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It had been a couple of years since the NK HTGT had visited Dijon. This autumn the Dutch were back in force with the YTCC and Dutch MG Competitions also making the trek to the Bourgogne region. With its fast, undulating corners the former Grand Prix track is popular with drivers and spectators alike, although the main straight is fairly long, favouring the bigger cars. The programme was interesting with single seater action courtesy of the Historic Grand Prix Car Association and Lurani Trophy as well as a number of races for GT’s and prototypes up to 1980. Plenty of action both on and off the track in a nice ambiance, cool cars and competitors from all over Europe kept everyone happy. The circuit management had been busy as well, there was a nice new office building full of attentive young ladies and state-of-the-art timekeeping with live timing and online results.
The entry list for the NK HTGT powered by Gamma had quite a number of no-shows, but with the help of some interesting guest drivers we still had a quality field. Carlo Hamilton has been racing his Ford Falcon Sprint in theBelgian Historic Cup as well as the NK GTTC, but as a 1965 car the NK HTGT is its natural habitat so he fitted straight in. Michel Reitz is a local man who has run in the NK before and is very fast in his Austin Healey 3000. From Belgium we had Philippe Lambiliotte in a Lotus Elan as well as the Mustang of Dumoulin and van Riet, plus another Healey with our German friend Christian Graf von Wedel. And then there was the Rettenmaier family, a well-known name in historic racing. They had entered an Alfa GTA and a BMW1800 for the youngest generation, Klara, Rebecca and Jacob.
There was no free practice, it was straight in with qualifying at 2 pm on Friday. With just a 25 minute session first timers had quite a bit to do, learning the track and then setting a time. Fastest of the bunch was of course Michiel Campagne in the most powerful car of the field, the Grand Sport Corvette, in 1:36.6. Robert Hamilton was motivated to do well, still having a good chance to take the title, posting a 1:38,9 in his Marcos which was good for second initially. However this time was bettered a couple of minutes later by Bob Stevens in the Lotus Elan and as the session drew to a close it was Tom Kuiper in the Corvette Fuelie who went faster still and propelled himself onto the first row with a 1:38.5. Jos Stevens qualified fifth in his Elan, just ahead of Rhea Sautter, the Jag E-type going well. The Bijleveld/v.d. Ende Falcon was next up, fastest of the big touring cars with Carlo Hamilton next in eighth, clearly enjoying throwing his Falcon around on the mandatory Dunlops. Next up was Mark Dols in the second of the Marcoses, with Reitz in the Austin-Healey rounding out the top-10. Championship contender Norbert Gross was only 12th in his Ford falcon, the car not running well due to a mysterious problem. In CT07, the Mini Cooper class, René de Vries was on top, his 1:44,3 a full 1,3 seconds quicker than next man Rob Rappange. Languishing near the bottom of the timesheets was Edwin Dijkman. Unable to change gear in his MGB, he decided to retire from the meeting.
With the grid decided, let’s take a look at the championship situation. In order to do well in the NK HTGT points, three things are important. The first is to finish all the races, as there are no scratch results. The second is to compete in a well contested class, as every competitor that starts the race in your class gives you 0,2 bonus points. The third is of course to do well and preferably win your class. It 2016 the best supported classes were CT10 and GTS11, so the champion would most likely come from one of these. And so it proved, with Robert Hamilton of Silvertonhill scoring four out of four in the first points scoring races he was leading until the Historic GP at Zandvoort. There, he had a difficult weekend and it was Norbert Gross who scored two wins in CT10 and jumped into the lead with 69,4 points to Hamiltons 61,4. This meant that, barring any non-finishes, one of these two would take the title, with Gross having the best chance. Hamilton had a clear mission: to win his class twice. Gross needed to finish higher than fourth in his class. Normally not a problem for the man in the green Falcon, except the car wasn’t running right and the problem couldn’t be located. So we were in for an interesting couple of races.
As the field congregated on the pre-grid, it was not just Dijkman but also Paul Lejeune in the Triumph TR4 who failed to appear. This meant two less competitors in GTS11, robbing Hamilton of 0,4 points. Not that he was thinking about that, focusing instead on winning his class and staying out of trouble. This he did, coming away cleanly in third. Kuiper had taken the lead form Michiel Campagne, who poked his nose inside the silver Corvette in the Bretelle and got ahead on the exit. Behind Hamilton, Jos Stevens had taken fourth ahead of his son Bob and Martin Bijleveld in the Falcon. In CT07, René de Vries had one of his bad starts and had fallen behind both Rob Rappange and Roger Ebdon, with Bert Mets also passing him shortly afterwards. At start-finish, Kuiper was back ahead of M. Campagne, then it was Robert Hamilton followed by father and son Stevens, Bijleveld and then Dols in the Marcos ahead of Carlo Hamilton (who by the way is unrelated to his namesake Robert). Richard Evans had moved up to 9th in his Marcos while Gross was going steady in 10th, ahead of a good battle for second in GTS12 which was led by Frans van Maarschalkerwaart in his Shelby Mustang, ahead of Sautter in her E-type and the Healeys of Reitz and von Wedel. At the back of the field, Rebecca Rettenmaier in the Alfa was holding off her sister Klara.
