Martin Stretton wins second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Brands, but Steve Hartley takes maximum points

Martin Stretton won the second FIA Masters Historic Formule One race of the weekend at Brands Hatch, but as his Tyrrell 012 was in the invitation class Steve Hartley took maximum points from the race. His Arrows A4 kept Stretton honest from start to finish, which came under the safety car after Max Smith-Hilliard and Mark Hazell collided into Stirlings, ending a race-long fight prematurely. Polesitter Michael Lyons had retired after just one lap, driveshaft broken on his Williams FW07B.

It was great”, said Stretton. “Steve was pushing quite hard, he had the edge on me in the really quick stuff, in the slower bits I was able to pull away again. I was just making sure he was out of the firing zone, even though he got really close a couple of laps. I drove every lap like a qualifying lap!

“The car went soft a little bit”, said Hartley about his inability to threaten Stretton after an initial couple of fastest laps of the race. “The funny thing is that I was trying hard to catch him but I didn’t need to catch him [for maximum points].”

Nick Padmore finished third to win the pre-77 class in his Shadow DN5, trailing the leading pair by five seconds before the safety car came out.

I tried my hardest to keep with Martin and Steve”, said Padmore, “so if there was an opportunity I’d be able to nick their spots. But it didn’t happen.

Padmore finished ahead of Simon Fish (Ensign N180), Christophe d’Ansembourg (Williams FW07C) and Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49). After the opening crunch, Fish had a lonely race in the gap between Padmore and the pursuing group that apart from Folch and D’Ansembourg also included Greg Thornton (Lotus 77). Initially, the Belgian was at the tail end of this group but took care of Thornton and Folch on two consecutive laps midway through the race.

“I couldn’t get the gap down to Nick”, said Fish, “and that’s when it became lonely. But even driving by yourself is a challenge on this track!”

I was surprised to be third”, D’Ansembourg said about his podium placing in the ground-effect class. “It was a good race, not alone like yesterday, and I had a great fight with Joaquin and Greg. I took my chance and got past both of them.

Meanwhile, Charles Nearburg (McLaren M23) looked to have grabbed eighth overall and second in the pre-77 class by overtaking Greg Thornton’s Lotus 77 and Jamie Constable’s Shadow DN8 in the final dash to the chequered flag, the safety car having retreated to the pits on the final lap. However, as the rule book clearly states that the race is neutralised until the lap is completed, Nearburg was afterwards given a two-place penalty. This handed back second and third places in class to Thornton and Constable.

“I just kept my foot in until the chequered flag”, said the American. “I believe you’re supposed to race until the finish and that’s what I did!”

Thornton was kept busy by Folch and D’Ansembourg the entire race but wasn’t impressed.

“There wasn’t much to do”, said Thornton. “They were in the ground-effect class, so I wasn’t fighting either of them.”

In their wake, some twenty seconds down by the time they clashed, Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) and Mark Hazell (Williams FW07) were separated by mere tenths for the entire race, until Hazell tried a lunge into Stirlings. The two collided, leaving Smith-Hilliard with a punctured left rear and Hazell stationary in a dangerous position. The safety car allowed Jamie Constable (Shadow DN8), Charles Nearburg and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) to close up, after which Nearburg illegally stormed up the order in the final run to the line.

Dave Abbott (Arrows A4), Ian Simmonds (Tyrrell 012) and Frank Lyons (McLaren M26) were out before lap 1 was over, while Phil Hall returned his Theodore TR1 to the pits with gearbox problems after just two laps.