Dominant win for Michael Lyons in first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Brands Hatch

Michael Lyons was not bothered by a safety-car period between laps 11 and 13, as the polesitter charged to a dominant victory in the first of two FIA Masters Historic Formula One races at Brands Hatch.

The RAM Williams FW07B driver twice pulled out a comfortable gap on his rivals, that included Andy Wolfe (Tyrrell 011) and Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) until the pair made contact in Druids fighting over second place, both ending up in the gravel trap. This handed second place overall to pre-77 class winner Nick Padmore, whose Shadow DN5 keeps an unbeaten record in the class, Max Smith-Hilliard having won twice in it at Barcelona. Padmore kept Simon Fish (Ensign N180) at bay all race, with Christophe d’Ansembourg (Williams FW07C) slightly further back after a fairly lonely race.

There’s not much to talk about, said Lyons. It all happened behind me!

“It was brilliant”, Padmore said about his race-long battle with Fish. “He was quick around the fast stuff, I caught him in the slower bits. Thank God that the safety car came out since my rear tyres were going off.”

“I kept him busy”, agreed Fish, who couldn’t find a way past.

“I saw these cars out”, D’Ansembourg said, referring to Wolfe and Hartley’s beached machines, “and I thought, shit, I’m third!”

Greg Thornton took an unchallenged second in pre-77 class, his Lotus 77 finishing fifth overall, ahead of Joaquin Folch’s Brabham BT49. Max Smith-Hilliard – now in the Fittipaldi F5A – took a fighting third in class, edging out a train of cars led by his team mate Phil Hall (Theodore TR1). Martin Bullock finished on Hall’s heels on a fine Historic Formula One debut in his Williams FW06.

I missed the same gear three times in Graham Hill Bend, Smith-Hilliard explained. It made it quite eventful but it was good to claw my way back.

“Yes, it was a fairly quiet race”, Thornton agreed, “but I did have to keep Joaquin behind me.”

The race got off with a clean start for Michael Lyons, but Martin Stretton was challenging Andy Wolfe for second place. The two Tyrrells touched, resulting in Stretton being pushed down to 19th place. Further back, Max Smith-Hilliard missed a gear in his Fittipaldi F5A, dropping down to sixth in the pre-77 class.

At the front, Lyons used the first ten laps to romp away to a 15-second lead over Andy Wolfe, who was increasingly under pressure from Steve Hartley. On lap 11, the two touched going into Druids and went off. The battle for fourth became a battle for second, but Padmore and Fish didn’t get to fight for it until the ensuing safety-car period ended two laps later. With a couple of backmarkers between himself and Padmore, Lyons quickly established another comfortable lead to finish nine seconds ahead of Padmore, with Fish two more seconds down.

Meanwhile, Smith-Hilliard fought his way back from sixth in class to pass Bullock and Constable seven laps into the race. At the restart, he then passed team mate Phil Hall to take the final step on the pre-77 podium.