Sam Hancock departed this year's Goodwood Revival Meeting with more silverware to add to his collection, but not from the Sussex Trophy race that was originally anticipated to be his only event.
Qualifying 4th but finishing 8th in the Friday night enduro shared with his brother Ollie after a tough race in the Lister Knobbly, 34-year old Hancock was then called up at the last minute to drive Ben Shuckburgh's 1953 Cunningham C4R in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy.
Promptly setting his second consecutive pole position for the race, Hancock repeated his effort from last year in Stefan Ziegler's Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar C-Type. That he had never set foot in the Cunningham before added to the satisfaction, but with a margin of less that a tenth of a second over Darren McWhirter's Lagonda V12 Le Mans, he knew to expect a tough race.
Maintaining the lead into the first corner, battle duly commenced between Hancock and four-time winner McWhirter. Defending hard and wrestling the visibly recalcitrant Cunningham around the 2.3 mile circuit, the sell out crowds were treated to a classic duel as McWhirter gave chase.
Sneaking through on lap 5, the Lagonda was gifted a helpful cushion as Hancock was baulked while passing a back marker. With the gap soon stabilised, the Londoner set about reeling in McWhirter over the remaining minutes, in the process setting a personal best lap time 1.5s faster than his pole time, but just a tenth shy of the Lagonda's overall fastest lap of the race.
After seventeen laps, the chequered flag fell in McWhirter's favour, Hancock crossing the line 2.9secs adrift in the 'Private White V.C.' emblazoned Cunningham.
Still beaming, Hancock had clearly enjoy himself, "What a car! It's both beauty and beast - the engine and chassis are superb, the brakes ok, but the steering terrible! The original design creates so much free play that placing the car accurately on the track - let alone alongside another car in the heat of battle - is nearly impossible. But the challenge is hilarious and I found myself shouting, laughing, and despairing in equal measure throughout the race. It's like taming a raging bull but great fun for it. I'd like to think that we're friends now and that putting her on pole and finishing second shows the world what a fabulous and under rated car this is. I'm extremely grateful to my great friend Ben for the invitation, and to Kim and Mark for preparing her so well."
"I also want to thank Sam Thomas Racing for having Ollie and I in the Lister and improving it considerably since the last time out. We ran out of time to fine tune it for this race, but it's a big step forward and I can't wait to get her dialled in so we can join the battle at the front of the pack."
"Finally, and most importantly, my biggest thanks go to Lord March, his amazing staff and all of the marshals and helpers who once again put on another spectacular event. It amazes me how they do it year after year. We are just so lucky to be invited, it's become the highlight of my year."