HUGE REPORT FROM THE MASTERS FESTIVAL AT BRANDS HATCH
Nick Padmore adapted superbly to the demands of Max SmithHilliard’s Williams FW07C and scored two impressive FIA Historic F1 wins.
Loic Deman (Tyrrell 010) was keen to emulate his recent Zolder triumphs, but a too-quick start earned exclusion from the first race, although the Belgian hotly disputed the lead for the whole distance, only losing out when Padmore lunged through at Surtees.
Steve Hartley defended third despite an overnight engine change to a less potent unit in his Arrows, but a lastlap driveshaft failure dropped him to eighth. The man who should have benefited from this, Simon Fish, was already slipping back after his Ensign lost fifth gear.
Second was taken by Michael Lyons, whose Mclaren stopped in qualifying. Father Frank handed over the family Hesketh and Michael charged up the order, helped by a caution period and some brave overtaking. Mike Wrigley (Williams), Greg Thornton (Lotus), Fish and Rob Hall (Ligier) completed the top six.
Padmore was in a class of his own in race two, while Deman behaved himself to secure second, with Hartley third. Fish didn’t reappear, his car suffering low oil pressure, and Lyons’ expected charge from the back row didn’t materialise as the Hesketh broke an input shaft on lap one.
The Canam Interserie Challenge produced few pukka Canam cars, but Andy Newall’s dominant Mclaren M8F and Frank Bradley’s mighty March 717 rumbled round ahead of a rather thin supporting cast. A self-confessed moment of brain fade cost Bradley the runner-up spot in race two when he shed the car’s front bodywork at Stirling’s.
A trio of GT40S, which topped the timesheets in qualifying for the Masters Three Hours, were still ahead after 76 laps of a truncated race. Andy Wolfe led much of the first half, but co-driver Jason Wright slipped to third. James Littlejohn took over from Roger Wills and defended a shrinking lead as Martin Stretton made a late charge in the car started by Tony Wood. The Andy Willis/rob Hall Cobra was best of the rest in a class-winning fourth position.
Craig Davies (Ford Mustang) headed the Pre-66 Touring Cars with Andy Wolfe’s Lotus Cortina in his wheeltracks. These two plus Mark Sumpter’s Cortina, Roger Wills’ Mercury Comet and Warren Briggs’ Mustang dominated, but Sumpter retired with a broken halfshaft and Briggs lost time in the pits. A lap-one incident at Clark Curve eliminated the Minis of Nick Swift and Ron Maydon, with Maydon’s car rolling in the gravel trap.
Philip Walker (Lotus 16) overcame moderate opposition among the HGPCA pre-1965 GP cars. His job was made easier when a sticking throttle in race one forced Julian Bronson’s Scarab out for the day.
A three-way battle for the 70s Celebration lead was a little fraught near the end, splitting the trio who finished in the order Stephen Dance (Capri), Simon Watts/roberto Giordanelli (Datsun 240Z) and John Finnemore/chris Beighton (Tiger), who reckoned brake fading issues cost a possible win.
Richard Tarling (Crossle 32F) won Sunday’s long circuit Classic FF1600 race, but faced unrelenting pressure from Ben Mitchell’s Merlyn, which briefly took the lead in traffic. Glen Medeiros (Van Diemen) stayed in touch despite a misfire, but a fourth to ninth place bunch finished well astern.
Action switched to the Indy Circuit on Monday, and Tarling only had Medeiros to deal with in another tense FF1600 encounter. The absent Mitchell missed a fine battle, which the Crossle driver won by a length.
The first Quaife/cannons Tin Tops race ended early after a multi-car incident at Graham Hill Bend. Rod Birley (Honda Integra) won, but only after a tap from behind pushed him into contact with Chris Whiteman’s Civic, spinning the early leader at Druids. Birley was on the receiving end of a bump in race two, sending him down the order, and then the car fell sick. Whiteman started seventh and took the lead on lap five.
Dale Gent (Subaru Impreza) added two more Quaife Saloon wins to his tally, helped by the Birley’s Ford Escort blowing its turbo in qualifying. A replacement was sourced in Basingstoke and fitted for race two, in which the local man reached second from the back of the grid. Malcolm Wise was second at the first attempt but his Escort lost its turbo on the last lap and didn’t reappear. Tony Skelton (Clio) and Dan Cowan (Sierra) each had a third and a fourth place.
Michiel Campagne’s brutal Corvette had more than enough in hand to get the better of his rivals in the first Dutch Historic GT and Touring Cars race. But whether or not it was a tad artificial, the outcome made for gripping viewing. Campagne missed race two, and Richard Evans streaked clear. However, the misfiring Marcos 1800 GT was caught and passed by Bob Stevens (Elan).
It was a case of six of the best when the Mini Challenge arrived at Silverstone, producing a scintillating weekend of MSVR racing.
A fine defensive display gave Unitec Motorsport’s David Grady a hard-fought brace of JCW wins as he twice held off the charging Chris Smith, but three visits to the podium for Nathan Harrison drew the latter level on points with Charlie ButlerHenderson at the head of the championship.
“I had a bad qualifying sesion, but then I couldn’t have asked for more”, said ButlerHenderson after he turned his ninth-place in qualifying into two podium finishes. “It’s such a level playing field.”
Jono Brown fended off the charging Butler-henderson in race three, Harrison promoted to his third podium by Henry Neal’s demotion from third after a time penalty for disrespecting track limits.
