Stretton fends off Lyons and Ferrer to win first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Brands Hatch

Martin Stretton prevailed in a tense first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Brands Hatch, the Tyrrell 012 driver keeping young guns Michael Lyons and Matteo Ferrer-Aza at bay the whole race.

That was hard work!” said Stretton. “Michael was all over me in various places. It was a great battle.

Lap after lap, Stretton, Lyons and Ferrer ran flat-out, nose to tail – or even side by side – in the first three places. Cantillon was running a lonely fourth while Christophe d’Ansembourg popped ahead of Steve Hartley on lap 1, only to lose fifth place back to the McLaren on lap 4.

In the pre-78 class, Henry Fletcher initially led Jason Wright, but on lap 5 the Shadow dropped down the order, having spun at Surtees. This left Phil Hall’s Theodore second in class, with James Hagan’s Hesketh in third. On lap 7, though, Fletcher’s March was very slow across the finish line, and now Hall was in the lead of the class.

On lap 9, the top-three began stretching out, Ferrer now over a second away from Stretton who was still holding a narrow lead of Lyons. On the next lap, though, the Ligier was suddenly a mere tenth away from the Williams, Stretton getting a bit of a breather. One more lap, and now Lyons was fastest on track, the Ligier dropping back – it was up and down.

The pace was so equal”, said Ferrer. “I once got to Michael but then I dropped away, and there was no point in wearing the tyres out.

The battle for the pre-78 lead was hotting up, Hagan now chasing Hall hard. Ahead of them, Jamie Constable’s Tyrrell 011 had risen up to seventh from last on the grid after a troubled qualifying session, now leading Jonathan Holtzman’s Lotus 87 and Ian Simmonds’ Tyrrell 012.

On lap 15, Lyons set another fastest lap of the race and now really closed up on the leader. Going into lap 16, the Williams tried a move on the outside into Paddock Hill Bend but went off into the barriers. It meant a premature end to the race, as the red flag came out. On countback, Lyons was still classified second ahead of Ferrer.

Phil Hall won the pre-78 class, his Theodore TR1 narrowly keeping ahead of James Hagan’s Hesketh 308 while Wright came back to reclaim third place in class.

I never expected to be here, so it’s an absolute pleasure!” said a jubilant Hall. “I had a really good scrap with James, two genuine gentlemen drivers giving each other some space.

“He’s older than me, so I wanted him to win!” quipped Hagan.

I missed a gear and spun into Surtees”, said Wright. “I was keeping Henry in sight, so it would have been mine. Such a shame since every point counts…