Masters Three Hours success for Forsbrey & Newall
The Masters Three Hours started at 4:30pm under threatening grey skies with the GT40s heading the grid, ahead of two rows of E-Types and Cobras. At the start, the GT40s went through Redgate together, but it was the red car of Forsbrey/Newall completing the first lap ahead of the Chiles Cobra, which in turn was being monstered by the second GT40.
After half an hour, the sun was definitely out and Carlos Monteverde was making hay, setting fastest lap and taking 4th place from Andy Willis, with 3rd place some thirty seconds up the road. Forsbrey (GTP) led Chiles (GTB) by 16 seconds and Ron Maydon was leading GTA in seventh place. Jason Wright’s GT40 overhauled Andy Willis in the Cobra for 5th place, following the Monteverde car up the field as the track dried.
First to pit was the Mustang of Nicholas Ruddell after 55 minutes for its first driver change as David Forsbrey completed 30 laps, in the lead. At this time, Jason Wright in the GT40 received a drive-through penalty for a yellow flag infringement, but found himself in the gravel at Craner Curves and served the penalty several minutes later, ending up in 17th place.
1hr 15 minutes in, with the lead at 8 seconds, Chris Chiles Jr set fastest lap in his pursuit of the leader. Mark Martin had a grassy moment in his pursuit of second in GTA class as the sun continued to shine but clouds threatened. After 80 minutes, David Forsbrey pitted from the lead, refuelling and handing over to Andrew Newall, the Chiles Cobra now assuming the lead. Gary Pearson now brought the 87 GT40 into the pits once again, with the lead order now Chiles/Pearson/Willis ahead of the still stationary Newall GT40.
Andy Willis now pitted, 5 minutes prior to half way, handing to Rob Hall as the pitstops began in earnest.. This all briefly elevated Ron Maydon to third overall in the Ginetta. Meanwhile Mark Martin’s Elan pulled off and finally retired before getting to the pits.
Just past the halfway point, Chris Chiles Jr completed 50 laps, one of only half a dozen cars not to have yet stopped. The Pearson Jaguar was second after Ron Maydon pitted, then Rob Hall in the Cobra was in third. Andrew Newall in the GT40 was making good progress, coming from 6th through to 4th as the pitstops settled down.
A safety car was scrambled after 100 minutes for a car stranded on track, at this time Chris Chiles Jr made an inspired choice to pit from the lead.
With the safety car in and 75 minutes to go, the Chiles Cobra held a lead of nearly a full lap as the 87 GT40 of Andrew Smith made a third, then fourth, then fifth stop from 5th place to retire. Andrew Newall was now into second in the GT40, lapping consistently seven seconds a lap quicker than the leading Cobra. GTA was being led by James Hagan in the Ginetta from Nigel Greensall in the Elan, but only by four seconds…
On lap 69, Andrew Newall could see the leading Cobra and closed in further, taking the lead through the Craner Curves after relentless pursuit. Eyes turned to the battle for 3rd which was tighter, the E-Type staying ahead until lap 73 when the Pearson Jaguar was overhauled by the Cobra of Rob Hall, each car being strong at different points on the circuit.
Hall and Pearson were now running together, catching Chris Chiles’ second-place car at a rate of knots, the race still having plenty of life after 155 minutes. On lap 82, the valiant Chris Chiles was passed by both Hall and Pearson in the space of two corners, scant reward for a race well run. Michael Dowd pitted from 9th place for fuel, rejoined without losing a spot but then received a penalty for a refuelling infringement.
With 15 minutes left to run, the Hall & Pearson battle was still raging, the cars scarcely more than a second apart. With five minutes to go, the E-Type was dropping back, choosing self-preservation as the car began to smoke worryingly.
At the flag, Andrew Newall took the victory with Rob Hall in second and Gary Pearson in third. The valiant Chiles finished fourth and Nigel Greensall took fifth and the GTA win, with the Ginetta of James Hagan grinding to a halt at the Melbourne loop on its last lap in 6th.