5 victories for Alfaholics in the past 6 years at the Donington Historic Festival!

Grid numbers might have been down for Donington this year, but the competition was no less fierce with British Touring Car champion Andrew Jordan trying his hand in the series driving a JRT prepared Cortina, alongside the sister car of Ambrogio Perfetti and another serious Cortina contender driven by British GT driver Shaun Balfe.

Heavy rain overnight meant that qualifying would play out on a drying track, but the weather was still looking unpredictable and there was a very real likelihood of further rain falling during the session. It would be important to get out the traps quickly and set a benchmark time, in case the weather turned. Andrew went out first in our GTA and, in typical fashion, his first timed lap was already looking extremely competitive – 5 seconds faster than anyone else and quickly followed by a succession of laps that improved that time by a tenth or two. But the Cortinas were coming – slowly improving and getting closer. A red flag interrupted the session and JRT used the opportunity to relay hot-shoe Andrew Jordan into the driver’s seat of their Cortina and he made it to the front of the queue in the pitlane. As the track continued to dry he just pipped Andrew’s previous time, only for Andrew to get back on top as he crossed the line a few seconds later. This tit for tat went on for several laps until Andrew pitted to change driver to Max. On our in-lap, Jordan again went fastest and as we headed back out the rain started falling again. Max circulated as the fastest car on track, but alas times were slower as track conditions continued to deteriorate, so we ended the session P2. It was a bit frustrating not to claim pole, but the front row of the grid would be a great basis for the race.

As the lights went out, Andrew got an excellent start on the outside of row 1 and challenged for the lead taking the outside line through Redgate and Hollywood, alongside the pole position Cortina. They were side by side as the cars headed down the Craner Curves which gave Andrew the inside line into the left hander and allowed him to make the move stick for the lead. He immediately set about pulling out a gap that could not be challenged. The chasing Cortinas soon became embroiled in a 60 minute long battle, which further helped us to extend our advantage. By the driver change we had a 20 second lead and by the end of the race we had stretched that out to nearly 40 seconds, with Andrew Jordan being the next Cortina on the horizon to be lapped! It was a bit of a lonely race at the front but the dominance we were able to show with the GTA took even us by surprise.

Having won with the GTA at Spa in 2017 and with the McLaren M6B proving to be super-competitive in the Masters Historic Sports Car Championship, we went to Spa hopeful of victory with both cars. After free practice on Thursday everything looked good and, come qualifying on Friday, things only got better. Andrew went out first in our GTA and immediately went quickest with Olivier Hart closely matching our times in his 1600 GTA, fresh from his win at the Goodwood Revival. With a tenth in hand, Max went out to finish qualifying and squeezed 0.03s more out of the car to secure pole for the Alfaholics GTA.  Surprisingly, the closest Cortina was 3rd and somewhat behind on pace! There hasn’t been a GTA front row lockout in U2TC for a very long time, so it was great to finally see the GTAs getting the upper hand over the Cortinas! Immediately after U2TC qualifying, we were out in the McLaren and yet again Andrew took pole with a time that clearly wasn’t going to be challenged for the remainder of the session. Both cars on pole for their respective races – we were thrilled!

The U2TC race was scheduled for the following day and we knew it would be a tight fought battle with the GTA of Olivier Hart. Andrew managed to get a great start and took the lead, with Olivier in hot pursuit. Lap after lap, the two GTAs crossed the line with Andrew just extending his advantage by 0.05-0.1s per lap. The GTAs were in a class of their own, dropping the pursuing Cortinas by several seconds every lap. Just before the pitstops, Olivier started to close the gap and then followed Andrew into the pits on the same lap.  Max got away cleanly, retaining the lead, with the other GTA right behind. Then, just a couple of laps later as Max was settling into his stint, a sudden axle tube failure brought our car to a halt on the exit of Stavelot – what a disappointment! No sooner had we retired, Olivier was given a drive-through penalty for “exceeding track limits to gain an advantage”. Such hard luck – without the mechanical failure it would have been an easy victory!

The Historic Sports Car race on Sunday was a more straightforward matter. Andrew got away well from the start and dominated the first half of the race, building a 32 second lead over the first 12 laps – some of the biggest gains coming as the field began to lap traffic! Watching our progress on the timing screens, Max’s job for the second half of the race appeared a simple one – keep lapping just a bit quicker than our closest competitors without taking any more out of the car than necessary. All was going to plan until the safety car was deployed with 15 minutes to go, which eroded our lead and put the pack back on the McLaren’s tailpipes! The safety car lights finally went out with just 3 minutes on the clock, so the restart would see a one lap dash to the flag.  Now was the time to execute the perfect restart to try to break away and avoid pressure from other cars in the last few corners. Having backed up the pack nicely before Blanchimont, Max opened up the taps and got a jump on second place as they headed down the start/finish straight.  A quick lap saw the McLaren cross the finish line 7 seconds clear to take our first Historic Sports Car win – a brilliant end to the weekend!

For our second race of the year, we headed to Silverstone for the world’s biggest historic race meeting. Knowing how fierce the U2TC competition always is at Silverstone, we scheduled a couple of test sessions prior to the event in order to do some more chassis setup work and try to eek out some extra speed from our GTA. We made good progress and felt confident that we would be competitive against the quickest Cortinas come the race weekend. News filtered through shortly before the event that ex- World Touring car champion Rob Huff would be sharing one of the front-running Cortinas. No doubt the job of winning just got a bit harder! In qualifying, we exited the pits at the front along with Rob Huff and immediately found a level of pace we hadn’t enjoyed at Silverstone before – the GTA clearly liking our new setup. Huff was going slightly quicker, but Andrew put in a superb lap to reduce the gap to just 0.3 seconds, only for Huff to open that gap out by a further 0.1 seconds by the end of his stint. Both of us had quite a gap to Steve Soper, who ended the session just over a second down. Steve later admitted he was struggling a little with his Cortina’s setup, but nonetheless it showed the progress we had made since Donington. Lining up for the race side-by-side with world touring car champion Rob Huff and touring car legend Steve Soper behind, was a clear sign of the quality of U2TC, widely regarded as the most competitive historic race series in Europe. Off the start, Huff got away blindingly quickly, with Andrew and Steve tussling it out for 2nd place, until Andrew finally broke clear. Unfortunately the battle had allowed Huff to escape up the road and build enough of a lead to make any hopes of challenging him all but impossible. On the pit wall, it was conceivable that Huff might have taken too much out of the tyres on the Cortina and it might make Andy Wolfe an easier target in the second half of the race. With a slick driver change, Max set about catching Wolfe and a few quick laps brought the gap down slightly, but it soon became clear that the gap was still too great so we settled for preserving the car and maintaining a solid second place.

