April 8 - 9 - 2016

Espiritu de Montjuic




The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya welcomed the start of the Masters 2017 race season with 4 days of unbroken sunshine and blue skies.  There was some great, close racing throughout the four Masters grids taking part and a strong Dutch contingent from the NKHTGT series added to the relaxed vibe throughout the paddock during the weekend.

It was definitely good to be back at the Espiritu de Montjuic event!


Greg Thornton and Michael Lyons draw first blood in FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship with one win a piece in Barcelona.

Lotus 91 driver Greg Thornton won the opening race of the FIA Masters Historic Formula One season by beating Loïc Deman’s Tyrrell 010 and Steve Hartley’s Arrows A4. Thornton had inherited the lead when pole man Michael Lyons had to retire his Williams FW07C on lap 6 but two laps later lost it to Deman. When the Belgian was baulked by a backmarker, Thornton was handed back a lead that he kept until the end. Hartley ended up a distant third, 20 seconds adrift.

 “Loïc got me at the end of the straight. After that, I sat back hoping that something might happen – and it did!”, said a jubilant Thornton.

 “I was trying to lap James Hagan’s Lec who was in the middle of the track and I spun…”, Deman explained. 

In the pre-78 class, another pre-race favourite failed to make the finish when Nick Padmore’s Fittipaldi F5A suddenly slowed and coasted back into the pits with gearbox problems. That gave the lead to Max Smith-Hilliard, whose Shadow DN5 was embroiled in a close fight with Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8 that lasted until the line. The pair were split by a mere second all race. Patrick D’Aubréby took third in his March 761 after Jamie Constable’s Lola T370 lost speed in the latter half of the race. 

“A good start of the year”, said a happy Smith-Hilliard, “but Jason kept me honest right until the end. I couldn’t quite pull away, so I had to make sure not to make any mistakes.” 

“I’m simply not fit enough”, said Wright, the American being honest as ever. “I’ve had too many business responsibilities in the past few months, so I just got tired at the end. But the car felt good, I really enjoyed myself.” 

At the start, Michael Lyons got away from pole cleanly to lead Thornton and Deman into the first corner. On lap 2, he produced the fastest lap of the race to open up a three-second gap that he set about maintaining thereafter. 

Meanwhile, Steve Hartley had done an amazing job to climb up to fourth, having dropped down to seventh at the start. He was followed by a six-car train led by Andy Wolfe (Tyrrell 011) who had got past Christophe d’Ansembourg (Williams FW07C) and Simon Fish (Ensign N180). They were followed by Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49), pre-78 class leader Nick Padmore and Mike Wrigley (Williams FW07C). A gap then opened up to Smith-Hilliard and Wright, both just shy of the top-ten, with Ian Simmonds’ Tyrrell 012 as the sole Lauda class competitor following the pair for the entirity of the race. 

On lap 5, as Deman closed in on Thornton, the leader was beginning to slow, Lyons’ progress halted by a broken throttle linkage that made him crawl back to the pits at an ever-slower pace. 

The next lap around, Thornton was the new leader but Deman was setting him up for a pass, which duly occurred at the start of lap 8. At the same time, though, another leader was slowing, Nick Padmore’s pre-78 class-leading Fittipaldi returning to the pits with terminal gearbox issues, handing the class lead to team mate Smith-Hilliard. 

Deman then kept a lead over Thornton of around a second until on lap 12 when, coming up to lap James Hagan’s Lec CRP1, the Belgian was forced onto the grass and spun, thereby handing a gift to Thornton that the Lotus driver was happy to accept. With four seconds in hand on Deman, Thornton ran out the race to become the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One winner of 2017. 

Steve Hartley had a lonely race to third, finishing 20 seconds down on Thornton, while Andy Wolfe kept Simon Fish at bay to take fourth. Sixth was Folch, ahead of d’Ansembourg, whose Williams lost pace in the closing laps, and Wrigley. Top pre-78 runners Smith-Hilliard and Wright rounded out the top-ten, ahead of Simmonds, ‘Mr John of B’ (Ligier JS11/15) and D’Aubréby, who grabbed third in the pre-78 class after Jamie Constable’s Lola T370 dropped back with three laps to go. 

Michael Lyons bounced back to win the second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race.

A broken throttle linkage on Saturday and a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race couldn’t stop Michael Lyons from taking his first FIA Masters Historic Formula One win of the season. The RAM Williams FW07B driver used a good start to move up from fourth to second and then passed Loïc Deman’s Tyrrell 010 for the lead before the end of lap 2. Lyons then maintained a two-second gap that only fluctuated because of traffic to take victory after 15 laps. Deman held off the Tyrrell 010 of Andy Wolfe, who charged up from fifth to third on the first lap and kept the Belgian busy all race. 

