Brands Hatch, UK

MASTERS HISTORIC FESTIVAL
22 – 23 August 2020

What a great weekend at the Brands Hatch for the Masters Historic Festival! Here is the Weekend Wrap…

Brands Hatch’s legendary Grand Prix Circuit reverberated to the sound of some of motorsport’s most spectacular cars of yesteryear over the weekend, 22/23 August, with a packed programme of superb racing from the Masters Historic Festival.

RACE REPORTS

Masters Formula One – Race 1
Impeccable lights-to-flag Masters Historic Formula One victory for O’Connell at Brands GP

Tyrrell 011B racer Martin O’Connell produced a faultless performance during the opening Masters Historic Formula One race of the weekend at Brands Hatch this afternoon, with a dominant lights-to-flag success.

Having earlier qualified on pole position by a full eight tenths of a second, O’Connell was never headed – or even challenged – throughout the 18 laps of the Kent venue’s famous Grand Prix Circuit.

Although his winning margin was four seconds, O’Connell had been as much as seven seconds clear of his pursuers and during the last couple of laps he certainly backed off to some degree.

Steve Hartley took the chequered flag in second place in his McLaren MP4/1, just shading the Lotus 91/5 of Greg Thornton – the pair having been locked in a fantastic battle race-long.

Front-row qualifier Thornton maintained second position until lap four when Hartley’s pressure paid off. Setting the fastest lap of 1m22.280 seconds in his ex-John Watson McLaren, Hartley did then begin to catch race leader O’Connell.

Getting the lead down to 4.5 seconds by the start of lap six, O’Connell then started to increase his advantage once again as Thornton began to fill Hartley’s mirrors with a bit of a resurgence.

On lap nine, Thornton made a bold attempt at re-taking second into Paddock Hill Bend but Hartley was able to rebuff the challenge and he held on to ultimately shade the Lotus driver by just 0.152 seconds at the chequered flag.

Sky Sports F1 pundit, and former Grand Prix winner, Johnny Herbert posted a top five result on his maiden outing in the University of Bolton prepared Ensign N180B – even though the car stopped on the final lap.

By far the closest multi-car battle was the one over sixth place between the Theodore TR1 of Philip Hall, which took Fittipaldi class honours, Lukas Halusa’s McLaren M23 and Ian Simmonds’ Tyrrell 012 (Lauda). The six-wheeler Tyrrell P-34 of Jonathan Holtzman placed ninth overall, ahead of the Surtees TS16 of Marc Devis.

Steve Brooks retired early on with an electrical fault in his Lotus 81, Chris Perkins’ Surtees TS14 had clutch problems and Ron Maydon’s LEC CRP1 retired due to difficulties with the car cutting out when exiting corners.

Masters Formula One – Race 2
Lotus racer Thornton earns great victory in Masters Historic Formula One race two

Greg Thornton took a fantastic win in his Lotus 91/5 during the second Masters Historic Formula One race of the weekend at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, seeing off a late charge from race one victor Martin O’Connell.

After taking the lead of the race on lap two at Druids, Thornton – who had started on the front row of the grid – stormed away from the chasing pack and crafted a lead of almost three seconds by lap five.

For 17 laps his win never looked in doubt, but after losing a full five seconds on the 18th and final tour the eventual winning margin was just 0.9 seconds from the Tyrrell 011B of O’Connell.

The action was fast and furious early on, with terrific overtaking largely courtesy of Thornton and O’Connell. Steve Hartley’s McLaren MP4/1 was third initially, before O’Connell sliced past at Graham Hill Bend with a great move on the opening lap.

O’Connell then moved into second at the same left-hander on lap two, but the leading Lotus of Thornton looked particularly strong and he started to build his advantage with every lap.

Hartley soon moved back into the top three and as the race entered its second half, he began to pile some serious pressure on O’Connell. By lap 16 the gap was down to only 0.3 seconds, but through backmarker traffic O’Connell was able to escape up the road.

At the chequered flag on lap 18, Hartley was around three seconds adrift in third with Steve Brooks’ Lotus 81 taking fourth position. Midway through the race Brooks was in sixth, but he took fifth on lap nine and then moved into fourth three laps later.

Race winner Thornton had the fastest lap of the race, a time of 1m22.717 seconds, and also won the ‘Head’ class. Lukas Halusa in sixth overall won the ‘Fittipaldi’ class in his McLaren M23 and Ian Simmonds’ seventh placed Tyrrell 012 won ‘Lauda’.

Race two proved a frustrating one for Sky Sports F1 pundit and ex-Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert, with retirement on lap six for the Ensign N180B. Chris Perkins was the only other retiree in his Surtees TS14.

Masters Gentlemens Drivers
Wonderful Whitaker wins action-packed Brands Hatch Gentlemen Drivers race

Mike Whitaker wrapped-up an excellent, and largely dominant, victory in the 90-minute Gentlemen Drivers race at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this morning with an almost faultless performance in his TVR Griffith.

After almost an hour and a half of tremendous Masters Historic action, there was a somewhat subdued Safety Car finish due to a car becoming stranded in the gravel with just four minutes to go.

