Stretton surprises to win second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at the Nürburgring

In a strong race in his Tyrrell 012, Martin Stretton broke Nick Padmore’s stronghold on the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship by winning the weekend’s second race at the Nürburgring. Padmore could only manage third, as Christophe d’Ansembourg valiantly held off the other Williams FW07C.

Yes, I did it! It was exciting!”, said Stretton. “On the first laps, it was difficult to judge when to outbrake people, that’s why I took a couple of laps. I think I drove really well.

From the reversed grid for Saturday’s top-eight, Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) was soon past pole man Jonathan Holtzman (Lotus 87) who led Max Smith-Hilliard, Steve Brooks and Joaquin Folch. Martin Stretton, with Christophe d’Ansembourg in his wake, were pushing through from sixth and seventh on the grid but after two laps Padmore was still languishing in the eighth position from which he started.

On lap 4, Stretton and d’Ansembourg were up to second and third, and one lap later Stretton deposed Hartley from the lead, with the Belgian following through on the next tour. Padmore, meanwhile, was still in fifth, with Folch still ahead of him, but moved up to fourth when both he and Folch dealt with Hartley.

Stretton was now leading d’Ansembourg by five seconds while continuing to set fastest laps of the race, with Folch a further two seconds down, closely followed by Padmore, who just could not get past the Brabham. Lap after lap, the Saudia car hounded the Parmalat car, in an echo of the Jones/Piquet battle of the early eighties, the Catalan covering the Williams for an astonishing ten laps. Only on lap 11 did the Brabham give way. By then, Stretton was far enough up the road to not to be threatened. In fact, Padmore had similar trouble dealing with d’Ansembourg. The Belgian held firm to claim his best result of the season.

I had just no grip!” said a disappointed Padmore. “And Joaquin and Christophe drove so well, there was nothing I could do.

In the pre-78 class, Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) – who had started third – dropped back into the clutches of Greg Thornton (March 761) who came through only in tenth after the opening lap. The March was past on lap 7, however, the pair now occupying seventh and eighth place overall. To make matters worse for the Fittipaldi driver, Thornton’s team mate Brooks pushed down Smith-Hilliard another place to act as a buffer for Thornton. It was all in vain, though, as the March 761 pulled off on lap 11. This handed a second pre-78 win of the weekend to Smith-Hilliard.

“Greg drove very well”, said Smith-Hilliard. “I guess I’m really lucky. I got two wins through people leading the race running into trouble.”

Smith-Hilliard was followed home by Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8. Local man Alex Furiani completed the podium in his Surtees TS19. The German chased Wright hard in the closing laps but the American successfully defended his second runner-up spot of the weekend.

It was a lonely race”, said Wright, “so I fell asleep – and then Furiani caught me out and I woke up!

“In the beginning it was quiet”, said Furiani, “following Wright by six seconds. Five laps before the end I closed the gap but then because of traffic I couldn’t overtake.”