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2017 Zandvoort Historic GP report
Dune tragedy



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Theodore-Cosworth TR1




2017 Historic GP (September 1, 2017)

Phil Hall, Theodore TR1, 2017 Zandvoort Historic GP

The sixth edition of Zandvoort’s Historic Grand Prix had everything – a competitive entry for 12 races, three days of glorious weather (except for a cloudburst on Friday), and an upturn in attendance after a dip from the 50,000+ heights that were reached in 2015. And still a dark cloud hung over the events after everyone left for home. Four days later, the historic motor racing world would be in shock from Frenchman David Ferrer succumbing to the injuries sustained in a horrendous crash on Saturday.

It had been a good start of the day, with the Classic Formula 3 cars of the seventies and eighties kicking off the races of the weekend, against the backdrop of a rising sun in an almost cloudless heaven. A first for Zandvoort, the dozens of Ralts, Marches, Martinis and the like entertained the Dutch crowds the best they could, German Thomas Warken (Ralt RT3) taking the win ahead of Davide Leone (in another RT3) and Michael Ringstrom (March 753). And then, as the second race on the programme, at an usually early time, the first of two FIA Masters Historic Formula One races was due to take place.

Michael Lyons, Williams FW07B, 2017 Zandvoort Historic GP

Michael Lyons was hampered by a blistered tyre and could do nothing against Martin Stretton. (photo 8W)

In the wet on Friday, Martin Stretton had taken a surprise pole in his Tyrrell 012, beating runaway championship leader Michael Lyons in his Williams FW07B, and the two headed the 19-car field into Tarzan for the first time. In the midfield, David Ferrer had qualified 12th in the ex-Chris Amon STP March 701, the car that he raced in the 2014 and 2016 Monaco Grand Prix and was probably giving it another go to in order to boost his chances of getting another entry. Approaching the end of the first lap, Ferrer being chased by Paul Tattersall’s Ensign N179, Neil Glover’s Arrows A5 and John Delane’s Tyrrell 001, the March suddenly snapped to the left in the daunting Arie Luyendijkbocht, the flat-out final corner coming onto the main straight. The next moment, it buried itself in the tyre wall, on impact breaking up into three parts. The front end, with one wheel attached, bounced back to hit Tattersall’s Ensign which subsequently was pushed into the barriers on the right. The other cars swerved to avoid the wreckage but enough damage was done already. As soon as the severity of the accident was clear – which was almost immediately – the race was red-flagged.

Ferrer had to be resuscitated before he was airlifted to a specialist hospital in Amsterdam. For four days, he fought for his life but the outlook had been bleak from the start. But it was still a shock when on the Thursday after the announcement came. The historic motor racing world was drowned in sadness, as suddenly their sport wasn’t just about the enjoyment of speed and the celebration of memories. The real risk involved for everyone was made very actual and apparent by Ferrer’s fatal accident but at the same time we know that every driver will be back behind the wheel because their passion is too great. Ferrer himself would have felt the same, and since racing is life, life will go on.

David Ferrer, March 701, 2017 Zandvoort Historic GP

Friday free practice, when Ferrer was still oblivious of his terrible fate. (photo 8W)

The rest of the morning was spent investigating and then repairing the crash site, after which the programme continued in shortened form while on Sunday the normal programme resumed without further incident. No bubbly was sprayed though, and all Historic Formula One drivers present gathered on the podium after the second race (easily won by Stretton) to salute Ferrer.

The event deserved better since the crowd were enjoying the laid-back atmosphere for which the Dutch seaside track is known, and the racing was excellent as well. The on-track heroics piled up, with the most amazing feats accomplished by Steve Soper and the Voyazides/Hadfield pairing. After problems in qualifying, Soper stormed up from 36th to second in the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race which was combined with the Dutch national championship’s touring-car section. Soper won the Masters part – overall as well as in the under-2-litre class – and only failed to catch up with local man Mark Dols. Voyazides and Hadfield starred and won in both the Masters Gentlemen Drivers and FIA Masters Historic Sports Car races. In the first, held early Sunday morning, Voyazides proved a bit rusty in the pair’s Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé, but the car flew once the Greek had handed over to Hadfield, who charged part the Cobras of Rob Hall and Andy Wolfe, and then dealt with local hero Nicky Pastorelli in his stunning Ferrari 250 GTO ’64 recreation. In the Sports Car race, it was Voyazides who shone, taking their Lola T70 Mk3B up from last (after their qualifying time had been disallowed) to first. Since many of their rivals either succumbed to mechanical mishap or managed to run into each other, all Hadfield had to do was “do no sillies”, as he described it, and bring the car home.

Nicky Pastorelli, Ferrari 365GTB/4, 2017 Zandvoort Historic GP

Nicky Pastorelli took Pescarolo class honours in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race. (photo 8W)

Last-lap drama unfolded in the second 1000cc F3 race when Frenchman François Derossi, heading for the double in his Chevron B17, was tripped up by backmarkers as he headed into the chicane for the final time, chased hard by Steve Smith’s Chevron B15. As Derossi was taken out, Smith had the last laugh and grabbed the win. Meanwhile, Thomas Warken also won the second Classic F3 race but all eyes were on Tom Bradshaw’s Argo JM6, which had been set to start from pole on Saturday but failed to leave the pits. Hell-bent on making amends, Bradshaw did a Soper by charging up from 30th and last on the grid to miss out on victory by a mere 2 seconds.

For the second consecutive time, Motor Racing Legends brought their Pre-War Sportscars to the dune, and if the entry number again disappointed, the racing was good. Just as in 2016, the Gillett/Williams Frazer Nash Supersports faced the stiffest competition from Rüdi Friedrichs’ Alvis Firefly, the nimble chain-driven machine with its typical narrow rear track winning by five seconds.

Andy Middlehurst, Lotus 25, 2017 Zandvoort Historic GP

Andy Middlehurst (pictured above) and Peter Horsman took one win each in the Historic Grand Prix Car Association's pair of races. (photo 8W)

Andy Middlehurst (Lotus 25) and Peter Horsman (Lotus 18/21) split the honours in the two Historic Grand Prix Car Association races, each acting as runner-up in the other race. The second race was a close-run affair, Horsman leading Middlehurst across the line by four tenths. Will Nuthall (Cooper T53) was third in both races, and fastest of the pre-61 runners.

Porsche Carrera RS drivers Leonard Stolk and Lex Proper shared the spoils in both races for the 66-81 Dutch GT and touring car championship while the wins in the Dutch/German Triumph Competition and British HTGT championship races went to Belgian Marcel van Mulders (Triumph TR4A) and Rainer Vorköpper (Jaguar E-type).

Chris MacAllister, Lotus 49 R2, 2017 Zandvoort Historic GP

An iconic Formula One came to celebrate the DFV's first win at Zandvoort. (photo 8W)

The event was further enlivened by Formula One, Porsche and BMW demos while the track also celebrated the half-century anniversary of the Cosworth DFV’s first Grand Prix win, at this very circuit back in 1967. For this, it had arranged that Chris MacAllister brought the original Lotus 49 R2 to Zandvoort, and the American not only demo’ed it and led the traditional Saturday night parade through town, but also raced it properly in both Historic F1 races. Well done.

More pictures of the 2017 Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort