September 15 - 17 - 2016

Spa Six Hours

LOCATION: FRANCORCHAMPS, 150KMS FROM BRUSSELS

NEAREST AIRPORT: BRUSSELS, LIEGE

RACE REPORT

As the mist lifted each morning, this amazing circuit thrilled all who
drive it and the sight of bumper grids, including the inaugural race for Masters Endurance Legends, charging up Eau Rouge was a sight to behold!

 

 


Gardiner/Keen dominate ‘half’ Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Spa

 Mike Gardiner and Phil Keen (Ford Falcon Sprint) took the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car spoils at Spa after the first half-hour of the race was run under the safety car due to intense early-morning fog.

 The safety-car period lasted into the pit window, all cars pitting at their first opportunity, after which the green flag was waved. Even though Roger Wills (Mercury Comet Cyclone) and Gary Wright/James Littlejohn (Mini Cooper S) had faster pitstops, the pole-winning Falcon was soon back in front, Keen driving away to a clear lead of 21 seconds over Wills at the chequered flag.

 “It was pretty lonely once I’d passed Roger”, said Keen, “I was hoping we’d have more of a fight, but it was all straightforward, really.”

 “Same here, a bit lonely”, said Wills. “I tried to keep with Keeny, but couldn’t.”

 17 seconds down on Wills, Harry Whale claimed third in the glorious Studebaker Lark Daytona after an equally lonely race. The Mustangs of Chris Beighton and Rob Fenn were a distant fourth and fifth, Beighton gaining the place on Fenn on lap 10.

 “It was great”, said a beaming Whale. “I lost track with Roger but it was the first time I drove the Studebaker, and I loved every minute of it!”

 There was more excitement among the lead Cortinas, as Sean McInerney (having taken over from father Michael) and Andrea Stortoni battled their entire second stint while also catching and passing Robin Ward’s Falcon. On power, Ward charged back up to finish sixth, ahead of McInerney and Stortoni.

 “I came out with Andrea”, said the younger McInerney, smiling from ear to ear. “We were literally swapping places pretty much every corner! Then we pushed each other along in order to gain ground on Robin Ward, and we were like mosquitos all over him. Me and Andrea had a good time, that’s for sure!”

 “It got a bit complicated at the end when we were catching Ward”, said an equally happy Stortoni, “we were quicker than the V8 but didn’t have the grunt to keep ahead of it. But it was a lot of fun, we had a fair battle.”

 Further back, Mark Martin and Andrew Haddon claimed third in class, Haddon having had to fight his way up from the back of the grid while Martin was among the many drivers forced to do their entire stint propped up behind the safety car.

 “Perfection!” said a smiling Martin about his time behind the safety car. “Brilliant drive, best I’ve ever done!”

 Haddon had slightly more work to do but was his usual phlegmatic self about it. “Oh, we did alright from the back…”

 Gary Wright/James Littlejohn led the Mini class for the entirety of the race, starting in third – Littlejohn having shone in wet qualifying – before dropping down the order to finish 13th overall, one place ahead of the Jonathan Lewis/René de Vries car. Mark Burnett and Charlie Birkett/Joe Twyman fought over third place in class, Twyman relieving Burnett from the position on lap 11 before Burnett got back at Twyman on the penultimate lap.

Deman charges to the front to take win in first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Spa

 Coming from fifth on the grid, Loïc Deman (Tyrrell 010) fought his way to the front to win the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Spa. In front of his home crowd, the Belgian sailed past Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07D) for second place on lap 2 before going on to pass his countryman Christophe d’Ansembourg (Williams FW07C) for the lead on lap 4.

 Meanwhile, on the warm-up lap, pole sitter and championship leader Michael Lyons (Williams FW07B) had dramatically seen his engine expire into the first turn, taking him out of the equation.

 “When I saw that Mike had blown his engine I thought I had a chance”, said a happy Deman. “The car was good in the beginning, I could overtake quite easily, but I developed a bit of understeer later on, so I had to push to keep in front of the pair of Williams– they are going quicker and quicker!”

 D’Ansembourg was hounded by Cantillon all race but gave it away right at the end when he spun at Fagnes. Cantillon nipped past while the Belgian hung on to third place after his recovery. This ensured that CGA Engineering took a highly successful 1-2-3 finish.

