Hart & Hart victorious in Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Spa
David & Olivier Hart gave their AC Cobra wins in back-to-back weekends as the Dutch father-and-son crew added to their RAC TT Celebration victory at the Goodwood Revival by also winning the 90-minute Masters Gentlemen Drivers enduro at Spa.
Andy Wolfe had led away from pole in the AC Cobra he shared with Michael Gans, and kept ahead of David Hart until the pitstops, but with young Olivier at the wheel there was nothing Gans could do, despite a drivethrough penalty that Hart Jr had to serve for his father overtaking under the earlier safety-car period. A second safety-car period then negated Hart Jr’s disadvantage. Five laps from the end, Simon Hadfield in the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé also moved past Gans to take second.
The CLP class looked set for a Grant Tromans/James Hanson win, the pair to be followed home by the similar Lotus Elan of Aaron & Dale Head, but both cars hit trouble on the final lap, handing a shock class win to another Dutch entry, that of Sander van Gils in another Elan.
In C2, Keith Ahlers and Bellinger similarly looked on their way to winning their class but their Morgan SLR was ultimately pipped to class honours by the Caroline & Manfredo Rossi Austin Healey 3000. In C1, the Peter Tognola/Steve Monk Porsche 911 led the entire race.
The race got underway behind the safety car as there was still an oil track from La Source to Eau Rouge, laid down at the end of the previous race. On lap 2, the field was released and from pole Michael Gans immediately managed to get two seconds between himself and David Hart chasing him. The American doubled the gap to four seconds before the safety car was deployed on lap 7 when Phil Danby crashed his MGB.
In the wake of the two Cobras, John Spiers was having a lonely race in the TVR Griffith but Leo Voyazides (in the Voyazides/Hadfield Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé) slipped down from fourth to eighth on lap 3, allowing Ben Mitchell (in the Cobra shared with Jason Yates) through. Mitchell himself had dealt with Carlos Monteverde in the Monteverde/Pearson E-type, who was consequently gobbled up by his team mate Gary Pearson – doing the opening stint in the John & Gary Pearson E-type.
In the CLP class, Dale Head’s Elan led serenely from the start, running eighth overall, while Grant Tromans moved past Sander van Gils into second place in class. Keith Ahlers was equally dominant in C2, his Morgan SLR well clear of the Austin Healey 3000 of Crispin Harris/James Wilmoth (Harris at the wheel) and the Ferrari 250 GT SWB of Christian Dumolin/Pierre-Alain Thibaut (Thibaut driving). Peter Tognola in the Tognola/Monk Porsche 911 was way ahead in the C1 class after the challenge of the Mark Burnett/Nick Swift Ogle SX1000 faded early on.
The green flag was given on lap 11, just as the pit window opened. David Hart picked the first opportunity, as did Mitchell, Pearson, Voyazides and Paul Pochciol in the white Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé he shared with James Hanson. Class leaders Head, Ahlers and Tognola decided on the same. Gans, Spiers and Monteverde came in on the next lap, along with Stefan Ziegler who would hand his E-type to Martin Stretton.
When all was said and done, Wolfe was leading Olivier Hart by 8 seconds but the youngster was on a charge from the get-go and slashed the gap to 5 seconds on his first full lap. However, shock followed on the next lap, when the Dutch Cobra slowly trundled into the pits to take a drivethrough penalty for overtaking behind the safety car…
Behind the two Cobras, the pitstops had shaken up the order considerably, James Hanson in Grant Tromans’ Elan having jumped up to third overall and the CLP class lead, with Simon Hadfield some 20 seconds behind the leader in fourth. Sander van Gils in another Elan had also been quick in and out of the pits and was fifth momentarily before he was gobbled up by Gary Pearson (in the Monteverde E-type), Spiers and John Pearson. On the next lap, Aaron took back second in CLP class by demoting the Dutchman to ninth overall.
With half an hour still to go, the Ahlers/Bellinger Morgan SLR (Bellinger now at the wheel) was still well in the lead of the C2 class, leading James Wilmoth in the Healey, while Mark Pangborn (in Chris Clarkson’s Healey) had moved ahead of Christian Dumolin’s Ferrari. In C1, Peter Monk in the Tognola/Monk 911 was now facing a close challenge from the Olivier & Xavier Tancogne Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ and Michael Boyle’s MGB.
Moments later, however, the safety car was out again, Rob Fenn’s Elan stopped in a dangerous position at Les Combes. Fenn had already pitted on lap 6 and was running at the rear when his Lotus ground to a halt at the back of the circuit. This brought Hart Jr and Hadfield right back into play.
On lap 18, with 20 minutes still on the clock, the green flag was waved again, Initially, Wolfe made a break but Hart Jr was on his tail from the next lap, the Goodwood star setting fastest lap on his way. On lap 21, he was past. Hadfield was five seconds behind (and catching Wolfe) while Pearson and Spiers had made their way past Hanson in the CLP-class-leading Elan for fourth and fifth. In seventh, the Mark Donnor/Andrew Smith E-type had been quietly making progress, Smith now at the wheel. Equally flying, Michael Funke in the Nolte/Funke Bizzarrini 5300 GT had caught the busy group led by Pearson and made contact with Spiers at the Bus-Stop to take sixth. Meanwhile in CLP, Aaron Head was eighth, now well ahead of Van Gils in 13th overall but failing to catch up with class leader Hanson.
On lap 23, Hadfield took second from Wolfe, and although matching the lap times of Olivier Hart in front could not make an impact. In fact, Wolfe was closing in again and Hadfield had to give his all to keep ahead for second place. He did, but in doing so had lost 8 seconds on young Hart. Behind the top-three, Funke made his way through into fourth, ahead of the Monteverde/Pearson E-type, the Donnor/Smith E-type, Spiers in the TVR and the Pearson/Pearson E-type.
In CLP, it all went awry for Hanson and Head on the final lap, handing a shock class win to Sander van Gils’ Lotus Elan, the young Dutchman winning ahead of German Alexander Schlüchter’s Elan, with the Tromans/Hanson Elan still classified third in class.
Class C1 did go to the Peter Tognola/Steve Monk Porsche 911, the pair defending from Boyle and the Tancogne/Tancogne Alfa.