Have been so dominant in 2017 and winning the U2TC Championship, our GTA was firmly in the crosshairs of the top Cortina drivers as the 2018 season approached. Steve Soper had built another new car, while others had carried out development work over the winter. We knew that there was no room for complacency and therefore set about a winter rebuild programme to improve the performance of our car and try to maintain our advantage. A particularly busy Spring period in the workshop meant that we only managed one test day prior to the race and alas it turned out to be wet! Despite the lack of dry running, the car felt good and we headed into the race weekend confident of achieving a good result.

Qualifying got underway and we immediately took provisional pole, although Steve Soper was gradually chipping away at our advantage.  He finally eclipsed our time and despite trying harder, we couldn’t improve and finished the session second quickest and on the front row of the grid for the race. Reviewing our performance after qualifying, it was clear that we needed to do some more work to optimise the setup in order to unlock the car’s potential.

We made some small changes overnight in order to find a bit more grip and consistency in the car. Race 1 was a hard fought battle, nose-to-tail with the two lead Cortinas for much of the race.  However, we hadn’t quite found enough of that advantage and ended up a few seconds adrift in 3rd place at the chequered flag.

As the meeting is a double header, with the final result aggregated across two races, we had nothing to lose for race two and made a significant setup change to the car overnight in a bid to grab the win. The car was transformed and Andrew immediately jumped into 2nd place and set about keeping Steve Soper in his sights, to enable Max a chance in the second half of the race. It was still very tight with Andy Wolfe and Max exited the pits right with Andy Wolfe, but somehow Steve had gained several seconds. Max set about hounding Wolfe and within a couple of laps was past and started chasing down Steve. By the end of the race we were the fastest car on track by some margin, but the gap was too great to close.

In the end, second overall was a very good result in the circumstances. The value of time spent testing should never be underestimated in such a tightly fought series!

Alfaholics track day 2018 through the eyes of an intern…

…as experienced by Lukas Duyck.

Get a good night’s sleep they said, we’re leaving at 6:30. It turned out not to be that difficult, knowing that I’d be fully woken up in Andrew’s TI Super-R on the way to Castle Combe. Despite being England, it wasn’t even raining but a beautiful sunny day!

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

We arrived at the track good and early and had a healthy British breakfast – an egg and sausage bap. Looking back, that wasn’t the best decision I made, but more on that to come. When the trucks and race cars arrived, the team began setting up camp. In the meantime, many customers and enthusiasts continued to arrive. A short while later, when parking spaces became more and more scarce, I helped to send the drivers to the briefing room for all things health and safety.

Later that morning, Andrew invited me for a passenger ride in his awesome Ti Super-R. The two things I could think of were endless grip and my breakfast. Straight-line speed I was fine with, but the grip that the car had during corner entry was just on a different scale. Let’s just say that I had to concentrate on keeping my fine British breakfast in place. Braking wasn’t too shabby either – perhaps the closest thing to hitting a brick wall!

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

It wouldn’t have been a real British track day of course if there wasn’t at some point a bit of drizzle, so in good spirit of tradition the inevitable happened at the exact moment people where lining up for the lunchtime parade. Having hitched a ride in one of the modern Giulias, I managed to stay nice and dry. Fortunately it was only brief and the sunshine soon returned for the rest of the day.

During the afternoon, while drivers took to the track, we set up the Alfaholics GTA race car to scrub some tyres for the upcoming U2TC race at Donington. Together with all the Alfaholics cars on track, there was great spectacle throughout the day for the crowds to enjoy. In the afternoon, I had a passenger ride to the petrol station and back in the Alfaholics V6 powered Spider-R. Having seen it years ago on TV’s Fifth Gear, this was quite an unreal experience. Off the track is really where this build shows its strengths, the wind in your hair, a glorious noise and just so effortless torque. This all came together perfectly on the scenic B roads around Castle Combe.

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Having had conversations with passionate customers and other Alfisti, I had a wonderful experience. I even had the pleasure to meet some fellow Belgians during the day. The passenger rides in the more standard cars I was being offered were really great and it just goes to show that people in the Alfa Romeo world are more than happy to share their experience. It also showed how quick the Alfaholics cars really are compared to their standard counterparts.

The day went by perfectly as planned. Going back to the workshop after we had dinner, I was offered a passenger ride by Richard Banks, something I won’t easily forget. A beautiful sunset while being driven spiritedly in Richard’s 1600 GTA on empty country roads. The perfect end to a perfect day.

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

Alfaholics track day (2018) through the eyes of an intern…

We are proud to announce that we have won the U2TC Championship for FIA specification pre-1966 Touring Cars!

For the last race of the season, we embarked on the long drive to Portugal to the wonderful Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, near Portimao.  Having won all 4 of the U2TC races we had entered this year, just a 3rd overall from this double-header would be enough to wrap up the championship.  As ever, we anticipated quite a battle with the Lotus Cortinas in the glorious Portuguese sunshine.

The weekend kicked off well with a solid pole position in qualifying, ahead of Steve Soper in his Cortina.  Our strategy was to capitalise as much as possible on our pole position by trying to stretch a lead in race 1 and then be able to take a more calculated approach to race 2 to ensure we could safely secure the championship.  However, things don’t always go as planned so we would just have to see how each race would unfold.

