Stretton wins from the pitlane in second Masters Racing Legends race at Donington
A pitlane start failed to prevent Martin Stretton from winning an exciting second Masters Racing Legends race for ’66 to ’85 Formula One cars at Donington, his Tyrrell 012 hitting the front with three minutes to spare. Greg Thornton, who had taken over from early leader Ken Tyrrell, took a close second in his Lotus 91.
“I wasn’t going for the win, as I was sort of only testing the car, so the win is a bonus”, said Stretton, before reflecting on the lost win the day before. “It made up for yesterday, though.”
“I had an inoperative radio”, said Thornton, “so I was happily moving along when I looked in my mirror and he was there! I tried to stay with him, but you know, he can drive…”
In two similarly thrilling battles, Steve Brooks’ Lotus 81 held off Katsu Kubota’s Lotus 91 to take a fighting third, while Marc Devis in the Surtees TS16 headed the pre-78 class when it that mattered – across the finish line. Battling Ron Maydon’s Lec CRP1 all the way, Devis went side-by-side with the Lec one lap after the other and in the final few yards did just enough to steal fifth and the pre-78 class win from Maydon.
“It was this close about five times!” said an exhilarated Brooks about his nip-and-tuck battle with Kubota.
“It was fun but it was hard work!” said Maydon, still smiling.
Yesterday’s winner Steve Hartley was out on lap 1 when his clutch went straight to the floor. A similar fate befell Ken Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011, as he dropped out from the lead on lap 7.
From the reverse grid for Friday’s first four, with Martin Stretton’s Tyrrell 012 starting from the pitlane, polesitter Ken Tyrrell dove into Redgate first, followed by Thornton, Hartley and Brooks, but Hartley’s was soon in with a smoked clutch. At the front, Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011 set fastest lap to move slightly clear of Thornton’s Lotus 91, with Brooks’ 81 following by four seconds ahead of Katsu Kubota’s 91, Ron Maydon in the pre-78 class Lec CRP1, and a resurgent Stretton, already back up to sixth, leading Devis in the Surtees TS16 and Dave Abbott in the Arrows A4.
On lap 4, however, the safety car was out when David Shaw’s Arrows A4 stopped at the back of the circuit while Warren Briggs in the McLaren M29 came in to also retire, but after two laps the field was set loose again. This time, Thornton swiftly moved into the lead, while Tyrrell was forced to come into the pits, his clutch gone. Brooks, Kubota and Stretton were up next, followed by Maydon, Devis and Abbott.
Past the halfway mark, Thornton had broken free of Brooks, who was hounded by Kubota and Stretton, the latter attempting to strike on the Japanese. Ten seconds behind them, Maydon and Devis were fighting all-out for the pre-78 class lead.
By lap 11, Stretton was up into third and on the next lap Brooks had to let go of the Tyrrell as well, Stretton now trailing Thornton by 6.5 seconds. On lap 13, though, and with eight minutes left, the gap was down to 4.5 seconds. Lap 14, and it was 3.1… Meanwhile, Brooks looked safe in third, eight seconds down on Stretton but four seconds up on Kubota. Half a minute behind the leader, Maydon was still holding against Devis, with Abbott a further 15 seconds adrift.
The win was still very much achievable, especially now that Stretton got to within a second of Thornton. Behind them, Kubota had closed in on Brooks again, so the battle for third wasn’t over after all, while in fifth and sixth Maydon and Devis were side-by-side as they went into lap 18.
That was the lap in which Stretton managed to hit the front, with less than three minutes remaining on the clock. Slowly easing clear, the Tyrrell 012 crossed the line in first, keeping three tenths in hands at the finish. In more photo finish material, Steve Brooks narrowly clinched third from Kubota, while Maydon and Devis were split by a whisker, the Belgian clinching it on the line! In a race of attrition, Dave Abbott was the last of the runners in seventh, a lap down on Stretton.
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