Michiel Campagne and Tom Kuiper were entertaining the crowds and themselves with constant place-swappingand synchronized drifting. Hamilton in his Marcos looked to be safe in third, the only one making any real progress was Evans who was now right behind Dols, having passed Hamilton’s Falcon. The two Healeys were having a good scrap, powering through the Bretelle side-by-side, while René de Vries had found some sort of pace and was trying to re-take Bert Mets for third in class.
Things were moving now, Kuiper and Campagne still ahead of Hamilton, but Stevens jr. was now in fourth, while Evans had taken Bijleveld, Dols and Stevens senior. Behind them there was a group with Sautter, Hamilton C., Gross and Van Maarschalkerwaart, Reitz having retired. Roger Ebdon was trying to reach Rob Rappange, their Minis being on the same sort of pace, but it was difficult to close the gap. Georg Nolte interfered in this battle. While Nolte moving up through the field in the Bizzarini, Ebdon was looking for a tow. This didn’t work out as Nolte had no clue were the Mini was as they braked for the Bretelle and closed the door. Ebdon decided to avoid hitting the frail Italian coachwork and instead had a mighty spin, being quite lucky as it could have easily become a roll. The downside was that Rappange had got away.
The battle for sixth was still going, Bijleveld now also part of the action as both he and Carlo Hamilton were doing a lot of sideways motoring in their Falcons, allowing Sautter and Dols to stay in contention. A hairy moment ensued while lapping the Rettenmaier BMW, Sautter getting stuck behind it while Dols passed on the Left and Carlo Hamilton on the right. Meanwhile, Roel Korsten in the Ford Mustang was reeling in Von Wedel and behind them, Georg Nolte was using the Bizzarini’s top speed to pass Frits Campagne in his Ford Falcon. Then it was Rappange who now had a safe cushion consisting of the Mustangs of Dirk Waaijenberg and Christian Dumoulin plus Erwin van Lieshout’s Porsche 911 to Roger Ebdon. Third in GTS10 was contested by Philippe Lambiliotte and Lars Bondesson in their Lotus Elans, just ahead of an MGB/Mini mix with Niek van Gils, René de Vries, Egbert Kolvoort and Bert Mets.
With the Corvette guys still doing their synchronized ballet act, Robert Hamilton was now being hotly pursued by Bob Stevens, who had speeded up because Evans was now right behind him. Sautter had re-passed Carlo Hamilton and Mark Dols. Bob Stevens nearly went off when Evans managed to pass him and moments later, the blue Marcos had also passed Robert Hamilton’s orange example. Meanwhile, Gross was right behind Carlo Hamilton, looking to take second in class, so the championship looked to be decided in his favour right there and then.
Michiel Campagne was first past the flag after 19 laps, 0,2 of a second ahead of GTS12 winner Tom Kuiper. Evens had set an amazing fastest lap of 1:36,1 to come third, 1,7 seconds ahead of Robert Hamilton, who thus came only second in class. Bob and Jos Stevens were next in their Elans, Bijleveld just pipped Sautter for seventh, happy with a class win. Mark Dols was 9th and Carlo Hamilton tenth with Norbert Gross 11th and third in class, well on his way to the championship. Rappange was the winner in CT07, from Roger Ebdon and René de Vries, while Rebecca Rettenmaier beat her sister Klara fair and square to win the interim touring car class. This was not the final word though, as Evans’ fast lappery prompted the scrutineers to have a look under the Marcos’ bonnet. This was inconclusive and upon being asked to remove the head, he admitted to running an oversize engine. That left no other option but to exclude him from the results, thereby promoting Robert Hamilton to first in class, Dols to second and Porsche-man van Lieshout to third. It also meant the battle for the championship was still on, Gross now on 76,8 points and Hamilton just 4,4 behind on 72,4. That meant the scenario was unchanged: Hamilton needed another win, Gross needed to come third or better in the final race on sunday.
When the lights changed for the second race, Bob Stevens was already on his way, slotting his Elan into second. This wasn’t to last long, as not surprisingly he was shown the Drive Through Penalty board. So it was the two Corvette drivers who resumed battle at the front, with Robert Hamilton in third. Mark Dols had a good start and was in fourth for a short while, until repassed by Jos Stevens. Gross’ Falcon appeared to be its old self, powering past Jaap van der Ende and Carlo Hamilton to take the class lead, but it didn’t last long and he soon dropped back to third in class, with Roel Korsten and Frits Campagne ready to take advantage as soon as an opportunity would present itself. Meanwhile Ebdon had had a good start and he and Rappange were actually side-by-side contesting the CT07 lead. Michel Reitz had fixed his Healey and was going great guns, coming from last place he was in 16th after the first lap.
Again it was a good race for the spectators, with the two Corvettes alternating at the front, Jos Stevens and Mark Dols battling for fourth and then a group with Carlo Hamilton, Sautter, van der Ende, van Maarschalkerwaart and Gross, with Reitz and Bob Stevens closing in. Ebdon meanwhile was ahead of Rappange and managed to stay ahead, at least for the time being.
