Masters News

Sunday 14th August 2022

Brooks/O’Connell sweep to commanding Masters Sports Car Legends win at the ‘Ring

Leading from start to finish in their Lola T70 Mk3B, Steve Brooks and Martin O’Connell took a commanding victory in the one-hour Masters Sports Car Legends race at the Oldtimer Grand Prix event. From pole, Brooks held off an early challenge from Manfredo Rossi’s Abarth Osella PA1 before that faded as the Italian had to take a stop-and-go penalty for a breach of the starting procedure, dropping behind Michael Gans in the Lola T290.

“It seemed to be very hot and hard out there, but it was great. I love this place”, said Brooks. “I felt a lot of pressure initially, so it was definitely a relief that Manfredo had to take his penalty.”

“Even if I had managed to pass Steve, he would have got back at me on the straights”, said Rossi. “And Martin is really fast, so not having had the penalty would not have made a difference.”

A safety car shortly after the pitstops negated the 33-second gap that Brooks had left for O’Connell, but at the restart, the latter charged off into the distance to take the win by 14 seconds. Rossi recovered to take second from former IndyCar driver Arnd Meier, who after the stops took Frank Jacob’s Lola T210 up to third at the cost of Gans, who at the end was forced to face off the fierce attacks of Felix Haas in another T210.

“It was a fantastic race”, said Jacob. “We’re very happy with third position. The car was perfect, no technical issues at all.”

“He made a few mistakes, I made a few mistakes”, said Meier about his chase of Rossi. “But our lap times were equal. It was a shame that at the restart, there were some lapped cars in between us. That gave him just the gap that he needed.”

The fight for pre-66 Hulme class honours went unrewarded as the John Spiers/Nigel Greensall and Richard McAlpine/Bradley Burns McLaren M1Bs both faltered. In sixth overall, Jürgen Rudolph took the Bonnier class win in his Porsche 910 while Thomas Henkel and Alex Birkenstock ran home the Pescarolo class victory in their Porsche 911 Carrera RS.

In the fresh air of the Sunday morning, the Masters Sports Car Legends field set off for their one-hour race. When the lights turned green, Steve Brooks led away in his Lola T70 Mk3B, but he was immediately chased hard by Manfredo Rossi in the Abarth Osella PA1, the Italian drawing out a gap towards Frank Jacob’s Lola T210, who found Michael Gans in the Lola T290 and Andy Willis in the T212 hot on his heels. Soon, Gans put Jacob under pressure, but for now, the German held firm.

In sixth, John Spiers led the Hulme class in the McLaren M1B, holding off Felix Haas in another T210 and class rival Richard McAlpine in the other M1B, who himself was threatened by Jürgen Rudolph’s Porsche 910, the class-leading Bonnier car. John Sheldon ran tenth, ahead of Oliver Mathai’s invitational Lotus 47, Thomas Henkel in the Pescarolo-class Porsche 911 Carrera RS and Austrian Thomas Matzelberger in the third T210 in the field.

At the front, Rossi tried all he could in the twisty sections to pass Brooks, but the grunt of the Chevy-powered Lola kept the Briton in front. Further back, as a result of contact with Jacob, Willis had dropped away from the fight for third that Gans had now decided in his favour, the American trailing the leaders by 13 seconds. Spiers and Haas had also leapt Willis who found himself just in front of a fierce battle between Rudolph, McAlpine and Sheldon, the latter pushing through to move up into ninth with a great move on the McLaren out of the complex.

Ten minutes into the race, Brooks and Rossi were still nose-to-tail while Gans had left Jacob behind by seven seconds, as Willis fought back to pass both Haas and Spiers. Five minutes later, though, Brooks had eased away from Rossi, and it soon became apparent why, as the Abarth Osella came trundling into the pits on lap 7, having to serve a stop-and-go penalty for a breach of the starting procedure. The same penalty was handed to Henkel who as a result dropped to 13th.

So now, Brooks led Gans by 29 seconds, with Rossi in third, 32 seconds behind the leader. Jacob trailed the Italian by six seconds and led the recovering Willis by ten ticks. Haas was sixth ahead of Spiers, who by now was 13 seconds clear from Rudolph, Sheldon and McAlpine. Moments later, though, the latter pulled off at the Dunlop-Kehre to prematurely decide the Hulme class in Spiers’ favour.

As the pit window approached, Rossi was right on the tail of Michael Gans in the Lola T290, the pair now trailing Brooks by 34 seconds, but the Italian was finding it hard to pass the American. On lap 11, however, a brilliant switchback move into the Bit-Kurve finally did the trick. Immediately, Rossi’s pace was such that he pulled away at a rate of two seconds. Meanwhile, Jacob was the first to pit, handing his T210 to former IndyCar driver Arnd Meier, with Spiers performing the same action with co-driver Nigel Greensall.

With Brooks’ lead as it was – more than half a minute – the OC Racing team was in no rush to get Martin O’Connell into the car. Instead, Rudolph, Sheldon and Henkel came in for their stops, the latter handing over to Alex Birkenstock. They were soon followed by Mathai, Rossi and Haas, with Gans and Willis also leaving it late before Willis would switch places with Stephan Joebstl.

On lap 15, the leader finally came in to hand his healthy lead to O’Connell, as he was joined by Gans and Willis. Further back, though, Greensall’s stint proved shortlived as the other McLaren M1B pulled off at the first turn known as the Castrol-S. That was the Hulme class fight over and done with…

As the rest of the field looked to settle into their second stints, the race was given another twist when the safety car was called – a driveshaft, probably the McLaren’s, was spotted on the racing line in turn 1. The safety car erroneously picked up Birkenstock and Sheldon but they were soon sent on. This left the top seven cars neatly in line astern: O’Connell from Rossi, Gans, Meier, Joebstl, Haas and Rudolph.

Fifteen minutes remained when the green was given, and O’Connell immediately made sure that his rivals wouldn’t catch him off-guard, as he set fastest lap of the race to lead by 2.4 seconds on lap 19. Meier was soon through into third, having dispatched with Gans, while Haas and Rudolph had managed to get ahead of Joebstl. Sheldon was eighth ahead of a lapped Mathai, who fought Ingo Strolz, the Austrian who had taken over from his countryman Matzelberger but would soon face a drive-through penalty for the latter’s speeding in the pitlane.

As O’Connell looked in control, attention soon shifted to the battle for second, where Rossi seemed to have Meier covered for now. 30 seconds further back, Gans was coming under huge pressure from Haas, which meant that fourth place was far from settled. Meanwhile, Mathai retired his Lotus 47 from ninth.

At the front, O’Connell seemed to enjoy himself, setting fastest lap after fastest lap to put the win beyond reasonable doubt. 14 seconds in arrears, Rossi defended second from Meier, while Gans only narrowly held off Haas. Rudolph, Joebstl and Sheldon were up next, with Strolz finishing as the first of the lapped runners in ninth, ahead of the sole Pescarolo-class Porsche RS of Birkenstock and Henkel.


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