European Grand Prix / European Championship
Report from Short Circuit, June 1979
Seven British drivers made the trip to the continent in the first week of May to contest the Midget GP series in Holland and Germany. The second round at Recklinghausen was also the European Championship. Unfortunately due to mechanical troubles and some very dubious decisions by the officials the British contingent did not fare too well.
Only six British drivers contested the European Championship as Brian Harding came over to race the first round of the GP Series at Posterholt. Brian Forrest was drawn on pole position for the big race with Harry Lowe drawn 3, John Lowe 9, Alf Boarer 11, Alan Fretten 16 and Basil Craske 21. Reigning champion Jan van Rengs was drawn 10 and it took him just five laps to hit the front in his Scirocco engined Dastle. Ger Kellenaers and Basil Craske were also moving through the pack very fast to be 2nd and 3rd after ten laps, but by this time van Rengs had built up half a lap’s lead. Basil Craske was having great difficulty passing Kellenaers who was using some dubious tactics to keep Craske at bay. With Basil Craske being held up, Henk Hanssen joined the battle to make it a three way dice. With two laps to go Basil Craske dived under Ger Kellanaers going into the 3rd bend but Kellenaers cut straight across the front of Craske forcing him very sideways and almost spinning. Basil Craske moved under Kellanaers again on the next bend and this time he got away with it but he was three quarters of a lap behind van Rengs at the flag with Kellanaers third followed by Henk Hanssen, Jan Litjens and Brian Forrest. John Lowe finished 7th and Alan Fretten 8th. Ger Kellanaers was obviously a very annoyed man after the race and stormed over to Basil Craske but it was a case of being beaten by your own tactics.
The first round of the GP series was held at Posterholt too, and only Basil Craske and Brian Harding really upheld the British flag with Basil gaining a 2nd and two 3rds in his heats but unfortunately a marker tyre smashed the steering rack while he was lying second. Brian Harding had better luck in the final by finishing third. Jan van Rengs and Ger Kellanaers were the stars of the day with only Basil Craske being able to match them for power.
Recklinghausen hosted the second round of the GP series and the supporting races involved Basil Craske in another controversial incident. In heat two Basil Craske drove superbly to shut out the more powerful Jan van Rengs for the entire race and finish second but the German officials claimed that Basil was baulking van Rengs and dropped him to third. Craske again drove well in the final in atrocious conditions. Jan van Rengs stormed away in the lead but basil Craske drove a sensible race to finish second. It may have been higher if Basil could have got back to the pits to adjust the dampers. John Lowe could so easily have got the 3rd place trophy but he hit a big puddle on the 4th bend causing him to lose a lot of ground until his engine dried out.
After two rounds of the GP series Jan van Rengs had a 16 point lead over Basil Craske but unfortunately Basil could not stay on the continent for the whole week and was a non-starter at Kaldenkirchen for the third and final round. Only Harry and John Lowe and Alan Fretten appeared at Kaldenkirchen as Brian Forrest had to go home ill with a stone in his kidney and Alfie Boarer’s car was suffering with a severe oli leak. It was Harry Lowe’s turn to shine at Kaldenkirchen and he was lying a very good third in the first race until spinning off with six laps to go. After Ger Kellanaers had retired with a blown diff and Jan van Rengs had spun off Harry Lowe looked a certain second even though he was suffering from severe overheating. On the last bend though, Hans Peters and Alan Fretten outbraked Harry relegating him to fourth, but all of these were a lap behind winner Henk Hanssen.
The GP series was won overall by Jan van Rengs with Ger Kellanaers second and Henk Hanssen third. The best placed British driver was Basil Craske in fifth.