The main action was in the group that battled for sixth, sometimes with scant regard for track limits. Reitz was determined to pass them all, a little too determined as he pushed Rhea Sautter out of the way, causing her retirement. He had passed van Maarschalkerwaart’s Shelby as it ran wide and also took van der Ende, mission accomplished.
Further behind, Frits Campagne was again in close company with Georg Nolte, this time he was determined to stay with the Bizzarini as they had their own “battle of the pensionados”. Waaijenberg was battling with van Lieshout and Rappange had finally outfoxed Ebdon. Next it was Bondesson who with his trusty mechanic had worked through the night (once again) to perform an engine change on his Lotus Elan. Finishing was important to him inorder to secure the GTS10 class championship. Next up was the usual gaggle of René de Vries, Egbert Kolvoort and Bert Mets, until we lost Kolvoort with a broken driveshaft. And finally there were the Rettenmaiers, with young Jacob in the BMW leading his sister Rebecca in the Alfa GTA.
With the race coming into its closing stages, Bob Stevens had passed through the lower ranks of the top-10 with some fast laps, managing to pass Reitz’ Healey for sixth. The big V8’s were sliding about, van der Ende had dropped back, then came back as van Maarschalkerwaart had a big slide. Meanwhile Carlo Hamilton, who had been going more sideways than anyone, was forced to visit the pits – he received a Drive Through for his track limits infringements. This promoted Gross to second in class, meaning his championship was save.
Michiel Campagne again won the race, from Kuiper and Hamilton. Nezt up were Stevens father and son, split by Dols in his Marcos. Reitz was in seventh from CT10 winner van der Ende. Then came van Maarschalkerwaart with new champion Gross in 10th. Carlo Hamilton had changed his sideways style for some quick laps and managed to pass Roel Korsten for 11th. Nolte was ahead of Frits Campagne and Waaijenberg beat van Lieshout. Rappange again won CT07 from Ebdon. De Vries was third in CT07 and happy to be class champion. And Jacob won the Rettenmaier family battle from Rebecca.
All this meant that Norbert Gross is the 2016 FIA Dutch champion in the NK HTGT powered by Gamma. He has amassed 86,1 points to Robert Hamilton of Silvertonhill’s 83,4 so it was really close. The pairing of Martin Bijleveld and Jaap van der Ende took third in the final standings, after two strong class wins at Dijon-Prenois.
Norbert Gross Nederlands Kampioen HTGT 2016
Op het circuit van Dijon-Prenois werd de titelstrijd om het Nederlands kampioenschap voor historische toerwagens en GT’s (gebouwd voor 1966) beslecht. Robert Hamilton moest twee keer zijn klasse winnen in zijn Marcos 1800 om een kans te houden, terwijl Norbert Gross aan een paar derde plaatsen in de CT10 klasse voldoende zou hebben. Toch werd het spannend, want Gross’ Ford Falcon wilde niet lekker lopen, terwijl Hamilton na een paar tegenvallende races op Zandvoort weer de gangmaker in de GTS11 klasse was. Vooraan zorgden Michiel Campagne en Tom Kuiper voor spektakel door met hun Chevrolet Corvettes constant stuivertje te wisselen en dwars de bochten door te driften. Daarachter was het Hamilton die zijn Marcos-concurrenten Mark Dols en Richard Evans ruim voorbleef. Jos en Bob Stevens knokten om de vierde plaats in hun Lotus Elans, terwijl Carlo Hamilton (geen familie) en Martin Bijleveld om de leiding in CT10 vochten. Gross reed daarachter en hield zijn titelaspiraties in leven door Roel Korsten (Ford Mustang) en Frits Campagne (Ford Falcon) voor te blijven. Michiel Campagne won de race nipt voor Tom Kuiper met Robert Hamilton op plaats drie. Norbert Gross werd derde in de CT10 klasse en behield de leiding in de tussenstand, maar Hamilton had nog steeds een goede kans.
Op zondag gingen de twee Corvette rijders verder waar ze de vorige dag gestopt waren. Bob Stevens lag even tweede met zijn kleine Lotus, maar kreeg voor zijn al te enthousiaste start eendrive through penalty. Norbert Gross had een goede start, maar werd al snel weer voorbijgestreefd door mede Ford Falcon piloten Carlo Hamilton en Jaap van der Ende, terwijl Roel Korsten op de loer lag. Robert Hamilton deed wat hij moest doen en lag derde overall en eerste in zijn klasse. Toen Carlo Hamilton een drive through kreeg omdat hij met zijn dwarse stijl wat al te vaak met een paar wielen buiten de baan reed, was het pleit beslecht: Norbert Gross lag nu tweede in CT10 en de titel in het NK HTGT powerd by Gamma kon hem niet meer ontgaan. Michiel Campagne won opnieuw de race, voor Tom Kuiper en Robert Hamilton. Rob Rappange won op Dijon twee keer de kleine klasse in zijn Mini Cooper, voor Roger Ebdon en René de Vries.