taken the lead after the contretemps but then generously handed first place back to Hill, and continued to run in a close second place until the end.
I still feel sick”, said Davies who was then told about the cheers and applause his gesture received from the crowd, “but that makes me feel better. Such a shame, it could have been a great fight to the finish.
When Hill’s tyre failed, Davies even prevented Wolfe’s Lotus Cortina from stealing victory from the stricken BTCC driver, who was then saved by a yellow flag at Vale. With Steve Soper also closing rapidly in the Cortina started by Mark Martin, the first four ran across the line nose-to-tail.
Of course I did”, said Wolfe when asked if he had understood what Davies was doing into that final corner. “But it wasn’t going stop me from taking the both of them! But then there was a yellow flag…
After an opening lap on a drying track covered behind the safety car, the field was released for their first charge down to Abbey. Olivier Hart quickly took the lead from Rob Fenn’s Mustang but then was passed by Craig Davies’ similar Mustang on a charge from sixth on the grid. Behind Fenn, Julian Thomas moved his Falcon past Wolfe’s Cortina for fourth. In 15th, Middlehurst led Bell in the Mini class.
Then, on the end of lap 2, the safety car was out again, prompted by a violent smash at Copse, David Bartrum spinning his Mustang and the unfortunate Martin Strömmen driving his Cortina straight into it while Alberto Vella’s avoiding action ended up with Cortina stuck in the gravel trap.
The caution period proved to be so lengthy that the pit window had opened once the green flag was waved. From the leaders, Fenn was the only one to grab the opportunity and hand over to Jake Hill, while the top-three – Davies, Hart and Thomas – passed and re-passed each other on the next two laps, their positions remaining unchanged past start-and-finish.
Some eight seconds behind them, Benji Hetherington (Mustang) had moved up into fourth, followed by Shaun Balfe (Cortina), Tom Ingram (Cortina), Mark Burton (Mustang) and Mark Martin (Cortina). In their wake, Middlehurst, Curley and Bell were fighting over tenth place overall and the Mini class lead.
On the end of lap 6, the top two cars came in, but Thomas, Ingram and many others carried on still. As Davies and Hart returned to the track in the order in which they pitted, they were both passed by Jake Hill on a roll after that early stop by Fenn. As Lockie and Attard took over from Thomas and Ingram, Lockie’s Falcon was soon slowing, its trottle cable broken.
At the front, Davies continued to fight Hill but the Alfa Romeo began to drop back from the two Mustangs. Seven seconds behind Hart, Wolfe was fourth and fighting Hetherington, with early stopper Richard Dutton’s Cortina having moved up past Balfe and Burton. Moments later, though, the Alfa’s run was over, Hart parking the Italian machine at Copse. Meanwhile in the Mini fight, Curley had grabbed the initiative from Bell and Middlehurst.
Davies having posted fastest lap on lap 12 wasn’t giving up but Hill kept his Mustang in the lead, now 12 seconds ahead of Wolfe who had pulled two seconds clear of Hetherington. Behind them, Steve Soper moved his Cortina past Dutton’s similar example to grab fifth overall.
The lead fight ended in tears when Davies outbraked himself into Vale to hit his rival Mustang amidships. Hill continued with damage on the left rear corner, the pair still in the lead, but the bodywork was rubbing the tyre sidewall. Nevertheless, Hill gave no quarter, and into the complex was handed back the lead by Davies.
After a few laps, the smoke from the leading car began to clear, and Hill continued to lead towards the finish line, Davies following in his tracks. But then, the tyre still blew on Hangar Straight! Davies declining to profit from the opportunity then proceeded to prevent Wolfe from passing the both of them before Hill was saved by the yellow flag waved for an Alfa Romeo that had spun at Vale. The result was that Hill crawled across the line in his severely handicapped Mustang, still the winner, with Davies, Wolfe and the rapidly closing Soper in second, third and fourth. Hetherington was fifth, ahead of Burton, Balfe and Neil Brown’s Cortina.
In ninth overall, Ian Curley prevented Tom Bell from taking his fifth Mini class win on the trot, even though by a mere two tenths…