Arturo Merzario of Italy mastered atrocious conditions to win the Martini International sports car race at the Silverstone circuit on Sunday (18 June).
Arturo Merzario of Italy mastered atrocious conditions to win the Martini International sports car race at the Silverstone circuit on Sunday (18 June). The young driver finished third in the first heat of the two-part event, but then took his two-litre Abarth to an impressive victory int eh second time out on a track saturated by rain. Over 40 starters began the first heat.
Austrian favourite Dieter Quester won the first heat in his Chevron when the track was dry. He lapped consistently inside the record, setting a fastest time of I minute, 24.8 seconds -- an average speed of 124.26 miles per hour (about 199 kms).
When the 21 remaining starters began the second heat in pouring rain, Merzario left the pits late incurring a minute penalty, and was forced to start at the back of the grid. But as rivals spun off the treacherous surface of the 2.9 miles (about 5 kms) airfield circuit, he began to make his presence felt.
He'd overhauled half the field after three laps and was out in front 18 laps later. Merzario left everyone in his spray as he threaded his way past the deeper puddles and had lapped almost every other car at least twice before he took the chequered flag at a race average speed of almost 90 miles (about 145 kms) an hour.
Quester was forced to retire with water in his engine during the second heat.
Londoner Guy Edwards was runner-up in the championship for a second time. He took his Lolas to fourth place in the first heat and improved to second next time around. Frenchman Jean-Louis Lafosse, also driving a Lola, finished third overall.
Merzario has now scored two successive wins after five rounds of the European two-litre sports car manufacture championship.