SUNDAY 28TH JULY 2019

Andrew & Max Banks storm to dominant Yokohama Trophy for FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars victory at Silverstone

The McLaren M6B of Andrew & Max Banks took a dominant lights-to-flag victory in the Yokohama Trophy for FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars race at Silverstone, defeating Gary Pearson’s Lola T70 Mk3B by 42 seconds. It was vindication for their lost Silverstone Classic win of 2018.

I know…”, said Max Banks, looking back on last year’s lost victory. “I was saying ‘Gearbox, be alright, gearbox, be alright’ on those final laps. But the car was amazing, and Andrew did a brilliant first half.

In the first half of the race, Pearson charged his way up to second place and slowly moved out of Martin Stretton’s sight, Stretton in the McLaren M6 GT in the end having to defend from Diogo Ferrão’s Lola T292 while on the final lap Andy Wolfe in the T70 Mk3B started by Jason Wright blasted through the middle of both, three wide on the Wellington Straight, to take an unexpected third place as he overcame a drivethrough penalty.

I loved it!” said Pearson about his charge through the field. “I had a really good run through the other guys, and that was a good fight with Martin. I had a good slingshot out of Stowe, and that was it. He’s always clean, and we’re old mates anyway.

However, Wolfe failing to serve a second drivethrough penalty meant that he was hit with a time penalty enough to lose third place to Ferrão. Michael Gans also featured heavily up front but his Lola T290 failed on him on the final lap.

A storming set of opening laps saw Andrew Banks pull out a lead of ten seconds over Martin Stretton, who on lap 2 got past both T70 Mk3Bs of David Hart and Jason Wright, with Michael Gans and Gary Pearson also making their way past the Dutchman. In fact, Pearson couldn’t be stopped as 15 minutes into the race he pushed down Gans back into fifth place, and then also snapped up Wright’s Lola to grab third.

Meanwhile, Hart’s Lola was languishing as it was past by Oldershaw, Ferrão, Fletcher and Mike Wrigley in short succession. Oldershaw was the man on the move, the open-top Lola flying past another Lola coupé dropping back, Jason Wright following David Hart’s way down the order.

In the Siffert class, John Sheldon and Ross Hyett were nose-to-tail in their Chevron B16s, with the Bonnier-class Chevron B8s of Julian Thomas and Mark Owen getting ahead of both of them halfway into their stints. In the pre-66 Hulme class, Chris Jolly led Billy Bellinger by 11 seconds, with 20 minutes of the race gone.

At the front, Banks now led by 21 seconds, with Stretton now being forced to defend second place from Pearson in the only T70 Mk3B to keep pace with the leaders. Gans was a further two seconds down and closing again, the American chased by Oldershaw, Ferrão, Fletcher and Wrigley in their open-top sportscars.

On lap 9, the pit window approaching, Stretton suddenly succumbed to both Pearson and Gans, while further back Ferrão passed Oldershaw, and Fletcher nipped past Wrigley. Losing ground on the edge of the top ten, Wright and Hart were being caught by Gary Culver’s similar T70 Mk3B. As Hart and Fletcher became the first to pit, Robert Oldershaw’s Lola T290 came to a stop at Becketts. In fact, Jason Wright had come in even earlier but at that time the pit window hadn’t opened yet – the American’s error would cost his team mate Andy Wolfe a drivethough penalty.

In the Siffert class, Hyett had dropped Sheldon by five seconds, the pair now split by Chris Lillingston-Price in the third-placed Bonnier-class Chevron B8, while in the Hulme class Jolly – in a freshly Chevy-engined Cooper Monaco – had increased his lead over Bellinger to 17 seconds.

On lap 11, the leading car was in, Andrew handing over to brother Max. Both Pearson and Stretton followed the McLaren M6B in while Gans along with Ferrão stayed out for another lap. Back in 18th place, Nicky Pastorelli returned to the pits to retire the Lola T70 Mk3B started by David Hart.

All pitstops done, Max Banks led Pearson by 31 seconds, with Stretton two ticks further down the road. Wolfe was up into fourth but with his penalty served dropped down to sixth behind Gans and Ferrão, the American and the Portuguese themselves keeping Stretton well in sight while now fiercely disputing fourth place. Behind Wolfe, a big gap to Gary Culver’s Lola had developed, Culver now chased by David Tomlin’s Lola T210 and Fletcher in the Chevron B26.

In the Bonnier class, Lillingstone-Price had pipped both Andrew Owen and Calum Lockie at the stops, Owen having taken over from son Mark, and Lockie having taken the place of Thomas. Hyett’s gap to Sheldon in the Siffert class had increased to 13 seconds, while Steve Farthing in the Cooper Monaco started by Jolly led Keith Ahlers in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra by half a minute. Despite a spin, Ian Simmonds still held third in class in his Lola T70 Mk1 Spyder.

With ten minutes still on the clock, Banks led imperiously while Pearson had raced clear of Stretton who was now under pressure from Ferrão, the Portuguese driver having passed Gans on lap 17. In sixth, Wolfe’s race was hit by another penalty, now for speeding in the pitlane, which would not lose him a place given his huge lead over seventh-placed Gary Culver. Wolfe not taking the penalty, however, meant that he would get a time penalty instead.

In the closing few minutes, Hyett’s Siffert-class charge came to a premature halt, while Ferrão was now hounding Stretton in the Lola T292 that in previous years he used to share with Stretton! Wolfe, meanwhile, was closing on the pair of them, and on the final lap blasted through the middle past both of them, as they raced three cars wide on the Wellington Straight. It was all for nothing though, as Wolfe’s time penalty handed third place back to Ferrão. More drama ensued when Gans’ Lola T290 stopped on the final lap to hand sixth place to Culver, with Fletcher and Tomlin up next. Gans was still classified ninth.

Chris Jolly and Steve Farthing (Cooper Monaco T61M) took a strong pre-66 Hulme-class victory, their rivals Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger (Cooper Monaco King Cobra) dropping behind Ian Simmonds’ Lola T70 Mk1 Spyder right at the end. Ross Hyett looked to have the Siffert class sewn up but five minutes from the end his Chevron B16 expired, handing the class win to John Sheldon’s similar car. Chris Lillington-Price surprised the Bonnier-class regulars by pipping fellow Chevron B8 runners Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie to the win. Till Bechtolsheimer took third in class, in the dying moments of the race getting ahead of the Owens’ B8.


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