Race one was somewhat chaotic.  Andrew and Steve both got a great start and maintained position as they began to pull away from the rest of the field.  Then, after just 2 laps, the Safety Car was deployed.  No sooner had it returned to the pits and the race restarted, it had to come back out again for another incident!  The race was still running under Safety Car as the pit window opened, so Andrew led the field into the pit lane as everyone scrambled to find their own space for the driver change.  Having been blocked in during our stop, Max managed to get away at the same time as Steve and both cars continued down the pit lane side by side! At the pit exit, Max just had his nose ahead so managed to retain the lead while still under Safety Car.  At the restart, it was racing again and as close as ever with Steve tucked in tight to the boot of the GTA.  On one lap, he managed to pass down the pit straight on the approach to turn 1, only for Max to get back past into turn 2.  At the chequered flag, Max crossed the line just 0.1 seconds in front to take the win.  Part of the plan had worked but there wasn’t much of a lead to take into race 2!

The second race on the following day was thankfully incident free.  Andrew started from pole and led into the first lap but Steve showed tremendous pace as he reaped the rewards from tweaking the car all weekend.  He managed to get past Andrew and was flying.  With Steve out of touch, Andrew elected to consolidate 2nd place.  After the pit stop, Max had a lonely stint but most importantly brought the car home in a strong 2nd place to clinch the title.  What a fantastic season!

A wet qualifying session saw us line up on the front row of the grid next to Steve Soper’s Team Dynamics run Lotus Cortina for race 1. Andrew got a typically excellent start and battled hard with Steve for the first 20 minutes regularly changing places until we finally managed to build a 2 second gap in time for the pitstops. With Steve having a slightly slow driver change, Max was able to come out of the pits comfortably in the lead and keep a gap of several seconds to the hard charging Cortina in the second half of the race, finally taking the chequered flag 3 seconds clear. Race 2 was an even closer affair, starting from pole Andrew lead the first lap, but with the Cortina on his bootlid, Steve used the BHP advantage of the Cortina to good effect down the Kemmel straight on lap 2 to get past. Andrew used the GTAs superior braking and more agile corner entry handling to get the GTA back past, only for Steve to blast past on the next long straight. This set the tone for the full 40 minute race, with the cars never more than a few car lengths apart emerging from the last chicane in a different order most laps! We came out from the pitstop with Max now 0.5 second behind Steve, and after a committed out lap, Max was back on Steve’s bootlid and managed to squeeze up the inside into Stavelot to regain the lead. The long back straight allowed Steve to get past again and a repeat of Andrew’s epic first half battle was recommenced in the second half. After about 10 changes of position, Max took the win by a car’s length to secure a double win for Alfaholics.

In the Masters World Sportscar race, we qualified the McLaren M6B 7th in very tricky wet conditions for the 1 hour endurance race. Andrew got a belting start and was soon running 3rd behind a pair of very experienced Lola T70 Mk3Bs. Unfortunately Andrew’s half of the race kept being interrupted by safety car periods, but after the final safety car intervention Andrew managed to jump into the lead and start to build a gap to P2, very exciting on the pitwall! No sooner had he built a couple of second’s advantage it was time for the driver change. We unfortunately lost some time in the pitstop so Max emerged a nett 4th. Max managed to re-pass 2 of those cars that Andrew had got past in the first half but sadly the lead T70 was too far down the road to be able to challenge. At the chequered flag we were 2nd overall, a fantastic result in only our 2nd race in the car.

What a weekend! 2 cars, of very different types, built and developed in house at Alfaholics and driven by Andrew & Max taking wins and podiums, against the very toughest competition in historic racing, the whole team were thrilled to bits!

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Having won this race for the last 3 years in a row, there was a certain degree of expectation amongst followers of the series that we would win again this year. However, we knew that nothing could be taken for granted as the Cortinas had been undergoing some intense development over the winter.  Of particular interest, ex BTCC champion Steve Soper (now in his second season of U2TC) had commissioned current BTCC champions Team Dynamics to build him a new Cortina for 2017 that they would run for him.  A man on a mission!  Alfaholics on the other hand had spent the winter building customer GTA-Rs, so with a quick check over and a wash, our GTA was wheeled out for another season’s racing.  Whilst it would be the same tough competition at the front of the field, the U2TC race format had been altered – no longer a 1 hour enduro, but rather two 40 minute races with an aggregated time for overall victory.

We managed to get to the front of the collecting area for qualifying to ensure a clear couple of laps before coming across slower cars.  Andrew managed to put in an excellent lap which was a clear 1 second faster than the gaggle of Cortinas behind. Over the next few laps, the traffic was not too kind to us and the Cortinas started to chip away at our margin.  Then, just before we planned to pit for a driver change, Andrew had a free lap and made it count with a quite remarkable time of 1m22.36 – no-one was going to get near that and we finished the session nearly 1 second clear of the field!

In race 1, Andrew got a superb start from the lights and managed to fend off the Cortinas down the straight and into turn one. With his head down and on a charge, he had pulled a 1 second lead by the end of lap one, which prevented the more powerful Cortinas from being able to challenge on the straights. Lap by lap he increased the margin and, by the driver change, he had pulled 12 seconds clear of the pack. Following the pit stop Max set about extending that margin, making it a full 24 seconds from Steve Soper by the chequered flag.

Starting from pole again in race 2, but now with Steve Soper next to him, Andrew again got a good start but found a very determined Soper right alongside by turn 1. Andrew defended superbly and retained the lead. By the end of the lap, Steve was still on his bootlid, absolutely wringing every last bit of performance and more out of his Cortina. Lap after lap they came round, nose to tail until finally Andrew just broke away a little. By the time we were ready for our pitstop, Andrew had built a 4 second lead, when suddenly the Safety Car was deployed. That meant everyone piled into the pits to minimise the loss of time from making the compulsory stop.  Max emerged still in the lead but now with the pack right behind awaiting the re-start. This was not to be the easiest of re-starts as Max was fresh in the car and the two Cortinas behind of Steve Soper and Andy Wolfe were single driving the race!  At the restart, Max defended firmly for the first lap before managing to get away and took the chequered flag with a 4 second margin from the following Cortinas.

Pole position and two lights-to-flag victories for the Alfaholics 1600 GTA against the toughest of competition – we could not have asked more from the weekend!

