Fletcher wins from the back in very wet second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race at Zandvoort
Henry Fletcher made up for a miserable first day of the Historic Grand Prix at Zandvoort by claiming a convincing win in a very wet second FIA Masters Historic Formula One race in the Dutch dunes. Having started from the back, the March 761 driver passed early leader Georg Hallau’s Theodore N183 on lap 5 and charged to a 14-second win over race 1 winner Kyle Tilley.
“I said before the start – whoever is going to stay out of trouble wins”, said Fletcher about the treacherous conditions. “So the beginning of the race was all about damage limitation for me. I knew I had the pace but vision was non-existent, so I was very careful in picking them off, one after the other. Today really makes up for yesterday!”
Two offs at the chicane – the first one induced by contact with Bob Blain’s March 761 – blighted Tilley’s challenge, and Fletcher was too far away when he too moved past the Theodore. With Fletcher responding with fastest lap of the race, Tilley gave up the chase to bring home second place. Hallau finished third to claim post-78 glory.
“I was alright until Bob hit me!” said Tilley about his first-lap contretemps with Bob Blain’s March 761. “I then had to pit for a flat rear tyre and was fighting a lost race.”
“I was lucky to start from the front”, said Georg Hallau. “At least I could see something, which allowed me to build a lead. It was so slippery out there, but that was the same for everyone.”
On a very wet track, Hallau led away in the Theodore N183 from the reversed grid ahead of Ian Simmonds’ Tyrrell 012 and James Hagan’s Hesketh 308 that had stalled on the dummy grid but then got away after all. Braking for the chicane on the first lap, though, Bob Blain’s March 761 and Kyle Tilley’s Ensign N177 touched, leading to Blain’s retirement with a broken left front suspension. This meant that Henry Fletcher went round in fourth when the safety car was called in order for the marshals to be able to retrieve Blain’s car from the gravel trap. Meanwhile, Rivet retired his March 811 to the pits.
At the restart, Hagan immediately tried a pass on Hallau but the German stood firm on the outside line in Tarzan corner – the quicker line in rainy conditions. Further into the lap, Tilley went off at the chicane yet again but resumed, while Fletcher tried a lunge at Hagan into Tarzan, completing his attempt on the exit of the corner. Behind the top three, Tilley held his ground ahead of Chris Perkins in the Surtees TS16, Ian Simmonds and Jason Wright’s Shadow DN8.
Into lap 5, Fletcher made a move at Hallau into Tarzan but for now was too far away. Behind them, Tilley set fastest lap of the race to close on Hagan, and then at the back of circuit, Fletcher managed the pass after all, with Tilley then following his example by moving past the Hesketh. Further back, Perkins, Simmonds and Wright kept squabbling over fifth before Perkins went off for a bit of rallycross in Tarzan corner while Wright’s Shadow stopped and then got going again.
The track still extremely wet, Tilley moved into second place on lap 7 and set after the leading Fletcher. The latter, well aware of Tilley’s threat, immediately responded with fastest lap of the race, increasing his lead over the American-domiciled Briton to 7.4 seconds. Hallau looked a safe third with Hagan dropping back on him with every lap.
Fletcher proceeded to race the win home, increasing his lead over Tilley to 14 seconds at the chequered flag. Hallau took third and the post-78 win. Hagan finished fourth ahead of Simmonds, Wright and Perkins. After the race, though, Hagan was handed a 60-second penalty for retaking his position at the start, having stalled on the dummy grid. This dropped him down to seventh and handed third place in the pre-78 class to Wright.
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