Gardiner/Wolfe win Transatlantic Trophy for Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars at Silverstone

At Silverstone, Mike Gardiner and Andy Wolfe took another Masters Pre-66 Touring Car win in Gardiner’s Ford Falcon Sprint, as three laps from the end Wolfe charged past James Thorpe’s Mustang which had been leading since lap 2. Thorpe then lost out to Craig Davies whose similar Mustang nipped by for second place when Thorpe outbraked himself at Stowe two corners from the finish.

I’m delighted”, said Gardiner, “it was absolutely super, what a weekend. Andy is one of the top historic drivers around, and he showed it again today.

“Thanks to Mike for a great car”, Wolfe said, “and I couldn’t have Rob Huff beat me today!”

The first half of the race saw the American V8-powered cars storm through the field after wet qualifying had given the Cortinas and Mini a relative edge. At the front, Sean McInerney quickly grabbed the reins when Trevor Buckley’s Falcon missed its braking point into the Loop, and proceeded to build a 10-second lead in the five laps following.

Second at this stage ran Mike Gardiner’s Falcon while Craig Davies put up a charging drive from the 14th row of the grid to take third on lap 4. On lap 8, with McInerney now 15 seconds up on Gardiner, Davies was up with the Falcon Sprint and past into second place just ahead of the pitstops. Among the three Falcons following, Benji Hetherington and Julian Thomas pushed Trevor Buckley further down to sixth, with the Cortinas of Steve Soper and Oscar Rovelli coming up next.

We had a miserable qualifying, but the car felt really good, and it was a great drive”, said Davies about his storming drive in the opening laps. “The Masters driving standards are really, really good, so that makes for great races.

After the stops, James Thorpe was still leading in the Mustang handed to him by McInerney but Andy Wolfe in Mike Gardiner’s Falcon Sprint was closing fast. Meanwhile, Steve Soper’s quick pitstop got him up to third, but Davies and Rob Huff (in Buckley’s Mustang) were chasing him hard. Meanwhile, Peter Klutt’s Mustang had moved up to sixth, ahead of Calum Lockie in the Thomas/Lockie Falcon.

On lap 15, Wolfe stormed past Thorpe into Abbey and pushed out a 8-second lead over Thorpe before Craig Davies profited from Thorpe’s mistake into Stowe to steal second place on the last lap. Soper followed in fourth, as fastest of the Cortinas, ahead of Huff, Klutt and Lockie.

Sean drove an absolutely amazing race”, said Thorpe, “opening up an enormous lead – and then I got in and basically lost it!

“To be fair, our exhaust had a split right before the stops”, said McInerney.

“Ah yes, that lost us all of our advantage! And then I misjudged my braking into Stowe on the last lap – a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life. Only a win can compensate for that – or alcohol, whichever comes first. And I think that’s alcohol!”

In the first part of the race, the Cortina class saw a close battle between Steve Soper and Oscar Rovelli, as the two left the other Cortinas in the field for dead. However, Soper’s quick turnaround at the stops handed him a 20-second lead over Ambrogio Perfetti, who had taken over from Rovelli. Soper then further increased the gap to 27 seconds at the finish. Graham Pattle finished a distant third in class.

It was good fun”, said Soper, “I didn’t think it was going to be so much fun! And everyone behaved themselves, no scratches at all.

Endaf Owens, Nick Swift and Chris Middlehurst ran nose to tail, switching positions lap after lap, as their lead Mini battle dropped down the overall order. Owens then opened up a four-second lead over his two rivals ahead of the stops.

“Oh, that was a fabulous race”, Swift beamed, “I really enjoyed that. I really tried to keep calm, and save some for the second part of the race. Not that there was much left!”

After the stops, their battle evaporated as first Middlehurst and then Owens ran into trouble. Bill Sollis – now in Ian Curley’s Mini – took up the glove, trying to close his 10-second deficit on Swift but instead Swift added another two seconds to his advantage. Chris Morgan moved up into third place in class.