Thornton and Kubota take joint honours in Austin!

Greg Thornton owned Saturday’s first Masters Historic race from the moment it began, slicing into the lead from his comfortable pole position and ending the lap 2.7s ahead of the battling trio of Mike Cantillon’s Tyrrell 010, Katsuaki Kubota’s Lotus 78 and Charles Nearburg’s Williams FW07.

By the end of the 10 laps Thornton’s JPS Lotus 91 was 15.8s clear, as Cantillon headed Kubota home by nine-tenths after they had swapped second place more than once, and Nearburg, who was a further second down, had twice dived past the 78 in Turn 1 only to have to brake hard down the inside and lose the place on the exit.

James Hagan began to catch them in his Tyrrell 011 until a spin on the seventh lap sent him to the pits, where he joined Ron Maydon whose LEC CRP1 dropped from an initial eighth on the opening lap to the back of the field with mechanical problems.

Fifth was thus eventually the property of Cal Meeker’s Tyrrell 009 after a long duel with Bud Moeller’s Ensign N179, as Jamie Constable helmed his Lola T370 to seventh with Jonathan Holtzman’s Lotus 87B as his constant shadow. John McKenna took ninth in his Williams FW08 after working his way past the racelong fight between Keith Frieser’s Shadow DN1 and Doc Bundy’s Lotus 79; the former IMSA racer dived past Frieser in the final corner on the last lap, but went in too deep and spun down to 12th behind Frieser and Chris Farrell’s March 821.

In Race 2 on a very wet Sunday morning, Katsuaki Kubota made up for his disappointment on Saturday by winning in style after polesitter Greg Thornton had spun his Lotus 91 through 360 degrees and dropped to third place on the opening lap. But the Lotus 78 pilot had to work for it as Mike Cantillon kept him honest throughout in his Tyrrell 010.

Cantillon pushed very hard until a spin on the fourth lap dropped him from 1.9s to 9.5s in arrears, but after slashing that to 1.6s on the seventh lap, he had to settle for second, by 2.8s, when the flag was shown as the race reached its time limit after the eighth.

Chris Farrell had a great run to displace the troubled Thornton, who had another spin on his way to fourth, while Ron Maydon battled hard with James Hagan and kept his LEC in fifth place; the Tyrrell driver spun down to an eventual 13th.

Christophe D’Ansembourg had a spirited fight with Jamie Constable, the McLaren M26 driver taking sixth and the Lola T370 pilot seventh after brief contact with a lapped Doc Bundy led to the former sportscar racer spinning for the second time. Bud Moeller took his Ensign to eighth as Mike Fitzgerald hauled his Lotus 79 up to ninth after pressuring Doug Mockett into spinning his Wolf WR6. Both were pushed to the flag by Andrew Beaumont’s Lotus 81.