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Benn makes Historic Grand Prix debut in Lotus 18 which was driven by former world champions




Bourne’s Benn Tilley followed in the footsteps of two motor-racing legends when competing at the world-famous Brands Hatch circuit.

Tilley took the track for his Historic Grand Prix car debut in a 1960 Lotus 18 which had been driven by former world champions John Surtees and Jim Clark.

Surtees used it to finish second in the British Grand Prix in 1960 and it was the first Formula One car that Clark raced which was a starting point for the two-times world champion.

a 1960 Lotus 18. Photo: Martin Cooper (13358712)
a 1960 Lotus 18. Photo: Martin Cooper (13358712)

And, despite having only five laps in qualifying to get used to the car, Tilley was awarded the driver of the day award.

Using the first race to gain confidence, Tilley finished sixth overall in his second outing and third in class against newer and more developed mid-1960s Grand Prix cars.

He commented: “It was an awesome weekend.

“I had driven the car prior to Brands Hatch but only on a test circuit. It’s fitted with what is called the Lotus ‘Queer-box’ (positive stop gearbox for its proper name) so going onto the world famous Brands Hatch GP circuit was a different challenge.

“The first race was still a learning curve, but I was gaining confidence in the car and getting faster in the second race.

“Being awarded driver of the day topped it off. It was a nice surprise. It was an awesome experience and I absolutely loved it.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the owner of the car for letting me drive a piece of motor-racing history.

“It was greatly appreciated because, in my opinion, Jim Clark was the greatest Formula One Grand Prix driver of all time.”

Benn Tilley in the in the Lotus 23. Photo: Charlie Wooding (13358720)
Benn Tilley in the in the Lotus 23. Photo: Charlie Wooding (13358720)

Tilley had earlier qualified second in class in the Lotus 23 and maintained that spot during a 40-minute race on Sunday afternoon.

He added: “The Lotus 23 felt so good around the fast sweeping corners of the Brands Hatch GP circuit.

“The race was a busy one with a full grid of cars taking part, but I kept my nose clean and enjoyed every bit of going round such an awesome circuit.”



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