Masters News

Sunday 18th June 2023

Hart saved by the bell to win Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Zandvoort while Thomas/Wolfe take Pre-66 Touring Car victory

In a race cut short by a late red flag for Laurent Jaspers’ Jaguar E-type losing a wheel, Olivier Hart was saved by the bell as he narrowly won the Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Zandvoort despite only moments earlier having been passed for the lead by Julian Thomas in a similar Shelby Cobra Daytona. However, when Thomas subsequently went wide in Tarzan corner, he handed back the lead to Hart just a few ticks before the safety car was called. Thomas’ teammate Calum Lockie had led Hart Jr during their opening stint but after the stops, Hart took charge by virtue of Lockie’s elite-driver penalty. Thomas was reeling in the Dutchman in the final half hour before the race was prematurely stopped.

“This was one of my better races in ages”, said a satisfied Hart. “We didn’t have the best engine and I also had an issue at full throttle restricting me in maximum revs, so I had to push to the maximum. We chose to pit early in order to be able to fend off the other guys as I knew about Calum’s elite-driver penalty at the stops. And then at the end, you just need a bit of luck, don’t you? I saw Julian flying past and knew he wasn’t going to make the corner. Then the safety car came out, and I thought I was in trouble – but then they redflagged it!”

“It was a great fun race against good competition”, said Lockie. “I really enjoy it, Zandvoort is just fantastic. Just a shame about the safety car and Julian going deep after his pass. But you know, that’s all coulda, shoulda, woulda…”

Third went to John Spiers and Nigel Greensall, the pair winning a race between four TVR Griffiths, the other three occupied by Ollie Reuben/Harry Barton, John Davison and Felix Haas/Michael Lyons. Greensall trailed the leading Daytona Cobras by 50 seconds before the red flag came out. In seventh overall, Robin Ward and Ron Maydon handsomely won the CLP class in their Ginetta G4R, with the Charles Allison/David Methley AC Cobra finishing ahead of nearest CLP class rivals Stephan Joebstl and Philipp Buhofer in the first of the Elans. In 12th overall, Mark Drain’s Elan took third in class while Stephan Shanly’s and Billy & Carl Nairn’s Elans fell by the wayside. The Morgan SLR of Keith Ahlers & Billy Bellinger prevailed in C2 while Mark Bates won C1 in his Porsche 911.

“You know, the exhaust was broken and the throttle stuck”, said Greensall about his inability to make any further inroads into the Cobra Daytonas in the lead. “It was just a case of getting it to the finish…”

In the concurrent 60-minute Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race, Thomas and Andy Wolfe reigned supreme, as their Ford Falcon ran out to a strong win over the first of the Cortinas shared by Kyle Tilley and Will Nuthall. In the first half of the race, Tilley battled hard with Nick Padmore in the Cortina shared with Max Werner but a delay for Werner meant that Lukas Halusa in the Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 GTA took third overall and second in the under-2-litre class. Werner’s troubles also allowed the James Hagan/Stephen Mawhinney Cortina through, but the German did manage to finish ahead of Tim Scott Andrews’ Ford Falcon and Dominique Raffin’s Cortina.

“The last thing I wanted was puncture it”, said Wolfe about nursing the Falcon home. “So I took it easy – Falcons turn to jelly, as they say! Julian gave me enough of a lead, and the car was mint. Just great!”

On a cool and fresh morning on what promised to be another hot day at Zandvoort’s Historic Grand Prix, the combined Masters Gentlemen Drivers & Pre-66 Touring Car grid rolled onto the main straight for its race of 90 and 60 minutes respectively. Three of the best GTs stormed off towards Tarzan, with Calum Lockie in the Shelby Cobra Daytona soon taking over the helm from polesitter John Spiers in the TVR Griffith, with Olivier Hart also following through in the other Daytona Coupé. In fourth John Davison pushed his fellow Griffith driver for third, while the Ferrari 250 GTO ’64 of Alexander van der Lof was soon passed by the fast-starting Robin Ward in the CLP class-leading Ginetta G4R.

Three laps in, the field had settled into a rhythm, with the two Daytona Coupés out in front, followed by the two TVRs and Ward, while Ollie Reuben in the third Griffith managed to pass Van der Lof for sixth. In 11th overall, Stephan Joebstl’s Elan ran second in CLP, chased by fellow Elan driver Stephen Shanly, while Mark Pangborn’s Austin Healey 3000 headed Keith Ahlers in the Morgan SLR in 16th and 17th, with C1 class leader Mark Bates in 18th in the  Porsche 911. Julian Thomas led the touring cars in the Falcon, ahead of the Cortinas of Nick Padmore and Kyle Tilley.

But then, the race was redflagged when one of the cars came into the pits as its driver suddenly became unwell. He was attended to immediately and transported to hospital. After a delay of about 30 minutes the race was restarted for the full duration. At the restart, with all previous gaps negated, Reuben pounced on Ward but behind them Van der Lof was seen retiring his 250 GTO ’64 to the pits, allowing Thomas in the leading touring car to move up into seventh overall. He was soon followed in by Stephen Shanly, the Elan driver giving up on his third place in the CLP class with a car that was leaking fluids. This put Joebstl off the hook in defending his second place in class, as Mark Drain’s Elan was well down the road in 18th overall.

