Greg Thornton triumphs in first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Jarama

Lotus 91 driver Greg Thornton strode away to a comfortable win in the first of two FIA Masters Historic Formula One races at Jarama. Fending off the attentions of Michael Lyons’ Hesketh 308 in the first two corners, the poleman opened up a gap of around ten seconds to take the spoils at the Spanish track. In second place, Lyons won the pre-78 class, further improving his chances of the title, as rival Max Smith-Hilliard (Shadow DN5) finished third overall and second in class, 55 seconds down on winner Thornton.

From the front row, Lyons made a slightly better start and tried to pass Thornton in the first few corners but couldn’t quite pull off the move.

“He tried to get me at the start”, said Thornton. “I thought, you can have as much as you like on the outside, Michael, but I know where I’m braking! Then just when I had opened up a gap of around six seconds and thought about conserving the tyres, I got held up by a backmarker, which dropped my advantage to less than three seconds. I then changed my style a bit to still create some space between me and Michael. I thought ten seconds was enough.”

“Yes, we were alongside”, said Lyons. “But outside in the braking area the bumps are very big, so when he got the inside in turn two I knew I was gone. I then tried to conserve the car as much as I could, as I still have a championship to win.”

In third place, Smith-Hilliard had the March of Patrick d’Aubreby hot on his tail in the opening stages, but then on lap 6, the Frenchman crashed his March 761 in turn three to become the race’s single retirement. A handful of seconds down the road, Richard Barber (Williams FW08) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) fought over fourth place for the entire length of the 17-lap race, with the Williams driver finishing narrowly ahead.

“I didn’t actually see the March go off, but it suddenly disappeared from my mirrors”, said Smith-Hilliard. “It’s only when we came around again that I saw the yellow flags, and a red-and-blue car stuck in the tyre wall… I then started losing second gear, so I got to watch the battle between Richard and Jason in my mirrors. I think they were slowing each other down, so that helped me conserve third place. But Michael’s the better driver, no argument there.”

Ron Maydon (March 761) and Michael Baudoin (Hesketh 308E) finished sixth and seventh, a lap down on Thornton.