“I had a good first corner”, said Lyons. “Probably the left side of the grid had a bit more grip, so those on the outside all had a good run into the first corner. I then had a nice run on Loïc but decided the better of it, so I waited and passed him on the second lap. The gap went up and down because traffic was difficult today – I seemed to catch it in all the wrong places!” 

“Two second places is not bad, it could be a lot worse”, said a philosophical Deman. “Today was very hard and physical, Andy pushed me until the end, I really had to work for it.” 

“We made some major changes to the car last night”, Wolfe said about his early charge, “and bolted on a set of new tyres. So I knew I had everything to do in the first few laps.” 

The top-three were tracked by pole-sitter Greg Thornton for three laps before the Lotus 91 began to suffer from an oil leak. Thornton did return to the track after a long visit to the pits but the winner of Saturday’s race finished well out of the points. His place was quickly taken by Steve Hartley (Arrows A4), who drove a lonely race to fourth. Christophe d’Ansembourg initially led Simon Fish’s Ensign N180 in fifth before dropping back and retiring. Fish was followed home by Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49) and Mike Wrigley (Williams FW07C) in sixth and seventh. Frenchman ‘Mr John of B’ finished eighth in his Ligier JS11/15, having passed pre-78 class leader Max Smith-Hilliard on lap 15. 

Max Smith-Hilliard made it two out of two in the pre-78 class, his Shadow DN5 easily fending off Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8 and Jamie Constable’s Lola T370. Constable was second in class for most of the race but had to give way to Wright two laps from the end. 

“It was straightforward, really”, said Smith-Hilliard on his maximum points haul, “although six laps from the end I had to back off because of a nasty vibration. That’s when I left the Ligier in front, since it was not in class.” 

“I got a bad start”, said Wright when asked why he was unable to challenge Smith-Hilliard. “But I did get Jamie [Constable] at the end of the straight. We were in a group of cars, very entertaining, and I didn’t want to pass him too soon.” 

“This man is too good on the brakes!”, said Constable about the American’s move. 

The two were split from class winner Smith-Hilliard by the Lotus 87B of newcomer Jonathan Holtzman, who recently acquired the Lotus 87B that was previously raced in the championship by Nico Bindels. 

Sole Lauda class runner Ian Simmonds (Tyrrell 012) and Dave Abbott (Arrows A4) were part of the same group that crossed the line separated by just a handful of seconds. 


Smith-Hilliard/Padmore prevail in six-car lead battle for first FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars victory of the season

The FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars season opener at Barcelona saw a fascinating six-car lead battle – reduced to five when Jason Wright was hit by a penalty for pitlane speeding – from which Max Smith-Hilliard and Nick Padmore emerged victorious. In their Chevron B19, Smith-Hilliard kept with the leaders during his opening stint after which Padmore stormed to the front and opened up a ten-second gap at the finish line. He was followed home by Michael Gans (Lola T290), who got past early leader David Hart (Lola T70 Mk3B) but only through contact. The ensuing drivethrough penalty forced him to fight his way back past the T70s of Nicky Pastorelli (who had taken over from Hart), Mike Donovan and Paul Gibson, who were all involved in a hugely entertaining lead battle after the pitstops. In the end, Pastorelli recovered from a spin to claim third ahead of Gibson and Donovan.

“It was just damage limitation, really”, said Smith-Hilliard about his task of keeping pace with the leaders.

“Max did me a right favour”, Padmore said. “It was absolutely perfect. And that five-car battle was awesome. I couldn’t see a thing – I had those Lola exhaust flames right in my face!”

“He just hit me!”, said an angry Hart about the contact with Gans, who then set about discussing the move with the German.

“I never did it on purpose”, Gans explained. “You see, in a T70 they don’t see you, they don’t know where you are. So the only way to do it is just put the car next to them. I’m not sure if I could have won if I hadn’t had the drivethrough. Maybe if I had had built up a 20-second lead to Max, but that wasn’t the case. I did enjoy that five-car battle, though!”

“There was oil in turn 5 and I spun”, said Pastorelli. “That meant I had to do all over again!”

The first half of the race was dominated by the perennial tussle between David Hart and Michael Gans. A quick starter as usual, Hart moved to the front in the opening laps to open up a four-second gap to Mike Donovan’s similar Lola T70 Mk3B, before Gans passed Max Smith-Hilliard in the Chevron B19 on lap 3 and then Donovan on lap 5 to slowly reel in his Dutch nemesis. On lap 10, the German got his open-top Lola T290 past but there was contact involved, for which Gans would be penalized. He served his penalty shortly before the pit window opening.

