Thomas & Lockie take Masters Gentlemen Drivers win at Magny-Cours

Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie returned to their winning ways after a dominant display in the Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Magny-Cours. Leading from start to finish, except for one lap during the pitstop phase, their Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé was in class of its own.

I was actually reading my pitboard wrong!” said Thomas about his stunning pace in the opening stint. “It was my laptime instead of the gap, so I pushed harder than I should…

It’s nice to be back on the top step”, said a well-satisfied Lockie. “I was worried about all temperatures during the whole of my stint – engines, brakes, tyres – so on the last laps I back off even further. But the car was just amazing, the guys did a superb job of repairing it after the Donington fire.

The chase was led by Andrew Haddon’s CLP-class-winning Lotus and the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Daytona Cobra. When Haddon was hit by a 10-second time penalty for crossing the white line on pitlane exit, Hadfield took second place by closing on Haddon just enough. Haddon’s lead at the finish was six seconds.

Story of my life!” said Haddon about crossing that line. “Yeah, I drove bloody hard but it wasn’t enough. It was a lot of fun though!

I was saving the car”, said Voyazides, “but it turned out I was saving it too much! I thought the temps were too high but it still held out at the end.

Frenchman Didier Gruau took fourth in his AC Cobra, having run third early on.

“It was a very hard race, very hot”, said Gruau. “I was looking at my oil pressure all the time, so I’m happy the car made it to the finish.”

In fifth, Ron Maydon grabbed second in the CLP class, his Ginetta G4R battling with the José & Brady Beltramelli Corvette until that became a late retirement. Fighting back after an unscheduled early pitstop, Mark Martin completed the under-2-litre podium by claiming sixth overall.

It was very hard work”, said Maydon, “I couldn’t have caught Andrew anyway, so I’m very pleased with my position. I think I lost five kilos of weight along the way though!

“The clutch broke!” said Martin about his additional stop. “I had no clutch for the rest of the race, and every now and again it wouldn’t go into gear. I’m lucky to be here.”

Finishing an incredible seventh overall, the Michiel van Duijvendijk/Pascal Pandelaar Porsche 904/4 won the C1 class, while Billy Bellinger and Keith Ahlers took their Morgan Plus 4 Super Sports to 12th overall and the C2 class win.

The opening ten minutes saw Thomas storm off to a 10-second lead over Andrew Haddon, who had passed Voyazides for second on lap 2. Trailing the Greek by a couple of seconds each were Frenchman Gruau and Beltramelli Sr in their Cobra and Corvette respectively, while Ron Maydon swapped places twice with Laurent Dutoya in their intra-Ginetta G4R battle for sixth. Meanwhile, Mark Martin was on his way back up, having dropped places at the end, and passed Christophe Kjaergaard’s similar Elan on lap 2 to take eighth, with Chris Atkinson in another Elan in tenth.

Just outside the top-ten, Manfredo Rossi (Shelby Mustang GT350) and David Smithies (Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé) had their own fight for 11th while behind them Michiel van Duijvendijk and Billy Bellinger – leading their C1 and C2 classes respectively – traded 13th and 14th places, as they both easily led class rivals Peter Tognola (Porsche 911) and Caroline Rossi (Austin Healey 3000). Sadly, the C2 class was missing the fight with the Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus/Jeremy Welch Healey, the Welch truck having had an accident on its way to Magny-Cours.

A further ten minutes on, Thomas’ lead over Haddon had increased to 18 seconds, with Voyazides a further 12 ticks behind and fending off the attentions of Gruau – on lap 10, the Frenchman found a way past. Ten seconds down the road, Maydon had left Dutoya behind and was now harrying Beltramelli for fifth. Mark Martin, meanwhile, had dropped from the CLP-class chase, pitting on lap 8 and resuming well down in 14th place. Taking up the fight was Atkinson, who had passed Kjaergaard to move up into eighth.