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For our last race of the season we headed to Spa-Francorchamps, deep in the Belgian Ardennes forest. This time we chose to run with Masters, which would put our GTA wheel to wheel with the big American V8s, namely the Ford Mustangs and Falcons, as well as the usual array of Cortinas. Qualifying proved to be a very tight battle, as we traded fractions of a second with Furiani’s GTA and Wolfe’s Cortina.  In the end, the V8s prevailed on this fast track while the quickest 4 cylinder cars lined up 4th, 5th and 6th on the grid, separated by just 0.2 secs.

We knew the race would be tough with the V8s able to stretch their legs on the straights but then hold us up in the corners; however some light drizzle just before the race was certainly going to add to the fun!  Off the line a couple of V8s blasted by and Andrew set off in close pursuit of Furiani’s GTA, as we both stretched away from the Cortinas.  After 4 laps, some more light rain appeared and Andrew’s overtaking spree began, first a couple of Mustangs and then Furiani’s GTA. This raised us to 3rd overall behind two Mustangs, as the pit stops began.  We executed an excellent driver change, before Furiani pitted a lap later.  As Max rounded La Source, Furiani was just exiting the pits in front and the cars headed down to Eau Rouge nose to tail.  A close battle ensued, but was sadly disrupted by an extended Safety Car period before battle recommenced for the final 3 laps. At the chequered flag, we were separated by 2 seconds and the GTAs were the first 4 cylinder cars home in 3rd and 4th place – a great result overall!

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For our third race of the year, we returned to the sensational annual Silverstone Classic – the world’s largest historic race meeting with packed grids and plenty of action all weekend.  The racing is always fierce at the Classic as some of the big names come to fight it out in what is recognised to be the toughest historic touring car series in Europe.

In qualifying, we were out of the traps fast and soon had the Alfaholics GTA on provisional pole position.  For 30 minutes we traded tenths with the fastest Cortinas, before finally ending the session 4th quickest.  Only 0.85secs covered the top 4 cars so it was as close as ever and set for a great race.

As we lined up on the grid, the Alfa looked a bit lonely in a sea of ermine white Cortinas, but it was nice to be up at the front against some formidable opposition.  The first half of the race was tough for Andrew, battling the front-running Cortinas that were supremely fast down the straights but hampered our progress in the corners.  On the pit wall, we were comforted somewhat by the fact that was still a long way to go in the race with the prospect of pit stops and driver changes to mix things up.  After our pit stop, Max shuffled up the field to bring the car home in an excellent 3rd place, notching up another podium for our increasingly successful GTA.  This was realistically the best result we could have hoped for on a circuit which always favours the Cortinas, but it was fun to be able to put on a good show for all the Alfista in the crowd!

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After a fierce battle at our season opener at Goodwood, next stop was the highly acclaimed Donington Historic Festival which is always a fun event. Having finished on the podium 4 years in a row and having won the race outright for the past 2 years, there was much expectation for us to complete the hat trick! However we were under no illusions that this would be a tough feat as U2TC maintains its reputation as the most competitive historic touring car series in Europe.  This year, ex BTCC champion Steve Soper joins the series in his super` quick Team Dynamics prepared Lotus Cortina.

With the cars lined up in the assembly area and blue skies over head, qualifying appeared to be a straight-forward shoot out for pole position between the top 4 or 5 cars. However, 3 minutes before the cars were due out on track, the heavens opened and we were subjected to a mix of snow, hale and rain. It was a cold day, but no one anticipated that! With no time to change settings, the cars were waved out on to the water-logged track. At the end of the opening lap, Andrew came drifting out of the chicane without another car in sight; his provisional pole time was 3 seconds faster than any other car – the Alfa was flying! Lap after lap Andrew chipped away at his time, until he pitted while still holding a slim pole advantage. We made some setting changes to better suit the wet conditions and sent him back out to go faster. A quick driver change near the end of the session and Max was out on a drying track but our softer wet set-up was no longer doing us a favour. In the last 2 laps, we tumbled down the order to 7th as cars were finding traction on a drying track that the softer Alfa could not. At this point, the likelihood of a win in the race seemed a very distant prospect!

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Race day dawned and the weather was just as changeable, raining and then drying out all morning. Starting in 7th, we knew flat-out was our only option to bring ourselves into contention. Andrew got a cracking start and after 5 laps and some robust overtaking manoeuvres on the Cortinas in front, the Alfaholics GTA was in the lead! By setting some superb lap times, Andrew stretched his lead out to 15 seconds by half distance and an efficient driver change allowed Max to re-join the race with a healthy advantage, which we held to the chequered flag.  So we managed to achieve that hat trick after all!


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Alfaholics Annual Castle Combe Trackday 2016 – Report

Our ever-popular trackday reached its 15th anniversary this year which shows that Alfa Romeo owners really like to use their cars in the way Alfa intended! The format this year followed the same pattern as the most recent years with an Open Day at Alfaholics on Friday where customers could come along and see the workshop, storage and warehouse. Highlights on display this year were the recently completed Autodelta works GTA restoration, the Alfaholics GTA-R 290 (recent star of Evo Magazine’s Trackday Car of the Year and the Charles Morgan Carfection video), no less than two TZ1s as well as other exciting ongoing projects.

The carpark started to fill up from about 10am and pretty soon there was a nice car show for the other residents of the estate to feast their eyes on. It’s always nice to be able to meet our customers and show them round and this year was no exception. The weather was lovely which added to the atmosphere and boded well for the trackday at Castle Combe on Saturday.

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Out of bed early the next morning for the trip to the circuit, look out of the window and “Oh no! It’s been raining!” Fortunately it had stopped by then but the wet roads meant that all the previously pristine cars arrived at the circuit with a light coating of road dirt on them. Once the briefing and sound testing were out of the way the fun could begin. As you can see from the photos, it did rain a bit later in the day but this didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the participants although the circuit restaurant was busier than usual! As always, there was a nice selection of cars on and off the track with spectators bringing some nice modern (and very old!) cars along. The lunchtime parade laps were as popular as ever.

Photos

We’ll leave you with a selection of photos of the on and off-track action. You can visit our Facebook page for more photos taken by people on the day!