 “It was an amazing race”, said Cantillon, delighted with his second place. “I had already qualified well, and when I saw Lyons’ engine expire I knew that if I did well I could be on the podium. Loïc got me after Eau Rouge, on the Kemmel straight, and then I was hoping that Christophe would make a mistake – and he did!”

 “I spun into the ‘piff-paff’”, said d’Ansembourg about his spin into Fagnes. “I selected the wrong gear, and there I went. It was so stupid.”

 A safety-car period from laps 5 to 7 in order to retrieve Mike Hazell’s Williams FW07B from the gravel trap at Malmédy was unable to upset Deman, who maintained a narrow lead over his team mates before opening up a bigger gap right at the end.

 Nick Padmore claimed a lonely fourth in his Shadow DN5 while also taking a dominant pre-78 win, with the ground-effect cars of Steve Hartley (Arrows A4), Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49C) and Mike Wrigley (Williams FW07D) following in his wake. In the opening stages, their order had been reversed but Hartley battled his way past Wrigley on lap 3 and took Folch for fifth place on lap 4.

 “It was nice”, said Padmore, “A bit lonely, yes, I just sat there, and saw Hartley in my mirrors, and that was it. You really need to have a ground-effect car here…”

 Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) won his private battle with pre-78 class rival Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A) by overtaking Smith-Hilliard at the Bus-Stop on lap 3 and claiming second in class in the process.

 “Max defended heroically!”, said Thornton about the defense that Smith-Hilliard put up. “We had a problem yesterday, which we think we solved, so the car was good. I was on Max’s tail, trying to outbrake him in at least five spots on the track. Let’s say we have a history of under braking, so we gave each other space this time. In the end, I got him braking for the Bus-Stop and then taking a different line in order to be on the power sooner than him, and got him around the outside.”

 “It was a better drive by him today”, Smith-Hilliard admitted, “but we’ll see about tomorrow!”

 Jason Wright looked set for fourth place in class but the Italian headed into the pits on the final lap to hand the place to Jamie Constable’s similar Shadow DN8.

Sean Doyle wins from Jonathan Kennard in Spa’s inaugural race for new Masters Endurance Legends series

 Two of the most recent LMP2 cars in the 22-car field fought for the win in the first race for the new Masters Endurance Legends series at Spa, Sean Doyle’s ex-Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03 narrowly edging out the Bob Blain owned  similar machine driven by Jonathan Kennard’s.

 “It was very tricky out there in the wet”, said Doyle, “but really good fun!”

 In third and fourth came the first of LMP1 cars, Matthieu Lahaye’s Pescarolo 01 trailing Doyle by 28 seconds while Martin Short ended up fourth in his Rollcentre Dallara SP1, some 45 seconds down on the winner.

 A freak burst of rain that momentarily showered the back of the circuit during the opening lap put paid to several of the quick runners, including the pole-sitting Peugeot 908X of Kriton Lendoudis and Nicolas Minassian. Lendoudis along with Christophe d’Ansembourg’s Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2 and six other cars decided to pit for wet tyres, but those that stayed out made the best bet, as the track had dried out within a couple of laps.

 Initially, Martin Short led the way but he was soon overtaken by Doyle, with Kennard following suit on the second lap. Kennard briefly took charge on lap 4 before pitting on lap 5. Remaining stationary for a longer period of time than Doyle two laps later, Kennard found himself trailing the young Irishman again when he rejoined the track. On lap 13, Kennard closed to within three tenths and tried a lunge into La Source before thinking the better of it. Doyle then ran out to a 2.3-second lead at the chequered flag.

 “I had one chance into La Source”, said Kennard, “but Sean knows the car better than me, and I didn’t want to do anything stupid. It’s a test day, and we’re here to entertain the crowds.”

 Steve Zacchia’s ex-Prodrive Ferrari 550 GT1 was easily the quickest GT1 car, finishing fifth overall ahead of the Lendoudis/Minassian Peugeot, which was also hit by a drivethrough penalty for a starting-grid infraction (mechanics in front of car with less than 15 seconds before release).

