Voyazides/Hadfield win from the back in FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race

Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield came through from the back of the grid to win a heavily safety-car-punctuated and ultimately shortened FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race at Brands Hatch. Their Lola T70 Mk3B was up into third when the pit window opened and then won another place when Jason Wright’s T70 Mk3B was held up in the pits, having been hit after an unsafe release of Paul Allen’s Lola T212. With Hadfield in the car, the leading Gonçalo Gomes/James Claridge Lola T212 was quickly dealt with, after which Hadfield ran off to a 11-second win over Wright, with Henry Fletcher’s Chevron B19 in third.

I love starting last!” Voyazides joked. “There’s no pressure, you have nothing to lose, you just go for it.

“A BMW 240i is on my shopping list, I followed it round for quite a while”, Hadfield quipped, referring to the two safety-car periods during his stint.

“When I came in, I saw from the corner of my eye that red car attacking me!” said Wright about the pitlane incident with Paul Allen. “But at my age you stay cool and just get on with it.”

Poleman Manfredo Rossi (Osella-Abarth PA1) did the early running, having reclaimed the lead from Fletcher on lap 4, but the Italian pulled off at Graham Hill Bend on lap 10. Fletcher took over but a puncture – taken care of during his regular pitstop – dropped him down to seventh, handing the lead to the Gomes/Claridge Lola. Meanwhile, Voyazides had charged up to sixth by lap 4, and was third by lap 11.

Two more safety-car periods after the one four laps into the race to retrieve Mike Whitaker’s Lola T70 bunched the field up, allowing Hadfield to take an easy win and Fletcher to make up several places. Fletcher even took second from Wright but immediately following the race was red-flagged when Paul Allen beached his Lola at Druids with three minutes still on the clock. Thus, the result was rolled back to the standings on the previous lap.

A red flag and a puncture!” Fletcher said about his eventful race. “Fortunately the puncture came just two corners from the pitlane entry so it wasn’t too bad. It did delay me – no wheelguns, all manual labour. Martin [O’Connell] did the work himself.

Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger (Cooper Monaco King Cobra) narrowly held off the Chris Jolly/Steve Farthing Cooper Monaco T61M for the Hulme class win, with Dutchman Michiel Smits (Lola T70 Mk1) a distant third after a puncture. In his opening stint, Bellinger tried to open up a gap, hounded by Smits initially, and then Ahlers was made to fight for it when Farthing was brought right onto his tail by the two safety cars.

“We had a bit a break when Mike [Whitaker] pulled off”, Bellinger admitted, “but were still made to work hard for the win.”

“It was a funny race”, Ahlers agreed. “Any time we thought we had created some sort of a buffer, the safety car was out again.”

Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie took a strong fifth overall in their Chevron B8 to claim Bonnier class honours after battling with the Mark & Andrew Owen B8 all the way. Mark Owen led John Ingram’s B8 early on, with Thomas in third, but it all changed around after the pitstops. Lockie making his way forward while Ingram retired on what would end up as the final lap.

John Sheldon won the Siffert class for Chevron B16 cars. Sheldon led all the way while seeing his rivals Ross Hyett and Jamie Boot both drop out. Hyett was chasing Sheldon in the first half of the race before stopping out on the circuit on lap 17, resulting in the second safety-car period. Then Boot took up the chase but an off at Paddock Hill Bend not only caused the race’s third neutralisation but also handed Sheldon an unchallenged class win.