It ‘s now nearly 20 years ago that an army of Trabants slowly made their way through the concrete walls that separated the East from West Germany, first those that had made the long trip via Czechoslovakia, many encamping in the German Embassy in Prague where a sole Trabant remains as a memorial to their hardship, and finally as the wall in Berlin opened to loud cheers, and pent up tears, and freedom came at last – A year later in October 1990 the two Germanys were united as one country, and an enormous investment programme began in the East – for motor racing enthusiasts, the two tracks at Lausitz and Oschersleben were part of this investment and the Eurospeedway at Lausitzring opened in Year 2000 – In track layout, it’s very similar to Rockingham, but as a motor sporting venue, it’s on a par with other modern track, with a large paddock area, sizeable pits and a huge main grandstand overlooking the main straight and pits, but with a view from the top over the whole of the speedway.
Once one was into the swing of it, the track layout to be used for the Historic races was not unappealing – starting on the main straight, it cut left at high speed after the pit exit with two high gear curves, then a hard left and then right onto the right speedway straight, before a very wide hairpin, following by a right turn and a modest straight, with a left and right and then another short straight, before two tight curves, right and left and onto the left speedway straight coming up to the sweep left onto the whole length of the main straight to start another lap [got that?!]
So this was the Jim Clark Revival 2009 – or as organiser Ronny Bredhauer described it – “Jim Clark Revival on Tour”, following a fall out with the Hockenheim circuit over dates. Taken sensibly, its a day and a half trip from the UK, but Brendan Roberts can prove otherwise, driving all night to arrive for breakfast with his ex Hans Matti Lola Mk 2. The other UK cars present were title contenders John Chisholm (Gemini III A), Chris Drake (Elva 300) and Dan Collins’ Lotus 18 under the watchful eye of Chris Dinnage, while Duncan and Mair towed the Alexis, stopping off near Essen to deliver a box of ‘Formula One Register’ books and enjoy a meal with Christa and Oskar Berg.
The largest contingent was the home team, with Heinz Stege (Elva 100), Peter Knöfel (with Suzanne) in the ex-Mike Spence Emeryson, the Rauschens, father and son in Brabham BT2 and Lotus 22 respectively, Ivo Göckmann in father Klaus’ Stanguellini which in period was the only one racing in the UK in its BRG colour scheme, and welcome newcomer to Lurani, Peter Ramann in the ex-Marcel Schaub Gemini II-BMC in very original condition.
Lars-Göran Sjöberg brought the Swebe-Cooper from Sweden and Hans-Jörgen Krag his Lola MK 3, Urs Eberhardt and Philip Buhofer were the sole members of Bliss Racing in the Lotus 27 and Lola Mk5A respectively, though compatriate Urs Müller had his own Lotus 22, Steve Tonneman was back with his blue Lotus 20/22 and finally Pierre Tonetti (Brabham BT6), Daniele Salodini (Taraschi) and Carlo Maria Del Conte (Wainer). Stefano Rosina was present, but no Moretti, whilst in the local races or displays, Peter Melkus had his 64 Melkus FJ/F3 and the most unusual S.G.G-Wartburg F3 was also to be seen.
With uniform unfamiliarity with the circuit, the absence of any free practice was a continuing leveller, so it was straight into qualifying at 1.30 on Friday [To eat of not to eat, that was the question!!]. Urs employed his experience and was nearly a second quicker than team mate Buhofer, with Tonetti right behind, followed by Urs Muller and Chisholm in Class D. In fact the other two Class D runners, Drake and Krag both hardly ran a lap before mechanical woes intervened, Drake requiring welding of the hub successfully achieved at local workshop - a remnant of East German improvisation - Brendan broke a drive shaft, whilst Krag’s rear upright link left its rubber bush creating some bizarre noises and special behaviour in the corners. Fortunately all was fixed, only Peter Knöfel with a broken hub, deciding not to risk the ‘strength’ of the repair.
Race 1 was on Saturday morning, and the first of two of the closed races FJ could imagine. On this occasion it was Pierre Tonetti who held on by an incredible 0.1 of a second after a race long battle with Urs Eberhardt, though Urs had dropped back a little at one stage, recovering with a singeing lap, nearly 0.9s faster than his rival, but it was not quite enough this time. Philip Buhofer was an excellent thirs, his R.S.A experience standing him still in good stead, with compatriate Urs Muller not far behind. John Chisholm was an excellent 5th, brake fade on the twisty circuit, and especially at the sharp left hander, taking its toll, although Hans-Jörgen was giving him a run for his money, until he expired two laps from the finish, at the end of the straight he felt like the car was out of fuel, but smoke came around his legs and all he could see in his mirrors was flames. A rod had gone through the engine block oiling the exhorts system very efficiently. This left Chris Drake as runner up in Class, with Brendan Roberts and Dan Collins, both class leaders, almost inseperable in 9th and 10th, and Steve Tonneman well pleased with his outing, the last unlapped runner.
At the back there had been some good fun between Salodini, Göckmann, Sjöberg, Duncan and Carlo, but they gradually spaced out by the end, with Peter Ramann soldiering on manfully at the rear in his very original 1000cc car.
Saturday evening was a bus trip to the reconstructed city of Dresden (captured for immortality for Ben Cowdrey’s book “Formula Junior 1959-2008 by Carlo Del Conte) but a great chance to wander round, and marvel at the Cathedral and the Palace of the Saxon Kings all now standing again after wartime destruction.
Race 2 on Sunday was a second photofinish, with, this time, Urs taking the honours by 0.19s, and ith it overall victory, yet as in Race 1, it was 2nd place man, this time Tonetti, who set the significantly faster lap. Poor Philipp Buhofer spoilt his copybook with only just over a lap to go, spinning into the concrete wall as he rejoined the speedway, leaving Urs Muller to join the podium, with John Chisholm another terrific fourth place finishing ahead of the two Rauschens, Klaus going exceptionally well to take 6th fractionally ahead of Chris Drake and Steve Tonneman. Yet again Brendan and Dan were almost inseperable at the flag, ahead of the ‘altmeister’ Heinz Stege, the black Elva 100 recovered from teh ills that have affected it in recent years, and an excellent run by Lar-Göran Sjöberg in the Swebe, split by half a second from Göckmann and Salodini, while Carlo this time had the better of Duncan by only a second.
Overall it was Urs Eberhardt, for Tonetti, and then Urs Muller – well done the Swiss! Chisholm, Roberts, Collins and Salodini took the Classes, so it is all to play for at Monza.