May 26 - 27 - 2016

Masters Historic Festival

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RACE REPORT

Padmore, Stretton, Voyazides/Hadfield, Balfe/Wolfe, Aguas and Sumpter take the spoils in sundrenched Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch

After getting off to a foggy start, the sun was out on both days of a glorious Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch, our ‘home event’ proving to be a hit with the crowds once again. Nick Padmore and Martin Stretton shared the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship wins, Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield came through to win in FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars while Shaun Balfe joined Andy Wolfe for a Gentlemen Drivers win. Rui Aguas was a double winner in Masters Endurance Legends, with Mark Sumpter being handed the laurels after an entertaining Pre-66 Touring Car race.

 


Padmore holds off Stretton in shortened first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race

Nick Padmore (Williams FW07C) defended a narrow lead over Martin Stretton (Tyrrell 012) to win the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race of the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch. The race was shortened because of a scary crash involving Lotus team mates Katsu Kubota and Steve Brooks. Both were unhurt. 

Padmore led away from the start, and despite setting several fastest laps of the race Stretton was unable to set up a decisive pass, even though Padmore was keeping as little as four tenths between itself and the Tyrrell. 

“I loved it!” said an elated Padmore. “But yes, I was made to work hard for it, I need a lie-down after this! After the red came out I thought, ‘Thank God for that’… I’m happy that Katsu is OK, though.”

“I was keeping the pressure on him”, said Stretton. “Frankly, I needed a break, I was hoping he would make a mistake with the backmarkers in the final few laps but they never came.”

Some 20 seconds down the road, Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07C) took third, maintaining a two-second gap to Simon Fish (Ensign N180) all race. 

“It was good”, said Cantillon, “but I soon lost touch with the guys in front, so it was a bit of a lonely race.”

Greg Thornton dominated the pre-78 class in his Lotus 77, finishing fifth overall, well ahead of Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8). Initially, Thornton had no less than four ground-effect cars between himself and Max Smith-Hilliard, but first Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) and Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49) touched, and then Thornton’s team mates took each other other out, ending the race prematurely. Brooks lined up Kubota into Druids and dived through on the inside but the Japanese still turned in and was launched over the top of Brooks’s left front wheel. Taking evasive action, Smith-Hilliard ended up in the gravel trap.

It turned out that Kubota and Brooks were meant to act as a useful buffer, Thornton explained.

“Yes, I had my hands ful with those ground-effect cars”, said Thornton, “but we had a cunning plan because of these new reversed-grid rules for the second race of the weekend. Three laps before the end I would let my team mates through to still win the class but start up front tomorrow. So I pulled over, but there was nobody there…”

As the results were drawn up based on the order on the lap before the race-ending crash, Kubota and Brooks still took sixth and seventh, with Smith-Hilliard in eighth, ahead of Ian Simmonds (Tyrrell 012) and Mark Hazell (Williams FW07).

Jason Wright took third in the pre-78 class after Phil Hall went off at Druids in his Theodore TR1 and dropped down to fifth in class behind Ron Maydon’s LEC CRP1.

Balfe/Wolfe take Masters Gentlemen Drivers win after dominant Whitaker gets meatballed

Shaun Balfe and Andy Wolfe – a driver pairing in the Wolfe AC Cobra for this occasion – were happy to take the win in the Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Brands Hatch when, with less than half an hour to go, a dominant Mike Whitaker was given the black-and-orange ‘meatball’ flag for a loose exhaust, having gone off on lap 34. Whitaker dropped back to third after the issue was dealt with in the pits but recovered to take second place from fellow TVR Griffith driver John Spiers. 

Shaun did exceptionally well in his first historic race, looking after the tyres”, said a jubilant Wolfe, “but for me it was hard work trying to catch up with Mike – the tyres were down to the canvas!”

“Yes, I’m supersub!”, said Balfe about replacing Michael Gans for the weekend. “I enjoyed it, definitely. You feel everything. You feel you are going fast, and you are going fast!” 

Whitaker was very disappointed with losing a win that for over an hour looked unchallenged. The TVR driver removed Balfe from the lead on lap 2 and proceeded to build a gap that was up to 24 seconds at the pitstops. With Wolfe in Balfe’s place, the gap wasn’t really coming down until Whitaker made a mistake at the back of the circuit. 

“I always hate to lose a dominant win”, said Whitaker, “but I went off at the back and took a brake duct off. I tried to go on, as it was only a brake duct, but I knew that was why I was called in.” 

John Spiers ran third for most of the race, on lap 3 having passed the Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie Jaguar E-type and the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé – two favourites that were hit by trouble in the first half of the race. Due to Whitaker’s misfortune, Spiers was handed second place but lost it again three laps from the end.

