Michael Lyons gets victory in wet first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at the Nürburgring, as Martin Stretton is disqualified from first place

Despite limping across the line in second place, Michael Lyons (Williams FW07B) was declared the winner of the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at a very wet Nürburgring. Lyons was handed first place after Martin Stretton’s winning Tyrrell 012 failed the ride-height check in post-race scrutineering.

Stretton had profited from a spin by Loïc Deman (Tyrrell 010) and a failing gearbox on Lyons’ Williams to cross the line in first. The Tyrrell 012 driver had started from pole but was overtaken into the first corner by Lyons, who then strode away to a massive lead of nearly 30 seconds. On lap 3, Stretton also lost second position when he was passed by Deman, but a spin on lap 5 lost the Belgian the place again. Then, from lap 7 on, Lyons was beginning to slow, losing one gear after another and helping Stretton to rapidly close the gap. On the final lap the Tyrrell was past, but it would all be for nothing.

“It was a lucky win, really, with poor old Michael running into trouble”, said Stretton, still unaware of his pending disqualification. “I was on new wet tyres, and I just couldn’t get them in. I went straight on in the first corner, and then Michael was past. And then I was struggling to keep Loïc behind. But then he spun and Michael had his problems, and I was there at the end.”

“First I lost fourth”, said a despondent Lyons before hearing he had been promoted to first. “And later third went as well. Some laps I was stuck in second, then in fifth. It is such a shame as once we switched the tyres on we were really quick. But that’s racing. I’m not even sure if we will be able to make it to the start tomorrow, since we didn’t bring a spare ‘box.”

Loïc Deman was quick early on, but then began to struggle with the handling of his Tyrrell 010. “I didn’t think it would dry like this”, said Belgian about the gradually improving conditions. “So we put too much pressure in the tyres. In the end, I had almost no control of the car. Third place is still OK, it was my position on the grid, but I could have won if I had kept ahead of Stretton.”

Deman hung on to claim third on the road, ahead of a gaggle of cars led by (and second in the final results), ahead of a gaggle of cars led by Simon Fish (Ensign N180), who was handed third place after Stretton’s disqualification. For most of the race, Fish fought with Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49) and pre-78 class leaders Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) and Nick Padmore (Shadow DN5).

Smith-Hilliard led the class all race, driving in fourth overall early on but then decided against fighting Fish and Folch, both of whom were not competing in class. Team mate Padmore had to come from the back, having started from a lowly 14th after an overheating engine had caused him to miss most of qualifying. The reigning post-78 FIA Masters Historic Formula One champion was quickly up to eighth, but then began struggling with temperatures again.

“It was a great race”, said Smith-Hilliard. “The car’s been good in the wet all weekend, and I got a good start and stayed ahead of Simon for the first few laps but then decided to let him go. I must really thank him because he pulled me along and did me a great favour.”

“I taught him too well!”, said Padmore of his team mate finishing ahead of him. “I really had a go, but this engine was no help.”

Further back, Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) claimed third place in class but was fought to fight hard against Jamie Constable, whose Brabham BT37 was third from lap 5 on, and easily won the Stewart class for pre-72 cars. The two also had Fred Lajoux’s Arrows A1 and Steve Hartley’s Arrows A4 to contend with, which made their race even more interesting.

“I just couldn’t get the speed from these tyres”, said Thornton, who raced in overalls borrowed from Dave Abbott, and this time was unable to put pressure on class rival Smith-Hilliard. “If you start five or six cars behind, with ground-effect cars in between you, you’re effectively stuck. There is no way you can make that up.”