At the front, Lockie had created a margin to Hart of four seconds, with Spiers leading Davison and Reuben by four seconds, as the TVRs trailed the leader by at least six seconds. In C2, Pangborn and Ahlers proved evenly matched as they traded 14th and 15th places overall, with Bates joining in as the leading C1 driver. Among the touring cars, Thomas continued to circulate in seventh, with Tilley opening up a gap between himself and Padmore in their Cortina struggle. James Hagan followed in fourth in another Cortina, with Lukas Halusa in fifth in the Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA.

On lap 12, Billy Nairn ventured into the pits with the Elan shared with son Carl, as the touring car pit window opened. Hagan was the first to come in, handing over to Stephen Mawhinney, while at the front Lockie had shaped a seven-second gap to Hart Jr. Further back, Reuben and Davison had switched TVR order, as the three-strong group of Griffiths trailed the leading Cobra Daytona Coupé by 22 seconds. Ward was still the comfortable CLP class leader as the Ginetta managed to stay ahead of three bigger cars – Felix Haas’ Griffith, Laurent Jaspers’ Jaguar E-type and Charles Allison’s Cobra.

On lap 14, the touring car leader came in to hand his Falcon to Andy Wolfe, while at the same time Mark Pangborn was seen entering the pits for an unscheduled stop for the Austin Healey, taking the pressure of the C2 class fight for the lead. One lap later, both chasing Cortinas made their stop for Will Nuthall in Tilley’s car and Max Werner in the car driven by Padmore up to that point. The next time around, they were joined by Tim Scott-Andrews and Lukas Halusa taking their stops in the Falcon and the GTA respectively.

After 17 laps and 35 minutes of racing, with the touring car pit window now closed, Lockie led Hart by ten seconds, while Spiers and Reuben – both trailing the leader by half a minute – had broken free of Davison, and indeed on lap 18, the third TVR was passed by Ward. Davison still held a 45-second cushion to Haas and Jaspers, though, with Allison a further half a minute adrift. With the touring cars now circulating further down the road, Joebstl had re-entered the top ten in the first of the Elans, heading C2 class leader Ahlers and C1 leader Bates, with Drain’s Elan in 13th overall and third in the CLP class. Among the touring cars, Wolfe now led Nuthall by 50 seconds, who in turn led Werner by six ticks. Halusa, Mawhinney, Scott-Andrews and Dominique Raffin’s Cortina were up next.

Now it was time for the GTs to make their round of mandatory mid-race pitstops, with Spiers (handing over to Greensall), Reuben (relieved by Harry Barton) and Hart all coming at the first opportunity. They were joined by Jaspers, Haas (the car taken over by Michael Lyons) and Allison (swapping places with David Methley). On lap 23, the leader was in as Julian Thomas was ready for his stint in the Daytona Cobra, followed in by Joebstl handing over to Philipp Buhofer, and Ward who made way for Ron Maydon. Meanwhile, among the touring cars, Werner came in for a second stop, giving up on his chase of Nuthall in the leading Cortina.

With the second pit window closed, and Lockie’s elite-driver penalty effected at the stops, Hart now led Thomas by seven seconds but not lapping any quicker. Despite an additional time penalty of his own, Greensall was already up into third, but 50 seconds in arrears of the leading Cobra Daytona. Barton was fourth, 11 seconds ahead of Maydon whose Ginetta still comfortably led the CLP class. Davison was hurrying Maydon in sixth, followed at some distance by Lyons and Jaspers.

As the clock ticked away for the dying minutes of the touring car race, Wolf headed Nuthall by some 20 seconds to win the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car section. Profiting from Werner’s second stop, Halusa took third overall and second in the under-2-litre class, with the Hagan/Mawhinney Cortina next up, ahead of the Padmore/Werner combo, Scott Andrews and Raffin.

The GTs now had one more half an hour to decide who would be the winners. Thomas had the bit between his teeth and by lap 30 had cut his deficit to Hart to 1.8 seconds. 54 seconds away in third, Greensall was not making any impression on the Daytona Cobras in front while Barton did well to keep his fellow Griffith driver within sight. Davison was fifth but Lyons in the fourth Griffith was closing fast while Maydon was now seventh and in the process of bringing the CLP class win home. Jaspers, Allison and Buhofer completed the top ten for now, with Billy Bellinger leading C2 while Bates remained on top in C1.

Going into lap 34, the two Daytona Cobras were side by side on the main straight, but Hart defended well to hang on for another lap, but on lap 35, Thomas was past. However, Thomas went straight on into Tarzan and lost the lead just moments before the safety car was deployed for Laurent Jaspers having lost a wheel of his Jaguar E-type. With some 15 minutes still remaining, this looked to completely change the complexion of the race, as Greensall would come right back into play, with Barton, Davison, Lyons and Ward all bunching up too in the cars remaining on the lead lap. But with much more than 75% of the race distance covered and the timetable already under pressure, the race was redflagged – the result of that was Hart was the winner ahead of Thomas, Greensall, Barton, Davison and Lyons, with Maydon cornering the CLP class win. Allison and Buhofer were a lap down while Bates, Drain and David Smithies (in the Big Healey started by Pangborn) were two laps behind.



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