“I didn’t have any brakes”, Spiers explained. “The rear shoes exploded five laps from the finish so I couldn’t defend.”

Meanwhile, Rob Fenn’s Lotus Elan came through to take fourth overall and a strong CLP class win, first passing the early class-leading Andrew Haddon/Mark Martin Elan before demoting the Peter Thompson/Mark Hales TVR Griffith back down to fifth. Rob Ellis in 11th was a distant third in class. The Ron Maydon/James Hanson Ginetta G4R led early on, with Hanson at the wheel, but had to retire on lap 10. On the same lap, Dutchman Sander van Gils’s Elan also dropped out. 

In C2, the David Grace/Jack Rawles Austin Healey 3000 led all the way but behind them the Nils/Fredrik Nyblaeus/Jeremy Welch Healey only ended up in second place after a tight battle with their team mate Mark Pangborn and Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger, whose SLR ran second in the opening stages. After the pitstops, it was Pangborn’s turn to move up into second but a final push by Welch got him and Nyblaeus the runner-up place. 

Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne were equally convincing C1 class winners in their TVR Grantura, their lives made easier when the Mark & James Bates Porsche 911 dropped out with a broken driveshaft. On the final lap, the Ed Stone/Nigel Greensall MG B pipped Pietro Vergnano’s 911 for second place in class.

Aguas takes Peugeot 908 to win in first Masters Endurance Legends race

Rui Aguas – driving solo in Kriton Lendoudis’s Peugeot 908X P1 diesel – overcame his additional pitstop time penalty for professional drivers to win the first Masters Endurance Legends race of the weekend at Brands Hatch.

“It was an unbelievable race, and quite fun”, said Aguas. “I had a great battle with Alex Kapadia – he closed the gaps everywhere! Thanks to Kriton for giving me this car – I hope we do the next one together.”

The race effectively became just half a race after a lengthy safety-car period was needed to recover Niki Leutwiler’s ORECA-Nissan 03 P2 and David Porter’s Peugeot 908 which clashed on the first lap. The neutralised race lasted into the pit window, partly negating the pitstop time penalties for professional drivers. 

After the pitstops, Aguas battled up from seventh to first, the Portuguese driver passing the Martin Rich/Alex Kapadia ORECA-Nissan 03 for the lead on lap 19, Kapadia having put up a strong defense for a couple of laps. It got close again on the penultimate lap when Aguas got baulked by a backmarker but Kapadia failed to find a way past. 

“It was a case of keeping the tyres warm for Alex!” said Martin Rich about his stint behind the safety car.

“Yes, the safety car managed to close a few of the gaps”, said Kapadia. “I kept Rui behind for a couple of laps but in the end there was nothing I could do. There was a bit of excitement at the when he got held up but I couldn’t quite capitalise on it.” 

Steve Tandy (Lola-Mazda B12/60) lost the lead to Kapadia on lap 14, having passed Martin Short (Dallara-Judd SP1) who exited the pitlane in first after the pitstops. Both hung on to third and fourth respectively, Short winning the class for the older P1 cars.

“To be honest, the safety car ruined our strategy”, said Tandy, “but I still had a good race with Martin Short. It’s good to be up here on the podium, and let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

One lap down, Nigel Greensall (Riley & Scott Mk3) passed Keith Frieser’s ORECA-GM FLM09 on the final lap to take fifth overall and the class win for the oldest P1 cars on the grid. Greensall was given a hefty 50-second pitstop penalty, and joked to Mrs Greensall about not having coffee ready for him…

Travis Engen’s Audi R8 was a brief fifth after the pitstops but ended up seventh, ahead of Mike Furness’s Courage LC75 and the Marc Rostan/Pierre Bruneau Pilbeam MP91.

Aguas doubles up in second Masters Endurance Legends race

Portuguese pro driver Rui Aguas made it two out of two in Kriton Lendoudis’s Peugeot 908X to also win the second Masters Endurance Legends race of the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch. Steve Tandy put up a strong challenge in the Lola-Mazda B12/60 to lose out by just nine seconds at the finish. 

Tandy ran second from lap 2, passing Martin Rich in the ORECA-Nissan 03 he shared with Alex Kapadia. As Aguas opened up a 30-second gap towards the pit window, Tandy in his turn put some six seconds between himself and Rich, who dove into the pits at the first opportunity to hand over to Kapadia.

Aguas being a pro driver was forced to sit longer in the pits than Tandy but the Lola-Mazda left the pits with just ten seconds in hand on the Peugeot. Tandy was pushing, though, forcing his Portuguese rival to need eight laps to retake the lead. 

“Yes, it was quite a long pitstop”, Aguas laughed, “and it was actually hard to catch up with Steve on the last laps. But the car was behaving well, and I managed to get by.”

