Hartley makes up for loss in second Masters Racing Legends race at Brands
Steve Hartley avenged his retirement of the previous day by coming from the back to win the second Masters Racing Legends race at Brands Hatch. Once up into second place, the McLaren MP4/1 driver reeled off a series of fastest laps of the race in his relentless pursuit of long-time leader and Saturday’s winner Miles Griffiths in the Fittipaldi F5A, who finally succumbed to Hartley’s pressure on lap 14.
Griffiths still took pre-78 class honours while keeping well ahead of a very entertaining three-way battle between Steve Brooks (Lotus 91), Warren Briggs (McLaren M29) and Ian Simmonds (Tyrrell 012). Brooks and Briggs in particular were tied to a string for the entire race but Brooks lost out on the final lap, when agonisingly his gear lever mount came off, handing Briggs third place, with Simmonds snapping at his gearbox in fourth while claiming the post-82 class win.
Mark Harrison was fourth early on and fought valiantly, but the Shadow DN9 faded towards the end to finish as the last finisher on the lead lap in sixth overall, ahead of Neil Glover in the Arrows A5.
After a brief spot of lunch, the Formula One cars went out for their second race of the Masters Historic Festival weekend, with Miles Griffiths leading from the front in the Fittipaldi F5A. Brooks was second ahead of Briggs, Harrison and Glover as they completed the first lap, with Hartley’s McLaren MP4/1 starting at the back due to its low-voltage-induced misfire in the previous race already up to sixth at the expense of Ian Simmonds’ Tyrrell 012.
Griffiths’ opening salvo was majestic, as in a few laps he opened up a stunning nine-second lead over Brooks and Briggs, who were soon joined by Hartley, who had overtaken Harrison for fourth, while behind them Simmonds had passed Glover for sixth.
On lap 4, Hartley snatched fastest lap of the race from Griffiths while demoting Brooks to third, and set off in pursuit of the Fittipaldi, now 11 seconds up the road. Another lap gone, and it was nine seconds, Hartley now freed from opposition was taking chunks of two seconds out of Griffiths’ lead, while behind them, Brooks and Briggs continued the war they waged in race 1.
Eight laps down, Hartley had cut the gap down to less than five seconds, still closing at a rate of 1.5 seconds per lap, while behind Brooks and Briggs, Simmonds had claimed fifth from Harrison’s Shadow DN9, with Neil Glover’s Arrows A9 now seven seconds adrift of the Shadow.
With ten minutes left on the clock, just 1.3 seconds separated Hartley from the lead, so the actual fight for the lead was arriving any moment. Half a minute later, Brooks and Briggs were split by half a second, with Simmonds looking to latch on to that fight for third.
Lap 12, and Griffiths only marginally held on, by 0.023 of a second, and it was the same on lap 13, after another lap of valiant defence, but on lap 14 Hartley was finally through to make up for the day before, immediately stretching out a lead of 1.9 seconds. Indeed, the Jam Baron’s pace was such that the gap had gone up to 3.6 seconds on the next tour.
As the race ran to a close, Hartley prevailed by 7.1 seconds from Griffiths in the pre-78-class-winning Fittipaldi F5A, but there was drama behind them, as Brooks – hampered by a broken gear lever mount – lost his spot to both Briggs and Simmonds, while the McLaren only narrowly held off the Tyrrell for third, both cars finishing 55 seconds down on the winner. 1 minute and 16 seconds down, Harrison took sixth ahead of Glover as the first lapped runner.
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