Gans/Wolfe beat Julian Thomas in entertaining Stena Line Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at the Nürburgring

Michael Gans and Andy Wolfe prevailed in a battle with Julian Thomas’ Jaguar E-type to win the Stena Line Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at the Nürburgring. Their pole-sitting AC Cobra led from the start but saw Thomas charge past on lap 12 and was then kept in the pits for longer to have its rear tyres changed after Michael Gans’ opening stint. On fresh rear rubber, Andy Wolfe had the legs of his rival to overtake Thomas on lap 22 and then pull out a gap of about seven seconds to take the win.

“We had a bit of a longer pitstop to put on new rear tyres”, Wolfe explained, “but these gave me the legs to get to Julian and pass him. All credit to the guys, they gave a perfectly balanced car. Generally faultless, really.”

“I wanted to have a longer battle!” said Thomas, not driving with Calum Lockie this time, “but I could only stay with Andy for half a lap. The fight with Michael was good fun, though. I saw he was smoking his tyres, and thought, ‘Come on!’.”

In the opening laps, Julian Thomas was still struggling with an open door on his E-type, dropping back to fourth, but soon he found his way past Andy Willis’ Cobra and David Pittard’s Elan, the latter working his usual magic in his opening stint by staying with the more powerful cars.

From lap 10 to lap 17 – the final lap of the pit window – Gans and Thomas exchanged fastest sector times and fastest laps of the race but the pattern was that Thomas was closing in on Gans. Thomas leapt ahead on lap 12 when Gans made an error and dropped three seconds. Thomas hung on to a small one-second lead when both leaders simultaneously came into the pits for their mandatory pitstop. The longer stop for Gans/Wolfe gave Thomas a five-second lead over Wolfe but the Cobra steadily chewed into Thomas’s lead and nipped past on lap 22. From then on, Wolfe stretched out a comfortable lead and was never headed again.

Nicolai Kjaergaard’s Lotus Elan was the quickest of the CLP class runners and finished a remarkable third overall, keeping ahead of the Joaquin Folch/Simon Hadfield Jaguar E-type that, with Hadfield at the wheel, stormed up from seventh to fourth. Jamie Boot was fifth in his TVR Griffith while Andy Willis and Rob Hall took sixth after their early challenge was blunted by a long pitstop in order to ‘replace’ a fan-belt that had gone missing.

“It was a good race, I had good pace from start to finish”, said Kjaergaard. “I knew there was a chance to finish high up the order, but I never expected to end up on the overall podium!”

Up next were the Elans of Andrew Haddon/Mark Martin and David Pittard/Graham Wilson. In the second half of the race, Wilson was struggling with his brakes, and when a lock-up put him into a spin, Martin was past. In the first half of the race, Pittard had led the way, with Haddon keeping Kjaergaard at bay, but the Dane then handsomely outpaced Martin and Wilson to take a fine class win.

“My stint was alright”, said Haddon, in his second race of the day already, having raced a Formula 3 car in Sunday’s opening race, as had his team mate Mark Martin, “but Mark did well to catch and pass Graham.”

“I had a problem with the brakes”, Wilson explained, “they kept on locking, and then I spun, and that’s when Mark went past…”

Simon Hadfield, meanwhile, had hoped to catch all Elans in the race but was still pleased with fourth – and third in class. “We just heard that the car is first reserve for the Revival, so the pre-race briefing was simply ‘Goodwood…’. The race was perfect, I was thinking ‘Goodwood, Goodwood, Goodwood’ all the time!”

Ron Maydon’s Ginetta G4R also featured in the CLP class fight but he was one of four drivers slammed with a drivethrough penalty for crossing the pitlane exit line. This dropped him back to ninth overall and fourth in class. Alasdair Coates was tenth in his Cobra.

Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger won the C2 class in their Morgan SLR after a long fight with the Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus/Jeremy Welch Austin Healey 3000. When Nyblaeus was another to be hit with a drivethrough penalty, Ahlers was in the clear. The Nyblaes/Welch penalty consequently helped Mark Pangborn claim second in class in his Healey 3000.

Mark and James Bates blitzed the C1 class in their Porsche 911, the brothers leading home Afschin Fatemi’s Porsche 904/6 and the Uwe Bruschnik/Robert Haug Porsche 911.