Oliver Bryant prevails in four-car lead battle to claim Gallet International Trophy honours at wet Silverstone Classic
Four cars were separated by two seconds after 50 minutes of hard racing on a soaking wet Silverstone track as Olly Bryant took top honours in the Gallet International Trophy for pre-66 GT cars. Following an epic tussle that raged all the way from the pitstops, Bryant’s AC Cobra held off Roger Wills’ Bizzarrini 5300 GT, Andrew Haddon’s Cobra and Jason Minshaw’s Jaguar E-type.
After the stops, it was Minshaw who briefly took the lead from Bryant, who had been out front almost from the start, having passed polesitter Mike Whitaker’s TVR Griffith at Brooklands on the opening lap. On lap 13, however, Bryant repassed Minshaw before proceeding to establish a one-second gap, while Minshaw lost out in consecutive laps to first Wills and then Haddon. The latter’s Cobra looked like the fastest car on the final lap but Haddon lost momentum onto Hangar Straight having to pass a backmarker across the grass. Bryant was put under heavy pressure by Wills but the Cobra stayed ahead until the chequered flag.
“Quite miserable conditions, so it’s wonderful to see that so many people stayed to watch”, said the victorious Bryant. “It was a fantastic race, even though I lost about ten seconds in the pitlane. I then had Jason chasing me but he kept going off. I would have loved to have been in Pittard’s Elan, the Cobra was quite a handful in the wet, but I still managed to keep it all together.”
“I found a line that had better grip”, said Wills about his late turn of pace. “If I had had one more lap I could have caught him! It was still good fun, though.”
“I’ve done plenty of that in the past!”, said Haddon about his rallycross antics on the final lap.
In the early stages, young David Pittard starred in the nimble Lotus Elan 26R he shared with Graham Wilson, rising up the order to close on the leader and passing Bryant just as the Cobra was heading into the pits for its compulsory stop. Julian Thomas was another man on the move, hauling his E-type up to second before spinning off into the gravel at Stowe on lap 7.
Polesitter Mike Whitaker, meanwhile, dropped down to sixth in the first half of the race but looked to be back in with a chance when he rejoined in fourth after the pitstops. He couldn’t live with the four cars that would fight it out for the win, though, and having missed the pit window, Whitaker was one of five drivers penalised with a 27-second time penalty for their misdemeanour. It only lost Whitaker one place to the Gans/Wolfe Cobra, however, having enough of a lead over Martin Stretton’s E-type to still be classified sixth.
Graham Wilson, having taken over from the valiant Pittard, kept their Elan on the road to finish in 14th overall and easily win the CLP class, ahead of the other Elans of David Tomlin and Marcus Weller/Michael Schryver.
Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger were equally dominant in the C2 class, Ahlers already miles ahead of the Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus/Jeremy Welch Austin Healey 3000 during his opening stint, while Bellinger stretched the Morgan SLR’s lead even further to claim 13th overall. Meanwhile, Mark and James Bates blitzed the C1 class, the brothers relishing the wet conditions in their Porsche 911. Carl Richardson and Andrew Bentley (Morgan Plus 4) won in B2, Bentley catching and passing the Marc Gordon/Chris Keith-Lucas Jaguar XK150 during his stint.