The Magnificent Matra of Rob Hall & Andy Wills win FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars
The FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars flowed onto the circuit at the Silverstone Classic with a multiple-class field of 45 cars taking to the circuit for a fifty minute race with pitstops.
Pole belonged to the Hall/Willis Matra but the Smith-Hilliard/Padmore combination was also on the front row with the Chevron, followed by seven rows of assorted Lolas. At the start, Willis held the lead followed by Padmore but by the end of the lap, Chris Ward had monstered past them both into the lead in the red T70. Behind, Oliver Bryant and Gary Pearson overhauled Philip Hall to run 4th and 5th.
Leo Voyazides had an early spin at Copse when running 7th, dropping to 21st as Nick Padmore took second from Andy Willis, setting fastest lap in pursuit of Chris Ward, reducing the gap to less than a second by lap 5 – the Chevron seeming more nimble than the powerful Lola, but both cars setting best sectors. Behind them, Bryant and Pearson were locked in a tight battle for 4th
Michael Gans passed Robert Oldershaw for 8th, which became 7th when they both went past Philip Hall as Leo Voyazides’ race went from bad to worse, receiving a drive-through penalty for contact. Back in 10th place, David Tomlin and Jason Wright were racing within a second of each other in an absorbing battle.
As the pit window opened, Willis pitted early from 3rd to hand the Matra to Rob Hall, but Nick Padmore was relentless in his chase of Chris Ward, the leaders passing the Rittweger/Hancock Ferrari on both sides before also tangling with Rob Garofall’s car on its out-lap.
Pearson and Bryant pitted late on in the window, leaving Ward and Padmore to pit together on lap 13, which ultimately handed the outright lead to Rob Hall in the Matra. Max Smith-Hilliard rejoined the circuit in the Chevron ahead of Paul Gibson but that did not last long, both Gibson and Bryant relegating Smith-Hilliard to fourth. Even after the stops, the battle between Wright and Tomlin raged on, still running in close company but swapping places lap after lap. Oliver Bryant passed Gibson for second but would go no further as Rob Hall was 17 seconds ahead and stretching away.
The Hall/Garofall Lola suffered a wheel failure on the Hangar Straight and retired from 8th place, a position into which the recovering Simon Hadfield leapt after passing Tomlin and Wright, who had swapped places again…With 8 minutes to go, Michael Gans had passed Max Smith-Hilliard into fourth and was only 6 seconds from Paul Gibson’s third place until he hit problems and dropped back behind Smith-Hilliard again and also Robert Oldershaw who tried everything to nab fourth place on the final corner.
A fascinating race which played out beautifully – a second Matra victory (and first in Marko class) for Rob Hall with Andy Willis, followed by Oliver Bryant (Rodriguez) and the Ward/Gibson T70. Gary Culver took the Invitation class win, the Daren of Kjallgren/Littlejohn won Bonnier and Mike Whitaker in the Lola T70 Spyder was victorious in the Hulme class.