Cantillon takes debut win in first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Imola
Mike Cantillon took a well-deserved first-ever FIA Masters Historic Formula One win by beating CGA Engineering team mate Christophe d’Ansembourg in a Williams FW07 double at Imola.
It was two years coming!” said a beaming Cantillon, whose form started to improve in the last half of the previous season. “Yes, I’ve a done a lot of work with a personal trainer and that’s paid off. It’s a great day!
Dubbed the first Historic San Marino Grand Prix by the Imola organisers, the race first saw poleman Martin O’Connell drive away into the distance, setting fastest laps on lap 2 and 3 and pulling out a 6.5-second lead before his ATS D4 ground to a halt on lap 8.
Cantillon, having been the only driver to have kept pace with O’Connell, was handed a lead of 17 seconds over d’Ansembourg, the Belgian having been busy fending off runaway pre-78 leader Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) and Joaquin Folch in the Brabham BT49. Cantillon’s lead was wiped out, however, when on lap 10 the safety car was deployed to allow the retrieval of Katsu Kubota’s Lotus 91 from the Rivazza gravel trap.
At the restart, Cantillon kept his cool and ran out to a 1.6-second lead over d’Ansembourg, with Thornton not far behind.
The restart was clean”, said the winner. “I had lots of time to think about it!
It wasn’t clean for Joaquin Folch, however. The Catalan had been fourth but started experiencing lack of power when the safety car came out. “I decided to keep going as we were circulating slowly behind the safety car anyway. But when the green flag was waved the power wasn’t there.”
Folch put his hand up, and fifth-placed Steve Brooks (Lotus 81) rightfully decided to keep behind until the safety-car line was passed. “But by then I was in the wrong gear”, said Brooks, “and three cars came flying past!”
So suddenly Greg Thornton in third was looking at a 10-second gap to Jamie Constable’s Shadow DN8 as the quickest of the cars that had jumped Brooks at the restart. “I was looking in my mirrors to see where everyone was”, Thornton explained, “as with the new reversed-grid start order in race 1 for the top-8 of race 1 I was planning to drop down two places to still maintain the pre-78 class lead but start two places further up the grid tomorrow. But then I looked – and there was nobody there!”
In fourth, Constable made up for a torrid qualifying session to take second in the pre-78 class, ahead of Henry Fletcher (March 761) who in his first Historic Formula One race took a fine fifth overall and third in class. In sixth, Manfredo Rossi (Lotus 80) took third in the post-78 class while Brooks recovered to seventh overall.
Jason Wright, another pre-78 podium favourite, initially tracked Constable on his way up before dropping out on lap 9. Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) and Bob Blain (March 761) were early retirements.