The final race meeting of the 2016 calendar, the JD Classics team migrated to sunnier climes for this weekend’s Algarve Classic Festival to run three of their team racing cars; 1976 Group 44 Jaguar XJS, 1965 lightweight Jaguar E-Type and distinctive 1954 Cooper Jaguar T33. Our customer’s 1951 Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar XK120 completed the line-up for the weekend.
With all four cars having run throughout Thursday’s test day, the E-Type, XJS and XK120 all headed out onto the impressive Algarve circuit for a 30 minute free practice session on Friday morning, this allowing the JD Classics team engineers to further rectify any running issues ahead of the start of Friday afternoon’s qualifying sessions.
As the hot and sunny afternoon progressed, the JD Classics Group 44 XJS was the first of the team cars to qualify. A 30 minute session, JD Classics’ Works driver Chris Ward got off to a good start as he roared the powerful touring car into 10th place within the 27 car field. With another lap, the XJS was now in 4th place having taken an impressive 11 seconds of his lap time which was now down to 2.09 seconds. Coming into the pits on Lap 3, the team checked over the car and changed the tyres. Re-joining the session now running in 5th, Chris Ward continued to push the car in a bid to improve on every previous lap. As the times continued to decrease and with one more quick pit stop, the XJS put in a flying lap of 2:02.012 and taken pole position which was maintained until the chequered flag fell. With the JD car’s best lap 2.5 seconds faster than that of the second placed BMW M3 E30 of Harry and Nick Whale, the XJS was sitting pretty at the front of the grid ahead of Saturday’s first of two Historic Touring Car Challenge races.
The final qualifying session of the day for JD Classics saw the Cooper T33 of Derek Hood and Chris Ward and the Jaguar XK120 of Steve and Josh Ward battle it out amongst their contemporaries within the Motor Racing Legends 50s Sports Cars field. With Derek Hood and Steve Ward driving the first stint, the 40 minute qualifying session got underway. Both cars ran well and continued to improve on their times despite the ever fading light. With 20 minutes to go, the team brought the XK120 in first and with a quick driver changeover re -joined the race now with Josh Ward behind the wheel. The following lap, the Cooper was brought into the pits and the drive handed to Chris Ward and with another quick driver changeover, the Cooper returned to the track. With both cars maintaining the momentum and gaining position, the Cooper T33 put in such a time that it moved the car up by five places in one lap alone. With just over five minutes of the session remaining and with night time now descending on the formidable Algarve circuit, both the XK120 and Cooper completed the 40 minutes to qualify in 18th and 11th place respectively. Having experienced the circuit in fading light, all four drivers were set to race into the night for Saturday evening’s two hour race.
Qualifying on Saturday morning in warm and sunny weather conditions, the JD Classics Jaguar E-Type was readied by the team ahead of the 40 minute qualifying session. With the on-track action now running 15 minutes behind schedule, qualifying for Sunday’s two hour GT and Sports Car Cup race got underway. Derek Hood took the first stint and qualified the car in 21st place with a best time of 2:25.9. With just over 20 minutes of the session remaining, the E-Type was brought into the pits and the drive handed to John Young. A quick return to the track, the E-Type continued its charge through the field with John Young achieving a 2:15.5 and moving it up into 12th place. With another faster lap, the JD car had moved up into 10th place as the in board was given and John Young handed the last stint to Chris Ward. With only 7 minutes of the session remaining, Chris had to produce a couple of flying laps in order to move up the rankings. True to form and undeterred by the pressure, Chris Ward roared the distinctive green E-Type up into 2nd place with a lap time of 2:08.8. Hot on the heels of the front running Jaguar E-Type of Julian Thomas and Callum Lockie, the chequered flag fell signalling the end of the session and qualifying the JD E-Type in 2nd place.
Leading the grid away from a rolling start, the pole sitting JD Classics Jaguar XJS got off to a flying start as it quickly began to pull away from the field in the first of two Historic Touring Car Challenge races. Comprising of powerful Capri’s, Datsun’s and Rover’s, competition amongst the field looked set to be fierce. Making good his pole position, Chris Ward had already extended his lead over the field to just under four seconds by the end of Lap 3. Despite setting a good initial pace, the BMW M3 E30 of Harry and Nick Whale was in hot pursuit. The two cars continued to tussle for the lead up until the pit window opened. With all cars required to perform a mandatory pit stop including one minute stationary, the JD team brought the XJS in on Lap 10. Re-joining the race in 2nd place after a smooth pit stop, the JD XJS had some catching up to do with the now front running BMW a minute and 30 seconds ahead.
On Lap 13, the BMW came into the pits which gave Chris Ward a chance to make up lost time. Despite a quick pit stop, the XJS had achieved another flying lap and enough time to have reclaimed the lead. As the race reached its latter stages, Chris Ward continued to make good his lead and despite pressure from the BMW claimed victory by a 9.5 second lead.
