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Retro thrills as Donington Historic Festival races into life

Saturday, May 05 2018

Ten races featuring hundreds of cars provided scorching action on track at a sweltering Donington Park today (Saturday), as the first races of this year's Donington Historic Festival got underway.

With the sun shining continuously throughout the day as the East Midlands basks in a heatwave, the on track action was red hot, with several close finishes and hugely entertaining scraps throughout the day.

The closest finish came in the morning's Formula Junior contest for front-engined cars, with Christopher Drake resisting a race long challenge from Ray Mallock, the pair separated by just 0.3 seconds at the chequered flag.

There was a last lap showdown in the Super Touring Car Challenge race, with James Dodd's Honda Accord holding off a last lap charge from former BTCC champion John Cleland. Cleland, at the wheel of the same Vauxhall Vectra that he raced in the 1990s, had been several seconds behind mid race, and closed the margin to just half a second at the flag.

Another BTCC legend, Cleland's great rival Steve Soper, also narrowly missed out on a win today after finishing less than a second behind Andy Wolfe in the U2TC Trophy for pre-66 Touring Cars. Contemporary BTCC star Andrew Jordan enjoyed success in the HRDC Touring Greats event, taking victory in his Austin GT40, which he shared with his father, Mike.

As well as the fierce on track competition, there has been plenty to keep all visitors entertained around the venue too. A spectacular Spitfire took advantage of the clear skies during the lunch break, while a sonorous display from three F1 cars, featuring a surprise appearance from an ex-James Hunt McLaren alongside a 1993 Benetton, as raced in the European Grand Prix, and a 1989 Lotus ensured the sound of old school F1 returned to Donington.

Elsewhere, Group B Rally car and historic kart demonstrations were held all day, while the endless infield car club displays from Ford Mustangs, Porsches, Aston Martins, Alfa Romeos and more guaranteed there was plenty for spectators to feast their eyes on.

The Festival resumes tomorrow with another packed on track schedule starting at 9.10am, as well as another flypast, this time from a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota. The full Sunday racing schedule is shown below, and again features a big mix of roaring single seaters, stunning GT and sports cars, and classic saloons.  

Donington Historic Festival, Saturday timetable:

09:10: FJHRA/HSCC 'Silverline' Championship Front-Engined Formula Juniors - Race 2
09:45: Mad Jack - Pre-War Sports Cars
10:40: GT & Sports Car Cup for pre-66 GT & pre-63 sports cars 
12:40: Lunch Break / Parades & Demonstrations
13:40: U2TC Trophy for pre-66 under two-litre Touring Cars - Race 2
14:35: HSCC Derek Bell Trophy - Race 2.
15:10: Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-61 sports cars  
16:25: Super Touring Car Challenge for 1970-2005 Touring Cars - Race 2
17:00: HRDC 'Coys Trophy' celebrating the BTCC 1958-1966
18:00: FJHRA/HSCC 'Silverline' Championship for Rear-Engined Formula Juniors - Race 2

Tickets for the Donington Historic Festival are available on the gate tomorrow priced at £30 for adults, £18 for teenagers aged 13-15, with free entry for children aged under 13. For more information, click here.