Brooks wins Peugeot battle in Hockenheim’s first Masters Endurance Legends race
Steve Brooks took a commanding win in the first Masters Endurance Legends race of the Bosch Hockenheim Historic event by beating his fellow Peugeot 90X driver Stuart Wiltshire by 24 seconds. Brooks led away from pole to create a decisive gap with a string of very strong out laps after his mandatory mid-race pitstop.
“It’s a great event, and the race was great fun”, said a delighted Brooks. “Not a bad way to spend a morning, and in these cars… Yes, I really put my foot down after the stop, and almost got down to my qualifying time.”
Keith Frieser’s Zytek 09S ran home a distant third, having fended off an early challenge from Marco Werner’s Lotus Lola B12/80, which later dropped behind Christian Gläsel’s MG Lola EX257. Gläsel drove a storming race from the back to claim the P2 class win, in the process also passing Mike Newton who gave his MG Lola EX264 its Masters debut.
“It was pretty lonely out there”, said Frieser. “I tried to stay with Peugeots but just couldn’t do it. The fight with Marco in the opening laps was good, I enjoyed that!”
“Mine was equally lonely!” said Wiltshire, the double winner at the previous round who said that wanted some competition. “But not that good a competition! I want competition to make me look good!” he quipped. “Steve did great today, he had the legs on me. I’m going to try harder tomorrow. First time for me on this circuit, I’m still learning.”
Without his regular co-driver Craig Davies, Ron Maydon starred by taking his Ligier JSP3 to a P3 class win over the Stephan Joebstl/Andy Willis JSP3 that Willis crashed on the final tour. Nick Padmore, meanwhile, cruised to GT victory in the mightly V12-engined Aston Martin Vantage GT3, as Jason Wright’s Ferrari 430 GT2 pipped Günther Alth’s Vantage GT3 for second in class.
“It was great fun”, said Padmore, “but it soon started to smell of engine oil, and it got really got at the stops, so the team told me to simply bring it home after all. It was great fighting Ron [Maydon] in the opening laps, he was lit!”
“I’m still learning the car”, said Wright. “It’s an old GT2, so no driver aids like ABS – it’s hard work! But it sounds awesome…”
“This was my very first race with the car”, said Alth. “And we finished, so I’m happy!”
A bright morning with the sun peeking through a hazy cloud cover awaited the Masters Endurance Legends cars on their way to the grid, the two Peugeot 90Xs lining up at the front. At the start, the two French diesels stormed off with Keith Frieser giving chase in his Zytek 09S. The P2 cars of Werner and Newton were next, but Werner was soon on Frieser’s tail. Sadly, on no-one’s tail was Brad Hoyt’s Ligier JSP3, the French P3 machine hampered by a fuel leak and out of this race before it had started.
On the opening lap, Brooks immediately made a break to lead Wiltshire by 1.1 seconds, as Frieser powered away from Werner on the fast bits. Behind Newton’s MG Lola EX264, Maydon had taken the P3 class lead from Stephan Joebstl while Nick Padmore led the GTs in his Aston Vantage V12. Meanwhile, coming from the back after his qualifying mishaps, Christian Gläsel was up into sixth in his MG Lola EX257.
The next time around, Wiltshire set fastest lap of the race to inch back into Brooks’ wheel tracks, with Frieser now four seconds down on the leader, the Canadian having dropped Marco Werner’s Lotus Lola B12/80 by three seconds after the German’s opening charge. Ten seconds further back, the battle of the MG Lolas was poised to develop, as Gläsel had closed the gap to Newton to under three seconds. Respective P3 and GT class leaders Maydon and Padmore continued to war over seventh overall.
Five laps down, Brooks had retaken the initiative to eek out a two-second lead over the other Peugeot while Frieser had put some more air between himself and Werner. The two MG Lolas now ran nose-to-tail but for the moment Newton hung on in fifth overall and second in P2 – until lap 6, when the German finally found a way through. Behind Joebstl, Jason Wright in the Ferrari 430 GT2 and Günther Alth in his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 had their private battle over second place in the GT class.
All the way to the pit window, that would open 15 minutes into the race, the ebb and flow between Brooks and Wiltshire kept both separated by around those two seconds, but towards the back, Alth had managed to usurp Wright’s Ferrari for second in class. On lap 9, though, Brooks lowered fastest lap of the race to a 1.34, just one second above his qualifying time, resulting in his lead mushrooming to 4.2 seconds. Frieser was 14 seconds down, with Werner a further 12 ticks back, before the German was the first to take his pitstop, along with his countryman Gläsel, and Austrian Stephan Joebstl, who handed over to Andy Willis.
One lap later, the leader was in, allowing Wiltshire to claim a temporary lead. Frieser, Padmore and Alth were the next to pit, leaving Wiltshire, Newton, Maydon and Wright to still continue, but on lap 12, the second Peugeot made its mandatory stop, with those that had stayed all electing to join it in the pits on the same lap.
The pitstop cycle now all done, the pre-pitstop phase order returned for the first three, but some blinding out laps from Brooks had increased his lead over Wiltshire to a comfortable 12 seconds. Frieser now trailed the leader by 30 seconds while Gläsel had pipped Werner at the stops, due to Werner’s elite-driver pitstop penalty having come into effect. Newton was still sixth ahead of Maydon, Padmore and Willis, while Wright had reclaimed second in class from Alth.
Brooks now truly turning up the wick, the leader took fastest lap of the race down into the 1.33s, emulating his qualifying pace, and the result was that Wiltshire looked at a 14-second deficit. Going into the final ten minutes, Brooks continued to stretch his lead and demonstrated that he was really trying by momentarily taking a very wide line through the Südkurve but recovering quickly.
As the clock wound down, Brooks slowly loosened the reins but when Wiltshire got caught in traffic the gap remained the same. In fact, towards the end, the second Peugeot decided to coast to the finish himself, and when the chequered flag dropped, Brooks’ lead had grown to 24 seconds. Behind the Peugeots, Frieser was in no man’s land to claim third, 53 seconds down, while Gläsel kept a safe 16 seconds between his MG Lola and Werner’s Lotus Lola. Newton was sixth ahead of P3 class winner Ron Maydon whose rival Andy Willis crashed his Ligier out of the final corner on the final lap… Padmore equally converted class pole into a dominant GT win, while Wright won his race-long battle with Alth to claim the class's runner-up spot.
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