 

Transatlanitic visitor Travis Engen’s Audi R8 LMP1 was seventh while Karsten Le Blanc and Nigel Greensall dominated GT2 in their Aston Martin Vantage. Alexander Lienau’s similar Aston (in the invitation class) and Paul Daniels’ Porsche 997 GT3-RS rounded out the top-ten.

 Michel Frey’s ex-Pegasus ORECA 03 was another pre-event favourite who chose to come in for wets after the opening lap. Coming from the back, the Swiss driver was up into fifth by lap 5. However, a stuck rear right wheel during its mid-race pitstop when changing back to slicks ended his challenge.

 

Voyazides/Hadfield take win as rivals trip up in FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race at Spa

 At Spa, Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield repeated their Zandvoort win in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship by again avoiding the mistakes of their rivals. After a first half of the race punctuated by two safety-car periods, Hadfield was chasing down Olly Bryant’s similar Lola T70 Mk3B when the latter was hit with a 3-second stop-and-go penalty for stopping short of the required minute during the mandatory pitstop phase. Hadfield then ran out the race controlling the gap to the Andrew & Max Banks McLaren M6B, on its second outing after its equally successful Silverstone debut.

 “Unfortunately, my half was marred by two safety cars”, said Voyazides, “and I lost time entering the pitlane behind the safety car at 20 mph! But the others made mistakes and we didn’t!”

“Well, I made one mistake, spinning into La Source”, said Hadfield, “but from there we got through, and no sillies.”

 “I got a good start”, said Andrew Banks, “and managed to work my way up a bit, and then had a good restart after the second safety car. I think we won time when I had a few clear laps when everyone pitted at the same time.”

 The Lola T70 Mk3Bs of Paul Gibson/Chris Ward and Mike Donovan that led during the early put themselves out of contention when Gibson pitted ahead of the pit window while Donovan – along with Chris Beighton in another T70 Mk3B – was given a drivethrough penalty for an out-of-position start.

 The first safety-car period was called when on the opening lap the Chris Jolly/Steve Farthing Cooper Monaco T61M ground to a halt on the Kemmel straight. The second caution period lasted into the pit window, David Hart ending up stranded on the entry to the Bus-Stop chicane after a suspected tyre blow-up.

 The fight for third place saw a hugely entertaining battle between the 2-litre cars of Loïc Deman (making his debut in the championship in a Chevron B19) and Michael Gans (Lola T290). The Belgian and the American swapped places countless times before the local hero prevailed. All the while, a closing Bryant watched on, having recovered from his penalty.

 “It was a crazy race!” said Deman, still beaming from his battle with Gans. “We fought and fought, I overtook him, he overtook me, it went on and on!”

 Chris Ward managed to salvage sixth for himself and Paul Gibson. He was followed home by four more T70 Mk3B, Chris Beighton overcoming his drivethrough penalty to catch and pass Donovan, Jason Wright and Shaun Lynn.

 The Hulme class win went to Andy Wolfe’s Lola T70 Spyder, but Wolfe saw Billy Bellinger closing in fast in the Ahlers/Bellinger Cooper Monaco King Cobra. The stage was set for a thrilling final lap but halfway through the lap Bellinger tried too hard and spun. He still hung on to second place in class as Laurie Bennett finished a distant third in his McLaren M1B.

 “I could see him!”, said Bellinger, “and thought, maybe I can get a run at him. And at that moment the talent disappeared…”

 “I wasn’t worried”, said Wolfe, “I was simply trying not to get into a fight with O’Connell.”

 “I lost time when I was given an arrow”, said a despondent Bennett. “So I pulled over. It was only later that I realised that it was to show me the way around the oil!”

 The class-leading Chevron B8 of David Pittard/Graham Wilson could do no better than fifth in the Bonnier class this time out, the win going to the Andrew Kirkaldy/Martin O’Connell B8, with Dion Kremer and Ben Mitchell in second in their Elva Mk8. Pittard did lead the class early on but the pair lost valuable time when they missed the opportunity to pit under the safety car.

 The Siffert and Pescarolo class were comprehensively dominated by Nikolaus Ditting (Chevron B16) and Mark & James Bates (Porsche 911 RS) respectively.