This gave Donovan a brief lead since he had passed Hart who was dropping back after the incident with Gans. Meanwile, Paul Gibson’s T70 Mk3B had moved past Smith-Hilliard for fourth. They were followed by Jason Wright’s T70 Mk3B and Phil Hall who was having a lonely race in his Lola T212. In Hall’s wake a huge gap opened up to Mark Owen in the first of the Chevron B8s.

This all changed after the pitstops, when Jason Wright found himself in the lead, followed by Gibson, Donovan, Nicky Pastorelli (in Hart’s Lola), Nick Padmore (in Smith-Hilliard’s B19) – all covered by four seconds, with Gans a further three seconds adrift. Wright was soon taken out of the equation, however, after he was obliged to serve a drivethrough penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

On lap 20, the remaining five-car battle was even more finely poised, just 2.3 seconds separating fifth-placed Michael Gans from new leader Paul Gibson, the two sandwiching Padmore, Donovan and Pastorelli. The nimble open-top Lolas would soon be moving up the order, though. One lap later, having set fastest laps in a row, Padmore grabbed the lead while on lap 22, Gans moved up from fifth to third, and then to second on lap 25. By then, though, Padmore was eight seconds up the road and controlling a comfortable cushion. He further increased this to ten seconds at the line. Meanwhile, Pastorelli recovered from a spin to steal third place from Paul Gibson.

Reigning champions Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger had a trouble-free run to Hulme class honours, their Cooper Monaco King Cobra beating both Laurie Bennett’s McLaren M1B and the Folch/Hadfield GT40. The latter pair’s progress was hampered by an additional pitstop.

“It was a pretty decent race”, said Bellinger. “We had it under control but you never know when Simon [Hadfield] comes up with a storming drive. Their problems made our lives much easier.”

Mark Owen led Graham Wilson in the Chevron B8 battle but with Andy Wolfe in Wilson’s car the Bonnier class tide soon turned towards the Wilson/Wolfe machine. When Andrew Owen got penalized for crossing the white line on pitlane exit the fight was all but over. The Owens’ car later retired from the race.

The Pescarolo class proved easy pickings for the Paul Pochciol/Paul Hanson De Tomaso Pantera. They led home Colin Paton’s Porsche 911 RSR, while the Aaron Head/Dale Head RSR was an early retirement.

Charlie Birkett and James Littlejohn claim Masters Three Hours honours at Barcelona

The Charlie Birkett/James Littlejohn Ford GT40 was in a class of own in the first Masters Three Hours race of the season. In a race of attrition at Barcelona, Littlejohn took over from Birkett with their car in third place at the halfway point but nothing was going to stop Littlejohn from charging through into the lead and pulling out a gap of over a lap on the rest of the field. The Portuguese AC Cobra of father and son Pedro and Rui Macedo Silva, ably seconded by José Pedro Fontes, took second, while the Carlos Monteverde/Gary Pearson Jaguar E-type completed the podium.

“We had a slightly long pitstop”, Littlejohn said afterwards. “We just couldn’t get all the fuel in within three minutes, and the Gans/Wolfe Cobra looked like a threat. So I just kept pushing until I saw the P1 sign. I then found a nice pace with lap times of around 2.05. In the end, I got pretty knackered, so bringing the car home was all that mattered.”

The Graham Wilson/David Pittard Lotus Elan took a fighting fourth and a comfortable CLP win but the pair could well have ended up on the podium. In the second half of the race, the little Elan had been in an epic fight with Rui Macedo Silva over second place but thirteen laps from the end Pittard was forced to come in for an additional pitstop, the Lotus in dire need of that extra bit of oil.

“We just kept a good pace”, said Rui Macedo Silva of the Portuguese trio’s race. “The fight with the Elan was amazing! It was catching me in the corners, and then I pulled out a gap on the straights again. I was having a lot of fun, it was a shame they had to give up.”

“Just ask Carlos about his part of the race”, said Gary Pearson. “His was much more eventful than mine!”

“I had two spins, went straight on through the gravel once, and also got a drivethrough penalty for being a bit too quick at the start”, Monteverde quipped. “But we kept it in one piece and are still here!”

The early stages of the race saw a titanic battle between old rivals David Hart (Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé) and Michael Gans (AC Cobra), the Dutchman ousting Gans from the lead on lap 3. On lap 14, the German reclaimed first position after the Dutch car lost 20 seconds after serving a drivethrough penalty for a jumped start. At the one-hour mark Hart suddenly slowed before pulling over in turn four, the Daytona Coupé’s engine temperature having become a worry.

