Haddon powers little Elan to overall Masters Gentlemen Drivers victory, as Tilley wins in Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars
Andrew Haddon grabbed his little Lotus Elan by the scruff of its slender neck to not only win his CLP class but take overall victory as well in the 90-minute Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at the Algarve Classic Festival. Haddon initially trailed the pole-sitting TVR Griffith of Nigel Greensall and John Spiers as well as the open-top AC Cobra of local son-and-father duo Pedro & Rui Macedo Silva, but he moved up a place when the Cobra faltered and then pipped the leading TVR Griffith at the stops. The second part of the race was all about Haddon managing his useful nine-second gap to Spiers which only at the end shrunk to within three seconds.
“I didn’t realise!” said a jubilant Haddon, having only been told after the race that he’d won. “I thought the Cobra was in the lead and that I was holding John for second place! And I wasn’t quite ‘coolly managing’ that gap – one f***-up and he would have got me.”
“We were managing a temperature issue”, Spiers explained about being unable to catch Haddon while only later throwing caution to the wind. “Towards the end I stopped doing that, but we ran out of time.”
The Stephan Joebstl/Andy Willis Lotus Elan and Robin Ward/Ron Maydon Ginetta G4R made it three CLP cars in the top four. After a typically spirited drive, Phil Keen got Lee Mowle’s Jaguar E-type up to fourth overall, but the pair were later penalised for pitstop infringements, as were Ward and Maydon – which allowed Joebstl and Willis to take third overall. Multiple Le Mans winner Benoit Tréluyer hauled the E-type started by Nick Jarvis to fifth while in ninth overall, Doug Muirhead and Jeremy Welch secured the C2 class win.
“The car was fantastic!” said Willis. “Stephan did an amazing job staying with the others, and for me it was just a pleasure to get in the car and drive.”
“I don’t feel like a champion!” said Maydon, still sweating after some hard work in the Ginetta. “We lost second gear, so it was either first or third – it just wouldn’t get out of the corners. You know those days when you try hard and only keep going backwards? This was one of them!”
Meanwhile, in the concurrent one-hour Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race, Kyle Tilley reigned supreme in his Lotus Cortina, the US-based Briton home free after the Cortina challenge from the Julian Thomas/Andy Wolfe pairing crumbled early on. Their Cortina’s demise due to an electrics issue meant the end to Thomas’ title chances, as he needed a win to pass Sam Tordoff – not present at Portimão – in the final standings. The Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAs of father-and-son duos Xavier & Olivier Galant and Martin & Lukas Halusa took second and third.
“It was uneventful, really”, said Tilley about winning by a lap. “Right at the end we were managing a gearbox issue but at the start we settled into a pace similar to the Wolfe car, so that could have been great. But still, I was lucky enough to drive around here, enjoy myself and take the win.”
On a sunny and bright Saturday afternoon, the combined Masters Gentlemen Drivers & Pre-66 Touring Car field got moving with Nigel Greensall powering off into the lead in John Spiers' TVR Griffith, having already dominated qualifying. Behind him, positions changed rapidly, depending on who was in the car. From fourth on the grid, Andrew Haddon charged up into second place, passing Pedro Macedo Silva’s open-top AC Cobra almost immediately, while fellow CLP-class competitor Robin Ward was also on the rise, getting his Ginetta G4R up to fourth on the opening lap, leading former Le Mans star Benoit Tréluyer in the Rob Jarvis Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Nick Jarvis in the E-type he would share with the two-timing Frenchman. Lee Mowle’s E-type and Stephan Joebstl’s Lotus Elan went the other way, as they fought the Griffith of the Dods – Peter driving – and the Elan Shapecraft of Robin Ellis, that would later be taken over by Julian Thomas.
Thomas, meanwhile, led the touring-car section in the Cortina he shared with Andy Wolfe, which meant that he was the provisional champion. Soon he was up into ninth overall, and absolutely flying compared to Cortina rival Kyle Tilley and the Alfa GTAs of Xavier Galant and Martin Halusa. It wouldn’t last for long, though, as his Cortina was seen limping into the pits with a loss of electrics. If the win was indeed gone, Sam Tordoff – not present at Portimão – would take the title by default, based on his slender lead.
At the front, the younger Macedo Silva had wrestled back second place from Haddon but was now trailing Greensall by ten seconds already, while Tréluyer got the Corvette up into fourth place, relegating Ward to fifth. Further back, Peter Dod was on the move as well, his Griffith now seventh while chasing Jarvis (N.) in the E-type.
In C2, Mark Holme and Doug Muirhead were at loggerheads over the class lead, but Calum Lockie in Simon Orebi Gann’s Morgan Plus 4 Super Sports wasn’t far off from the two Austin Healey 3000s. Nelson Calle in the C1-class-leading Porsche 911 was 17th overall, and Marc Gordon’s B1 Lotus Elite ran 20th. In the touring-car section, Tilley now led the warring GTAs of Galant and Halusa by some 40 seconds, while Nick Topliss was 21st overall in Ellie Birchenhough’s Mini Cooper S.
The first 15 minutes of the race were now gone, and Greensall’s lead to Macedo Silva Jr was up to 15 seconds, with Haddon two seconds adrift of the local hero. Tréluyer followed six seconds behind the Elan, with Ward holding station in fifth, 12 seconds down, looking to secure the Gent Drivers title for relief driver Ron Maydon. Here, Julian Thomas was in with another shout but he would have to win his class in Robin Ellis’ Lotus Elan 26R Shapecraft, with Ward and Maydon failing to finish the race – a tall order.