In the Open, Cooper and Cooper S championship, Steve Cocker once again appeared out of luck from pole position on Saturday, as ECU issues for the Oakfield Motorsport man reared its head again in the opening two races.
Scott Jeffs took full advantage, easing clear of a fierce fight for second in race one before doubling up in the second despite a slow start dropping him to fourth. His fourth win of the season was followed by Cocker’s second in race three, the latter surviving a lap nine attack from Rob Austin by retaliating at Copse two laps later.
Max Blaydon was again in a class of his own in the Coopers, bagging a second hat-trick in two outings.
It was similarly close in the GT Cup, the visit to Northamptonshire showcasing the brewing duel between Jordan Witt’s Bentley Continental GT3 and the striking Porsche 935 of Richard Chamberlain.
A damaged exhaust caused a fiery exit for the Mclaren 650S GT Sprint of Stuart and Lewis Proctor in race one, although the subsequent delay did not deter the fast-starting Chamberlain, who hung on for victory.
Witt hit back in more fortuitous circumstances, taking what he called a “bittersweet win” after erstwhile race two leader Chamberlain suffered a shock absorber failure while defending the top spot.
After a supreme repair job of his own to fix the 935, contact with Witt on lap 12 at Becketts ended Chamberlain’s fight prematurely in the 50-minute endurance race, Witt’s win extending his championship lead from the BMW M3 paring of Tom and James Webb.
In the Mono Championship’s F3/2000/ Classic series meanwhile, the unbeaten run continued for Robbie Watts at Silverstone. The Dallara F302 has graced the top step in all four races he has entered after two lights-to-flag victories at Silverstone, while engine failure in race one forced Tony Bishop to surrender his Mono F3 series lead to Ben Cater.
The second Monoposto grid was dominated by the Dallara F399 of Jeremy Timms in the Moto 1400 class, beating Chris Woodhouse and Craig Hurran comfortably in the respective outings.
BMW E46 M3 driver Richard Bromley fought to Trackday Championship success from Mark Flower, while championship leader Big Skidz Racing suffered retirement in the 45-minute encounter from fourth with a driveshaft problem. Fifth was Andrew Ball’s Porsche Boxster S, which earlier that Sunday was victorious in the Trackday Trophy after pouncing on Gary Burstow’s BMW 328i with 13 minutes remaining.
BOSS Ireland completed the set of Irish tracks with two championship rounds at Kirkistown, having already raced at both Mondello Park and Bishopscourt.
Cian Carey was on a mission to reel in series leader Noel Robinson. He put his Formula Renault on pole with Jonathan Fildes alongside in his Ralt RT4 sporting a new livery. Twenty years had passed since Fildes last raced at Kirkistown, back then it was at the wheel of an Opel Lotus.
Fildes led from Carey, but on lap two his race ended with a clutch problem. Robinson attempted to reel in Carey but to no avail.
Carey led race two from pole, with Barry Rabbitt briefly making a challenge, before Robinson fought back to gain second then, in the closing laps, made a major effort to take the lead. He pressured Carey, but Carey kept ahead to close within four points of Robinson in the championship.
Paul Conn produced a super start in the first Roadsports race, but it took just four laps for Jim Larkham to take the lead. Conn kept in touch of Larkham’s Radical but had to be content with second. Mark Francis broke away from the Class B pack to win. Larkham fell back to fourth after a poor start to race two, but lap by lap he again picked cars off and closed in on leader Conn before making his move to take his now customary race win.
Jim Hutchison gave his Ford Escort-gm its first appearance of the year in the Saloons, Ask Supercars and GT race. A few tweaks and the removal of the power steering were the only changes since Hutchison’s last appearance and, not surprisingly, he had pole and commanded proceedings while Peter Barrable broke clear of the Supercar pack with Andrew Armstrong best of the saloons in third.
Double Britsh Touring Car champion Colin Turkington made a guest appearance in the Keogh’s Celebrity Supercar but it failed to start; eventually he managed just a single lap.
Hutchinson was swallowed up at the start of race two as Ralph Jess led briefly in his BMW M3 before Andy O’brien worked his way past in his Supercar as his race one rival Barrable retired. Hutchinson had to fight his way through the traffic, which he did to snatch the lead from O’brien. Turkington’s alternator was replaced and this time he completed the race finishing fourth in class.
Noel Robinson had pole for the first Formula Ford encounter from Alan Davidson and the latter led for the opening two laps while Stephen O’connor held second briefly. A race-long battle between Robinson and Davidson ensued, with the verdict going to Robinson. The fight for third was just as fraught between O’connor and Ryan Campbell. O’connor went off at the Hairpin as Campbell slotted into third.
Robinson increased his championship lead with victory in the second race two, as all those around him struggled. O’connor was pinged for a jumped start and Kyle Young stalled off the line. Davidson and Robinson contested the lead before Robinson took the advantage at Debtors and never looked back.
Twenty four Fiesta Zetecs were a recipe for incidents and that was the case as several drivers attended the stewards’ office. Ben Mccully kept it clean to take the win. The second race was a much calmer affair with pole-sitter Jonny Forsythe taking the honours.
Greg Speight topped two of the XR2 races
Padmore (centre) was star of Historic F1
Newall (l) topped Can-am
Grady held off Chris Smith in Mini JCW thrillers, Smith spun in race two