Was the Le Mans feeling ever more genuine than in the time immortalised by Steve McQueen in his movie ‘Le Mans’? The FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship offers the chance to relive those intense Le Mans days, and will do so again in 2019, at the Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
The time when Gijs van Lennep’s Porsche 917 was up against the Ferrari 512 and the Lola T70 is arguably the most heroic era of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Incredible top speeds in cars with more horsepower than handling – those capable of controlling these beasts were truly the knights of the 20th century.
Nowadays, 917s are too expensive to run a full season, and the same goes for the 512. That’s why it’s pleasing to see a Ferrari 512 on the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship entry list for Zandvoort – so all credits to Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson for bringing it. The Ferrari will be up against a fleet of last-generation Lola T70s (in its Mk3B coupé shape) that made top-class prototype racing affordable, back in the day as well as today. At least four Lolas with strong line-ups will grace the Historic Grand Prix, and it’s hard to pick a favourite for the win: will it be Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield, Jason Wright/Andy Wolfe or Jon Minshaw? Or will the ‘Dutch’ T70 of David Hart/Nicky Pastorelli beat them all?
A T70 victory, however, is no foregone conclusion. Twisty Zandvoort is ideally suited to the agile under-2-litre prototypes led by Michael Gans’ Lola T290 and Manfredo Rossi’s Osella-Abarth PA1, two drivers with a special talent to always end up on the same piece of tarmac as David Hart! Will they do so again this time? Perhaps even faster is Henry Fletcher’s Chevron B26, who many times this season caused headaches with the fastest big Lolas. The same applies to the Gonçalo Gomes/James Claridge Lola T212 – with contemporary Dutch backing by Philips Autoradio! – while the GRD S72 of Portuguese duo João Paulo Campos Costa/Alexandre Beirão adds to the variety on the grid.
In the separate championship for pre-66 cars, the Cooper Monacos of Chris Jolly/Steve Farthing’s and reigning champions Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger are up against each other yet again, although the Chris Drake/Mark Shaw McLaren M1B is well capable of throwing a spanner in the works. A special addition to the field is the BMW-engined Elva Mk7S shared by Niall McFadden/Niall Murray.
The GT class will again welcome Nicky Pastorelli’s Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona while the battle between the smaller Chevrons in the field will be another point of interest. 12-time Le Mans veteran John Sheldon’s Chevron B16 will take on Steve Hodges’ similar car, and the fight between the Chevron B8s will be equally fascinating, as the Andrew & Mark Owen and Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie pairings are very much on equal footing. So, lots of excitement from back to front!
Historic Grand Prix 2019
This year’s Historic Grand Prix at the Zandvoort circuit will take place on 6, 7 and 8 September. Free practice and qualifying are on Friday and Saturday, the races take place on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday evening 7 September will see a parade through the town centre of Zandvoort.
A pre-sale day ticket for the General Admission area is just € 18,99 (32,50 euros for three days). A paddock ticket, which includes access to the main grandstand and the General Admission area, is 32,50 euros (day ticket) or 55 euros (three days). Children up to 4 have free access. Also, the exclusive Paddock Club will allow you to experience the Historic Grand Prix at VIP level.