Stretton wins second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at the Nürburgring
After his win having been disallowed yesterday, Martin Stretton (Tyrrell 012) made amends by taking victory in the second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at the Nürburgring. Stretton fought off an early challenge from Loïc Deman’s Tyrrell 010 and confidently stretched his lead again after a mid-race safety-car period.
“A straightforward win, I agree”, said Stretton, whose Tyrrell failed post-race scrutineering when its ride height was deemed a couple of millimetres too low. The team had taken its measurements with the car on slicks but failed to do so again when wet tyres were mounted for Saturday’s rainy race.
“I saw Loïc was on new tyres, so I knew he had a bit of an edge in the opening laps. So I really pushed hard in the beginning”, Stretton said about his early charge that included three consecutive fastest laps of the race on laps 3, 4 and 5. “After the safety car I was confident that I could that again.”
On his fresh tyres, Deman tried to make an impression on Stretton during the opening laps, which brought him to within three tents on lap 2, but then Stretton stretched his legs to open up a four-second lead on the Belgian. After the safety car, Deman was forced to fend off a strong challenge from Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) and Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49) instead, leaving Stretton to run away to an unchallenged lead of over two seconds.
“At the beginning the car was OK”, said Deman, “but I don’t know what happened to the car after that. We will have to look into that, because the car wasn’t going as quick as I had expected. I was surprised to see Steve and Joaquim so close – that’s not normal! It was nice to fight them but I would rather have attacked Martin…”
“I think Loïc used his tyres too much”, said Hartley, “as in normal conditions I wouldn’t be up there with him. The safety car saved the day for me. It was great to be able to fight with him – that’s what I’ve come for!”
Behind Hartley, Folch made his way into fourth early on by overtaking pre-78 leader Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A), after which Simon Fish (Ensign N180) and Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07D) found their way past Smith-Hilliard as well, dropping the Fittipaldi into the clutches of title rival Greg Thornton (Lotus 77). Fish and Cantillon fought all race, Cantillon moving ahead on lap 7 but then dropping back on the final lap.
Meanwhile, the pre-78 class was poised for a titanic tussle between Smith-Hilliard and Thornton, which ended in tears when they clashed into turn one at the start of lap 7, the Fittipaldi being pushed up into the air as the pair made contact. Smith-Hilliard was out on the spot, causing the safety car to come out, while Thornton slowed to an amount that let Nick Padmore through into an unexpected lead. The Shadow DN5 driver was struggling with a case of food poisoning but hung on to take the class win.
“I didn’t really see it happening, as they touched just below the dip into turn one”, said Padmore, who at the time was trailing Smith-Hilliard and Padmore by four seconds. “I couldn’t get anywhere near them, as I was too busy trying not to feel sick! I got past Greg right there, as he was slowed by the clash with Max.”
“The lap before I tried the same move”, Thornton explained, “and Max closed the gap. And when I tried again he just closed in. I think it was a racing incident.”
In the early running, Jason Wright ran close to Smith-Hilliard and Thornton but a couple of mistakes dropped him back behind Padmore. Smith-Hilliard’s exit meant that the American was still rewarded with third in class.
“Yeah, I was with them at the start”, said Wright, “but a couple of times I got fifth going up onto the straight while shifting up from second, and I simply lost touch.”
Championship leader and Saturday’s winner Michael Lyons (Williams FW07B) was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s race. A cracked gearbox casing sustained halfway into yesterday’s race meant that he was out for the weekend.
Today’s most important casualty was yesterday’s runaway Stewart-class winner Jamie Constable, who returned his Brabham BT37 to the pits on lap 2 with its gear lever pulled out! This handed the class win to John Delane’s Tyrrell 001.