PORSCHE 956 AND 962 ICONS TO STAR AT SILVERSTONE CLASSIC
Up to 35 cars from the charismatic era of 1980s endurance racing will battle it out at this year's Silverstone Classic, in association with Bonhams, taking place on 27/28/29 July. Powerful Group C cars from the World Sports-Prototype Championship take on their brethren from the US-based IMSA GTP series in the ACO Plate Award, on Saturday, and the Silverstone Classic Trophy, on Sunday.
The races, part of Group C/GTP Racing's schedule of events for 2007, will be accompanied by a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the iconic Porsche 956/962, the leading customer car of the Group C and IMSA GTP era. The very first 956, which Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell drove to Group C victory on its debut in the 1982 Silverstone Six Hours, will be on display, together with other examples of the famous German machine. Up to ten 956/962 racers will be out competing in the two races, taking on opposition from Jaguar, Aston Martin and the sensational GTP Nissans.
And among the Porsche 962 drivers will be Derek Bell himself - the 65-year-old sportscar legend will share a 1989 car with Mark Sumpter in Sunday's two-driver, 45-minute Silverstone Classic Trophy. Derek Bell at the Silverstone Classic media day The car has a tremendous history: it scored the last World Sports-Prototype win for the 962, at Dijon in 1989, in the hands of Bob Wollek and Frank Jelinski. It also won that year's German Supercup with Wollek, and then raced on into the early 1990s in the Daytona 24 Hours and other IMSA GTP events. Although it first sported Blaupunkt livery, the car is now finished in the FAT Turbo colours with which it finished its racing life in period.
"This is an absolute dream for me," said Sumpter. "I'm a Porsche enthusiast and always have been, so it doesn't get any better than sharing a 962 with Derek Bell on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit! It's a real coup to have him in the car." As well as the famous marques, other entries are expected from Spice, Intrepid and the popular Group C2 machines, which provided such great racing in their heyday. Group C/GTP Race Administrator Ian Dawson, who ran Group C cars during the 1980s, said: "Group C/GTP has really taken off this year. They're all cars that will run in authentic liveries and authentic technical specifications. We've got a number of new cars coming in and we're expecting a big field for the Silverstone Classic. It should be fantastic."
The Porsche 956/962 is not the only car celebrating an anniversary at this year's Silverstone Classic. The Lotus Elite celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2007 and to commemorate this, Club Elite is organising a number of events for anyone who has an interest in, or owns an Elite.
Two such events are being held over the weekend of the Silverstone Classic, at the circuit where the car, driven by Ian Walker, won its first ever race. Over the three days of the Classic Meeting, Club Elite will have a stand where both racing and road going cars will be on display, while on the Sunday morning 50 Elites will take part in a parade around the world famous circuit. Elites confirmed for the parade include Le Mans class winners and cars that competed in the early days, including the famous ex-Les Leston Elite DAD10.
Organisers hope to have John Lawrie driving his early racer, the second Elite ever built, while Ian Walker will also be in attendance**. Tickets for the 2007 Silverstone Classic, in association with Bonhams, have been priced at an attractive