 

 

Gans/Wolfe handed Spa win in Stena Line Masters Gentlemen Drivers as Bryant gets demoted

Oliver Bryant looked to have repeated his 2016 Stena Line Masters Gentlemen Drivers victory at Spa but was then handed a post-race penalty for overtaking under yellows, dropping the AC Cobra driver down to third in the final results. As a consequence, the win fell into the hands of Michael Gans and Andy Wolfe who in their similar Cobra had powered their way forward from the back of the grid to take what looked like a distant second place.

“It was pretty busy!” said Gans about the work he had to do from the back of the grid. “It was a lot more work than I thought it would be, with everyone having their own battles.”

“Still, he was doing what he was told to do”, said Wolfe with a laugh, “which was to leave the car in the top-five before he gave it to me.”

Following home the unlikely winners were Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield in their Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé. They were subsequently classified in second place after Bryant’s time penalty was applied.

“I had fun for 40 minutes in a great car”, said Hadfield when asked about his relatively uneventful race. “You can’t not like it… And two more laps and I could have had Andy!”

As the winner on the road, Bryant had been in the lead for two laps during his opening stint before being repassed by Julian Thomas in the Jaguar E-type, but with Calum Lockie in the E-type for the second part of the race, Bryant used two laps to close on the Jag and got passed when his adversary missed a gear in Bruxelles corner and spun off.

“Calum was very defensive”, said Bryant about what seemed to have been the decisive move, “but then he missed a gear into Bruxelles and we just touched. The track was very low-grip, and in the second half I lost my brakes, so I backed off right at the end to bring it home.”

Roger Wills had grabbed the lead from Thomas on lap 2 but the thundering Bizzarrini 5300 GT was in on the next lap, the American V8-powered Italian machine out for the race. Thomas’s renewed was shortlived, though, as first Bryant (on lap 6) and then Funke (on lap 7) stormed past. One more lap later, Funke subsequently dealt with Bryant to move into the lead. Unfazed by his earlier setback, Thomas nipped back into second place on lap 11.

The top-three remained at relatively close quarters, even though Funke had gradually opened up a 10-second lead over Thomas by the time the pit window opened. Meanwhile, from the back of the grid, Michael Gans had made his way forward to a fourth by lap 5 – albeit a distant fourth, 40 seconds down on the leader – while over a minute in arrears Leo Voyazides and Carlos Monteverde fought over sixth. At the end of lap 13, the Greek was the among the first to come in for their driver change.

Funke, on the other hand, stayed out as long as possible before handing over to car owner Georg Nolte – in fact, he waited one lap too long, which resulted in a stop-go penalty, and with Nolte not anywhere near the pace of his competitors, the German car soon disappeared from the leaderboard.

Now, all eyes were on Calum Lockie leading in Julian Thomas’s E-type but with Olly Bryant hot on his heels. Andy Wolfe, having taken from Gans, was faced with a gap of over half a minute to the leaders while Simon Hadfield was over a minute away in fourth. On lap 19, though, Lockie made a huge mistake halfway through the lap, and Bryant was through into a clear 16-second lead. After that, Lockie quickly dropped back into the clutches of Andy Wolfe before grounding to a complete halt on lap 25.

Bryant maintained a 24-second cushion to Wolfe to take his second consecutive Spa Gentlemen Drivers win, with Voyazides/Hadfield a further ten seconds down. One hour later, though, it transpired that both Bryant and Funke would be penalised for overtaking under yellows while a car was being recovered that had stopped near the exit of the Bus-Stop chicane.

After fairly lonely races for both cars, the John Davison/John Spiers Elan and the Carlos Monteverde/Gary Pearson E-type took fourth and fifth respectively while the Chris Chiles Sr & Jr Cobra edged out Jamie Boot’s TVR Griffith by two tenths, after a tense race-long battle.

In CLP, Graham Wilson (Lotus Elan 26R) did well to stay with early leaders Ron Maydon (Ginetta G4R) and Alexander Schlüchter (in another Elan) before handing over to David Pittard. His young team mate had no trouble in gaining ground on Maydon’s guesting team mate Martin Lauber, passing the American on lap 18 before storming into the overall top-ten on lap 20. In his wake, Andrew Haddon – having taken over from Mark Martin – passed Lauber on lap 23 to take second in class. German Schlüchter ruled himself out of contention with a second pitstop.

