Hancock's glorious half hour!
The FIA Masters Historic Formula One cars returned to the Silverstone circuit for their second race of the Siverstone Classic weekend. With Nick Padmore having taken his fifth race win of the season in front of Loic Deman and Greg Thornton on Saturday, the cars re-set in their original Friday qualifying positions, Padmore still occupying pole position for the 25-minute race.
At the rolling start, Ollie Hancock took a deep breath and once again from fourth on the grid, surged around the outside line at Abbey to take the lead from Padmore, with Stretton, Wrigley, Thornton and Deman in his wake. Unlike race one though, he refused to buckle and led over the line to complete the first lap but Nick Padmore eventually made his way past at Village on lap 2.
Martin Stretton was third, but was coming under pressure from Mike Wrigley, who passed at Stowe before Stretton then ran wide at Club and dropped to 6th behind Thornton and Deman, then lost a further place to D’Ansembourg. Ahead, Padmore was pulling away, with Mike Wrigley, Greg Thornton and Loic Deman now lining up behind Hancock, who was acting as the cork in the bottle, holding his pursuers behind. However, unlike the previous race when he slipped down the field, Ollie benefitted from overnight changes to the car and was able to watch the order change in his mirrors as Greg Thornton relieved Mike Wrigley for third into Brooklands. Behind, Deman was monstering the Wrigley Williams and passed him on lap 5, moving up to menace Greg Thornton.
Now Padmore was pulling away at the front, with Hancock maintaining his composure to hold five charging competitors at bay – Thornton, Deman, and D’Ansembourg now in front of Wrigley with Martin Stretton joining the queue. Deman passed Thornton at Copse as Stretton passed Wrigley, but still nobody could touch Hancock, who was now 13 seconds behind the disappearing Padmore as the half way point came far too soon.
On lap 8, Wrigley dropped away to make it a battle of five cars for second, meanwhile Greg Thornton took third place off Loic Deman at Brooklands to have another go at the resilient Fittipaldi ahead. Martin Stretton passed D’Ansembourg at Aintree but Christophe spun in his continued defence of the position at Brooklands and dropped back from the peloton, which was now still headed by Hancock, ahead of Thornton, Deman and Stretton, all covered by little more than a second. Spectators would have been forgiven for thinking back to the 1981 Spanish GP at Jarama when Gilles Villeneuve kept a queue of cars at bay lap after lap – Hancock was turning in just such a performance, still managing to keep his head down and set personal best sectors.
Rob Hall, having had an awful first lap, was now seeing the competing group getting larger ahead and was closing in on Stretton by lap 10. Deman was snapping at Thornton, allowing Hancock some respite as the group scythed past back-markers onto lap 11.
With four minutes to go, the gang of five for second were all together, Thornton had a lunge at Hancock at the Loop, Martin Stretton went onto the grass and Rob Hall slotted into 5th place behind Deman. Padmore, now more than 20 seconds clear, obligingly crossed the line two seconds before the chequer might have flown, giving spectators just want they wanted – one more lap! It would prove critical as Loic Deman and Rob Hall flew past Greg Thornton at Abbey while lapping the Hagan Hesketh, giving Hancock a fresh challenger to hold off for the final lap.
Nick Padmore crossed the line for the chequered flag and a well-deserved 6th straight victory with a 30 second advantage as Hancock, Deman, Hall, Thornton, Stretton and now Simon Fish battled all the way around Silverstone. Deman finally went around the outside of Hancock into Stowe to take second on the road but Hancock held on to third, winning his class by some considerable distance as well as the admiration of all who watched.
Padmore credited Hancock for a brilliant race, having had time to watch the battle unfold on the big screens while leading. Deman had what he admitted was his hardest race ever, winning that absorbing challenge for second place which covered just three seconds from second to seventhMike Cantillon took the Invitation class win, Stretton won the Lauda class and John Delane won the Stewart class.