Mann takes Pre-66 Touring car honours at MGLive!
On a gloriously hot sunny day at Silverstone, 25 Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars took to the track for a special feature race at the MG Live! event on the GP Historic circuit. Henry Mann, in his family-livered Ford Mustang and Steve Soper, in his Team Dynamics run Ford Lotus Cortina, were battling it out for the top spot during the 30-minute qualifying session. Mann found himself in the kitty-litter halfway through the session after his throttle got jammed open but still managed to secure a place on the front row. Soper took pole position and was also fastest of the Under 2-litres, pipping Mann to the post with just 0.041 seconds separating them! It was Ford Mustangs were just behind in 3rd and 4th slot with Chris Beighton who, despite spending a large amount of time making full use of Silverstone’s width, qualified 0.5 seconds ahead of Porsche expert Graeme Langford who continues to impress with his recently acquired Mustang. The father and son paring of Graham and Thomas Pattle, were next in their Ford Lotus Cortina with 5th on the grid and the runner-up position in the Under 2-litre cars.
The 60-minute race started at 14.00 in blazing sunshine and humid conditions. Just 24 cars took the start, as a distraught Trevor Buckley was unable to participate as a result of his brand-new Mustang engine letting go in qualifying. Henry Mann looked on a mission from the off, getting a great start and getting ahead of Soper on lap 1 but Steve wasn’t letting him get away that easily and kept him on his toes in his Ford Lotus Cortina. Beighton was quick off of the mark in his brightly coloured orange Mustang, and even with his boot flying open there was no stopping him!
Further back in the field, the No. 242 of Ian Curley and Matt Kelly pulled off at Abbey but resumed and Curley quickly got his Austin Mini Copper S flying again once he had put his mechanical skills to good use on the wiring system, but a good 2 laps had been lost. Despite this, these two fast and experienced drivers were able to get up to 3rd place in the THD class.
Martin Strommen in his Ford Lotus Cortina was also pushing hard and after the pit-stops was leading the Under 2-litres. Unfortunately, a 4-seconds short mandatory pit-stop meant that he was the recipient of a stop and go time penalty of 24 seconds which allowed John Spiers (Ford Lotus Cortina) onto the top step of the podium by less than 5-seconds, and 3rd place overall after a great drive. A storming run and spectacular final stint by Jonathan Lewis gave him and Rene de Vries third on the under 2-litre podium in their Austin Mini Cooper S, first in the THD Class and 9th Overall by 1.0 seconds with a great overtake on the last lap of the race!
After the mandatory pit stops, Soper retired his Cortina with suspected engine issues, opening up second place for Beighton. But the hot weather seemed to be playing havoc with cars dropping like flies after the pit window had closed.
Nevertheless, after a broiling but entertaining race, first place on the Over 2-litre podium went to Henry Mann, well clear of Beighton by 8.1 seconds. Third place went to a happy Graeme Langford in his Ford Mustang.
John Spiers picked up the THHS class win, followed by Strommen who despite his 24 second time penalty, leaving him second in class, obtained his first-ever podium in the Under 2-litres in his fifth season of trying! The thrilled Norwegian, although not always the fastest on track was mighty all day. Marco Attard also in a Ford Lotus Cortina came a respectful third in class. The THC class was won by its only competitor, Paul Chase-Gardner in his Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint who was 14th overall.
Over 2 litre Podium
6 – Henry Mann, Ford Mustang
81 – Chris Beighton, Ford Mustang
321 – Graeme Langford
Under 2 litre Podium
42 – John Spiers, Ford Lotus Cortina
91 – Martin Strommen, Ford Lotus Cortina
7 – Jonathan Lewis & Rene de Vries, Austin Mini Cooper S