The 2016 Bernina Gran Turismo Hillclimb was staged 30 September to 2 October in the Alpine resort town of St. Moritz, Switzerland. The second annual event traced the old 5.6 km Bernina hillclimb route from La Rosa up to the Bernina Hospiz, in celebration of the races held in the St. Moritz area in the 1920s and ’30s.
The first International St. Moritz Automobile Week took place in 1929, highlighted by the Bernina Mountain Race for the Grand Prix of the Bernina. The mountain race over a distance of roughly 16.5km was won by such legendary drivers as Hans Stuck in an Austro-Daimler ADR 3.0 (1929) and Louis Chiron driving a Bugatti T47 (1930). The races were staged on the famed Bernina Pass, which connects St. Moritz in the Engadin valley with the Italian-speaking Val Poschiavo, which ends in the Italian town of Tirano in Valtellina.
The 2016 edition of the Bernina Gran Turismo featured more than 50 entrants, including pre-war sport cars, post-war racing specials, racing cars, rally cars, Formula monopostos and more. Entries included a brace of Porsche 908s, a Ford GT40, a Jaguar C-Type, a Lister Jaguar and a Cooper T33. There were also quite a few well driven Porsche 911s, while a trio of Italian barchettas fought for the Modena colors: Ferrari 500TRC, Maserati A6GCS and 450S, whose thunder reverberated up and down the valley.
Best times overall on the 5.6 km track were set by Christopher Rendlen, with a fantastic Porsche 908/3 at 3:28.86; Christian Kleinguti with the Brabham Formula 2 at 3:29.60; and by Daniele Perfetti with a Porsche 911T with 3:35.71. The difference between the first and the tenth, set by Martin Halusa with his breathtaking Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Zagato, was little more than 47 seconds, just about one second for every year of difference between the 1932 Alfa Romeo and the 1970 Porsche.
The JD Classics team entered six cars at the high-altitude event, including the team’s legendary ex-Fangio Jaguar C-Type and an ex-Works Ford Escort RS1800. Even with a thick mist drawing in and the rain getting heavier, the RS1800 driven by Phil Mouser, and Datsun 240Z piloted by Phil Gray put in strong performances to finish 1st and 2nd within Class H. But there was more to come, as each went faster still in the second set of timed runs, with Chris Ward’s storming climb putting the C-Type in fourth position overall and Derek Hood finished sixth overall in the Ford GT40.
Sports Car Digest documented the 2016 Bernina Gran Turismo, with photographer Alberto Novelli offering the following excellent set of images from the hillclimb race for sports and racing cars built up to the early 1980s.
Bernina Gran Turismo 2016 – Photo Gallery
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[Source: Bernina Gran Turismo; JD Classics; photos: Alberto Novelli]