Whitaker won from the Shelby Daytona Cobra of Calum Lockie and Julian Thomas, while third position went the way of the Griffith of John Spiers and TV star Tiff Needell. Frustratingly, a luckless penalty for the Jaguar E-Type of Gary Pearson and Alex Brundle cost them an all-but guaranteed podium.

Dark clouds gathered above Brands Hatch ahead of the start, but thankfully the weather remained dry. Thomas led away well at the rolling start from pole, but after running wide at Sheene Curve he slipped behind James Hanson’s AC Cobra.

At the start of lap two, Thomas was edged back further to third place by Whitaker and then a moment for Hanson on the third tour enabled Whitaker to grab the lead. All the while the lead was changing hands, Brundle was gradually moving up the order and he climbed into second on lap three.

Whitaker pumped in a series of fastest laps to lead Brundle’s E-Type by five seconds at the start of lap seven but, shortly after, his advantage was negated when the Safety Car appeared due to the No.71 Morgan becoming stranded.

At the re-start on lap 12, Brundle read it perfectly and took the lead from Whitaker at Druids. The power of the TVR Griffith, though, proved too much on the GP loop and on lap 13 Whitaker blasted past to re-take first place.

Getting his head down and trying to build his lead, even with backmarker traffic becoming a factor, Whitaker edged away from an intensifying battle for second between Brundle and Thomas.

Late on the brakes into Graham Hill Bend on lap 19, Thomas took second in the Cobra and held onto the position into Surtees. But on lap 23, a moment for Thomas enabled Brundle to move back ahead once again.

When the mid-race mandatory pit-stop window opened Thomas was the first of the lead contenders to pit with 45 minutes to run, handing over the Shelby Daytona Cobra to pole qualifier Lockie.

Whitaker – contesting the race as a sole driver – pitted at the end of lap 24 and so Brundle assumed the lead on track before he pitted at the end of lap 25. When the race order had settled, Whitaker’s TVR had a lead of just over 11 seconds from Lockie with Brundle’s team-mate Pearson just behind in third.

Fourth placed Mark Martin, having taken over the Hanson Cobra, was just under two seconds clear of Needell’s TVR but in the space of a lap Needell had moved into fourth spot.

At the front, Whitaker was able to continue extending his lead over Lockie and on lap 28 the leader set the fastest lap of 1m43.281 seconds. The order then remained settled until the end of lap 39 when Pearson had to pit from third for the luckless penalty which meant Needell moved into the podium placings.

Pearson rejoined in fourth position, some 35 seconds adrift of the TVR, and then there was drama for Martin when his Cobra slowed from fifth and he turned sharp right at Surtees into the pits.

With little more than four minutes to run, the Safety Car was deployed due to an MGB in the gravel and that was the way it ended. Behind the top four, Mark Donner took fifth in his Jaguar E-Type with Marco Attard and Phil Keen’s Chevrolet Corvette Stingray sixth.

Robert Barrie and Steve Jones’ Lotus Elan won the CLP class in eighth overall, Crispin Harris and James Wilmoth’s Austin Healey 3000 won C2 and Malcolm Paul and Rick Bourne’s TVR Grantura took the spoils in C1. Mark Gordon’s Jaguar E-Type was the sole campaigner in B2.

Renowned Dutch circuit Zandvoort will host the next outing for the Gentlemen Drivers over the weekend 4/6 September.

Masters Pre66 Minis – Race 1
Smith stars to win opening Pre-66 Mini encounter at Brands

Jeff Smith took the victory in the opening Masters Pre-66 Mini race of the weekend at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, a controlled win from pole position qualifier Tom Bell.

Smith made a rocket-ship start from fifth, catapulting him into a position to challenge Bell immediately at the cambered Paddock Hill Bend right-hander, with Michael Cullen maintaining his grid slot of third.

Taking the lead on lap one, Smith had Bell just 0.2 seconds behind into the second tour but he increased his advantage to over a second the next time around and was never realistically threatened.

By lap seven, Bell had managed to close to within 0.7 seconds but leader Smith responded immediately by setting the fastest lap of 1m48.919 seconds. Former British Touring Car Championship racer Smith ultimately won by 1.1 seconds.

Behind the lead duo, Ian Curley took a lonely third place some seven seconds shy of the battle ahead. Curley was well placed to challenge Bell during the early exchanges, having moved up from fourth on the grid, but after losing some ground on lap five he had an uneventful race thereafter.

The major battle was over fourth, with nothing to separate Cullen and Nick Swift for the bulk of the contest The latter had started the race second on the grid but slipped back to fifth and wasn’t able to overturn Cullen, no matter how hard he tried.

By lap six, just 0.175 seconds separated them and Swift produced a great cut-back out of Druids to momentarily move ahead. Cullen, though, hit back on the GP loop and was able to keep his rival at bay.

Swift certainly deserved marks for effort, trying to pass multiple times at Hawthorn during the closing stages but to no avail. Ollie Streek was a distant sixth ahead of Dave Edgecombe, David Ogden, Nick Paddy and Spencer Wanstall.