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An invitation to race at the 74th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was a fantastic opportunity to kick off our 2016 race season.  Now in its third year and proving to be a huge success, the Members’ Meeting was conceived by Lord March to recreate the wonderful atmosphere of the original BARC Members’ Meetings of the 1950s and 1960s.  There was to be a spectacular line-up of races this year, ranging from the fearsome Edwardian racers of the early 20th Century to a GT40 only race to the Group 1 touring cars of the 1970s, as well as a number of high speed demonstrations.

Our 1600 GTA was entered in the Whitmore Cup for pre-1966 under 2 litre touring cars, a race in which we would do battle with Lotus Cortinas, BMW 1800 Tisas and Minis.  The competition looked fierce with the likes of Steve Soper and Dickie Meaden in Cortinas and Nick Swift and Rob Huff in some extraordinarily quick Minis.  UK race meetings in March can often be decidedly wintry and sure enough there was little sign of Spring in the air as we arrived at a bitterly cold Goodwood.  Fortunately, it would stay dry for the duration of the weekend so it was just a case of wrapping up warm and enjoying the atmosphere.

Qualifying was scheduled for late afternoon on Saturday and Andrew managed to get out early and set about putting in some quick laps.  Having spent the session trading times with Mark Sumpter in a similarly paced Cortina, Andrew finally prevailed and qualified 3rd on the front row of the grid alongside Dickie and Steve Soper.  With some more quick Cortinas just behind, it would make for a very exciting race the following day!

Sunday’s timetable was jam-packed, not only with races but also a series of high speed demonstrations, the highlight being the Group 5 Sports Cars of the early 70s, featuring a number of Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s – an incredible sight and noise!  Unfortunately, several bad accidents throughout the day served to delay the schedule and our race was shortened to just 10 mins.  After a busy first lap, Andrew spent the race locked in a titanic battle with John Young’s Cortina and Nick Swift’s Mini.  The pace of the Cortina on the straights combined with some good positioning thwarted Andrew’s attempts to pass, as he simultaneously fought to fend off the Mini which hardly seemed to brake for some of the corners! At the chequered flag we just missed out on a podium position, finishing 4th overall.

Race Photos

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We rounded off our 2015 season in the best possible style, taking outright victory in the last round of the fantastic U2TC series at Portimao. In making the long journey to the Algarve, we had expected to enjoy some warm and sunny weather.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to be – the further south we drove, the more it rained!

Fortunately, qualifying was dry and Andrew got to work straight away to put the Alfaholics GTA on provisional pole on his first flying lap – a time that would prove to be good enough for the whole session. He then managed to shave off a further 0.3 seconds a couple of laps later to cement our position at the top of the timesheets.  This allowed him to come in early and hand over to Max to get some laps in.

Race day dawned and it was raining again!  As the race start approached, the rain began to ease and suddenly it was no longer clear whether a wet set-up was the right decision.  Most of our competitors had switched to a wet set-up and we had started to do the same, but now we weren’t so sure.  No-one knew how quickly the circuit would dry or indeed whether it would rain again.  As the sky brightened, we chose to gamble and reverted to dry settings!  Surely a dry line would appear during the 1 hour race?

As the cars formed up on the grid, there were no signs of the circuit drying and we knew that the first few laps would be tough on a dry set-up.  At the start, Andrew dropped back to 3rd as the BMWs took advantage of their superior traction.  It looked doubtful that our gamble would pay off as Andrew fought lap after lap with a superbly driven Mini, always mighty fast in tricky conditions.  As soon as the track began to dry in places, he pulled clear of the Mini, just as the lead BMW came into the pits to retire.  Now things were looking a bit more interesting as the remaining BMW would need to hand over soon to a slower driver, but then the rain started to fall again!

Andrew pitted just after the halfway mark and handed over to Max, who set off in pursuit of the BMW.  Three laps later he had caught the BMW, but now both cars had been caught by another Mini that was enjoying the wet conditions once again.  The Mini was soon leading with Max close behind, as we prayed for the circuit to dry.  Just a little drier would do it.  Sure enough, two laps from the finish a dry line started to appear and the GTA could suddenly put its power down.  Max took the lead going into the last lap which he had stretched to 5 seconds by the chequered flag.  The tricky conditions and different set-ups on the cars had produced a nail-biting race – what a fantastic end to our 2015 season!

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The cream of the U2TC grid assembled for the 2015 season opener at Donington, with all the fastest FIA cars present. Having won the race in 2014, all eyes were on Alfaholics to see how we would fare this year. Qualifying was due to be a tricky session, as it had rained overnight and showery conditions in the morning were preventing the track from drying fully. As the cars came round to start their first flying lap, Andrew was visibly the fastest car, setting provisional pole on his first flying lap. Andrew chipped away at his pole time, improving his time by around 0.05 seconds lap by lap and retaining pole position. However, it was very close between the top 3 cars, so it could go either way. On the very last lap, we were shuffled back to 3rd behind works Audi R8LM driver Frank Stippler in another GTA and ex-F1 star Jackie Oliver in the BMW 1800 TiSa.

Race day was sunny and the overnight rain had cleared in time for our race. Andrew got a cracking start from the inside of row 2, but found himself boxed in behind Frank Stippler and alongside the BMW with nowhere to go. At the end of the first lap, we were still third but catching the BMW and by the end of lap 3, Andrew had Jackie lined up nicely down the main straight for a move into Redgate. By the time we were past the BMW, Frank had pulled out a comfortable lead that proved too tough to close. Our driver change at half distance was an efficient 16 seconds stationary and once all the pit stops had been made, we had managed to close the gap slightly. However, within 2 laps of pitting, the lead GTA retired which handed Max a comfortable 20 second lead over the chasing BMW to give us another hard earned victory in this ultra-competitive series.

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Once again the doors opened at Alfaholics on the Friday before the track day to allow visitors to see what we do here. This year, in addition to the warehouse and the workshop, we opened our storage facility resulting in a wonderful array of 25 Alfa Romeos on display with special focus on 7 GTAs (including 4 Autodelta cars) to mark our celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GTA! A fine selection of visitors’ cars was soon assembled in the Alfaholics (and neighbours’!) car parks with owners enjoying the sunshine, good company, tinkering time and in many cases a carwash!

