Henry Mann and Steve Soper storm to Masters Pre-66 Touring Car win at Brands

The pole-sitting Ford Mustang of Henry Mann and Steve Soper led from start to finish to win a thrilling Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Brands Hatch. While Mann and Soper kept their cool at the front, lots was going on behind them in a race punctuated by several safety-car periods. Mann was given a fight by Craig Davies’ Mustang in the early stages, Davies closing up to four tenths after 10 laps, but one lap later he dropped out after losing third gear.

Yeah, Craig really gave me hard time, it was a shame to see him go”, said Henry Mann

“Henry did a great first stint, he really did all the work”, said Steve Soper, who claimed that he wasn’t bothered by the safety-car periods at all.

In the end, the Cortinas of Mark Sumpter and Geoff Letts prevailed to take second and third overall, ahead of the Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie Ford Falcon. Sumpter and Letts had been fourth and fifth for most of the race, giving chase to a fierce Kiwi battle between Roger Wills’ Mercury Comet Cyclone and Warren Briggs’ Mustang. But the two Cortinas suddenly came to the fore in the final eight minutes after the second safety-car period had ended. Sumpter quickly charged past Wills (who had been illegally passed by Briggs under the safety car) and one lap later breezed past Briggs. Then, two laps from the end, Letts was past Briggs as well, while Wills retired a Mercury hampered by alternator problems.

It was planned!” said Sumpter. “We decided to try and keep a healthy car for the last 20 minutes, so I still had tyres and brakes for the end.

Asked if he had applied the same strategy, Letts said, “No! It was full ball from the beginning!”

Warren Briggs finished fourth on the road but dropped to fifth after being given his time penalty for overtaking under the safety car. Third of the Cortinas and sixth overall was the Mark Hazell/Martin Stretton example, after profiting from another time penalty, this one handed out to the Carlos Monteverde/Gary Pearson Cortina.

Several other contending Cortinas were out before the end: Mark Martin and Andrew Haddon retired with engine problems after five laps, while Andrew Beaumont/Nigel Greensall and Norwegian Martin Strommen each caused a safety-car period by going off at Surtees.

In the battle of the Minis, Matt Kelly held a massive lead in the early stages in the car he shared with Ian Curley but the first safety-car period wiped that out to give the Ron Maydon/Nick Swift car a run for victory, which Swift duly grabbed by overtaking Curley five laps from the end.

The first safety-car period also put an to end to René de Vries and Jonathan Lewis’ chances in the Mini class, as they were put a lap down. The pair finished a distant third, having fought Mark Burnett’s Mini for the entire race.