Gans takes emphatic Masters Historic Sports Car win at Donington Park

Michael Gans took a dominant non-championship Masters Historic Sports Car win at Donington Park after the challenges of the Andrew & Max Banks McLaren M6B and the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Lola T70 Mk3B faded.

A winning return!” said a smiling Gans on coming back after having been absent from the start of the season. “I was a little sad to see Leo and Simon go, as I was looking forward to battling Simon – to an extent at least! I was all dreading the safety car coming out right at the end and Simon overtaking me on the last lap…

Andrew Banks led during his opening stint, chased by Gans, but a stop-and-go penalty and a puncture put the McLaren out of contention. Hadfield then took up the chase but at two-thirds distance the Lola began smoking, the car retiring on lap 28 with a suspected broken rocker.

This left Matt Wrigley’s Chevron B19 in second place, and although a late safety-car period bunched the field up, Gans re-established a useful gap as soon as the green flag was waved. Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie took a stunning third overall in the Bonnier-class-winning Chevron B8, with Paul Allen’s Lola T212 in fourth.

It was a good race”, said Wrigley. “I was trying to keep myself in a rhythm, as this was the first time I did the full distance in the car. I was not going too fast in the first half to conserve the tyres, and then gave it a try in the second half.

If you enter enough races you’re bound to finish one!” said Thomas, whose cars retired from all the races he and Lockie had done so far during the meeting. “It’s one of those weekends, but the Chevron ran really well – no trouble at all this time.

Pre-66 Hulme class victory went to Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra, after an easy run due to their class rival Ian Simmonds retiring early on.

In the end, it was more like a test than an actual race”, said Bellinger, “but it was fine, and the car ran absolutely perfect.

After a three laps behind the safety car, needed to retrieve Ian Simmonds’ Lola T70 Mk1 Spyder stranded at Coppice on the warm-up lap, the field was sent on its way on lap 4. Andrew Banks led away from pole, but on lap 5 Michael Gans moved past Leo Voyazides into second place and the nimble Lola began chasing the McLaren in front. Behind them, Voyazides kept Matt Wrigley’s Chevron B19 at bay, as the pair lost ground on the two leading drivers. On lap 10, Wrigley was up into third.

Julian Thomas in the Chevron B8 and Ross Hyett in the B16 had moved into fifth and sixth, profiting from Robert Oldershaw’s demise on lap 6, his Lola T290 having lost power, while Stefano Rosina had dropped three laps in the other McLaren after an unscheduled pitstop, and then pulled in to retire for good. Following Thomas and Hyett were James Allen’s Lola T212 and Billy Bellinger in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra.

On lap 11, though, the notice came up that the leader was under investigation for a safety-car infringement. As Gans trailed Banks by just five seconds, the American was looking good. With the pit window approaching, Wrigley was a further 14 seconds adrift of Gans, having left Voyazides four seconds behind. And indeed, the investigation into Banks’ maintaining his speed initially when the safety-car boards were out was concluded on lap 17, and resulted in the issue of a stop-and-go penalty.

Leo Voyazides was the first to come in and hand over to Simon Hadfield on lap 19, their disadvantage to the race leader now 36 seconds. Andrew Banks was next up – but that was for the stop-and-go. This meant that Gans took up the lead, but Wrigley was in from third. In fact, more went on than just the mandatory stationary time, as Wrigley was signalling ferociously at one of the car’s corners, the team using the stop time to investigate. The next lap, Andrew Banks came in for his second stop, but it wasn’t for the driver change to brother Max, but for a retirement, Andrew explaining something started feeling wrong at the rear – a puncture appeared to have been the reason.

Gans, Thomas and Bellinger were the last to pit, Gans continuing in the lead, Thomas handing the Chevron B8 to Calum Lockie, and Keith Ahlers taking over from Bellinger. Gans led Hadfield by 24 seconds but Hadfield was driving a smoking Lola T70 Mk3B, lapping two seconds off Voyazides’ earlier pace. He couldn’t afford to lap any slower, as Matt Wrigley was just two seconds away in the Chevron B19. Calum Lockie was fourth in the B8 but Paul Allen had now taken up fifth place in the Lola T212, with Ahlers ahead of Chris Fox in the Chevron B16 started by Chris Fox.

On lap 28, though, Hadfield was given the meatball flag and the Lola duly turned into the pits and into retirement, a broken rocker the root of the problem. So was it all done and dusted for Gans? Not quite, as on lap 30 the safety car was sent out to recover Chris Fox’s Chevron B16 stranded out on the circuit. This meant that Gans lost his 30-second lead on Wrigley to set up a lead duel for the final 12 minutes. One lap down, the Thomas/Lockie Chevron B8 was third and Paul Allen’s T212 fourth. Two laps behind, Ahlers was fifth.

In the end, it wasn’t much of a lead fight, though. On the drop of the green flag, Gans put the hammer down and stormed off to a four-second lead, as Wrigley was further handicapped by a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits. Towards the end, Wrigley eased his pace to allow Gans to win by 23 seconds.