The Saturday morning weather didn’t look promising at first, but by the time the drivers briefing was out of the way the sun was out again and had soon dried out the track. Along with the regulars who continue to support our event, it was nice to see plenty of newcomers on track confirming that the Alfa 105 scene is alive and well. A full complement of Alfaholics-built GTA-Rs  were on track plus the Spider V6, recent star of TV programme 5th Gear, showing that you can fit a big engine in a small car and make it handle! Andrew’s Giulia Ti Super-R was also on hand again for fast passenger rides although a fair amount of informal “seat-hopping” was seen taking place which shows that Alfa owners are a friendly bunch and always happy to share the experience.

In honour of this years’ 50th Anniversary of the GTA, the lunchtime parade laps were led by Max in the Team Slotemaker Autodelta 1600 GTA Corsa, resplendent in its (very Dutch!) orange and white livery flanked by the two GTA Stradales of Richard Banks and Adam Burstow, all three restored by Alfaholics of course!

A big thanks to everyone who came to the open day and track day, both as a participant and a spectator, making the two days so enjoyable!  As usual we had a healthy number of visitors from abroad, making this a truly international event.

We’ll leave you with this email from our inbox on Monday morning-

“Hello Chaps.  Monday has dawned and wish it hadn’t, feel tired and not sure about being in front of a desk again …  however I had a fantastic weekend.

 I wanted to thank you for the hospitality on Friday (buffet, welcome and even cleaned my car!), and a fabulous day on Saturday. Whilst I was apprehensive, it turned out to be great fun and I learned a bit as well, (probably what I learned was how much I didn’t really know and how slow I am, something  my wife didn’t believe) but that’s part of the process…   

 Also I thought all the people that work with you did a great job, Rachael with her clipboard and the young mechanic with a beard, who seemed really helpful, I saw him working all weekend happily helping out.  In fact everyone seemed glad to be there.

 Hope to see you again and thanks for a great experience

 Mark Bracey”

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Happy 50th Birthday to the 1600 GTA! First launched on the 18th February 1965 at the Amsterdam Autosalon where 613001 was displayed next to a production Sprint GT. To celebrate, here are some great photos of 1600 GTAs we have restored over the past few years, along with a couple that are still in progress! We will have a great collection of 1600 GTAs at our 2015 Castle Combe trackday, and we invite all GTA owners to contact us to take part in this display!

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This was a tough weekend’s racing in our FIA App.K GTA after an issue in qualifying left us outside the top 5 on the grid and doubtful of a good result. In the 50 minute 2 driver race, Andrew battled door to door with several Cortinas in the first half of the race, ultimately losing out on raw laptime to retain track position. A blisteringly quick driver change got us into 4th place and running in clear air for a lap, when Jackie Oliver exited the pits in his BMW 1800 Tisa directly in front of our GTA. It looked to be a re-run of Donington, with our GTA behind the BMW again, battling for track position. After 20 minutes of ‘hard but fair’ door to door racing (a real delight!) Max managed to get past Jackie and secure 3rd place overall, yet another podium for Alfaholics in U2TC! A superb result in the end!

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Alfaholics 14th annual track day for classic Alfa Romeos will once again be held at Castle Combe on Saturday 11th April 2015.

This year, we are celebrating 50 years since the launch of Alfa’s legendary 1600 GTA.  In fact, our track day will mark almost exactly 50 years since a GTA first competed in a race – the Monza 1000kms in April 1965, in which an Autodelta entered car took its maiden victory in the 1600cc class.  We are therefore extending a special invitation to owners of GTAs so that we can put together a great collection of cars and make our track day a proper celebration of this iconic model!

Castle Combe, conveniently situated between J17 and J18 of the M4, is 1.85 miles long and combines chicanes and fast corners that make for very exciting and challenging driving.  With 12 cars permitted on the circuit at once, there will be virtually unlimited track time all day!  This makes for a relaxed and sociable atmosphere which is always a great feature of our Castle Combe day.  Additional drivers in any cars entered are also welcome.

Over the last few years, we have enjoyed a fantastic international flavour to our track day with customers making the journey from as far away as Australia, Chile, and North America!  We would once again like to welcome all our international customers who would like to attend.  For those wishing to stay over the weekend, we have secured preferential rates at a superb hotel on the outskirts of Bristol, where we will have the use of a private function room and bar for our traditional pre track-day dinner.  Please contact us for further information and to book your place!

Those wishing to attend the day as spectators will be warmly welcomed and can take part in a 4 lap circuit parade over the lunch hour.

The Tavern Restaurant in the paddock will be open all day serving food and drinks for the benefit of all.

Signing on will be held in the Media Centre followed by a circuit briefing by the Clerk of the Course, Andrew Banks, before familiarisation laps with instructors at 9.00am when the circuit opens.

We will once again have our favourite instructor, Erling, to provide his expert circuit instruction.  He is an official Castle Combe instructor and will be able to assist with improving your racing lines, braking points, gear change points and provide lots more tips to help you improve your skills.  Those who have benefitted from his instruction in previous years have said how much their enjoyment of the day had been enhanced as a result.

Castle Combe is particularly strict on noise emission, with an absolute limit of 99dB(A) at 4500rpm, measured on a static test of 0.5 metres from the end of the exhaust pipe at 45º.  This means that cars should use a standard exhaust or a sensible sports system.  The Alfaholics sports exhaust is fine.  Add-on silencers are available from Merlin Motorsport in the Paddock on the day.

To round off a perfect day, everyone is welcome to join us afterwards for an early evening dinner and drinks at an excellent country pub just a mile from the circuit.  This has become a popular tradition over the past few years so please let us know if you would like to attend.

 

The cost for a car plus driver is £195 plus VAT with additional drivers at £60 plus VAT.  One to one instruction is £20 plus VAT per session.

As usual, demand is sure to be considerable and numbers are strictly limited, so please contact [email protected] as soon as possible in order to book your place and avoid disappointment!  Alternatively, you can call us on +44 1275 349449.

 

Alfaholics Open Day!

Following the great success of our pre-track day gathering last year, we will once again be organising an open day at Alfaholics on Friday 10th April – the day before the track day.  Owners of 105 series Alfas are very welcome to attend and enjoy a sociable day.  We will be providing lunch for everyone and drinks (including espressos!) will be available all day.