Progressing steadily in the fastest car on track, Thomas had 26 seconds in hand over Haddon at one-third’s distance. Gruau was now 51 seconds, while Thomas’ real rival Leo Voyazides trailed by more than a minute, with José Beltramelli and Ron Maydon breating down the Greek’s neck. Meanwhile, Christoph Kjaergaard was into the pits, his Lotus Elan the first retirement of the race, driveshaft broken and young and quick Nicolai Kjaergaard denied a race. This allowed Manfredo Rossi and David Smithies into the top-ten, while just seconds behind, Van Duijvendijk and Bellinger were still at it, now in 11th and 12th respectively while still consummately leading their classes.

As the pit window came ever nearer, Thomas showed no sign of relenting, improving fastest lap of the race to 2.06.641. His lead over Voyazides was now a whopping 1 minute and 18 seconds, the two Daytona Cobras still sandwiching Haddon (39 seconds down on Thomas) and Gruau (1 minute and 11 seconds behind). On lap 19, Gruau and Voyazides both took the first opportunity to pit, the latter handing the wheel to Simon Hadfield. Joining them from 15th was Roger Barton, handing his Elan over to Richard Bateman. Maydon, Tognola and Philippe Achard’s Elan were next, the French car in 17th and put in the hands of Jean-Michel Piat.

On lap 21, at precisely the halfway mark, Thomas came in to hand his seat to Calum Lockie, with Beltramelli Sr (relieved by Brady Beltramelli), Martin, Smithies (handing to Chris Clarkson) and Caroline Rossi joining him on the same lap. This left Haddon in the lead, but the class-leading Elan was in on the next lap, along with Van Duijvendijk, who handed the Porsche 904/4 to Pascal Pandelaar, with Keith Ahlers taking over from Bellinger. Dutoya and Manfredo Rossi were the last to pit.

The pit window now closed, Calum Lockie resumed in the lead, back in the car that had caught fire in the previous Masters Gentlemen Drivers round at Donington Park but was expertly parked next to the fire truck in the pitlane by a Lockie thinking quick on his feet. The lightweight cars having to stop shorter, Haddon now trailed Lockie by 28 seconds, with Hadfield looking at an 81-second deficit. At this moment, the gap was only increasing, as Lockie was on a series of fastest laps of the race that had his lead on Haddon increase to 37 seconds in the space of four laps.

Behind Hadfield, Maydon had jumped Gruau at the stops and was a strong fourth overall at the one-hour mark. Beltramelli Jr was sixth, but looking at a stop-and-go penalty for stopping short, with Steve Jones in seventh in the Elan taken over from Chris Atkinson. In eighth, Rossi had left the Smithies/Clarkson Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé behind, the gap filled by Mark Martin on the way back up, a very quick Pandelaar, and Laurent Dutoya in the other Ginetta in the field. In C2, Ahlers had a lap in hand on Caroline Rossi.

In the final half hour, the top-three went into preservation mode, their lap times dropping by a couple of seconds. The Corvette of the Beltramellis dropped a lot more, though, as their stop-and-go penalty turned into instant retirement due to loss of oil pressure – it was only the second retirement of the race, and this on the hottest time of day, temperatures having reached 39 degrees. The Corvette’s downfall promoted Steve Jones up into sixth but Mark Martin was flying in his Elan and catching Jones at a rapid rate. Further up the road, Gruau had repassed Maydon for fourth.

Further boosting Lockie’s comfortable lead, Haddon had to accept a 10-second time penalty for crossing the white line on pitlane exit. With 16 minutes on the clock, Martin moved ahead of Jones to take third place in the CLP class, but had a similar time penalty to account for. However, just minutes later Jones began dropping time at a worrying rate, with Rossi and Pandelaar also coming past. The Dutchman was pounding in the laps at the such a rate that Rossi fell victim of the Porsche too, which now was in a remarkable seventh overall.

As the race ran out, with 42 laps completed, Lockie took a crushing win for Thomas and himself. Some 40 seconds behind, Haddon failed to do enough to offset his 10-second penalty, his brave efforts keeping him ahead of Hadfield by just six seconds. This promoted Voyazides and Hadfield into second place, but Haddon still won the CLP class ahead of Maydon and Martin. Gruau completed the over-2-litre podium.