Thomas/Lockie double up to take another Masters Gentlemen Drivers win at Brands

Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie made it two out of two in Masters Gentlemen Drivers as the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé repeated their Paul Ricard win by another victory at Brands Hatch. In his opening stint, Thomas fought the Elans of Jake Hill and Steve Soper before Hill made a break towards the pitstops. With Lockie at the wheel, however, Soper and Rob Fenn in the Elan started by Hill had no answer against the Daytona Cobra.

I got both on the same lap, and then managed to get a few cars in between them and myself”, said Lockie about the decisive moves. “It’s an absolutely amazing car, Wolfe did a great job on it. It’s so quick, it’s unbelievable.

Fenn duly finished second, 52 seconds down on Lockie, but Soper was out while trying to remove Fenn from second place in the midst of the pair dealing with a couple of backmarkers. Soper’s evasive action on the Cooper Straight proved costly, resulting in his premature retirement.

I had great fun fighting Julian and Steve”, said Hill of his opening stint. “And then managed to get a break in traffic. We were fairly lucky with the safety car, I think, and then Rob did a great job of securing the class win.

Third overall went to the Jaguar E-type of Mark Donnor and Andrew Smith, the latter chasing Marco Attard down in the Corvette started by Tom Ingram. In a dash towards the chequered flag, Smith got the place by 0.131s… Following them home were Nick & Eddie Powell’s Elan and Ron Maydon’s Ginetta G4R, in second and third in the CLP class.

It’s easier to chase than to be chased!”, Smith said about his last-ditch overtake on Attard

After a false start to the race caused by Peter Tognola’s Porsche 911 going into the gravel at Clearways at the end of the opening lap, the field finally roared away on lap 4. WIthin a few corners, Jake Hill in the Elan shared with Rob Fenn nipped past poleman Soper, and then Julian Thomas in the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé slipped into second place to leave Soper’s Elan back in third.

As Hill made a break from Thomas and Soper, Andrew Haddon in another Elan held fourth, with Tom Ingram in the Corvette in fifth and Mark Donnor’s Jaguar E-type in sixth. 15 minutes into the race, John Spiers in the TVR Griffith moved up to sixth, to Donnor’s detriment, while Ron Maydon had climbed up to eighth from tenth at the start. Eight minutes later, however, Spiers was into the pits and out of the race.

In C2, Billy Bellinger’s Morgan Plus 4 Supersports quickly moved to the front of the class while Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus dropped behind Mark Holme as the two Austin Healey 3000s exchanged places. The C1 class was led comfortably by the polesitting TVR Grantura of Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne, the latter doing the opening stint. Bourne’s life was made easier when Mark Bates in the Porsche 911 was into the pits on lap 7. This handed a distant second place in class to the Olivia Wilkinson/Austin Kinsella MGB, Wilkinson behind the wheel.

At one-thirds’ distance, Hill led Thomas and Soper by some eight seconds, but Soper was now really closing up on the big Daytona Cobra, setting fastest lap of the race on lap 14. The top-ten order remained the same, with Haddon in fourth, 14 seconds down, followed by Ingram, Donnor, Maydon, the Nick & Eddie Powell Elan (Nick driving), Jamie Boot’s TVR Griffith and Mark Martin’s Elan. Bellinger and Bourne were still the C2 and C1 class leaders.

On lap 16, however, Ron Maydon passed Donnor for sixth, and moments later Haddon came crawling into the pits with a failed battery. Meanwhile, Donnor losing pace led to Nick Powell pushing him down one more place. On the next lap, the David Smithies/Chris Clarkson Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé was into the pits, handing its recently acquired tenth place to Sander van Gils in the Elan.

As the pit window approached, Hill’s gap to Thomas had increased to 10 seconds, while Soper was three seconds away from Thomas. In C2, Mark Holme’s Healey had become a retirement, but a new Healey battle for second place in class had developed between Nyblaeus and the Crispin Harris/James Wilmoth Healey, Harris at the wheel.

Half of the field – including Steve Soper in third – had already made their stops when on lap 24, the Bates Porsche 911 coming to a stop into Druids with one wheel less than required brought the safety car out at exactly the halfway point of the race. This threw up the order quite a bit, and as the pit window closed while the safety car was still out, Rob Fenn was still in the lead in the Elan started by Hill, but Soper had taken second place from Calum Lockie who had taken over from Thomas in the Daytona Cobra. Marco Attard was fourth in the Corvette started by Ingram.

One lap down now, in fifth, but at the head of the field at the restart was Ron Maydon, with Eddie Powell in the Elan and Andrew Smith in the E-type taken over from Mark Donnor following in sixth and seventh. Martin, Boot and Van Gils were still in eighth, ninth and tenth.

Lockie was on the move, though. On lap 30, the Cobra Daytona Coupé passed both Elans to take the lead, leaving Soper to squabble with Fenn – in fact, while trying to make his way past his rival in the process of lapping a few of the slower cars, Soper was on the grass on the Cooper Straight, and then off in avoiding action of Mark Martin’s Elan. Sadly, that was it for Soper’s efforts, as he retired his Elan into the pits.

Meanwhile in C2, Keith Ahlers in the Morgan Plus 4 Supersports now led James Wilmoth but the Healey was given a drivethrough penalty for speeding in the pitlane, which threw it back out of contention for the class win, but despite the penalty it kept ahead of the Michael Bell/Simon Orebi Gann Plus 4 Supersports in third. The Nyblaeus/Welch Austin Healey had dropped down to a distant fifth in class. The Malcolm/Bourne TVR Grantura still held a huge lead over the Wilkinson/Kinsella MGB in C1.

At the front, Lockie set a scorching pace, having left Fenn in the CLP-class-leading Elan 20 seconds in his wake with 15 minutes still to go. Attard was third in the Corvette, 40 seconds down on Lockie, but Andrew Smith in the E-type was closing fast. Maydon held fifth and second place in CLP class but Eddie Powell kept glued to the Ginetta’s exhaust. On lap 38, Powell was past.

In fact, Powell’s pace was such that he also closed on Smith in the E-type. On lap 46, with two minutes still on the clock, Powell attempted a lunge at Smith into Paddock Hill Bend but had to abort, and as a result dropped nine seconds on the E-type. Smith himself, meanwhile, was right up with Attard’s Corvette – and right on the line, Smith grabbed third by 0.131s!

At the front, Lockie drove the Cobra Daytona Coupé to its second win on the trot, with Fenn eventually finishing 52 seconds behind but still the emphatic CLP class winner. Behind Smith and Attard, Eddie Powell took second place in CLP class, ahead of Maydon. The overall top-ten was rounded out by Jamie Boot’s TVR Griffith, Mark Martin’s Elan, Sander van Gils in another Elan and the Ross Hyett/Chris Fox Elan.

I just couldn’t pull it off”, Eddie Powell said of his failed move on Smith. “I thought it was the last lap, and wanted to get us on the podium. But we’re on the podium anyway!

Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger won the C2 class in their Morgan Plus 4 Supersports while Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne capped a dominant performance in their TVR Grantura with victory in C1.