It will be a great opportunity to view the huge range of standard and performance parts we offer and also to see the various car build and race preparation projects we are undertaking in our workshops.  In addition, all the Alfaholics road, track day and race cars will be available to view.

We will also have one of our ramps available throughout the day for anyone wishing to have a free pre track-day check-up!  The full Alfaholics team will be on hand to offer advice and assistance.

Alfaholics 14Th Spring Track Day - Castle Combe 11Th April 2015

Alfaholics 14Th Spring Track Day - Castle Combe 11Th April 2015

Alfaholics 14Th Spring Track Day - Castle Combe 11Th April 2015

Alfaholics 14Th Spring Track Day - Castle Combe 11Th April 2015

Alfaholics 14Th Spring Track Day - Castle Combe 11Th April 2015

Alfaholics 14Th Spring Track Day - Castle Combe 11Th April 2015

 

When at the 2014 Laguna Seca Historics, we bumped into Mark Greene who runs the superb American automotive Podcast – “Cars Yeah”. After chatting about the Stahlberg GTA Corsa, he invited me to do a Podcast interview via phone, which we just completed. Check out the link below to listen to the 35 minute interview which gives an in depth insight into the background and workings of Alfaholics!

http://carsyeah.com/ourportfolio/max-banks/

The November edition of Classic Cars magazine, currently on the shelves in Newsagents, features a 7 page ‘Epic Restorations’ article on our recently completed Stahlberg Racing Medley Bourbon GTA!

The October issue of Classic Cars Magazine – currently on the shelves in newsagents – features a 13 page shoot-out of road going versions of the 1960s saloon racers built to homologate cars for racing. We supplied a gorgeous 1600 GTA Stradale that we restored in 2012 for the test, ensuring the Alfa Romeo brand was well represented! Find a copy at your local newsagent now!

We are very proud to report that we took outright victory in the U2TC race at the Donington Historic Festival! U2TC is widely regarded as Europe’s toughest and most competitive series for pre-1966 touring cars, so it was a wonderful result to beat all the Lotus Cortinas and BMW 1800s!

Qualifying was always going to be closely fought and Andrew managed to set a superb time early in the session to put our GTA on provisional pole. We hung on to pole position for most of the session, before being shuffled back to 3rd in the dying minutes. The time sheets later showed how close the session had been – only a second covering the top 9 cars on the grid! It was set up for a fantastic race!

We chose to follow our usual format with Andrew starting and then handing over to Max at 30 minutes to complete the 1 hour race. Andrew was lined up 3rd on the grid, behind the pole sitting BMW TiSA which was being started by ex-F1 driver and CanAm champion Jackie Oliver.  The next 10 grid slots were all held by Lotus Cortinas!

Andrew got a great start and was tucked up behind Jackie on the run down to Redgate, managing to take the inside line, and slipped into second place as the pack headed down the Craner Curves. Over the first few laps, the leading 4 cars were all nose to tail, Jackie leading in the BMW, Andrew second in our GTA, closely followed by a pair of Cortinas, all battling hard for position. On the 5th lap, Andrew got a good run out of the Old Hairpin and managed to dive up the inside of the BMW into McLeans to take the lead. In clear air, he managed to capitalise and stretching his lead to 6 seconds by the time the BMW pitted for the driver change. The BMW was stationary for a mere 15 seconds before it way on its way in the hands of Richard Shaw. On the following lap, Andrew came in to hand over to Max and, as the GTA accelerated out of the pitlane, the gap was back down to 2 seconds. With a handful of quick laps and ensuring lapped traffic did not compromise lap times too badly, Max built the lead back up to 4 seconds and monitored the gap to take the chequered flag with a winning margin of 6 seconds! In taking the victory, we also set a new lap record for U2TC at Donington by 0.5 seconds. A thrilling result to start our 2014 season!

As an array of 105 series Alfas began arriving on Friday morning, it was set to be another cracking track day weekend.  Once again, customers had travelled from far and wide to check out the latest products on offer, tour the workshops and generally chat all things Alfa.  Of particular interest in the workshops was a lovely white Sprint GTV which had just undergone a full Alfaholics restoration and was now fitted with a range of subtle upgrades including a 165bhp 2 litre engine and upgraded suspension.  The owner had flown across from Chile with his son to drive the car at the track day before we ship it home for him!

As the day drew to a close, we made our way to the hotel.  A convoy of 105s was quite a sight travelling up the M5!  This year, we had arranged to stay in a superb new hotel conveniently located on the outskirts of Bristol.  After plenty of banter in the bar, we had a full 3 course dinner in a private dining room.  All in all, a great day and a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and welcome some new faces too.

Friday Openday photos

On Saturday, it was the usual fabulous selection of 105s on track – ranging from standard specification road cars to super-quick modified twin spark track day cars and race cars, all well presented and well prepared.  Once again, driving standards were excellent and the semi open-pitlane format meant that there was plenty of track time on offer.

With the usual buzz in the paddock, it was a great opportunity to showcase the Lancia Stratos which has just been fully restored by Alfaholics to Gp 4 specification.  Although too noisy to take to the track in anger, it led the popular lunchtime parade and took some lucky passengers on demonstration runs on the local roads!

Once again, there were lots of enthusiasts who had come along to admire the machinery and see the cars being driven hard on track, many of whom brought along some rare and interesting cars themselves.

Thanks to everyone who attended for helping make the day such a success and see you again next year!

Alfaholics 13th annual track day for classic Alfa Romeos will once again be held at Castle Combe on Saturday 5th April 2014.

Owners of 105 series Alfas who would like the opportunity to drive their cars at speed in a non-competitive environment are very welcome.

Castle Combe, conveniently situated between J17 and J18 of the M4, is 1.85 miles long and combines chicanes and fast corners that make for extremely exciting and challenging driving.  Once again, instructors will be on hand to offer advice and demonstrate cornering technique, while all corners will be ‘coned’ to show braking, turn-in and apex points.

With no fixed session times and 12 cars on the circuit at once, there will be virtually unlimited track time all day!  This makes for a relaxed and sociable atmosphere which is always a great feature of our Castle Combe day.  Additional drivers in any cars entered are welcome.