This gave Gans a one-lap lead over Andy Willis’ Cobra, with the two Ford GT40s driven by Charlie Birkett and Gary Wright following suit. The Portuguese Cobra and the Pearson/Monteverde Jag had brief spells in the lead after Gans handed over to Andy Wolfe, but their pitstop took a massive six minutes. This dropped the pair down to fifth. Meanwhile, Rob Hall was another casualty afer stopping out on track as soon as he had taken over from Willis.

Soon, the GT40s would come into play, Birkett having handed over Littlejohn, and Twyman taking over from Wright. First Twyman set fastest lap of the race but then Littlejohn brought the mark down three more times before claiming the lead from Pearson on lap 46. At that moment, the top-five – Pearson, Littlejohn, Macedo Silva, Pittard and Wolfe – were covered by a mere 13 seconds, while Joe Twyman was catching up quickly in sixth.

They wouldn’t all be making it to the end of the race, though. On lap 54, the Gans/Wolfe slowed and ground to a halt while on lap 63 Twyman came into the pits with a broken gearbox. Moments later, the Mark Martin/Andrew Haddon Elan also retired.

This handed Georg Nolte and Diogo Ferrão fifth place in their Bizzarrini, with Rick Carlino and Martin Donnelly moving up to sixth in their Elan. Seventh was the Leigh Smart/Kevin Hancock Shelby Mustang GT350. Eighth but not running was the Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger Morgan SLR, the car heading into the pits on lap 72 with an electrical issue. The Pablo Beltran/Pablo Tarrero Porsche 911 finished ninth as last of the runners.

The Pochciol/Hanson AC Cobra (with Hanson at the wheel), the Melling/Minshaw Jaguar E-type (with Minshaw driving), the Sautter/Andy Newall E-type (with Sautter as the starting driver) and the Maydon/Wrigley Ginetta G4R (with Maydon on board) were all early casualties, hit by an exhaust failure, broken distributor and gearbox failure and a blown head gasket respectively.

Beighton/Hadfield narrowly beat Hart Jr in thrilling Masters Touring Cars duel at Barcelona

Simon Hadfield was made to work really hard to secure victory for himself and Chris Beighton in a barnstormer of a Masters Touring Cars race at Barcelona. A thrilling intra-Ford Mustang battle saw the lead change three times before Hadfield ultimately managed to keep young Olivier Hart at bay. The top-two crossed the line split by a mere three tenths.

After a cracking start, the Dutch teenager had been leading the race ahead of the pit window, maintaining a two-second gap to Chris Beighton, and pitted one lap earlier than his rivals. Their stopping times were similar, so the gap was the same when Hadfield rejoined the track. Hadfield quickly brought down the gap and harried Hart for three laps until making the pass on lap 21. Three laps later, however, Hart was back in the lead. For the next two laps the cars ran nose-to-tail and side-by-side, with a bit of fender bending involved, before Hadfield completed what would be the decisive pass. On the last lap, Hart gave all he could but ran across the gravel on his final attempt, handing the win to Hadfield.

“That was brilliant fun”, said Hadfield. “I’m sure that entertained the troops! Once I got the lead my brake pedal started to go soft, so I thought I’ll slow down, and if he passes me I’ll have to pass him again. And that’s what happened.”

“I had a great start”, said Hart Jr, “and kept a lead of about two seconds until the stops. When Simon rejoined the gap was about the same. He then closed in and I defended for three laps until he got past. I thought that my race was over but I was able to keep up with him and even managed to re-pass him. But then he got past me again, and that was it. I tried on the last lap but it wasn’t enough.”

Meanwhile, Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson won the under-2-litre battle by beating the similar Lotus Cortinas of Mark Martin/Andrew Haddon, Mark Hazell/Martin Stretton and Rui Macedo Silva/Pedro Macedo Silva. The Anglo-Brazilian pair ran in third place overall for the entire length of the one-hour race while their pursuers climbed the ranks once their quicker drivers had taken over during the pit window.

“A lonely race for me?”, quipped Pearson. “Not really. I saw Haddon’s Cortina come on the straight every time I was about to enter the first corner. So we were racing each other half a lap apart!”

Jonathan Lewis and René de Vries comfortably won the Mini class ahead of Charlie Birkett/Joe Twyman and Chris Middlehurst/Andy Middlehurst. Starting driver De Vries held fifth overall in his stint but Lewis couldn’t quite keep the Cortinas behind when Haddon, Stretton and Macedo Silva Jr took over from their team mates.