Car troubles force Cunningham to retire at Silverstone

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MOTORSPORT: Neil Cunningham’s Silverstone Classic did not go the way he had hoped for when the Jaguar E-Type he was racing in the Challenge race (pictured) retired with mechanical problems during the first leg of the race last Saturday, write Colin and James Beckett.

The 50th anniversary of the iconic British sportscar was celebrated at the prestigious Silverstone Classic, with hundreds of examples of the car gathering at the track to be central to the celebrations. On track the car was further celebrated by two races of the Historic Sports Car Club’s E-Type Challenge - a series that kicked off at Brands Hatch three weeks ago.

Cunningham joined Nigel Webb for the two-part race which saw nearly 60 E-Types racing against each other - the largest race grid for the car ever assembled.

Problems with the car during qualifying left Cunningham and Webb down in the pack for the start of the race. Cunningham was handed the chance to drive the car in the first of the two challenge races, and during the early exchanges the local racer managed to move up several positions. However. mid-race the car began to develop a series of mechanical problems and serious handling issues, which resulted in the historic racing ace pulling the car into the pits and retirement.

The car was unable to participate in the second race on Sunday due to the problems, and will now be prepared for the third round of the E-Type Challenge at the Nurburgring in two weeks’ time.

Cunningham did not particpate in the HSCC Saloon Car race when the Ford Mustang he was due to drive was unable to be transported to the circuit.

Cunningham had been scheduled to race the 1965 Ford Mustang, owned by Bob Pepper, which he drove to victory at the British Grand Prix in 2008. Cunningham said:“Sadly work commitments prevented Bob bringing the car to Silverstone. That was a shame as I was looking forward to driving the Mustang around the new Grand Prix Circuit.”