Bradshaw dominates Masters Historic Sports Car race at Donington Park
Tom Bradshaw (Chevron B19) fended off Alex Brundle in the opening stages of the Masters Historic Sports Car race at Donington Park and ran out to a dominant win when on lap 7 Brundle's Lola T70 Mk3B limped into the pits with a broken gear linkage.
Jonathan Mitchell (Chevron B19) and Chris Beighton (Lola T70 Mk3B) had a race-long scrap for the remaining steps on the podium, and while Beighton managed to slip ahead in the final part of the race, Mitchell disagreed with finishing third by taking back second place with two laps to go.
Robert Beebee and Steve Brooks recovered from a pitlane start to claim fourth ahead Gary Culver in a similar T70 Mk3B. This came at the cost of Henry Fletcher who, after another pitlane start, looked to have salvaged fourth but dropped to sixth in the dying seconds of the race.
From the start, Brundle led away from pole to open up a one-second gap on the opening lap but Bradshaw wasn't letting him go. Two consecutive fastest laps of the race got him back to five tenths from the leader, as Beighton and Giordanelli in third and fourth were dropped at the rate of three seconds per lap. Meanwhile, the B19s of Mitchell and Padmore had moved up into fifth and sixth, at the cost of Halusa's Alfa Romeo 33TT3 and Gary Culver's T70 Mk3B, and soon the pair had also darted past Giordanelli.
In the fiercely competitive Bonnier class, Mark Owen had overcome the bad hand dealt to him and father Andrew in qualifying, and with a fresh driveshaft in place in their B8, Owen was into the class lead within two laps. In the Hulme class, meanwhile, the battle was over before it could begin, as Mike Whitaker was forced to pull over his Lola T70 Mk2 Spyder on the very first lap.
On lap 7, the complexion of the race changed when Brundle limped into the pits with a broken gear linkage. This left Bradshaw out on his own in front, now leading Beighton by some 19 seconds, as he kept pounding in the fastest laps of the race. Then on lap 10, Padmore dropped out of fourth, with Halusa and Rory Jack in the non-B T70 Mk3 moving up the order, ahead of Giordanelli and Culver. Robert Beebee's T70 Mk3B and Henry Fletcher's Chevron were now back up into eighth and ninth respectively, both having been forced to start from the pitlane.
In the Bonnier class, Owen Jr led Roderick Jack, Phillip Nelson and Peter Thompson, as Chris Lillingstone-Price was still fighting back from another pitlane start. Then, with 42 minutes still on the clock, contact involving Ted Tuppen's Siffert-class Chevron caused the race's first neutralisation, but the green flag waved again shortly before the pit window was opened.
Bradshaw now led Beighton by 8 seconds, who in turn was trailed by Mitchell and Culver, the latter up to fourth after a demon re-start. Rory Jack was fifth ahead of Beebee, Halusa, Fletcher and Giordanelli, as the open-top Lolas of David Tomlin and Chris Fox warred over tenth overall.
On lap 21, Culver and Giordanelli were the first to pit, the latter handing over to BTCC star Jake Hill. The lone Hulme-class McLaren M1B of John Spiers and Tiff Needell - Needell now stepping into the car - was in 12th overall while Mark Bates in the Pescarolo-class Porsche 911 RSR was 16th. On the next lap, Beighton was in from second place, momentarily creating a Chevron B19 1-2 with Bradshaw leading Mitchell, but their turns were still to come.
With Bradshaw and Mitchell following on the next tours, and Fletcher the last one to stop, Bradshaw resumed his spot at the top of the leaderboard, now leading Mitchell by 21 seconds, as the second Chevron B19 had leapfrogged Beighton at the stops and led the T70 Mk3B by just short of two ticks. Giordanelli's Chevron B26, now in the hands of the speedy Jack Hill, was back into fourth while Fletcher had jumped Steve Brooks who had taken the place of Robert Beebee in their Mk3B. Culver was seventh ahead of Halusa's Alfa Romeo, with Patrick Jack in the T70 Mk3 in ninth. Tomlin's Lola T210 completed the top-ten.
It was all change in the Bonnier class, as Lillingstone-Price now headed David Methley who was in the car started by Nelson. However, with the two separated by a mere two seconds, and with Charles Allison in the Allison/Thompson B8 and Roderick Jack in a similar dogfight a further eight seconds behind, nothing looked close to any kind of decision yet.
At the front, though, with 15 minutes still on the clock, Bradshaw's run of quick post-pitstop laps had all the symptoms of a pre-emptive strike, the Chevron B19 now leading Mitchell by 32 seconds and Beighton by 36. Hill was down another eight seconds but closing on Beighton, with Fletcher in fifth. Meanwhile, Culver in sixth had a fight on his hands with Brooks, the Spitfire pilot now anxious to swap the order of the two T70 Mk3Bs.
In the Bonnier class, the fight between Lillingstone-Price and Methley was now truly on, just two tenths splitting the B8s, while both had left Allison and Jack trailing by 17 seconds. Unable to sustain the pace, Andrew Owen had dropped down to fifth in class, ahead of Roger Whiteside's B8.
It wasn't all over at the front - even though it was at the very front, Bradshaw now holding a comfortable 44-second lead. By lap 39, though, Beighton had eaten away Mitchell's slender margin and soon enough popped back up into second place, as 22 seconds further down Fletcher had inherited fourth place from Hill, who had to retire the Chevron B26 at Goddards. Brooks was now ahead of Culver.
As Bradshaw crossed the line as the dominant winner, Mitchell hadn't given up and was back up into second with two laps to go. This meant that Beighton had to make do with third after all, as he led home Brooks and Culver, as Fletcher dropped away to sixth on the final lap. Halusa, Patrick Jack, Tomlin and John Emberson in the Chevron B26 rounded out the top-ten.
In 12th overall, David Methley had done the job to steal the Bonnier-class win from Lillingstone-Price, as Thompson held off Roderick Jack for third in class. Mark Bates in the Porsche 911 RSR and John Spiers/Tiff Needell in the McLaren M1B took the respective spoils in the Pescarolo and Hulme classes.
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