Over the last few years, we have enjoyed a fantastic international flavour to our track day with customers making the journey from as far away as Chile, Holland, America and Australia!  We would once again like to welcome all our international customers who would like to attend.  For those who wish to stay over the weekend, we shall be organising accommodation nearby in Bristol.  Please contact us for preferential rates.  We will once again be organising a dinner for those people staying on Friday night.

Those wishing to attend the day as spectators will be warmly welcomed and can take part in a 4 lap circuit parade over the lunch hour.

The Tavern Restaurant in the paddock will be open all day serving food and drinks for the benefit of all.

Signing on will be held in the Media Centre followed by a circuit briefing by the Clerk of the Course, Andrew Banks, before familiarisation laps with instructors at 9.00am when the circuit opens.

We will once again have Erling there on the day to provide his expert circuit instruction.  He is an official Castle Combe instructor and will be able to assist with improving your racing lines, braking points, gear change points and provide lots more tips to help you improve your skills.  Those who have benefitted from his instruction in previous years have said how much their enjoyment of the day had been enhanced as a result.

Castle Combe is particularly strict on noise emission, with an absolute limit of 99dB(A) at 4500rpm, measured on a static test of 0.5 metres from the end of the exhaust pipe at 45º.  This means that cars should use a standard exhaust or a sensible sports system.  The Alfaholics sports exhaust is fine.  Add-on silencers are available from Merlin Motorsport in the Paddock on the day.

To round off a perfect day, everyone is welcome to join us afterwards for an early evening dinner and drinks at an excellent country pub just a mile from the circuit.  This has become a popular tradition over the past few years so please let us know if you would like to attend.

The cost for a car plus driver is £195 plus VAT with additional drivers at £60 plus VAT.  One to one instruction is £20 plus VAT per session.

As usual, demand is sure to be considerable (indeed we have already taken a number of bookings!) and numbers are strictly limited, so please contact [email protected] as soon as possible in order to book your place and avoid disappointment!  Alternatively, you can call us on +44 1275 349449.

Alfaholics Open Day!

Following the great success of our pre-track day gathering last year, we will once again be organising an open day at Alfaholics on Friday 4th April, the day before the track day.  Owners of 105 series Alfas are very welcome to attend and enjoy a sociable day.

It will be a great opportunity to view the huge range of standard and performance parts we offer and also to see the various car build and race preparation projects we are undertaking in our workshops.  In addition, all of the Alfaholics road, track day and race cars will be available to view.

We will also have one of our ramps available throughout the day for anyone wishing to have a free pre-track day check-up!  The full Alfaholics team will be on hand to offer advice and assistance.

We will be providing lunch for everyone and drinks (including espressos!) will be available all day.  For those wishing to stay close by on Friday night, we have organised hotel accommodation with secure parking – please contact us for preferential rates.  Feel free to join us for dinner too!

This summer, we were invited to take our FIA App.K 1600 GTA to California to race in the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which takes place at Laguna Seca over the Pebble Beach weekend. Although this would mean us missing two important European meetings, namely Silverstone Classic and Spa 6 Hours , it was a one off opportunity that we could not refuse!

We were entered in both the Pre-Reunion meeting as well as the Reunion feature meeting the following weekend. Although there was no free practice, a couple of sprint races in the Pre-Reunion would hopefully be enough to learn the circuit in preparation for the main weekend.  On arrival at the circuit, it soon became clear that we would be up against some stiff opposition made up of mainly GT cars, including countless Porsche 911s, Lotus Elan 26Rs and Ginetta G4s, most of which were running semi-slicks.  We would be the only car on Dunlop CR65s!

So, it was straight into qualifying for the first race of the Pre-Reunion and Max spent the first half of the 18 minute session bedding in new brake pads and scrubbing tyres before setting a lap time good enough for 12th on the grid of 30 cars.  In the race, he managed to pick up some places and finished 9th overall amongst the Porsche 911s. Andrew used his qualifying session to scrub our second set of tyres for the following weekend and learn the circuit. In his race, he started in Max’s finishing position and finished 8th and was the first Alfa home, having had a long battle with another GTA and a GTAm.

For the main Reunion weekend, the entry list was revised and fortunately the huge Porsche 911 contingent had their own race.  However, our group grew to 40 cars with a mix of sports cars, GTs cars and saloons which included a 1970s Jensen Healey and even a Chevron B8! After the 2 qualifying sessions, we had set a lap time of 1m48.0secs which placed us 14th on the grid for the first race. We were the fastest GTA and in the middle of a group of BMW 2002s, just behind the Lotus Elan 26Rs and Ginetta G4s.

In the first race we managed to slip in front of all the BMW 2002s and battled hard with a Ginetta G4 to finish 11th overall and the first period correct saloon car, dipping into the 1m47.0s in the process. The main feature race was looking very good for us, starting 11th on the grid, but it turned into a nightmare for many of the front runners! A car blew its engine on the warm up lap while going through the long left hand corner after the Corkscrew but the marshals had not noticed the oil slick on the racing line so there were no oil flags on the opening lap!  As the leaders came through the Corkscrew we were up to 9th, but then everyone hit the oil and 5 of the first 10 cars spun into the sand trap, including us.  Fortunately there were no cars damaged, but the race was stopped while the stranded cars were recovered and the sizeable oil slick cleaned up.  The severity of the spill meant that this took quite a while so there was only enough time for a 2 lap sprint race after the restart – certainly no chance to work our way back through the field. A frustrating end to a very enjoyable two weeks in California, but racing can go that way – at least no-one suffered any damage in the chaos!

We shared pit space with the superb Dennison International Team over both weekends

Leading the Porsche 911s at the Pre-Reunion

Andrew powerslides through the Corkscrew!

The start of the final race of the Reunion Weekend

On board Andrew’s 216BHP TI Super-R battling a Gen II Porsche 997 GT3 at the infamous Nurburgring Norsdschleife!

Wonderful on-board footage of a top specification Alfaholics TI Super-R at Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit. Driven by Andrew Banks at the recent Octane Magazine Trackday. Beautiful balance and poise exhibited by both the car and driver!