Masters confirms its 2017 winners

Masters confirms 2017 winners

- Max Smith-Hilliard and Michael Lyons take FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship success – Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger win FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship – Graham Wilson/David Pittard secure the honour for the Gentlemen Drivers Pre-66 GT – Jonathan Lewis on top in Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars

After a very successful season, Masters Historic Racing has confirmed its winners in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship, FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship, plus the popular Gentlemen Drivers Pre-66 GT series and Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars.

Michael Lyons and Max Smith-Hilliard were crowned champions in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship. Lyons won the Post-78 Head and Lauda Class Championship in his RAM-Williams FW07, a car that started life as a Longhorn Indycar. The young Brit won six races outright, took seven class wins and took the fastest lap in every race he competed in an extraordinary season for a driver who excels in both historic and modern machinery. Loic Deman tackled a part season in his Tyrrell 010, but the Belgian ace secured second place in the Post-78 category with race wins at Magny Cours, Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps, while Steve Hartley took third in his Arrows A4 after a class win at Brands Hatch in May.

Max Smith-Hilliard was the man to beat in the Pre-78 Stewart and Fittipaldi Classes Championship, splitting his season between his Shadow DN5 and Fittipaldi F5A. Between his fleet of cars he secured five class wins and bagged two fastest laps to illustrate his ever-improving pace in his best season to date. Nick Padmore also raced Max’s cars, taking the wheel of the other chassis, so he too took six class wins in the Shadow and eight fastest laps! Nick also returned to the Post-78 class to race at Silverstone aboard Max’s Williams FW07 and he ended the season just nine points down on Smith-Hilliard. Greg Thornton guided his Lotus 77 to third place, electing to race his later Lotus 91/5 in Barcelona thus giving up Pre-78 points. With class wins at Magny Cours and Silverstone, Greg ended his season 20 points adrift of champion Max Smith-Hilliard.

Experienced duo Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger secured consecutive FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship honours as their Cooper Monaco took five wins from eight races and secured the crown again by just eight points. Championship runner-up Graham Wilson raced both a Chevron B8 and a Lola T70 Spyder on his way to second spot in the title race and won his class at Barcelona, Magny Cours, Silverstone and Zandvoort, but his championship bid was derailed in Spain when insufficient starters in their class meant that he couldn’t score full points. Even so, Wilson shone throughout, sharing on most occasions with David Pittard. Third place went to Italian-based American Jason Wright who was an ultra-consistent points-scorer in his Lola T70 Mk3B and gained class wins at the Nürburgring and Estoril.

After reviewing the seasons performances in the Gentlemen Drivers, it was Graham Wilson, who teamed up with young gun David Pittard in 2017, who have been awarded the Pre-66 GT success, the British GT Championship GT4 ace helping Wilson to five class wins from eight races in his Lotus Elan 26R. The car was well-used in 2017 as it tackled all the Masters Three Hours races as well! Andrew Haddon was rewarded with runners-up place, sharing the Lotus Elan of Mark Martin on most occasions but also taking a third overall in his own Cobra at the Silverstone Classic. A non-finish at Barcelona blunted Haddon’s hopes but, that aside, he was a model of consistency in all six of his race finishes. Third were Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger who guided their Morgan SLR to maximum success in the Gentlemen Drivers races but struggled in the three-hour races dropping them down the outright order.

The ever-popular Masters Pre-66 Touring Car series provided great action all season with Jonathan Lewis winning three races in his Mini Cooper S, sharing all but once with runner-up Rene de Vries. Henry Mann was the best of the rest, taking third in his Ford Mustang with wins at Brands Hatch and the Silverstone MG Live event in June.

“We have enjoyed a superb season of racing,” said Masters Historic Racing Event Director Rachel Bailey. “We have witnessed busy grids, seen some new drivers throughout all our races and the on-track action has wowed fans across Europe all season with some superb racing. Our congratulations go to all our 2017 winners and a big thank you to everyone who has raced with us for their support.”

The calendar for the 2018 Masters Historic Racing season will be published shortly.