Thomas/Lockie take commanding Masters Gentlemen Drivers win at Zandvoort

Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie took no prisoners in their chase for Masters Gentlemen Drivers glory at Zandvoort, as the pair’s Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé led Nicky Pastorelli’s Ferrari 250 GTO/64 by a massive 31 seconds until the race finished in safety-car conditions after a fiery off by Caroline Rossi in the daunting Scheivlak corner from which she emerged unscathed. Thomas having set a scorching pace in his opening stint, Lockie’s job was all about conserving the car to the finish.

“We had an amazing race,” said Thomas. “No problem at all, the car was really good…”

Lockie had a bit more to deal with in his stint, though. “Towards the end the front tyre was vibrating so much, I couldn’t see anything on my dials. But yes, we disappeared…”

“It was a bit of a boring race, actually”, said Pastorelli, who only fought with the David & Olivier Hart Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé that later retired with a broken throttle linkage. “I had a good fight with David. It was fun but I lost time with that. Once I was clear, Julian was gone.”

Steve Soper won the CLP-class battle to take third from his main rival Andrew Haddon, both in Elans, as the two kept ahead of the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Daytona Cobra and John Spiers’ TVR. Ron Maydon and his team mate for the occasion, Greg Thornton, claimed seventh overall and third in the CLP class.

“It was hard work for an old man!” said Soper. “The car was lovely, even though it was hard work trying to keep pace with the big cars.”

“I don’t think he saw me…”, said Haddon about getting spun around at the chicane by David Hart’s Cobra Daytona Coupé closing the door on him. “I had got past Steve and thought, now let’s get him too. Could I have held Steve off to the end? Ooh, I don’t know…”

In a stunning eighth place overall, the Michiel van Duijvendijk/Pascal Pandelaar Porsche 904 took a crushing victory in C1, winning by four laps from Peter Tognola’s Porsche 911. In C2, Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger led from lights to flag to finish 12th overall, well ahead of the Austin Healey 3000 chase led by the Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus/Jeremy Welch example.

From the start, Thomas immediately made a getaway, lapping two to three seconds faster to leave the warring David Hart and Nicky Pastorelli behind. Steve Soper and Andrew Haddon had jumped John Spiers’ TVR in their CLP-class-leading Elans, Spiers in turn leading Jason Minshaw in the Melling/Minshaw E-type. Voyazides was eighth in the third Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé, chased by Greg Thornton guesting in Ron Maydon’s Ginetta GR4 (third in the CLP class), with BMW GT3 driver Yelmer Buurman rounding out the top-ten in the Bizzarrini shared with father-in-law Alexander van der Lof.

In 11th overall, Keith Ahlers led C2 in the Morgan SLR, well ahead of Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus in the Austin Healey 3000 in 17th overall. In 13th, Michiel van Duijvendijk led the C1 class in the Porsche 904 put a stunning tenth on the grid by his stunningly quick team mate Pascal Pandelaar. Meanwhile among in the top ten, Minshaw had moved past Spiers to take sixth while Thornton demoted Voyazides to ninth, both moves happening on lap 4. On lap 6, Buurman also nipped past the Greek.

Fifteen minutes into the race, Thomas set a searing pace to lead Pastorelli by 16 seconds on lap 8. The lap before, the Ferrari had ambushed Hart’s Daytona Cobra, with three seconds behind them, Haddon had passed Soper for fourth. On lap 9, Haddon closed up on Hart to try a lunge into the chicane but the Dutchman closed the door and the Elan spun, handing fourth back to Soper. Soper’s tenure in fourth didn’t last long, though, as he moved his Elan past Hart to be third, but meanwhile trailing Pastorelli by nine seconds.

In C2, Ahlers was still leading handsomely, but behind him David Smithies stole second place in class from Nyblaeus on lap 10. In the battle of the Healeys, Crispin Harris wasn’t far away either. C1 class leader Van Duijvendijk was now 12th overall, having allowed Mark Martin past in the Elan placed fourth in the CLP class. In 27th overall, Peter Tognola’s Porsche 911 had overtaken the Edward Stone/David Huxley MGB for second in class.

As the pit window approached, Thomas’ lead had increased to an impressive 23 seconds, the gentleman driver in the Thomas/Lockie pairing performing almost on a par with his professional team mate. Soper was 33 seconds down, three seconds ahead of Hart Sr, who in turn was chased by Haddon. Minshaw and Thornton were fighting over sixth (Thornton getting ahead on la p 15), 44 seconds in arrears of the leader, while Spiers led Buurman and Voyazides in eighth.

“I never drove a Ginetta before so I have to thank Ron for giving me the opportunity”, said Thornton. “We stiffened it up overnight, and it felt great. And I loved the fight with the big cars…”

David Hart was the first into the pits to hand over to his quick son Olivier, with Voyazides following suit to change places with Simon Hadfield. Thomas was in one lap later, Lockie taking over the leading Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé, Haddon and Buurman following them in on the same lap. On lap 20, Pastorelli, Soper and Spiers were the last of the leaders to come in.

After the stops, and with half an hour to go, Lockie led Pastorelli and Soper by 22 and 23 seconds respectively, with Haddon in fourth but chased hard by Olivier Hart who was lapping four seconds quicker. Ron Maydon was sixth ahead of Spiers but they in turn were hunted down by another Daytona Cobra, Hadfield closing in at a rapid pace. Van der Lof in the Bizzarrini was ninth while Martin Melling looked set to be usurped by Mark Martin’s Elan and the fast-approaching Pascal Pandelaar in the C1-class-leading Porsche 904.

On lap 22, young Hart’s chase was suddenly over, as the Dutch Cobra crawled into the pits with a broken throttle cable, handing fifth to Maydon. Meanwhile in C2, Billy Bellinger had kept the Morgan SLR in a commanding lead while some 50 seconds down the fight was on between the Healeys of Chris Clarkson, James Wilmoth and Jeremy Welch, the three having taken over from Smithies, Harris and Nyblaeus respectively.

With 17 minutes to go, Van der Lof came in to retire the Bizzarrini, handing an amazing eighth overall to Pandelaar who himself was close to pipping Martin for seventh. Ahead of them, Hadfield had duly passed Spiers and Maydon for fifth. At the front, Lockie’s lead had increased to half a minute, Pastorelli now seven seconds clear of Soper, who in turn had dropped Haddon by 11 seconds. Hadfield trailed Haddon by 42 seconds so the former had to do more than lap three seconds faster to catch the latter. The Healey fight in C2, meanwhile, had developed in such a way that Welch was now on top ahead of Clarkson while Wilmoth had spun and lost touch with his rivals. Tognola was still second in C1, now ahead of the Richard Grube/Gerwig Koch MGB.

On lap 32, with seven minutes to go, Caroline Rossi went off at Scheivlak in her Austin Healey 3000, with a leaking fuel tank catching fire. The marshals were quick on the spot to extinguish the flames but the car was in a dangerous position. Understandably, the safety car was deployed, and the race finished under yellow, Lockie leading home Pastorelli, Soper, Haddon, Hadfield, Spiers and Maydon. Van Duijvendijk/Pandelaar won in C1, Ahlers/Bellinger triumped in C2.