“Today I really got into the groove”, said a pleased Tandy. “We did a couple of changes overnight, which improved the car a lot. I was expecting to see Alex come up behind, though, but he didn’t!”

While Aguas overcame his pro-driver pitstop penalty to take back first place with seven laps to go, fellow pro driver Kapadia could do no better than finish a distant third, 37 seconds down on Aguas, but first of the P2 cars.

We stayed on the same tyres as yesterday”, Kapadia explained, “so there just wasn’t that much speed in it today.”

“It was just brilliant to get some proper laps in”, Rich said, referring to his stint behind the safety car in Saturday’s race. “We couldn’t fight as the front but I’m happy to be here and take home two class wins."

Entertainment was provided by Martin Short (Dallara-Judd SP1) and Nigel Greensall (Riley & Scott Mk3) battling it out during their opening stints while Short was again in the midst of it in the second part of the race, this time having to fend off David Porter in the second Peugeot 908. In the end, Porter spun off at Surtees while trying, leaving Short to take a hard-fought fourth place. 

From the back of the grid, Ralph Meichtry (ORECA-Nissan 03) fought his way back to fifth, ahead of Greensall, Porter (who got going again), Keith Frieser’s ORECA-GM FLM09 and Travis Engen in the Audi R8.

Voyazides/Hadfield win from the back in FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars

Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield came through from the back of the grid to win a heavily safety-car-punctuated and ultimately shortened FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race at Brands Hatch. Their Lola T70 Mk3B was up into third when the pit window opened and then won another place when Jason Wright’s T70 Mk3B was held up in the pits.  With Hadfield in the car, the leading Gonçalo Gomes/James Claridge Lola T212 was quickly dealt with, after which Hadfield ran off to a 11-second win over Wright, with Henry Fletcher’s Chevron B19 in third.

“I love starting last!” Voyazides joked. “There’s no pressure, you have nothing to lose, you just go for it.”

“A BMW 240i is on my shopping list, I followed it round for quite a while”, Hadfield quipped, referring to the two safety-car periods during his stint. 

“When I came in, I saw from the corner of my eye that red car attacking me!” said Wright about the pitlane incident with Paul Allen. “But at my age you stay cool and just get on with it.” 

Poleman Manfredo Rossi (Osella-Abarth PA1) did the early running, having reclaimed the lead from Fletcher on lap 4, but the Italian pulled off at Graham Hill Bend on lap 10. Fletcher took over but a puncture – taken care of during his regular pitstop – dropped him down to seventh, handing the lead to the Gomes/Claridge Lola. Meanwhile, Voyazides had charged up to sixth by lap 4, and was third by lap 11. 

Two more safety-car periods after the one four laps into the race to retrieve Mike Whitaker’s Lola T70 bunched the field up, allowing Hadfield to take an easy win and Fletcher to make up several places. Fletcher even took second from Wright but immediately following the race was red-flagged when Paul Allen beached his Lola at Druids with three minutes still on the clock. Thus, the result was rolled back to the standings on the previous lap.  

“A red flag and a puncture!” Fletcher said about his eventful race. “Fortunately the puncture came just two corners from the pitlane entry so it wasn’t too bad. It did delay me – no wheelguns, all manual labour. Martin [O’Connell] did the work himself.”

Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger (Cooper Monaco King Cobra) narrowly held off the Chris Jolly/Steve Farthing Cooper Monaco T61M for the Hulme class win, with Dutchman Michiel Smits (Lola T70 Mk1) a distant third after a puncture. In his opening stint, Bellinger tried to open up a gap, hounded by Smits initially, and then Ahlers was made to fight for it when Farthing was brought right onto his tail by the two safety cars. 

“We had a bit a break when Mike [Whitaker] pulled off”, Bellinger admitted, “but were still made to work hard for the win.” 

“It was a funny race”, Ahlers agreed. “Any time we thought we had created some sort of a buffer, the safety car was out again.” 

Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie took a strong fifth overall in their Chevron B8 to claim Bonnier class honours after battling with the Mark & Andrew Owen B8 all the way. Mark Owen led John Ingram’s B8 early on, with Thomas in third, but it all changed around after the pitstops. Lockie making his way forward while Ingram retired on what would end up as the final lap. 

John Sheldon won the Siffert class for Chevron B16 cars. Sheldon led all the way while seeing his rivals Ross Hyett and Jamie Boot both drop out. Hyett was chasing Sheldon in the first half of the race before stopping out on the circuit on lap 17, resulting in the second safety-car period. Then Boot took up the chase but an off at Paddock Hill Bend not only caused the race’s third neutralisation but also handed Sheldon an unchallenged class win. 

Sumpter strikes in Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars!

