A weekend at the beach
Nestled in the dunes along the Dutch North Sea coastline, the Circuit Park Zandvoort has managed to preserve its original look and feel. Even though the layout has changed since it hosted the last Dutch Grand Prix some 30 years ago, the most famous and difficult corners are still part of the undulating track. As such, it forms the perfect venue for a historic racing meeting, which has been underlined the last couple of years with the re-established Historic Grand Prix. Now in its fourth year, the event was once again headlined by the highly competitive FIA Masters Historic Formula 1 championship, and featured a further ten race series for classic sports and touring cars, as well as a whole host of single seaters. During the breaks, the crowd was treated to demonstration runs with machinery from the BMW Museum and F1 cars from the FORCE. The weather was also on firmly on the Historic Grand Prix' side as the dry and sunny conditions of the weekend were quite a contrast from the torrential downpours of the Thursday before and Monday after.
Our photographers enjoyed a weekend at the beach as can be seen in this action-packed 220-shot gallery
BMW and FORCE demo's
Event sponsor BMW wheeled out a superb selection of competition cars from the company's museum in Munich, and not just to show in the paddock but also to demonstrate on track. Among them was the very V12 LMR that scored an outright victory at Le Mans back in 1999, which was driven by touring car ace Steve Soper. Other famous BMW drivers re-united with their cars were Marc Surer, Harald Grohs and Prince Leopold von Bayern, while the manufacturer's current and former chief designers Adriaan van Hooydonk and Harm Lagaay were also out in BMW competition cars as were their Dutch compatriots Toine Hezemans and Jan Lammers. After the BMWs had had their moment in the sunshine, the track was entrusted to the FORCE (Formula One Race Car Entrants) for a demonstration run of F1 machinery from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s. The most famous car in this session was undoubtedly the ex-Michael Schumacher Benetton B192, driven by longtime owner Lorina McLaughlin. On Sunday, Portuguese driver Pedro Chaves was re-united with the Coloni that he had failed to pre-qualify for a single Grand Prix during the 1991 season. Along with a slightly earlier Coloni, the car is now owned by a Dutch enthusiast and on Saturday it was entrusted to another former Coloni driver, Roberto Moreno.
Other single seaters
In addition to the headlining Masters Historic Formula 1 race, the event's program included a further five fields of single seaters. Split over two groups were the Historic Grand Prix Car Association (HGPCA) races for single seaters of up to 1961 and from between 1961 and 1965. A set fixture at many events, the fields included many familiar cars with one notable exception; the Ferrari 340 F1 that has been owned by the same Dutch family for four decades. Rarely seen in public and one of Ferrari's very first F1 cars, it was driven with great verve by Alex van der Lof. We also never tire of seeing the ex-Jim Clark Lotus 25, skilfully driven today for its Australian owner by Andy Middlehurst. With seven Grand Prix wins, it was instrumental for Clark to win the 1963 World Championship and remains as one of the most successful Grand Prix car chassis of all time. The other three fields consisted of a colourful mix of junior formula, which included the very quick Formula 2 cars of the 1970s, which were often raced in period by contemporary Grand Prix drivers. Also on hand was the Lurani Trophy for Formula Junior cars. The weekend saw Lurani Trophy supremo Duncan Rabagliati compete in his 500th race.
Masters Sports Cars and Gentlemen Drivers
The five two-seater fields included two national championship grids, as well as a one-hour Pre-1966 Touring Car race, which was won in spectacular fashion by Alex Furiani and Frank Stipler in an ex-works Alfa Romeo GTA. Running for 90 minutes and concluding the action on Saturday was the Gentlemen Drivers race for pre-1966 GT Cars and pre-1963 Sports Racers. Dominated by Cobras, it was eventually won by the continuation Cobra Daytona shared by Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield, who had led from start to finish and had already finished second in the pre-1966 Touring Car race earlier in the day. The highly successful pairing were also hot favourites for the one-hours FIA Masters Sports Cars race on Sunday morning but had to start from the back as they had failed to complete a single lap in qualifying due to a broken engine mount on their Lola T70 Mk3B. A spirited drive up the field from Voyazides first and then Hadfield saw them fight all the way back up the order to second. Catching Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw, who coincidentally used a gearshift linkage borrowed from Hadfield in their Lola, proved too tall an other. Completing the all-Lola podium was Michael Gans in his newly acquired Lola T290.
FIA Masters Historic Formula 1
Effectively spanning the Cosworth DFV era, the FIA Masters Historic Formula 1 field featured just a single non-DFV engined interloper; Rob Hall in his Matra-engined Ligier JS17. It was fitting that in the week that Guy Ligier passed away, not one but two Ligiers competed as Mr John of B. also brought his JS11. Hall did the Ligier legacy justice by qualifying the rare JS17 second on the grid. He was beaten only by championship leader Loic Deman in his Tyrrell 010. They were both beaten to the first corner by last year's double winner Michael Lyons, who started from third in his Hesketh after a difficult qualifying. Lyons quickly built up a comfortable lead with Deman second and Hall third. He sadly lost ground in the closing stages and only finished fourth behind Deman, Hall and Andy Wolfe in a Tyrrell 011. Diving into the corner first during in the second race was Hall and he held onto the lead for a few laps before Lyons slipped by. This time round, the Hesketh stayed on song for the duration of the race and Lyons managed to beat Hall and Wolfe, who were second and third again after Deman slipped down the order to fifth.
Another record year
No doubt encouraged by the action-packed program and the lovely weather, over 52,000 spectators flocked to the Circuit Park Zandvoort, which was a slight improvement over the record figure of a year earlier. Zandvoort only has limited number of 'noise days' per year and with the 2015 Historic Grand Prix certainly made the most of at least three of them. If you could not make it, you can explore here
what you missed.