Sumpter strikes in Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Brands Hatch

Mark Sumpter fended off Steve Soper in a Lotus Cortina lead battle that lasted until four laps from the end of a thrilling Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race. In the final Masters race of the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch, Sumpter briefly lost first position on lap 14 but retook it one lap later and then continued to successfully defend his lead before Soper fell away by four seconds a lap to finally retire on lap 28.

It was as you’d expect”, said Sumpter about his fight with Soper. “I’ve watched all of his touring-car videos and felt like Tim Harvey and John Cleland all in one! It was very racy but very fair. We ran slightly different gearing, which made it interesting in various places of the circuit. I was sorry to see him disappear but a win’s a win. And at least I was in front when he retired!

It suddenly dropped off”, Soper explained. “From one moment to another I was understeering off the circuit. I went off three or four times. I don’t understand as these cars are usually very consistent.

The Mike Gardiner/Andy Wolfe Ford Falcon Sprint took a distant second, 33 seconds down, Wolfe putting in a sterling drive after Gardiner handed the car to him in seventh. Gardiner was second initially but then lost places to Sumpter, Soper, Julian Thomas in the yellow Thomas/Lockie Falcon as well as Andrew Haddon and Geoff Letts in two more Cortinas. There was a reason for that, though, Wolfe explained.

“The car was awesome when I took it over”, Wolfe said. “I cannot drive slowly, but Mike gave me a car in which I could drive quickly!”

In the first part of his stint, Wolfe battled Calum Lockie until the yellow Falcon was called in for a drivethrough penalty issued for Thomas missing the pit window for the mandatory pitstop. Lockie momentarily dropped down to fifth but was soon back past Geoff Letts to be fourth – which became third on Steve Soper’s retirement.

“It was brilliant fun”, said Lockie of the battle with Wolfe. “At one time, we were side-by-side through Dingle Dell!”

Nick Swift shone to take fourth overall while dominating the Mini class, heading Geoff Letts in the second-placed Cortina across the line by the smallest of fractions. On the final lap, Rob Fenn (Ford Mustang) made his way past the Andrew Haddon/Mark Martin Lotus Cortina to take sixth overall, as both cars took third in their class. They were followed home by the Minis of Tom Bell/Joe Ferguson and Chris Middlehurst, that fought all race to take second and third in the Mini class.

Norwegian Martin Strommen was in among the lead cars but on lap 6 dropped to 15th on the back of an off in his Lotus Cortina. The Ian Curley/Bill Sollis Mini ran second in the Mini class before it was forced to pit for a puncture on lap 21. From pole, Craig Davies led early on but pulled off on lap 6, also hit by a puncture.