Dominant Thornton takes the double at VARAC Vintage Grand Prix, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Practise and qualifying
With the morning rain shower just clearing before the Masters USA morning practise session, the 16 cars took to a drying but slightly misty track at Mosport. The sound of F1 engines echoed around the Mosport track for the first time in a long while! The 25 minute practice passed off uneventfully aside from a short red flag period for Ron Maydon’s LEC to be removed from a dangerous position and make its way to the pit lane. Drivers still keen to learn the lines and this challenging circuit. Katsu Kubota (Lotus 78) was quickest with a 1.19.925 followed by Danny Baker in the ex-Villeneuve 312 T4 and Jamie Constable 3rd fastest in the Lola T370.
By the time the qualifying session came around mid-afternoon, the sun was shining and the drivers were presented with a dry track for another stab at improving their times.
Greg Thornton in the Elio de Angelis Lotus 91 managed only a couple of laps before his throttle cable broke and he had to retire to the pit lane. But, his two flying laps set the standard for the rest as his 1.15.917 was unbeaten and he added pole position to his race win last weekend at the Grand Prix du Canada in Montreal. Winner of Race 2 in Montreal, Katsu Kubota, Lotus 78 driven in period by Gunnar Nilsson, will line up beside him on the front row of the grid and Irishman, James Hagan, in the Candy liveried Tyrrell 010 takes the third spot on the grid for the both races.
With the eyes and ears of the local crowd firmly fixed on the 16 Masters USA cars as they headed onto to track it was the two Lotus’s of Greg Thornton, Lotus 91 and Katsu Kubota, Lotus 78 that lead the way for the first race at the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Thornton charged ahead from the off and was never looked like being troubled by his Lotus team mate Kubota as he lead the race from the start all the way to the chequered flag setting a lap time of 1.15.049 in the process. Just 4 seconds slower than Andretti in period…. Kubota kept his foot in throughout and stayed comfortably ahead of the James Hagan (Tyrrell 011) to take the second step on the podium.
With the first two places sorted, Hagan had driven his heart out to hold onto 3rd place through the race only to be thwarted on last lap when the fuel gauge when into the red! So, it was left to the next 5 cars to thrill the crowd with plenty of overtaking at a circuit that is celebrating 50 years of F1. Antipodean racer Chris Farrell in the March 821 started off on a charge, taking first blood by passing the Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 312 T4 driven by Californian Danny Baker. But the March retired after only six laps with recurring gearbox issues. Andrew Beaumont (Lotus 81) and Jamie Constable (Lola T370) took it in turns to push the Ferrari in front, keeping Baker honest and looking in his mirrors. Constable eventually claimed the 3rd podium spot as he nudged past Baker on lap 15.
Keen to join the party was Ron Maydon, LEC CPR1, and local boy Dean Baker in the Shadow DN8 both drove their cars to the limits, but paid the price with Maydon retiring on lap 8 with a broken gear lever and the Baker Shadow slowing on the last two laps to conserve fuel!
Bud Moeller enjoyed early success in his first race in the Wolf WR6 as he overtook Steve Cook in the March 721G. Charles Warner in the Shadow DN9 squeezed past the John Delane Tyrrell 002 who then stayed ahead of the Brazilian Dalmo de Vasconceles. Brad Baker visited the pits early as he got to grips with the BRM’s handling, finally retiring on lap 9.
Dominant Thornton takes the double!
Greg Thornton took no prisoners as he again led the Masters USA Historic Formula 1 cars out onto track at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park track on Saturday afternoon. His Lotus 91 built a comfortable lead ahead of Katsu Kubota (Lotus 78), who could offer no challenge as Thornton conquered this fast and sweeping circuit. James Hagan regained the luck of an Irishman and followed the two Lotus to the chequered flag.
With the first three places decided the rest of the grid provided the showcase race the crowd had come to see. Chris Farrell, March 821, charged past Danny Baker’s iconic Ferrari 312 T4 but his progress was short lived as he lost a wheel on the second lap forcing him to retire. Next to challenge was local racer, Dean Baker, in the Shadow DN8 but he was thwarted by a broken throttle linkage and retired to the pit lane. Danny Baker then held onto the 4th place spot until lap 8 when Jamie Constable made his move in the Lola T370, passing the Ferrari and Ron Maydon followed him in the LEC CPR1. Baker soon regained 5th position from Maydon as he went wide during an over-enthusiastic moment.
Bob Blain in the Beta liveried March held strong as others faltered and he made his way to a respectable 7th position. Bud Moeller quietly made his way up the grid gaining 6 places as his confidence grew in the Wolf WR6 as he passed a struggling Andrew Beaumont in the Essex Lotus 81. Steve Cook in the newly restored March 721G held off fellow Stewart Class driver John Delane in the Tyrrell 002 and newcomer Dalmo de Vasconceles showed that a steady approach can reap the rewards as he collected an overall 3rd in class trophy in only his third event in the Shadow DN8.