“It was good”, said Wilson, who with Pittard had also been in Saturday night’s Spa Six Hours, in the same car, “and that was something after the Spa Six Hours. We had the engine out twice this morning after problems with the clutch. And then we found a crack in the chassis and welded that up, too. The Six Hours takes its toll on a car!”

“I had a good scrap with Graham”, said Martin, “then I spun, got back on and was back in the frame. Andrew did most the work though…”

“I liked it very much”, Lauber said on his guest drive in Ron Maydon’s Ginetta. “It was only my second time out in the car, after qualifying in the wet on Friday, and my first time here at Spa. Ron convinced me that the car has to slide sideways to go fast, and once I got the hang of that I was fine.”

C2 was dominated by Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger. In their Morgan SLR, the pair led throughout. Initially, Dion Kremer in the Morgan Plus 4 Supersports he shared with father Gabriel ran a close second to Bellinger, but the Chris Clarkson/David Smithies Austin Healey 3000 became Ahlers’ closest rival in the second part of the race. The Crispin Harris/James Wilmoth Healey collected third in class.

With clear class favourites Mark & James Bates failing to appear for the start in their Porsche 911, C1 easily fell to the Mark Cole/Johan Colruyt MGB. They were followed at considerable distance by the Peter Tognola/Steve Monk 911 and Mark Hope’s MGB.

Ad van der Kroft dominated the A class in his Cooper Bobtail. The Dutchman only lost the lead during the pitstop phase when Guy Peeters kept going and missed the pit window in his Lotus XI but Van der Kroft had already retaken the class lead before the Belgian came in for his pitstop and his subsequent stop-and-go penalty.

B2 and B1 classes fell to the Nick Naismith/Phil Perryman Aston Martin DB4 and the Marc Gordon/Nick Finburgh Jaguar XK150 respectively.

Lyons takes comfortable win in second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race

In a six-lap ‘sprint’ race after the first three laps were completed behind the safety car, Michael Lyons (Williams FW07B) romped home to an easy victory in the second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Spa. From pole, Lyons was never headed and coasted to a 16-second lead at the finish.

“Big thanks to Mike Wrigley for lending me his engine”, said Lyons after his original engine dropped a valve in the warm-up to the weekend’s first race. “It was a big effort from the team, a long, long night as they had to take the engine out twice on discovering a problem with the water pump. The whole race I was stroking the car home. The key was that I switched on the tyres straight away.”

Williams FW07 drivers Christophe d’Ansembourg and Mike Cantillon fought hard over second place, the Belgian narrowly keeping his team mate behind. Nick Padmore was able to watch the fight closely, shadowing the Williams pair for the entire race. In fourth overall, the Shadow DN5 driver did take pre-78 class honours.

“I went down his inside once on lap 4”, said Cantillon about his fight with CGA Engineering team mate D’Ansembourg. “But then he got back at me, and that was it.”

“It was great fun to watch”, said Padmore. “A couple of times I thought they’d take each other off! I tried my best to get past one of them myself but on the faster bits they kept going away from me. There was nothing I could do.”

Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) was fifth ahead of Jamie Constable taking a strong second place in pre-78 class. The Shadow DN8 driver started the race in eighth place but found a way past Mike Wrigley’s Williams FW07D and then gained another place when Joaquin Folch’s Brabham BT49C broke at the end of lap 6.

“It was good fun”, said Constable about his race. “It dried out quicker than I expected, so I just had to be brave!”

 Eighth overall and third in the pre-78 class was Max Smith-Hilliard (Fittipaldi F5A), who was unable to keep pace with Constable and had to be content with keeping James Hagan (Hesketh 308) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) at bay.

“I wasn’t going to take any chances”, said Max Smith-Hilliard. “The point was to collect some points.”

The first three laps were run behind the safety car because of a rain shower at the back of the circuit. High-profile casualties included Saturday’s winner Loïc Deman (Tyrrell 010) and pre-78 class favourite Greg Thornton (Lotus 77). Deman came into the pits to change tyres, only to drop a lap behind. The Belgian retired on lap 5. Thornton pulled in on lap 6, his battery down.

 

 


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