What better destination than Spain to kick off the 2017 season? The blazing sun that smiled on the Spanish capital put an end to the winter break that lasted almost six months. With eight grids, 12 races and 188 cars on the track, all the ingredients were in place to confirm the success of the promising first staging. Jarama-Classic organised by Peter Auto thanks to the intervention of the Royal Spanish Automobile Club, was given a unanimous thumbs up by the drivers and the 10.000 spectators who turned up to celebrate the revival of a history-packed circuit.
As is the case at the start of every season some cars that have acquired new owners or been restored boosted the grids like an ex-works Porsche 917 entered in CER 1, a rare Shelby Daytona Cobra in Sixties’ Endurance and a Toyota 92 CV in Group C Racing.
Another rare appearance was that of the Legends Trophy which, after Pau and Dijon, raced in exclusivity this weekend at Jarama. It’s worth noting that it is the only time this year that these pre-war cars (Type 35 Bugattis, 8C Alfa Romeos and BMW 328S) will be seen at a Peter Auto event.
Run over two hours with a mandatory pit stop, the race is usually hotly disputed between Cobras and E-Types. This year was no exception with the rare Shelby Cobra Le Mans of Shaun Lynn and five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro starting on pole after Christophe van Riet was stripped off his fastest time as the exhaust was found to be mounted too low on the Cobra he shared with owner Christian Dumolin. Forced to start from fourth on the grid, Van Riet wasted no time during the race and grabbed the lead before the end of the opening lap. Last minute drama saw the third placed, Daytona bodied Cobra of Bernard Thuner drop out with a broken water hose. This promoted the Portuguese E-Type of Carlos F. Cruz and Miguel Amaral to third.
A choice of Escorts, Capris and BMWs, joined by more unusual machines like a Group Volvo 240 Turbo. Built to more liberal regulations, the earlier Group 2 cars are usually the fastest, which was underlined by Yves Scemama, who started his strikingly liveried Capri RS 2600 from the first row. The Swiss racer made the most of his superior pace and lead the race from start to finish to grab a comfortable lead.
Classic Endurance Racing
Split in two groups, the Classic Endurance Racing (CER) grids cater to sports prototypes and GT machines from the second half of the 1960s through to the early 1980s.
Boasting the best grid of the weekend, the CER1 field was both diverse and interesting with the aforementioned Porsche 917 K grabbing a lot of attention. It was driven with great verve by its new owner, Claudio Roddaro and was on track for a podium finish until an off ended his charge. At the very sharp end of the field there was nothing to be done about the pace of Philipp Bruehwiler in his Chevron B19, particularly after Maurizio Bianco was forced to park his sister car early on.
Wearing Martini colours, just like the 917 K, the stars of the CER2 field were a pair of Lancia Beta Montecarlos entered by Franco Meiners. Unfortunately, one broke down early but Meiners, sharing with former F1 racer Alex Caffi, did manage to win the GT2 class. With a B26, recently repatriated from the United States and driven by Matin O’Connell the outright victory in the CER2 race also went to a Chevron.
Picking up in 1982 and where CER2 left off, the Group C field was the most modern of the event. With little over a dozen cars entered, it was not the strongest in numbers of the weekend but it did include some rarely seen cars. Among those was the Toyota 92C-V brought by Gerard Lopez. One of the very last Group C cars built and raced in period, it was raced in anger for the first time in many years. Also new to the series was the Jaguar XJR-12 of Shaun Lynn.
At the head of the field it was business as usual with Rui Aguas easily setting the fastest lap in qualifying with the Sauber-Mercedes he shared with owner Kriton Lendoudis. Ace racer Aguas also grabbed the lead early in the race but Lendoudis struggled to make the most of the advantage and after several offs, he was passed by Martin O’Connell in the rare Alba AR2. Powered by a Giannini badged engine, this was the first Group C car ever built around carbon-fibre composite chassis. O’Connell held on to clinch a surprise win. The quicksilver O’Connell could not repeat his victory in the second 45-minute race due to a gearbox failure. Instead the victory went to the Leyton House liveried Porsche 962 CK of Tommy Dreelan, which he shared with Aaron Scott.