The pair of Mike Wilkinson and John Bussell ensured a classic ending end to the inaugural season of the Jaguar Heritage Challenge as they took the chequered flag driving their Jaguar E-type – formerly owned by Formula One legend Sir Jackie Stewart. Wilkinson and Bussell began the race on the second row of the grid at the Oulton Park Gold Cup having qualified in fourth place on Saturday. Race 1 winner, and today’s pole-sitter Martin O’Connell, once again set the early race pace from the start, but both Wilkinson and Bussell demonstrated tremendous determination to keep pace with the leading pack.
It wasn’t until Lap 13 that the pair moved up into the lead as race leader O’Connell was forced to retire to the pits after an unfortunate mechanical failure.
From that point on they established a commanding lead in the eye-catching Red E-type ‘SSN 300’, but it so nearly didn’t go to plan as, on the last lap, driver John Bussell ran wide and went momentarily off the track. He recovered brilliantly and ended up crossing the line a minute-and-a-half ahead of second placed Peter Castaldini and the third-place pair of Robert Gate and Dave Coyne – both in race-prepared E-types.
The victory for Wilkinson and Bussell meant they became the firth different winner in as many close and entertaining races of the inaugural season of the Jaguar Heritage Challenge.
“Old Favourite” as the race-winning E-type SSN 300 was affectionately known, was the first race car Sir Jackie owned and originally started life as a customer demonstrator for the Stewart family’s car dealership in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. On the weekends though, a young Sir Jackie would race this exact E-type under an anonymous name to keep his involvement secret from his mother.
Another famous Jaguar taking to the track – and as it turned out taking class honours – was C-type ‘PUG 676’ – owned and raced by Royal Automobile Club Motoring Committee Chairman, Ben Cussons.
Cussons took Class C honours at the Gold Cup this afternoon and also set the fastest lap in PUG 676, while finishing a very credible ninth overall. First registered in September 1952, PUG 676 has genuine racing pedigree. Dick Protheroe raced it extensively during the post-World-War II era before it was sold to its next owner, John Hallhan, who shipped it to Australia for restoration in 1966. Fans of the Mille Miglia will be familiar with this iconic car, which competed in the grueling 1000-mile rally in May of this year with Cussons at the wheel.
Lorraine Toolan, Global Head of Marketing for Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: “This has been a great season of Jaguar Heritage racing. The support from our drivers has been amazing, too. All of which gives us plenty to build on for the future.”
In addition to entertaining race fans in the Jaguar Heritage Challenge, Andy Wallace will treat spectators to a special driving demonstration in his 1988 Le Mans-winning XJR-9 LM. Wallace, who along with teammates Johnny Dumfries and Jan Lammers, successfully piloted this historic endurance car to a famous win 27 years ago – famously ending Porsche’s seven-year winning streak.
Other class winners from the season finale were: Jim Tester in his XK120 (A1), Chris Keith- Lucas driving an XK150 (A), Andy Wallace in a Mk1 (B) and John Burton in his E-type (D). The Commentators’ Driver of the day was awarded to Jim Tester for finishing fourth overall in his XK120 after an inspired and determined drive.