Thornton takes Historic F1 double


Defending champion Greg Thornton scored a double in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship at Brands Hatch during the annual Masters Festival (May 23/24).

After a damp qualifying session, Thornton (Lotus 91/5) lined up on pole with Andy Wolfe’s Tyrrell 011 alongside, and it was Thornton who bagged an early lead. However, F1 newcomer Wolfe was inspired and surged past the Lotus at the end of the opening lap to grab the lead. Yet Thornton didn’t give up and worked back into contention by lap four and made a successful bid for the lead as Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) quickly edged the Tyrrell back to third.

That was not the end of the day news for Wolfe as he was later bundled further down the order by Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49C) and Silvio Kalb (Arrows A4) and former sports car racer Kalb finally took the third podium place at the expense of the ex-Piquet Brabham.

The second race ran under a leaden sky but delivered a storming race as the F1 cars swept around the challenging Grand Prix circuit. Hartley cut the early pace but then came under pressure from Thornton who had been bundled back on the opening lap. Thornton then spun when challenging Hartley and the Loic Deman managed to nose his Tyrrell 010 briefly into the lead from the back of the grid.

However, Thornton wasn’t done and charged back into contention to snatch the lead back from Deman on the final lap of an absorbing race. Hartley chased them home in third.

Mike Whitaker had as good a weekend as Thornton, with no less than four race wins; two in his extremely well-sorted TVR Griffith and two in his Ford Mustang, which is now right on the money thanks to the expertise of RTVR guru Nigel Reuben.

The Mustang won both elements of the Masters Pre ’66 Touring Cars, though the second win only came after Henry Mann charged ahead in his Mustang but was later excluded for ignoring a drive-through penalty for a jumped start. A rare spin put the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Ford Falcon out of contention.

In the two short Gentleman Drivers races, Whitaker kept the TVR ahead of the AC Cobra of Leo Voyazides. Whitaker then expected a big challenge in the second race as Simon Hadfield shared the Cobra but could do nothing but retire when the gearbox stuck in first gear. Roger Wills moved through to second to give his Bizzarini 5300 GT one of its best results.

Rob Huff’s drive in Richard Meins’ Lola T70 Mk3B in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship went unrewarded as the car was excluded for a technical infringement handing honours to Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield (Lola T70 Mk3B). This two-part victory was some recompense for the Voyazides squad after an otherwise frustrating weekend. The prodigious pace of Nick Padmore kept Max Smith-Hilliard’s Chevron B19 on the tail of the tail of the Lola, while Paul Gibson’s T70 Mk3B continuation car took third.

Among the other races of note, Bobby Verdon-Roe and Nick Leventis took their Ferrari 246S to a resounding victory in the Stirling Moss Trophy, while Fred Wakeman and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards were just as convincing in their Cooper T38 in the Woodcote Trophy race.

Berridge tops Group C at Spa

Bob Berridge was back on top of the Group C pack during the Peter Auto-organised Spa Classic (23/24 May).

During three days of warm, dry weather, Berridge went solo in his Nissan RC93 and moved ahead of his former Mercedes C11 when former single-seater ace Rui Aguas handed the car over to owner Kriton Lendoudis. Steve Tandy and Mike Simpson worked Tandy’s Spice SE90 ahead of the Mercedes for second.

The Heritage Touring Cup had a pair of races, one of them in the dark of Saturday night, and it was Chris Ward and Andrew Smith twice on top in a Capri RS3100 from the JD Classics stable. Former oval racer Steve Dance led the chase in his RS2600.

Karsten Le Blanc and Nigel Greensall scored a dominant victory in the Sixties Endurance race in Le Blanc’s AC Cobra, while Vincent Gaye (Ferrari 275GTB) took a Trofeo Nastro Rosso double. Another double winner was the long-standing pairing of Richard Shaw and Jackie Oliver (BMW 1800 TiSA) in the U2TC races.

Toni Seiler’s Lola T70 Mk3B won the race for the early section of the Classic Endurance cars, but the star of the early laps was former Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro who briefly led in the Alfa Romeo T33/3 he later handed over to Gianluca Rattazzi. The later CER cars were topped by the Lola T298 of Patrice Lafargue.

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