Masters News

Saturday 27th August 2022

Bradshaw’s ailing Chevron still wins Masters Sports Cars Legends thriller at Silverstone

It was a pole-to-win race for Tom Bradshaw, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of a very exciting Yokohama Trophy for Masters Sports Car Legends race at the Classic. Bradshaw survived an oil leak and a collapsed left front suspension to his Chevron B19 to bring home an emotional win. Bradshaw had to fight Alex Brundle around Silverstone all the way but was left in the clear when the WEC and ELMS star’s Lola T70 Mk3B also developed a major oil leak towards the end.

“I think we were 15 laps in, and I saw the smoke coming out of the rear, and I thought, that’s it”, said Bradshaw. “But I kept an eye on the oil gauge, and it looked alright. And then at the end to finish the race on three tyres… I was praying that I was on the final lap! This was the luckiest win I’ve ever had…”

In an attritional race, James Claridge and Gonçalo Gomes came through to take second in their Chevron B23, Gomes holding off Simon Hadfield in the Lola T70 Mk3B that was started by Chris Beighton. Nick Padmore ended up fourth in his Chevron B21, ahead of a Dean Forward/Jamie Thwaites Lola T70 Mk3B that made up many places to grab fifth place. Soon after a safety-car period coinciding with the pit window, the race lost two likely podium challengers in the Diogo Ferrão/Martin Stretton Lola T292 and the Steve Brooks/Martin O’Connell T70 Mk3B. Ferrão briefly ran second to Bradshaw before Brundle took over the chase.

“It was an exciting race, and we were there at the end!” said a delighted Claridge.

“Congratulations to Tom, he really deserved it”, said Gomes. “It wouldn’t have been fair if we had taken win from him.”

“We were struggling initially”, said Hadfield, “but the race came back to us after the safety car.”

Stephen Nuttall led the Bonnier class but when his Chevron B8 ended up in the gravel – causing that safety-car period – the Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie took over to win the class while taking tenth overall. In the pre-66 Hulme class, John Spiers and Ollie Hancock made no prisoners on their way to 14th overall. Peter Hallford and Phil Keen won the Pescarolo class in 19th overall.

Closing the curtain on an exciting first race day at the Classic, the 36-car Masters Sports Car Legends field blasted away for their 6.15pm start. Tom Bradshaw stormed off from pole, the youngster in the Chevron B19 immediately opening up a two-second gap over Diogo Ferrão in the Lola T292. For the moment, Jonathan Mitchell in the second B19 remained in third, but Alex Brundle was already up into fourth, and on lap 2 claimed third in the Lola T70 Mk3B. Behind them, another T70 vs B19 fight ensued between Steve Brooks and Henry Fletcher, with Nick Padmore in the Chevron B21 and Michael Gans in the Lola T290 also having a look.

In the Bonnier class, Steven Nuttall led the fight between Christian Pittard and Julian Thomas’ similar Chevron B8, the cars circulating in 18th, 19th and 20th overall, while in 21st overall, John Spiers led the Hulme class in the McLaren M1B that would later be taken over by Ollie Hancock.

While Alex Brundle also dealt with Ferrão in second, Bradshaw had made a seven-second break while also setting faster laptimes than the younger Brundle. Further back, Fletcher had dropped places to Gans, Nick Sleep in the non-B T70 Mk3 and Chris Beighton in another T70 Mk3B.

Some 15 minutes into the race, Bradshaw led Brundle by eight seconds, with Ferrão two more seconds in arrears, the Portuguese driver still fighting hard with Mitchell. 11 seconds further down the road, Brooks was fifth ahead of Padmore and Gans, while coming from the back, Dean Forward had made excellent progress, his T70 Mk3B passing James Claridge’s Chevron B23, Beighton’s similar Lola and Sleep’s T70 in quick succession.

