Pastorelli flies to dominant win in Masters Gentlemen Drivers

In his stunning Ferrari 250 GTO/64, Nicky Pastorelli blitzed the field on his way to victory in the Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Imola.

The Michael Gans/Andy Wolfe AC Cobra was the only car to remained unlapped by the Dutchman. The Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie Jaguar E-type and the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé took third and fourth. Pastorelli’s closest rival during the first half of the race dropped out shortly after the halfway mark when the battery caught fire in the Daytona Cobra Coupé that Olivier Hart (at the wheel at the time) shared with father David.

It went very well from start to finish, the car was fantastic from lights to flag”, said a well-satisfied Pastorelli. “It’s a shame that David and Olivier were forced to drop out – that would have kept the race alive. There was no need to push until the end, otherwise we would have been marginal on fuel. And can I just say that this is a great venue with which to start a season?

In a relatively quiet opening half Nicky Pastorelli duly converted pole into a 16-second lead over David Hart’s Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé at the 30-minute mark, with Michael Gans in the AC Cobra a further four seconds adrift. Julian Thomas followed in fourth in his Jaguar E-type, with Leo Voyazides further back in fifth in another Cobra Daytona Coupé.

In class CLP, Ron Maydon (Ginetta G4R) ran sixth overall and was well ahead of the Paul Whight/Rob Fenn Lotus Elan 26R, which in turn led Mark Martin’s Elan by a considerable margin. The C2 class was dominated by the Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger Morgan SLR, with Bellinger in the car running eighth overall, a lap ahead of the Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus/Jeremy Welch pairing, the Swede doing the opening stint in the red Austin Healey 3000. In C1, Rick Bourne (TVR Grantura) led Theo van Gammeren (Porsche 911) and Christian Ondrak (Alfa Romeo Giulietta S2).

Hart, Gans and Voyazides all pitted on lap 20, handing their machines to Hart Jr, Andy Wolfe and Simon Hadfield respectively while Pastorelli and Thomas stayed out until lap 22, the Dutchman now holding a 1.29-minute lead over the E-type. When Thomas pitted to hand over to Lockie, Pastorelli was left with a margin of 35 seconds over his countryman Olivier Hart who in turn had 1.13 in hand over Wolfe. Lockie returned in fourth, and the gaps being what they were, Hadfield was now a lap down in fifth.

On lap 24, however, Wolfe, Lockie and Hadfield each moved up a place when Olivier Hart saw the battery of his Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé catch fire… Meanwhile, Pastorelli’s relentless pace was such that now also Lockie found himself lapped by the Ferrari while Wolfe trailed the Dutchman by almost two minutes – Pastorelli’s best lap time having been a 2.05.

In the Dutch GT race, Rhea Sautter bravely kept her countryman Alexander Schlüchter at bay to claim victory for herself and Andy Newall. Marcel van Laarhoven was a distant third in his Shelby Mustang GT350, profiting from Michiel Campagne’s demise in the big and loud Corvette Grand Sport.

Pastorelli eventually lessened his pace to maintain a 1.45-minute gap to Wolfe to take a lights-to-flag win for the Dutch Roelofs Engineering team while Lockie and Hadfield remained in third and fourth places.

I was pushing as hard as I could”, said Wolfe, “hoping that Pastorelli made a mistake – but he didn’t. There was no pressure from behind, so I didn’t need to worry about that.

“The race was very good”, said Thomas, “although the brakes were gone from lap 4 so from then on it was a case of managing the brakes, but apart from that it was fairly straightforward.”

Circulating in fifth overall for most of the race, Ron Maydon claimed the CLP class win by some margin, keeping Jamie Boot’s C3-class TVR Griffith as a buffer between his Ginetta G4R and the Paul Whight/Rob Fenn Lotus Elan 26R. A lap down on Maydon, Mark Martin’s Elan took third in class, ahead of Dutch father-and-son team Niek and Sander van Gils in their Elan.

In C2, Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger were set for a dominant win but with 15 minutes to go Ahlers pulled their Morgan SLR into the pits with an engine issue, handing the class win to the Nyblaeus/Welch Austin Healey 3000. The Michael Bell/Simon Orebi Gann SLR duly picked up second in class. Husband and wife Manfredo Rossi and Caroline Abbou (Austin Healey 3000) finished a distant third in their new joint venture.

“We won, but with a bit of luck”, said Nyblaeus. “We were reasonably safe for second and then it was handed to us. Then again, you first have to finish – that’s why we tried to slow Jeremy down at the end.

Meanwhile, Rick Bourne and Malcolm Paul (TVR Grantura) ran out to a convincing victory in C1. Their work was made even easier when the Porsche 911 of the Dutch Van Gammerens retired at three-quarter distance. This handed a distant second place in class to the Christian Ondrak/Roberto Restelli Alfa Romeo Giulietta S2.