Ferrer storms to victory in opening FIA Masters Historic Formula One race

Matteo Ferrer was never headed as the Italian powered his Ligier JS11/15 to a commanding win in the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race of the season. Mastering the Paul Ricard track from pole, Ferrer racked off a string of fastest race laps to edge away from Jamie Constable who finished in a strong second place in his Tyrrell 011, 8 seconds in arrears of the Ligier.

It was very enjoyable”, said Ferrer. “It is never easy, but it’s always nice to be in control.

Constable initially fought Mike Cantillon’s Williams FW07C but was handed a breather when the Williams headed into the pits on lap 10. This gave third overall to dominant pre-78 class winner Henry Fletcher in the Jägermeister-liveried March 761.

I could see Mike behind me but then he disappeared. After that, it wasn’t really a nice for anyone”, said Constable who was surprised to be able to keep Cantillon at bay and to be as well ahead of rivals like Christophe d’Ansembourg and Joaquin Folch as he did. “We were hoping to make the car as fast as the Williams, but I guess the boys did even better. I’m really proud of them.

In the pre-78 class, Fletcher ended up well ahead of Patrick d’Aubréby’s F&S Properties-liveried 761 and Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8 who battled over second place in class all race, as they finished eighth and ninth overall.

“It was quite uneventful”, said Fletcher, “but I’m pleased with the pace. The only problem was the car losing performance on used tyres but that was consistent with what we expected.”

Fletcher was followed home by the Brabham BT49s of Christophe d’Ansembourg and Joaquin Folch, the Williams FW07 of Charles Nearburg, and Fabrice Lhéritier in the Tyrrell 010. Mark Hazell won the post-1983 class in the Williams FW08, finishing tenth overall. Bruno Ferrari’s pre-71 March 701 was 12th.

I had nobody in front, but I knew that Joaquin was closing so I had to push to the end”, said d’Ansembourg, who admitted that before the start of the season he hadn’t expected Ferrer and Constable to be that far in front. “No, completely not, that was a real surprise!

At the start, Ferrer immediately opened up a four-second lead by lap 4, leading Constable and Cantillon warring over second place. Dropping away in fourth was pre-78 class leader Henry Fletcher, with a further gap to Christophe d’Ansembourg in fifth, having taken over from Steve Hartley whose carbon-monocoque McLaren MP4/1 was in the pits after a single lap, the same applying to James Hagan’s Hesketh 308 and Philippe Bonny’s Trojan T103.

As the Italian in the lead continued a string of fastest race laps, Constable’s Tyrrell began to ease away from Cantillon’s Williams. At the start of lap 7 it became obvious as to why – the Williams was into the pits, handing third overall to Fletcher’s class-leading March. Further back, in eighth and ninth overall respectively, Patrick d’Aubréby (March 761) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) fought hard over second place in the pre-78 class, as they headed post-83 class leader Mark Hazell in his newly acquired Williams FW08.

“I had a very good race”, said d’Aubréby, “it was a great fight with Jason!”

Wright meanwhile rued changing the gearing ahead of the race. “I was in the rev limiter at the end of the straights. In the corners I would close up, and then it would start all over again. I thought that I have him on the final lap but then we caught up with [Richard Hope in] the Osella-Alfa Romeo, and that was it.”

In fifth and sixth, and Charles Nearburg (Williams FW07C) and Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49C) had their Reutemann-vs-Piquet-inspired battle while closing up on d’Ansembourg’s ex-Patrese BT49 in fourth. On lap 10, Folch passed Nearburg for fifth to set after the Belgian’s similar car, with Fabrice Lhéritier’s Tyrrell 010 in a lonely seventh place. Folch was unable to pass d’Ansembourg, so ended up in fifth overall while the Belgian claimed the final post-78 podium spot.