Today’s track day has brought out some of the usual suspects – high-performance BMWs, Caterhams, Porsches – but, with the 73rd Members’ Meeting now a few months away, we’re beginning to see racing machinery turn up for some end-of-season testing. These two Triumph Dolomites both appeared at 72MM, and are due to return next March for the 73rd.
You may remember Tim Morley’s car from the last Members’ Meeting; its windscreen shattered, a bit of misfortune made all the more memorable by the car’s Triplex livery. Another issue on the day was incorrect gearing; the wrong final drive meant the car was on the rev-limiter for half of the Lavant straight.
Despite those problems, it finished 14th from a grid position of 28th – a feat helped by the fact that Tim’s co-driver was touring car great (and GRR regular) Anthony Reid. His quickest lap was a 1:33 (versus 1:28 in period, with the correct differential). It’s also great to drive, says Tim: ‘It’s the best handling car I’ve ever driven. It has low grip, so you can slide it; it’s much more fun than modern cars are.’
This example has been a race car from new, driven by Gerry Marshall in period. While it has had all different liveries over the years, it’s now back to its original Triplex scheme. In later life, it won numerous championships in historic touring car racing in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
These days, the car is only driven at Goodwood. Having been specced back to period for the Members’ Meeting (the brakes, for instance, were ‘downgraded’), it’s not competitive for other less-regulated historic racing. ‘I’m sure that will come,’ says Tim. ‘Once Goodwood gets its teeth into something, others tend to follow.’
He also has a wide-arched Group 2 Dolomite and a Bastos Rover SD1. ‘That car is a real time-warp,’ he says. ‘It still has the Dymo tape on the dashboard from 1986.’
Anthony Robinson was also here with his Group 1 Dolomite. This left-hand-drive example started as a works car for Leyland’s Belgian distributor, and was one of four factory Dolomites entered in the 1974 24-hour race at Spa. It was primarily driven by Julien Vernaeve until its retirement in 1979, although other drivers included the likes of Tony Pond and Réné Metge. When it was retired from racing, it went into a museum – and that’s where it stayed, without turning a wheel, until Anthony bought it in late 2010.
A nut-and-bolt rebuild saw it ready for action, and it’s regularly used in the Historic Touring Car Challenge. At 72MM, it was the fastest-qualifying Dolomite, but retired on lap five of the race with Anthony’s co-driver Robb Gravett at the wheel. But it will be back next year…
Our gallery above includes not only the Dolomites, but also a Ford Capri that’s here for 73MM testing and the more modern machinery. Oh, and look out for a Dolomite ‘Firing On…’ on Friday.