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Beauty on and off the track as the Gold Cup swings into life

Sunday, August 24 2014

The Oulton Park Gold Cup roared into life today (Sunday) with ten historic contests, complimented by an eclectic spread of off-track attractions.

The most dramatic contest of the day came in the sports racing leg of the Guards Trophy, in which a trio of Chevrons were separated by less than a second at the flag. Hugh and Mark Colman prevailed in their Chevron B8, holding off the chasing B6 of Nick Thompson and Sean McClurg, and the B8 of Charles Allison and Peter Thompson. Brian Casey followed the leading scrap home in fourth, taking non-Chevron honours in his Lenham P69.

British machines starred in the GT class of the Guards Trophy, with Matt Nicoll-Jones heading Alistair Dyson home in a Jaguar E-type one-two. Mike Whitaker completed the rostrum with his TVR Griffith.

Another fierce sports car battle raged in the 70s Road Sports, with Oliver Ford and James Dean never far apart at the front in their Lotus Europas. After running nose-to-tail for much of the race distance, Ford eventually prevailed by just three seconds.

The Lotus name also tasted success in the Historic Road Sports category, for production sports cars built before the end of the '60s, with David Tomlin guiding his Lotus Elan home from Justin Murphy's Ginetta G4. After taking the lead early on, Tomlin was never able to make a clear break and was less than seven tenths of a second ahead at the close. Regular front-runner Kevin Kivlochan completed the podium in his beautiful Morgan Plus 8.

The day's sports car action was concluded by contests for the 1950s Fiscar machines, and then the 1970s prototypes in the Martini Trophy, which recreates the battles from the European Sports Car Championship in the '70s. Brian Arculus was the third driver of the day to taste success in a Lotus, guiding his Elite to first in Fiscar, whilst Robert Oldershaw's beastly Lola T212 was victorious in the Martini Trophy.

The British Touring Car Championship's halcyon days were revived in the Super Touring Trophy, in which a grid of ex-works machines from the '90s did battle. Stewart Whyte led imperiously from the front in his Honda Accord, ahead of a titanic scrap for second between Paul Smith and John Cleland. Two-time BTCC Champion Cleland was forced to work hard in his Vauxhall Vectra, with Smith defending valiantly in his Audi A4. Cleland eventually fought his way past on the run out of Old Hall to win the duel. Championship leader James Dodd finished in fourth after a brilliant drive from the back.

Single-seaters played a key part in proceedings with two classes of Formula Junior and a Formula Three race. Mark Woodhouse won the first of the Formula Junior races, for front-engined machines, in an Elva 100 by just over three seconds from Richard Ellingworth's Gemini Mk2. Jonathan Milicevic was impressive in the rear-engined contest, winning by nearly twenty seconds in his Cooper T59, and setting a fastest lap time almost two seconds faster than anyone else could manage.

The classically-modelled Formula Three 'screamers' were dominated by prolific historic single-seater star Benn Simme in an Elfin 600. He pulled away from the pack in commanding style to finish 47 seconds ahead of Ian Bankhurst in an Alexis HF802. Simms will be out again tomorrow (Monday) in both of the historic Formula Ford classes.

Away from the circuit, the crowds were treated to an infield rammed with classic cars and military vehicles, with iconic machines as far as the eye could see, overlooking the run down to Cascades.

The air was filled with the sounds of Group B rally cars and swing music as All That Jazz entertained the fans at the Bandstand, just adjacent to the rally stage.

The off-track activities continue tomorrow in addition to a racing line-up which features several categories that didn't race today. For a full timetable detailing Monday's action, click here.

Tickets for the Oulton Park Gold Cup are available on the gate for £22, with free entry for under 13s. For more information visit www.oultonparkgoldcup.co.uk