Further down the field, it was all change in C2 – Mark Holme had reported to the pits while Lockie had usurped Muirhead for the class lead. Soon, Nils-Fredrik Nyblaeus would move into third in class in another Big Healey, as Holme remained stationary in the pits, where it was diagnosed that his Healey was unable to take further part. Meanwhile, an entertaining fight was taking place for eighth overall, as the Elans of Stephan Joebstl, Chris Atkinson and Robin Ellis fought Lee Mowle’s E-type.
The touring-car pit window was steadily approaching now, and Xavier Galant was the first to come in, handing the wheel of his GTA to Olivier, the younger Galant. The lap after, Martin Halusa swapped places with son Lukas in their GTA, with Kyle Tilley in next, followed by Topliss who would hand over to Birchenhough.
The race now past the half-hour mark, Greensall continued to lead serenely, now 18 seconds ahead of Macedo Silva, 26 seconds ahead of Haddon and half a minute in front of Tréluyer, as the gaps had grown big enough for everyone to be safe in their positions. Meanwhile, just when it was deemed acceptable for the Wolfe team to accept defeat, Andy Wolfe was back out in the Cortina. He was a whopping 11 laps down on Tilley, though, so any chance of a worthwhile comeback would hinge on all the other touring cars faltering within the next 21 minutes…
That was when the relative peace at the front of the field also came to an end, as Pedro Macedo surrendered second place to Haddon, the AC Cobra having lost second, third and fourth gears. This promoted Haddon to the runner-up spot, now 28 seconds down on the leading Greensall, with Tréluyer in the Corvette a further nine seconds behind. Ward was now fourth ahead of Jarvis (N.) in the E-type, with Dod, Atkinson, Joebstl and Ellis all also moving up a spot. In C2, Lockie’s lead over Muirhead had increased to eight seconds, but Muirhead still had co-driver Jeremy Welch up his sleeve.
In the touring cars, Tilley had well over a minute in hand over the younger Halusa, who himself was duelling with the younger Galant, the two Alfas split by six seconds, with Birchenhough a lap down on the top three.
The GT pit window now open, Tréluyer was among the first to come in, the Frenchman having to prepare himself for taking over the E-type raced by Nick Jarvis during the opening stint. The Corvette, however, would only leave the pits six laps later, putting it out of contention. Shortly after, Atkinson was in for Steve Jones, while Robin Ellis came in to hand over to Julian Thomas, with Lee Mowle pitting to hand Phil Keen the wheel of his E-type.
At the start of lap 23, Greensall finished a strong opening stint to hand a lead of 30 seconds to John Spiers – many of which would evaporate due to Greensall’s elite-driver time penalty. He was followed on the same lap by Haddon, Nick Jarvis and Doug Muirhead. Ward was the last one to stop, handing the wheel of the Ginetta to Ron Maydon. Another one of the late stoppers, Peter Dod in the TVR Griffith, was unable to let Nathan Dod go out when a brake fluid leak caused the car to catch fire in the pits. Calum Lockie in the Morgan, meanwhile, proved to be a too-late stopper, coming in to hand over to Simon Orebi Gann well after the pit window had closed.
When all the stops had panned out, Haddon led Spiers by eight seconds, but all focus was now on the finish of the touring-car race, as Tilley led home Olivier Galant and Lukas Halusa by a full lap, the Frenchman and the Austrian having swapped places. The Topliss/Birchenhough Mini was fourth and winning the THD class.
With the touring cars flagged off, attention returned to Haddon still leading the race as well as his CLP class, now nine seconds ahead of Spiers, who in turn had 43 seconds in hand over Ron Maydon in third. Andy Willis had got the Elan started by Joebstl up into fourth, making three CLP cars in the top four, while Tréluyer was fifth in his second stint, now in the E-type started by Nick Jarvis. In Robin Ellis’ Elan Shapecraft, Julian Thomas had taken Steve Jones in the regular Elan for sixth, while Phil Keen was flying in Lee Mowle’s E-type, now in eighth but with 25 minutes to spare. In C2, Jeremy Welch led Simon Orebi Gann, who in turn faced a threat from Johan Rosendahl in the Healey started by Nyblaeus.
As Haddon maintained the nine-second gap to Spiers, Tréluyer in fifth was closing on Willis who in turn was reeling in Maydon. Further back, Keen was soon past Thomas and now had his eyes set on the similar E-type of Tréluyer, and Keen was lapping two seconds quicker than the multiple Le Mans winner…
Entering the final 15 minutes, Spiers’ nine-second deficit to Haddon remained rock-solid, the two giving each other a tenth back and forth every lap. Maydon was the only other unlapped runner but over two-thirds of a lap behind. The status quo would also remain among the lapped cars following, with the proviso that Keen was still closing on those in front of him – but his next hurdle proved a quick target, as Tréluyer also upped his pace to allow Keen to now only gain ground at a pace of seven tenths every lap.
In the closing stages, Haddon loosened the reins over his Elan a bit to allow Spiers to come within three seconds at the chequered flag. Maydon ran home third – and second in class – to clinch the championship. Two laps from the end, Keen pipped past Willis to take fourth, with Tréluyer in sixth, followed by Thomas, Jones and the C2-class-winning Austin Healey 3000 of Doug Muirhead and Jeremy Welch, who beat the Calum Lockie/Simon Orebi Gann Morgan. The Nelson Calle/Juan Pablo Orjuela Porsche 911 won C1, while Marc Gordon took B1 honours in his Lotus Elite.
Soon after the race, the top-ten order swapped around as Ward/Maydon and Mowle/Keen received 49-second time penalties for pitstop infringements. This meant that Joebstl and Willis were promoted to third overall while Mowle and Keen dropped to seventh behind Ward/Maydon, N. Jarvis/Tréluyer and Ellis/Thomas.
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