30 September 2023
Werner d’Ansembourg delights home crowd with first Masters Racing Legends win at Spa

For the second time on the same day, another young d’Ansembourg climbed the top step of the podium for the first time in his historic racing career, as Werner d’Ansembourg copied what his brother Antoine had done in the Masters Endurance Legends race in the morning – passing the leader on the opening lap and never looking back in the remaining laps. The result was that d’Ansembourg’s Brabham BT49 won the second Masters Racing Legends race at Spa with a commanding lead over Ken Tyrrell’s Tyrrell 011 and Mike Cantillon’s Williams FW07C.

“I started the race on fresh tyres and I was lucky to overtake on the first lap”, said d’Ansembourg. “Then it was a clean race with clean weather on a track that I know well, so I just kept going. So lots of fun, and very happy with the result. Incredible weekend. Yeah, what a weekend for the family.”

Werner d’Ansembourg

Cantillon had passed Tyrrell for second on lap 10 but the race was redflagged when on the same lap Steve Hartley crashed his McLaren MP4/1 at Stavelot. On countback, Tyrrell remained second ahead of Cantillon while Simon Fish (Arrows A4) took an inspired fourth ahead of Hartley and pre-78 class winner Nick Padmore.

“I had a nice gap on Mike”, said Tyrrell, “but with the backmarkers, he caught right up. And he’s too good to have right behind yet. So he got by, but then I guess with the red flag, we got a little gift…”

Ken Tyrrell

“It was great racing”, said Cantillon. “Really thoroughly enjoyed it. Fighting with the guys and lots of racing – that’s what it’s all about. And I’m really pleased for Werner to get the win.”

Mike Cantillon

Padmore’ Lotus 77 had battled pole sitter and pre-78 class rival Matt Wrigley all race but when Wrigley was forced to retire his Penske PC3 with a broken driveshaft, Padmore was home free for his second class win of the weekend. In ninth overall, Ewen Sergison (Surtees TS9B) got his second pre-72 class win of the weekend.

“It was good, it’s just a shame that Matt broke down. I was really enjoying that”, said Padmore. “I could see it smoking for about four or five laps. I thought, any minute now it’s going to go. But it’s mega, we may have won the championship now. So that’s brilliant. Get in there!”

Nick Padmore

In the final Masters race of the Spa Six Hours weekend, the Masters Racing Legends cars went out in sunny conditions that compared favourably with how the day had started. Matt Wrigley’s Penske PC3 started from pole but soon Werner d’Ansembourg emulated his brother Antoine’s move in the earlier Masters Endurance Legends race to storm into the lead on the Kemmel Straight. So going into lap 2, d’Ansembourg’s Brabham BT49 led Wrigley’s Penske, Ken Tyrrell in the Tyrrell 011 and Wrigley’s pre-78 rival Nick Padmore in the Lotus 77. Friday winner Mike Cantillon was fifth in the Williams FW07C, followed by Warren Briggs (McLaren M29), Mark Hazell (Williams FW07B), Simon Fish (Arrows A4) and Patrick d’Aubreby in another A4 while Steve Hartley got his McLaren MP4/1 up into tenth.

Setting a blistering pace by using his intimate track knowledge, the other young d’Ansembourg created a gap of no less than 4.5 seconds in two laps, as Tyrrell passed Wrigley for second while Cantillon stole fourth from Padmore. The next time around, however, Tyrrell had cut his deficit to 3.9 seconds as the order in the top five remained static. Further back, Hartley had got up to eighth, passing both d’Aubreby and Hazell, while Fish had demoted Briggs to seventh. It was the end for Max Werner, though, his Hesketh 308C stopping with a engine issue on a safe spot at the top of the Raidillon.

On lap 4, d’Ansembourg turned the ride to put in another barnstormer of a lap, leaving Tyrrell gasping at a six-second gap, while Cantillon moved into third to leave Wrigley and Padmore contest the pre-78 class by themselves. A fighting Fish was close, though, and soon joined the battle for fourth overall. His teammate Hartley, meanwhile, had cleared Briggs who now had Hazell and d’Aubreby to worry about.

Maintaining a searing pace around his home track, d’Ansembourg left Tyrrell looking at a 8.6-second disadvantage after five laps – and Cantillon wasn’t closing on the leaders either. Two seconds behind the Irishman, Wrigley and Padmore were still nose-to-tail, the Penske defending bravely against the Lotus, but one lap later, the flying Simon Fish had his Arrows A4 up into fourth after passing the warring pre-78 machines. Moments later, Wrigley’s driveshaft failed… and Hazell was out too with gearbox issues.

On lap 8, d’Ansembourg looked home safe with 13 seconds in hand over Tyrrell, but Tyrrell’s second place was anything but safe – a late charge from Cantillon saw the Williams closing up on the Tyrrell 011’s gearbox. Nine seconds further down the road, Fish and Hartley fought over fourth place while Padmore was now trying to keep his nose clean to bring home a valuable pre-78 class win in sixth.

While d’Ansembourg delivered another shock win for the family, Cantillon indeed passed Tyrrell for second on lap 10, but then the race was redflagged as Steve Hartley had crashed his McLaren MP4/1 at Stavelot. This meant that the result was taken from the last completed lap, restoring Tyrrell to second and maintaining Hartley in fifth. Briggs, d’Aubreby, pre-72 class winner Ewen Sergison (Surtees TS9B) and Paul Tattersall’s Ensign N179 rounded out the top ten.