2013 Donington Historic Festival

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HSCC Historic F2, The Donington Historic Festival 2013

The HSCC Historic F2 cars are flagged away on the green flag lap

This was the third running of the Donington Historic Festival but for 2013 an additional day was added on the Friday, which was mainly a qualifying day for the races over the weekend, but none less exciting. The Paddock was packed with some of the most iconic cars of the past.Originally part of the Donington Hall estate, it was created as a racing circuit during the pre-war period when the German Silver Arrows were battling for the European Championship. Used as a military vehicle storage depot during World War II, it fell into disrepair until bought by local construction entrepreneur Tom Wheatcroft. Revived under his ownership in the 1970s, it hosted a single Formula One race, but became the favoured home of the British round of the MotoGP motorcycling championship. Leased by Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd in 2007 the hope that Formula One racing could return to the track, the incomplete venture failed to raise sufficient financial backing during the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. DVLL consequently lost the rights to the British rounds of both Formula 1 and MotoGP, and in its bankruptcy returned the track to the Wheatcroft family in December 2009. The only proposed race meeting that was announced prior to recent developments was the BTCC meeting. However in October 2010, it was confirmed that the UK round of the WTCC would move from Brands Hatch to Donington for the 2011 season. Also at the end of 2010, it was announced that Donington would become home to an annual historic motorsport event, the Donington Historic Festival in 2011, bringing back memories of the circuit's glory days.
Donington Park Bridge

Part of the Bridge that used to run across the track (which is to the right)

Have you ever wondered about the stone bridge after the Old Hairpin? I’m sure many Donington Park regulars and motorsports enthusiasts will know the full history of this landmark – known as ‘Starkeys Bridge’ it turns out that on 4th July 1972 it was granted Grade II listed status (English Heritage Building ID 358109). The bridge was originally built as a garden feature and dates back to 1834. Now, according to the race commentator at this year’s Historic Festival, in the early years of racing at Donington Park the track used to pass under two of the arches of the bridge and on approaching it, depending on where you were in the race, drivers had to make a decision which of the two arches they went under – one can only imagine the feeling of the drivers on approaching the bridge on the first lap of a race with the cars in a pack – maybe a case of close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope you got it right!! Friday began, in front of a somewhat small crowd of die hard historic and classic car enthusiasts with the E-Type Challenge under cloudy skies and a cold wind blowing, standing at the top of the course at Coppice it was certainly a few degrees colder. But the Festival kicked off with some no holds barred racing – it was clear that the owners of these classic cars had come to race their priceless vehicles. The E-Type Challenge was planned to be a one-year only series to mark the 50th anniversary of the E-Type. However, in response to competitor demand it has continued for a third sussessive year and it is at Donington Historical Festival, with a double header that the challenge kicks off.
John PEARSON, Alex BUNCOMBE, E-Type Challenge

Alex BUNCOMBE (car 40) behind the back marker at Robers - John PEARSON can been seen just behind and to the right, who came through to take the lead

John Pearson (car 53) battled it out with Alex Buncombe (car 40) for pole position with Pearson taking it on lap 8 in a time of 1:19.756, with Buncombe just 0.2 seconds behind him in 2nd. But Buncombe made the better start in the race and took the lead from the beginning. However on lap 4, at Roberts, Buncombe came up fast behind a back marker and Pearson took a tighter line out of the corner boxing Buncombe in and took the lead, which he was to keep to the finish – but worst was to come for Buncombe when he pulled into the pits on lap 15, not to come out again. In the second race Pearson was on pole again, and with Martin O'Connell taking over the seat in car 4, from Sandy Watson who had a DNF in the first race was starting from the last row of the grid. By the end of lap one he had moved up to 7th, he passed a car each lap of the next 4, and finally took the lead from Pearson, who had lead from the start on lap 12 and went on to win round two of the series. Saturday found heavy skies with showers forecast. The second event of the day was the Group C sports cars – unfortunately there was not a full grid as there was in 2012 but these cars looked stunning. From modest beginnings at the start of the decade Group C racing developed through the 1980’s to earn a place in history as one of the greatest eras for global sports car racing. Sadly, into the 1990’s a massive spending contest among key manufactures’ drove the privateer teams away and the series dwindled and came to an end, but not before delivering some fine racing leaving a legacy of fantastic cars.
Mercedes C11, Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans crests McLeans in the Mercedes C11

Qualifying started with blue skies and all cars were soon out on track, however, within 10 laps of a forty minute session the heavens opened which brought all cars back into the pits, they were not to get out again before the end of qualifying, but at least all the cars had set a time, with car 31, the Mercedes C11 driven by Gareth Evans, taking pole position. The Mercedes lead throughout the race completing 28 laps in the 30 minute session with an average speed of 107.61 mph, taking the fastest lap in 1:01:745, 2 seconds quicker then the next car, round the 2-mile track. The Group C sports car race scheduled for later in the day would not go ahead. Sunday began with the introduction of the Masters pre-66 Touring Cars, but the day was to end in tragedy.
Christian Devereux, 1965 Mini Cooper S, Masters pre-66

Christian Devereux in his 1965 Mini Cooper S during the Masters pre-66 Touring Car race

During the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre-61 sports cars Christian Devereux of Chiswick, London, was driving a 1965 Mini Cooper S, was fatally injured during the race. He succumbed to his injuries at approximately 16:30. An official announcement from Donington Park said “The organising race club, HSCC and Donington Park Racing Limited, together with the circuit’s medical and emergency services, will now be co-operating with both the Leicestershire Police and motorsport’s Governing Body, the Motor Sports Association, in order to determine the cause of this tragic accident.” Many people took to Twitter to pay tribute to Mr Devereux. Jason Plato, two-time British Touring Car Champion, described it as "terrible news". He wrote: "Kinda puts things into perspective. Condolences to his family & friends." Jody Fannin, 2012 British GT4 Champion, wrote: "RIP Christian Devereux. Just heard about the news from Donington. Puts everything into perspective. Thoughts with his friends and family." 2013 Donington Historic Festival Full Race Results Editorial and photographs by Kevin RookTags: