Thornton conquers the rain to double up in Masters Historic Formula One USA at Watkins Glen
Greg Thornton survived torrential conditions to make it two from two in the Masters & HSR Race Weekend’s Masters Historic Formula One USA races at Watkins Glen. In his Lotus 91, the Briton stayed out of trouble in the chaotic opening stages which saw the two leading Tyrrells of James Hagan and Jamie Constable career into an accident, and on the restart romped away to an unthreatened win from American Jonathan Holtzman (Lotus 87B) and fellow Brit Dan Collins in another Lotus 91.
The JPS Lotus 1-2-3 was followed home by pre-78 class winner Ron Maydon in his Lec CRP1, who took fourth overall ahead of Bud Moeller’s Ensign N179 and Doug Mockett’s Wolf WR6.
Hagan and Constable had crashed on a Watkins Glen International circuit that was wet already, and the incident required a lengthy pause to clean up the track. When 15 minutes later the field got going for a rolling restart it was pouring with rain. Thornton proved most able in the conditions and ran off to a 15-second lead over Holtzman at the chequered flag.
As the lights went out, Thornton was beaten away by the Tyrrells of Hagan and Constable, with Holtzman ahead of Collins, Mowle, Maydon, Moeller and Mockett. But then trouble hit on a track that had been hit by a drizzle: Hagan and Constable were in the wall, and chaos ensued behind them. Mockett, Maydon and Moeller were the only ones to complete lap 2, albeit at a snail’s pace, before all cars reconvened in the pitlane, the others slowly dripping in, having survived the mayhem before them – Holtzman, Thornton, Collins, Mowle…
A lengthy stop followed in order to clear the track, after which the remaining cars went out to resume the race. By now, it was pouring, and cars were fighting to stay on the track, lapping a at least a full minute slower than Hagan’s time that was good for pole position in race 1…
Thornton took command from the start, and dealing with the circumstances best, opened up a 15-second gap on Holtzman in three laps’ time. Collins and Maydon already trailed by a huge margin, while Moeller, Mowle and Mockett were all down by well over a minute, before Mowle disappeared on lap 5.
15 fighting minutes later, Thornton was flagged off as the winner, ahead of Holtzman, with Collins beating Maydon to third.
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