Now in its second consecutive year of its modern running, JD Classics are once again pleased to continue their sponsorship of Bernina Gran Turismo in 2016. Situated in the Swiss Alps, the event was the creation of local classic car enthusiasts who wanted to recreate the period event run in the late 1920s/early 1930s. This year, a variety of sports and racing cars spanning from the 1920s to early 1980s took on the 5.6 kilometre run along the Bernina Pass from La Rosa and up to the Bernina Hospiz. Amongst the competitors were JD Classics who entered six cars comprising of their 1952 Jaguar C-Type, 1954 Cooper T33, 1972 Datsun 240Z and 1975 ex-Works Ford Escort RS1800. The powerful Ford Cologne Capri and Ford GT40 completed the line-up for 2016.
With competing cars scrutineered and drivers signed on Friday morning, the JD Classics GT40, Cooper T33, Escort RS1800 and Jaguar C-Type took part in the pre-hillclimb tour which saw cars drive up into St Moritz for spectators to view.
Saturday morning’s practice session took place in damp conditions as the cars lined up to start their first practice run on the gruelling Bernina pass. Having completed the first practice session, the cars convoyed back to the start for the second run during the morning’s practice time. With all six cars completing both runs without fault, the cars returned to base camp where the technicians checked them over ahead of Saturday afternoon’s first timed hill climb.
As the JD cars lined up for the first competitive run on Saturday afternoon, the weather conditions continued to deteriorate as the damp conditions and visibility worsened. Despite this, all JD Classics team cars completed the first run well with the Escort RS1800 of Phil Mouser and Datsun 240Z of Phil Gray finishing the session in 1st and 2nd place within Class H respectively. As the afternoon progressed into the second timed run, the mist and fog continued to hang low over the mountainous Bernina roads making visibility poor for competitors. Despite this, the JD team raised the bar with all six cars beating their previous run time significantly.
With cars ready for Sunday morning’s final two runs, the weather continued to deteriorate and with all competing cars struggling to beat the previous day’s times due to the perilous weather conditions, the final classifications were based around Saturday’s second run. With all six JD Classics cars having run competitive times throughout the weekend, it was the Datsun 240Z and Escort RS1800 that dominated their class with the Jaguar C-Type of Chris Ward coming 4th and the GT40 of Derek Hood 6th in the overall standings of the weekend.
Speaking of the weekend, JD Classics’ resident Works driver Chris Ward said: “It was a privilege for JD Classics to be invited back to compete in the 2016 Bernina Gran Turismo. This is a unique event in the racing calendar for us and provides drivers with a challenging but exciting course through the Swiss Alps. The 5.6 kilometre course provides drivers with the opportunity to challenge themselves against the stop watch and gruelling Bernina Pass which As main sponsors of the event for the second consecutive year, we hope to expand on this partnership into the future.”