Mark Sumpter fended off Steve Soper in a Lotus Cortina lead battle that lasted until four laps from the end of a thrilling Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race. In the final Masters race of the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch, Sumpter briefly lost first position on lap 14 but retook it one lap later and then continued to successfully defend his lead before Soper fell away by four seconds a lap to finally retire on lap 28. 

“It was as you’d expect”, said Sumpter about his fight with Soper. “I’ve watched all of his touring-car videos and felt like Tim Harvey and John Cleland all in one! It was very racy but very fair. We ran slightly different gearing, which made it interesting in various places of the circuit. I was sorry to see him disappear but a win’s a win. And at least I was in front when he retired!"

“It suddenly dropped off”, Soper explained. “From one moment to another I was understeering off the circuit. I went off three or four times. I don’t understand as these cars are usually very consistent.”

The Mike Gardiner/Andy Wolfe Ford Falcon Sprint took a distant second, 33 seconds down, Wolfe putting in a sterling drive after Gardiner handed the car to him in seventh. Gardiner was second initially but then lost places to Sumpter, Soper, Julian Thomas in the yellow Thomas/Lockie Falcon as well as Andrew Haddon and Geoff Letts in two more Cortinas. There was a reason for that, though, Wolfe explained.

“The car was awesome when I took it over”, Wolfe said. “I cannot drive slowly, but Mike gave me a car in which I could drive quickly!” 

In the first part of his stint, Wolfe battled Calum Lockie until the yellow Falcon was called in for a drivethrough penalty issued for Thomas missing the pit window for the mandatory pitstop. Lockie momentarily dropped down to fifth but was soon back past Geoff Letts to be fourth – which became third on Steve Soper’s retirement. 

“It was brilliant fun”, said Lockie of the battle with Wolfe. “At one time, we were side-by-side through Dingle Dell!”

Nick Swift shone to take fourth overall while dominating the Mini class, heading Geoff Letts in the second-placed Cortina across the line by the smallest of fractions. On the final lap, Rob Fenn (Ford Mustang) made his way past the Andrew Haddon/Mark Martin Lotus Cortina to take sixth overall, as both cars took third in their class. They were followed home by the Minis of Tom Bell/Joe Ferguson and Chris Middlehurst, that fought all race to take second and third in the Mini class.

Norwegian Martin Strommen was in among the lead cars but on lap 6 dropped to 15th on the back of an off in his Lotus Cortina. The Ian Curley/Bill Sollis Mini ran second in the Mini class before it was forced to pit for a puncture on lap 21. From pole, Craig Davies led early on but pulled off on lap 6, also hit by a puncture.

Stretton beats Padmore to win in second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race

Martin Stretton reversed the order of Saturday’s FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Brands Hatch by beating Nick Padmore to the win on Sunday. 

From seventh on the grid, the Tyrrell 012 driver brilliantly worked his way forward to lead on lap 2 while Padmore needed until lap 4 to be second. Initially, Padmore made inroads into Stretton’s advantage, setting three consecutive fastest laps of the race and trimming the gap from 4 to 1.7 seconds. However, Stretton answered back and increased his lead back to 2.2 seconds before a safety car ended their battle. The race finished under the safety car. 

“I had a couple of lucky breaks”, said Stretton of his stunning opening lap, “the guys in front were very kind to me. I saw Nick looming, he always drives very well – but then the safety car came out.” 

“It’s that annoying gap all the time”, said Padmore about those two seconds between himself and Stretton. “I was a bit too patient with the backmarkers, I think – but who cares? I had a terrific time!” 

Having started from ‘reverse’ pole, Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) won the pre-78 class ahead of Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8). The Fittipaldi driver ran third after being passed by Stretton and Padmore, and was initially chased by Steve Brooks (Lotus 81). On lap 5, Thornton passed his team mate to hound his class rival, but a failed lunge at Smith-Hilliard saw him drop behind Simon Fish’s Ensign N180. On lap 12, Fish eventually demoted Smith-Hilliard to fourth. 

“They were orders from Nick!” Smith-Hilliard quipped about leading the class from the front. “There were always two or three cars between me and Greg, and then when he came through I saw him spin in my mirrors, so I was actually surprised that he reappeared!” 

“I had instructions to stay with Max, hoping that he would make a mistake”, said Thornton, “but he didn’t. Max drove brilliantly.”

“I was stuck there”, said Fish about fighting the top pre-78 cars. “They are difficult to overtake as they are quick in a straight line, having a little less downforce, but in the end I did it.” 

On the same lap, Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07C) had his eyes on Thornton’s fifth place. The pair made contact at Druids, resulting in the safety car being dispatched. Thornton dropped to seventh behind Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) and Brooks while Cantillon’s Williams remained stuck in the gravel. Hartley, meanwhile, drove a storming race from the back to claim an excellent fifth place. 

The field circulated behind the safety car until the finish five laps later. 


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