Masters News

Sunday 29th May 2022

Voyazides & Hadfield relive good old days with Masters Sports Car Legends win at Brands

Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield hadn’t seen the top step of a Masters Sports Car Legends podium for a number of years but on their return to the series immediately relived the good times by claiming a victory at Brands Hatch. The race was robbed of an exciting fight for the lead, however, when Tom Bradshaw’s Chevron B19 retired from a 21-second lead shortly before the pit window, leaving the crowd with a feeling of ‘what might have been’.

Chris Beighton in the other Simon Hadfield Motorsport-run Lola T70 Mk3B took a distant second, especially after Hadfield whittled down the fastest lap of the race in a string of blistering tours towards the end, while James Claridge and Gonçalo Gomes ran home in third in their Chevron B23. From the back, the Mark Hazell/Martin O’Connell Chevron B19 delivered an impressive charge up to fourth, with the Nick Sleep/Alex Montgomery Lola T70 Mk3 completed the top-five.

In sixth overall, John Spiers and Nigel Greensall bagged the Hulme class win in their McLaren M1B, while in a severely battered and bruised Chevron B8, Christian Pittard and Darren Burke survived an unfortunate contretemps with teammate Stephen Nuttall and the subsequent stop-and-go penalty to still claim Bonnier class honours with eighth overall, Burke’s relentless pace too much for David Forsbrey’s B8 to repell.

As the third race of the day before a very late lunch, the Masters Sports Car Legends got on their way with Bradshaw taking over command from Voyazides almost immediately. Henry Fletcher, however, had already blotted his copybook by spinning off and hitting the barriers on the warm-up lap. With the Chevron B19’s rear chassis broken, it was out before the race had even started.

So after the opening lap, Bradshaw led Voyazides, Claridge in the Chevron B23, Beighton in another T70 Mk3B, Willis in the Lola T212, the latter two gaining places at the cost of Gary Culver’s Mk3B and Nikolaus Ditting in the T70 Mk3. Eighth was John Spiers, leading the Hulme class in his McLaren M1B, ahead of Nick Sleep in another T70 Mk3, while Stephan Nuttall had displaced Christian Pittard as the Bonnier class leader, their Chevron B8 switching places in 10th and 11th overall, while David Forsbrey in another B8 was eyeing Pittard’s spot as well. Further down the road, the fight for Hulme class victory was effectively over by lap 5 when Chris Jolly retired the Cooper Monaco T61M with a broken driveshaft, leaving the Spiers/Greensall McLaren as the class’ single remaining representative.

At the front, Bradshaw was trying to open up a gap large enough to defend from Voyazides’ teammate Simon Hadfield later in the race, leading by eight seconds on lap 4. Behind Voyazides, Beighton had jumped Claridge to be third, while at the bottom of the top-ten, change had changed very quickly in the Bonnier class: Forsbrey now led while running in ninth overall, with two cars between himself and the B8 of Phillip Nelson in 12th overall, with Nuttall in 13th overall recovering from an earlier mishap with Pittard, who as a consequence had dropped right down to 17th. Although damaged, the two cars from the same team lived to see another day and continued the fight.

Putting the pedal down, Bradshaw had increased his lead to some 15 seconds after 7 seconds, maintaining an average pace that was two seconds faster than Voyazides who, on the next lap, saw Beighton usurp him for second. Claridge, Willis, Culver, Sleep, Spiers and Forsbrey all held station in positions four to nine, separated by varying margins, while Nuttall was back in the top-ten, having passed Ditting and Nelson. Meanwhile from the back, Mark Hazell was slowly lifting his Chevron B19 up the order, now in 11th overall, also having passed Ditting.

20 minutes into the race, Bradshaw led by 21 seconds, with Beighton and Voyazides running in tandem, 12 seconds in front of Claridge. Now in tenth overall, Nuttall was back to where he was before the unfortunate contretemps with his teammate, having just repassed Forsbrey for the Bonnier class lead while seeing Hazell storm into ninth by passing both Chevrons.

On lap 13, though, disaster struck for Bradshaw, as the Chevron was seen heading back to the pits leaking fuel… Shortly after, it was confirmed that the B19 was out of the race. Almost at the same time, Gary Culver was out as well, his Lola T70 Mk3B having run out of brake fluid. So now, just short of the pit window, Beighton led Voyazides by 1.7 seconds, with Claridge a further 20 seconds adrift.

The first ones into the pits included Voyazides, Claridge, Spiers and Hazell, all three handing over to quicker relief drivers Simon Hadfield, Gonçalo Gomes, Nigel Greensall and Martin O’Connell. They were joined by Sleep (changing places with Alex Montgomery), Pittard (Burke taking over while the front of the car was patched up with duct tape), Forsbrey and Ditting. Nuttall, however, had exited stage left, the car too damaged to continue after its unintended clash with the Pittard/Burke machine. If that wasn’t enough, the stewards added insult to injury by forcing Burke to take a stop-and-go penalty for his car causing that collision…

On the next lap, the rest was in, while only Andy Willis hung on for another lap before handing over to Stephan Joebstl, but when that was done, Hadfield had already reclaimed the lead from Beighton. Gomes was third, 20 more seconds down, with Joebstl in fourth, close to a minute in arrears. Montgomery was fifth, ahead of a flying O’Connell and an equally charging Greensall. Forsbrey now looked like an unchallenged Bonnier class leader in eighth, running ahead of Ditting and class rival Darren Burke, who despite all the setbacks was still in tenth and matching the pace of the bigger prototypes at the front. Andy Newall, in Nelson’s B8, was 11th and third in the Bonnier class.

At two-thirds’ race distance, Hadfield led Beighton by 7 seconds while running at a pace that was roughly 1 to 1.5 seconds quicker than the other T70 Mk3B that he was also running as a prepaper. Gomes wasn’t making any inroads into the two while Montgomery had swamped Joebstl for fourth on lap 26, with the Austrian about to lose another place to O’Connell. Greensall was in no man’s land in seventh, his direct competition half a minute away, both in front and behind. Forsbrey still held the Bonnier class lead in eighth, but Burke’s pace was relentless, the gap now down to 21 seconds, from what was close to a minute after he took his penalty.

With 13 minutes still remaining, Hadfield demonstrated how much he was enjoying himself back out in the old warhorse, lowering the fastest lap of the race to a low 1.31, while increasing his lead over Beighton to 17 seconds, and over Gomes to 34 seconds. Montgomery’s fourth place was under threat from O’Connell, though, who had stormed through past Joebstl, and on lap 29, the Chevron B19 was up into P4. In the Bonnier class, Burke had whittled down the deficit to Forsbrey to a mere four seconds – this win looked like going the damaged B8’s way after all. Indeed, on lap 31, Forsbrey’s fate was sealed with Burke catching and passing his adversary for eighth overall. Behind them, Newall had made it into the top-ten at the cost of Ditting. On the same lap, Greensall took Joebstl for sixth.

As the clock ran out, it became apparent why Ditting had been losing places, the T70 Mk3 retiring with a broken gearbox with less than five minutes remaining. At the front, Hadfield circulated imperiously, just like in the golden days, now again improving on his best lap time on lap 35, and crushing that on lap 36 with a 1.30.7, before going into full gallery-play mode with a 1.30.1 on the penultimate lap. Beighton came home second 44 seconds later, with Gomes taking third 53 seconds down on the leader. O’Connell was a lapped fourth ahead of Montgomery, Greensall and Joebstl, while Burke completed a heroic comeback drive to win the Bonnier class from Forsbrey and Newall.



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