Mike Hawthorn & XK challenge. Donington Park April 2Oth 2019

Mike Hawthorn Challenge

JEC Racing

Hawthorn & XK Challenge

Donington Park 20th April 2019

Donington Park was beautifully prepared and looking immaculate on this fine sunny day, ready for the first JEC race for the Hawthorn saloons & the XK sports car challenge of the 2019 season. They joined the Fairman Cup race at this AMOC meeting.


The series welcomed 3 new drivers, Spike Milligan in a Mk2 saloon, Terry Fleet in a XK140 & Rick Willmott in a XK150.

A fantastic entry of 31 cars took to the track for qualifying. There were 15 Jaguars, consisting of 11 saloons, 3 XKs and a Lister Knobbly, up against an eclectic assortment of ‘50s sports cars, which included a Lotus X1, MGAs, TRs, TVRs, Healeys, and , of course, a couple of Aston Martins.

At the end of a trouble free 15-minute session John Young was fastest of the saloons (4th overall) in Nigel Webb’s Lister Mk1 followed by Darren McWhirter in his Mk1 and then close behind, Nigel Webb in his MK1, overall pole being taken by Peter Ratcliff in the Lister Knobbly.

The only casualty of the session being Simon Lewis with a failed water hose, repaired in time for the race.

The Race

It was a great sight as 31 cars roared off the line and jockeyed around the first bend at Redgate. The race was dominated from start to finish by the Lister Knobbly, closely chased by the Lotus X1 Le Mans, but with exciting Jaguar action taking place throughout the whole field. As John Young in the Mk1 tried to make a break for it, Darren McWhirter followed in hot pursuit in his Mk 1, closely followed by Richard Butterfield & Nigel Webb also in Mk1s.

Chris Keith-Lucas in his XK150 with Rick Willmott in another XK150 & Terry Fleet in a XK140 gave steady chase.

About 5 laps in, Dave Bye in Richard Butterfields MK2, suffered a rear hub failure at Cascades, resulting in the car coming to rest at the side of the track. This was deemed to be in a dangerous place so the race was red flagged for recovery.

Racing restarted with a 6-lap dash to the flag, but the long delay took its toll of stressed engines. Chris Keith-Lucas had to retire with suspected head gasket failure, while Glen Pearson and Spike Milligan both retired with misfiring engines.

Simon Lewis & Simon Seath in Mk1s manage to run to the end amongst heaver traffic and Derek Pearce & Michael O’Shea held up Mk2 honours with fine races, dicing with Astons & Healeys.

Up at the front John Young held off Darren McWhirter’s charge in a thrilling battle, but Nigel Webb, while in hot pursuit of Richard Butterfield, was pushed out of position by an over-ambitious move by a Triumph TR who missed his braking and Nigel ended in the gravel trap,

The flag came out after 6 laps with John Young taking the win and fastest lap, from Darren McWhirter and Richard Butterfield.

Rick Willmott was first XK.

Darren McWhirter was awarded Driver Of The Day in the Hawthorn & Rick Willmott Driver Of the Day in the XKs.

And so we now move onto Brands Hatch on 8th of June.

Chris Robinson

Join us at our next race:
XK Challenge 2020 - Silverstone

The XK Challenge arrives at the home of British racing, Silverstone. Come along and enjoy the spectacle of Jaguars from the 50's and 60's racing at this world famous F1 circuit.

Find out more