Victory for Henry Mann in Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars

The first of the Masters races on Sunday at Donington Park was the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars, lining up for a one-hour race after a wet and inconclusive qualifying session. Henry Mann’s Ford Fairlane, in its second time out racing, was on pole, with the Wolfe/Gans Cortina and Sean McInerney’s Cortina right behind, plus two rows of Minis clumped mid-grid.

Henry Mann held the lead from the start, with the Cortinas clustering into Redgate and Mark Burton’s Mustang being hung out on the outside, dropping to 5th. At the end of the first lap, Mann had it from Andy Wolfe and Carlos Monteverde, with Jonathan Lewis dropping from 7th on the grid to the back of the field. Andrew Haddon made a great start in the Cortina from 11th to run fourth. The Minis were all circulating as a team, with Brian Johnson heading the group in his first motor race for two years. Behind them was the delayed Sean McInerney, having had a gravelley moment and lost nearly two laps in recovery.

Chris Beighton’s Mustang was making steady progress from 12th on the grid, rising to 6th by lap 5, as Ron Maydon relieved Brian Johnson of the Mini lead. Mann set fastest lap on lap 7, pushing his lead out to 3.9 seconds over Andy Wolfe but there the lead gap stayed, Mann having had some pre-race doubts over brake performance. Chris Beighton was meanwhile reeling in Mark Burton’s Mustang and Jonathan Lewis passed Brian Johnson for second in THD class.

With nearly 25 minutes gone, the pitstops loomed, Richard Dodkins departed the Mini battle and retired on circuit. Ron Maydon was the first pit caller and Henry Mann also pitted from the lead. Monteverde had an incident with Andrew Haddon at Goddards and came to the pits to hand to Gary Pearson as Andy Wolfe assumed the lead on the road. Chris Beighton pitted after 15 laps to swap to son Ben, Graham Pattle pitting at the same time.

At the 30-minute mark, Jonathan Lewis pitted as Andrew Haddon received a drive-through penalty for the Monteverde incident, the Cortina being effectively in the race lead as the only non-stopper. It pitted on lap 18 but would need to call again to serve its penalty.

By 35 minutes gone, all cars had made their pit stops and the order resumed after 18 laps with Henry Mann back in the lead with a three second advantage over Michael Gans’ Cortina and the Burton Mustang in third. Mark Martin was in fourth but served the drive-through, allowing Gary Pearson’s Cortina to take the place. Graham Pattle gained two places through the pitstops to take 5th in the Cortina, glued to Gary Pearson.

Jonathan Lewis relieved Ron Maydon of 9th and class lead as they were lapped by Henry Mann with 15 minutes remaining. Chris Beighton took the Mustang past Mark Martin’s Cortina as the leader managed a 6-second gap to Michael Gans.

Jonathan Lewis slipped his Mini past the Mustang of Alasdair Coates on lap 27, Mann in the lead responding to the challenge of Gans and keeping the gap comfortable. A brilliant battle raged on track between Ben Beighton and Sean McInerney, though this was not for position and Ben Beighton retired with an oil warning light on the final lap, dropping from 6th to 10th but still finishing ahead of McInerney.

At the flag, Henry Mann took outright victory with Andy Wolfe taking second and THHS victory. Mark Burton was third with THA victory and Jonathan Lewis took THD honours in 7th.