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Demons and doughnuts



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Masahiro Hasemi


Kojima-Cosworth KE007


Goodwood hillclimb


2004 Festival of Speed (June 25, 2004)


You'd want to be everywhere at the same time - that's how packed this year's Festival of Speed programme actually was. We heard veteran speed demons firing up their old engines while there were incidents involving Molecomb corner, Juha Kankkunen's Celica, Classic Team Lotus' 97T and a brand new Lamborghini Murcielago. The modern-day F1 boys - headed by a fanatically doughnutting Jungle Boy, António Pizzonia - were torturing their drivetrains while there were frantic clashes for FTD between Peter Hardman in his 330 P3 and Justin Law, who drove the rear wing off his XJR12 to narrowly beat the Sideways Man, followed closely by a widely grinning John Delane in his Tyrrell 006, with Hardman again beaten in the sportscar battle between DBR1 and David Franklin's E-type. And we're still waiting to hear the result of the unofficially timed run by Franck Montagny on Sunday...

But as our visit meant reacquainting ourselves with most of the cars present, we decided to cherry-pick our way through the event. We ducked into the Bugatti 'Tank', crawled underneath the 4WD Spyker, admired BMW's Mille Miglia 328 and spent many minutes amongst the pre-war and post-war Silver Arrows supplied by Mercedes-Benz. In similar vein Donohue's Sunoco Special and luridly liveried 917 Langheck grabbed our attention, as did the Can-Am cars and the beautifully restored Ferrari 158. We were sad the Toleman TG184 didn't drive, while the W25 was amongst the no-shows, but we rejoiced in seeing modern Japanese sportscars such as the Alpha Porsche 962 and TOM'S Toyota TS010, scrappy seventies touring cars like the Schnitzer BMW 3.5 CSL or the Ford Capri RS, as well as ancient leviathans like the Fiat 75hp, Farman's Panhard-et-Levassor GP or, you just can't help it, 'Babs'.

Undoubtedly one of the highlights among younger generations, Kojima Engineering's KE007's first public appearance since its controversial debut and swansong race at Mount Fuji in 1976 was a mouth-watering prospect. In the inaugural Japanese Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars the locals surprised with a car of their own manufacture, following on the disaster Maki that was also co-designed by Masao Ono. Cosworth and Hewland brought British technology to the Kojima too, but there was enough home-grown involvement left to turn the black No.51 car into a real head-turner when it rolled out for Friday practice. For one, it was shod with locally sourced Dunlop tyres. Secondly, its looks were off-beat, yet captivating. And third, it wasn't slow! With Japanese superstar Masahiro Hasemi driving, local knowledge and superior Dunlop wets gave the establishment a real fright, and only an uncharacteristic error by Hasemi cost him provisional pole. He still set 4th fastest time. On Saturday Masahiro eventually managed 10th on the grid, but he outqualified such luminaries as Depailler, Jarier, Nilsson, Stuck and Fittipaldi.

On race day, the car got badly held up and eventually finished 11th and dead last, 7 laps in arrears. But on returning to the track, Hasemi proved Kojima's point by setting a historic fastest lap of the race, although there is still controversy over an earlier lap by Jacques Laffite that is said to have been even faster.

Years later, the KE007 became a true Japanese barnfind. The Banfan team spent years restoring it faithfully and kept all interested parties up to speed on its progress through a detailed website. When we spoke to Kento Nozaki of the Banfan team, having been invited over to admire the car up close, he said that the car was not completely finished but that the opportunity to show their work at the Festival of Speed was too good to miss out on. On his runs Hasemi suffered fuel pick-up problems, especially while trying to climb the hill after Molecomb, but then the DFV was first fired up on Friday morning! The car's looks were compounded by F3000 tyres but that didn't take away the fact that the only KE007 ever built made a worthwile boat trip from Japan. We need more of these obscure cars out there.

What chance of a Connew, Maki, Life or Andrea Moda livening up the Festival sometime in the near future?

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