But then – drama, when Bradshaw’s B19 was seen smoking heavily in corners but still doing the laptimes. Would the car that has been vulnerable before make it to the end? Remarkably so, the smoke began to disappear when Bradshaw went into lap 8. Further back, Forward was moving forward at a rapid rate, now also passing Gans for seventh. Also coming through was Timothy De Silva, now ninth in the unique Taydec Mk3.

As the stops approached, Nuttall continued to lead the Bonnier class from Thomas and Pittard, while in the Hulme class, Spiers had lots of time in hand over Ewen Sergison’s Lola T70 Mk2 Spyder and Chris Jolly in the Cooper Monaco T61M. The pit window opening, Brundle was the first one in, and he was joined by Pescarolo class leader Peter Hallford, the Canadian handing over his Corvette to Phil Keen.

Then, on lap 11, just as Bradshaw came into the pits, the safety car was out as the Bonnier-class-leading Chevron B8 of Stephen Nuttall had ended up in the gravel and needed to be pushed out by the marshals. Now, everyone else was in, profiting from the situation. The caution period changed the entire complexion of the race. Gary Culver now suddenly led the race, but his T70 Mk3B had not made his stop yet and was due to miss the pit window, with Bradshaw, Martin Stretton in the Ferrão Lola T292 and Brundle. Next up were Martin O’Connell in Steve Brooks’ T70 Mk3B, Gans, Jamie Thwaites in the T70 Mk3B started by Dean Forward, De Silva, Padmore and Gomes.

After the safety car disappeared and Culver tailed off into the pits, Bradshaw resumed in the lead, chased by Pearson, but Gans and Thwaites moved up places, as both Stretton and O’Connell retired to the pits! Gomes was fifth ahead of De Silva, but Simon Hadfield in the T70 Mk3B started by Beighton sniffed a podium, having hauled the orange car up into seventh, and closing on De Silva and Thwaites fast.

With ten minutes to go, the finely poised fight between Bradshaw and Brundle continued, the pair now separated by five seconds. Gomes made his way up to third, but Hadfield had his eyes on the final podium spot, both having cleared De Silva and Thwaites, while Padmore had passed the latter for sixth.

In the Bonnier class, Calum Lockie in 11th overall had taken over the lead vacated by the hapless Nuttall, with the Dominik & Simon Jackson B8 now in second, but chased by Darren Burke in the Chevron started by Pittard. In the Hulme class, Ollie Hancock continued John Spiers’ dominance of the class in their McLaren M1B.

On lap 18, the drama was now with Brundle, as his Lola began smoking too. And right after that smoke was spotted, Bradshaw’s smoke also reappeared… Brundle’s smoke, however, was so heavy that he was given the meatball flag. Behind the two smoking cars in the lead, Gomes and Hadfield still warred over third, 22 seconds down, while Padmore had also passed Thwaites to now run fifth. Two places further back, Fletcher retired to allow Gans and Alex Montgomery in Sleep’s T70 Mk3 to move up.

Two more minutes remained, and the question was whether the two ailing cars up front would hold to the end. In Brundle’s case, the answer was no – with just one more lap to go, the WEC and ELMS driver decided to bring the car into the pits. Bradshaw was struggling too, as now his left front suspension seemed to have collapsed… Coasting across the line, the Chevron still made it, Bradshaw throwing his fist in the air as he took the chequered flag. Gomes held off Hadfield to make it a Chevron 1-2, 16 seconds down on the stricken winner, with Padmore in fourth ahead of Thwaites, Montgomery, Gans, De Silva and Robert Shaw’s Chevron B19.

In tenth overall,  Calum Lockie took the Bonnier class win ahead of the Jacksons’ B8, with the Pittard/Burke example taking third in class. Phil Keen hauled the Pescarolo-class-winning Corvette up to 19th overall, while in 14th overall, John Spiers and Ollie Hancock sealed the Hulme class win from Ewen Sergison’s T70 Mk2 and the Chris Jolly/Steve Farthing Cooper Monaco.



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