Steve Soper produces brilliant recovery drive to win Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Zandvoort

From 36th on the grid, after mishap in qualifying, Steve Soper produced a storming drive to win the under-2-litre Cortina class in the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Zandvoort, while taking the overall win as well. Soper was unleashed from the start, and was up to fifth by lap 3 of the shortened 40-minute race. His Cortina surged to the front on lap 6, as he passed Julian Thomas in the Ford Falcon, who took second overall and was the fastest of the over-2-litre cars. Even a 10-second time penalty for ‘misbehaviour on the track’ could not stop Soper from claiming the win.

I have two blisters on my hands, but apart from that all OK”, said a phlegmatic Soper. “Did I have fun in the opening laps? No, not really. I was racing people that I don’t know, so I didn’t know how they would behave on track. Oh, and I have no idea what my ‘misbehaviour’ was about

For almost the entire race, Thomas battled with the pole-sitting Cortina of Italian Andrea Stortoni, and was passed by it on lap 8, midway into the pit window. On lap 15, however, Stortoni retired his car into the pits.

“It was brilliant”, said Thomas. “We did a little setup change before the race, and it absolutely transformed the car. Suddenly I had a race car on my hands! The battle with Andrea Stortoni was fantastic, I had good fun.”

A gaggle of three more Cortinas pedalled by Graham Pattle, Martin Strommen and John Spiers followed Thomas across the line, all in close company. Norwegian Strommen ran close to the front during his opening stint but was later caught and passed by Pattle, with Spiers finishing hot on his heels.

The René de Vries/Jonathan Lewis Mini Cooper S ended up as high as sixth, as the Anglo-Dutch pairing dominated the Mini class. Their win was made easier by Chris Middlehurst retiring his Mini on lap 5.

In seventh – and third of the big cars – came Mark Burton in his Ford Mustang. Burton had been ahead of most of the Cortinas but dropped back in the second part of the race. It was hard”, Burton explained. “I struggled with the handling. We had set it up softer for the rain yesterday, and I think we stiffened it a bit too much for today.

The touring-car segment of the Dutch Historic Touring Car & GT Championship ran concurrently with the Masters cars, the overall win on the road going to Mark Dols in Marcos 1800 GT. Poleman Dols led until the pitstops but was overtaken by the similar Marcos of Robert Hamilton. The latter had done his overtaking by stopping short of the mandatory 60 seconds, and the resulting time penalty dropped him back behind Dols again.