Saturday evening’s MRL 50s Sports Car race combined the Woodcote and Stirling Moss Trophy grids into one race showcasing the very best of 1950s racing sports cars. With the Cooper T33 and Jaguar XK120 sitting in 11th and 18th respectively, the field were led through into a rolling start. Both cars maintained a consistent first stint with the Cooper called in first for driver changeover when the pit window opened. Never far away from an historic racing car, JD Classics Works driver Chris Ward was soon back behind the wheel and off into the night re-joining the race in 14th place. However, the Cooper’s speedy exit proved its downfall receiving a drive through penalty in the process. As the race progressed and visibility continued to fade, both the Cooper and XK120 maintained position amongst a field of fierce adversaries and by Lap 20 the XK120 was running steadily at second within its class with Josh Ward now behind the wheel as the race approached the one hour mark.
Lap 31, and with little over 40 minutes left, the Cooper was signalled in and the remainder of the race was passed back to Derek Hood. However, a tyre configuration issue soon saw the Cooper return to the pits and Chris Ward complete the final stint to come home to the chequered flag in 10th place overall, 2nd in class and 3rd within the Woodcote Trophy field.
Josh Ward completed a strong 55 minute stint behind the wheel of the Ecurie Ecosse XK120 continually improving on his lap times and with 30 minutes remaining, the car returned to the pits, exiting with Steve Ward who would complete the remainder of the race. Despite a strong performance on the notoriously challenging Algarve circuit, the XK120 fell victim to technical issues thus ending its race just minutes from the chequered flag.
Another hot and sunny day on the Algarve and all eyes were on the JD Classics E-Type, having qualified in 2nd position ahead of Sunday morning’s 2 hour GT & Sports Car Cup race. A rolling start saw fellow E-Type of pole sitting Julian Thomas and Callum Lockie lead the field off the start line, however by the end of the first lap John Young had pushed forward and was now running side by side with his adversary.
Despite producing lap times over 2 seconds faster than his fastest in qualifying, the JD E-Type began to fall back from the chase as the Thomas/Lockie car began to increase their lead and with the third sitting AC Cobra of Chris Chiles Snr and Jnr now also in hot pursuit, the pressure was well and truly on for the Jaguar E-Type of John Young. With only four laps gone at this point, it was clear to see that the race was going to be an eventful one as the 2 hours unfolded.
30 minutes in and John Young was called into the pits for the first of two driver change overs. Due to injury, Derek Hood was removed from the drive last minute meaning the team would be penalised being given two one minute mandatory stops to be performed during driver changeover. A quick swap over from John Young to Chris Ward and once the stationary 60 second penalty had been completed, the E-Type headed back out to re-join the race. A well timed strategy for the E-Type to have completed first changeover early in the pit window as it helped the team avoid any pit lane traffic to bring the car back out onto track still in the lead. The deployment of the safety car meant that Chris Ward lost its extensive lead as the field was bunched back together.
On Lap 22, the safety car returned to the pits and the race got underway once more with Chris Ward now being pursued by the 2nd placed AC Cobra of Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson. As the race approached the halfway mark, the green JD Classics E-Type remained at the front of the field with a 15 second lead above the rest of the field.
Reaching its latter stages with just 25 minutes of the race remaining, the car came in for its final driver changeover. Another 60 second penalty and a quick driver change and John Young re-joined the race in the lead with a 24 second lead. Despite the comfortable lead, the third placed AC Cobra which had been on the attack earlier in the race was once again making its precence known as Chiles consistently became the fastest car on the track. Lap 43 and with just 15 minutes remaining, the AC Cobra was now in 2nd and in hot pursuit of the JD Classics car.
With just 9 minutes remaining and John Young instructed to take advantage of his lead by easing off to conserve fuel, the Cobra continued to edge ever closer gaining a couple of seconds with every lap. Now on the final lap, and with John Young back on the throttle, the AC Cobra was breathing down his neck a mere 4 seconds away from clinching the victory from JD Classics. As the team watched from the pit lane, the gap closed with every corner as they nervously waited to see which car would come over the curve and take the chequered flag first. A nail biting finale to an exciting race saw the green JD Classics E-Type just metres ahead to take victory in the coveted GT & Sports Car Cup.
The final race of the weekend for JD Classics saw the Group 44 XJS return to defend Saturday afternoon’s victory in the second of the two round Historic Touring Car Challenge. With the grid for Round 2 decided based on the results of the race previous, the powerful JD Classics Group 44 Jaguar XJS was front of the pack for the start of the 40 minute race. Having not long raced the team E-Type to victory, it was once again down to Chris Ward to steer the touring car to hopefully a second victory.
As the field completed the first lap, Chris Ward maintained his lead followed by the Ford Capri of Rick Wood and the third placed BMW of father son duo Harry and Nick Whale also in contention. With the pressure on, Chris Ward responded and by the end of Lap 2 had extended the lead to just over 6 seconds. Producing consistently fast laps, the XJS continued to edge away from the remainder of the field and by the time the pit window opened and the JD touring car was called in, the lead now stood at an impressive 14 seconds. With all competing cars required to perform a 60 second stationary stop, the JD Classics team checked over the car and quickly returned it to the track in 5th place. An early stop in the pit window ensured some clear track space for Chris Ward to make up lost time as the remaining front runners pitted. With just 15 minutes remaining, Chris Ward was now running in second place behind the Ford Capri of Wood and Pearson. Having reclaimed the lead in a matter of laps, the Whale father son duo were now in pursuit and chased Chris Ward across the finish line completing a hat trick of wins for the JD Classics team at this year’s Algarve Classic Festival.