Race two of the weekend will get underway at 16.05 this afternoon at Brands Hatch.

Masters Pre66 Minis – Race 2
Ferguson beats Smith in titanic Masters Pre-66 Mini race two at Brands

Small in stature but huge in terms of action, the Pre-66 Minis provided another fantastic battle for victory in race two of the day at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit with Joe Ferguson taking a great win from Jeff Smith.

Smith, of course, won race one earlier in the afternoon but Ferguson – behind the wheel of the Austin Mini Cooper S taken to second by Tom Bell in the preceding encounter – was able to keep Smith at bay.

Ferguson boldly tried to take the lead at the start around the outside of pole-starter Smith at Paddock Hill Bend, but had to tuck back in to second place. Ferguson hit the front on lap two at Surtees and a titanic battle developed with the two rivals trading the lead time and again.

By lap eight Ferguson’s lead was almost a second, but Smith set the fastest lap of the race – a time of 1m48.756 seconds – to erase the gap. Into lap nine there was nothing between them, but Ferguson managed to see off the threat to ultimately win by 0.6 seconds on lap 11.

The fight for third was equally as entertaining, initially between Ian Curley and Michael Cullen before Nick Swift won through after a fantastic late door-to-door battle with Curley.

Curley held third at the start but Cullen moved through into Surtees on lap one, and the former then had his mirrors filled with fifth placed Swift. Curley turned up the heat on Cullen as the race entered its second half, and Swift closed in as well, but then Cullen’s involvement ended at the conclusion of lap eight with retirement to the pits.

Swift, with a podium there for the taking, made his presence felt more and more behind Curley and on the final lap Swift managed to make the breakthrough to grab the final spot on the rostrum – by just 0.3 seconds.

David Ogden finished a distant fifth from Dave Edgecombe, Ollie Streek was seventh, Jo Polley came through well to finish eighth – having started on row six of the grid – ahead of an impressive Jonathon Page – who started last – and Jonathan Kent.

Masters Pre66 Touring Cars
Dramatic conclusion to Pre-66 Touring Car race gives Fenn victory

Ford Mustang driver Rob Fenn took an unexpected win during the one-hour Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this evening, when a late incident for Steve Soper led to a red flag stoppage with a lap to go.

Soper was leading by well over six seconds after a typically sensational second stint in the Mustang he shares with Henry Mann, but an unfortunate excursion at Stirling’s on the penultimate tour ultimately handed the win to Fenn.

Michael Cullen made the pole position team-mate Andrew Jordan had achieved in the earlier qualifying session count at the rolling start, holding off Mann. It wasn’t long, though, before Fenn – who qualified third – powered into the lead.

By the sixth tour, Fenn was over four seconds clear with Geoffrey Letts moving his Ford Lotus Cortina ahead of Mann at the beginning of the lap. Mann then dropped to fourth the next time around behind Ollie Taylor’s Lotus Cortina.

When the pit-window opened at the 25-minute mark, Mann was the first to head into the pitlane for his stop, at the end of lap 14, and handed the No.6 Mustang over to the redoubtable Soper.

Cullen, who had slipped down the top six, pitted at the end of lap 15 with pole qualifier Jordan climbing behind the wheel of their Cortina. Incredibly, Jordan’s involvement lasted just moments when he was forced to retire.

With half an hour to run, Fenn was still circulating in the lead with a two second cushion over Letts and Taylor. The two Cortinas then pitted nose-to-tail at the end of lap 18 and as they did so, Soper was storming through setting fastest laps.

When the order settled after the stops, Fenn was just 0.9 seconds ahead of Taylor but Soper was closing fast. Slicing past Taylor on lap 21, Soper had two seconds to make up to leader Fenn but only a lap later he had swept past the Mustang.

Controlling things at the front, Soper looked on course to take a clear win of over six seconds…but there was a late twist when he went off track at Stirlings. Fenn, therefore, took the victory by 3.7 seconds from Taylor who also won the THC class.

Alan Letts was third, the Nigel Greensall and David Gooding Ford Mustang fourth – Greensall having set fastest lap with a time of 1m47.798 seconds – with Phil Keen and Marco Attard’s Cortina fifth and David Coyne rounding out the top six in his Mustang.

Tom Bell did a fantastic job during the first half of the race, a giant-killing showing in the No.34 Austin Mini Cooper S to climb into the overall top six before the mandatory stops.

Very unfortunately, Bell cut it too fine with the pit-stop and he was fractionally too late into pitlane when the window had closed – resulting in a stop-go penalty. Team-mate Joe Ferguson still finished seventh, and also wrapped up the THD class win. Tom Sharp, in 13th overall, won the THB class in his BMW 1800 Tisa.

Zandvoort in The Netherlands is scheduled to host the next outing of the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars on 5/6 September.

Masters Sports Car Legends
Faultless win in Masters Historic Sports Cars at Brands GP for Pearson & Brundle

Lola T70 Mk3B pairing Gary Pearson and Alex Brundle eased to a comfortable and controlled victory in the one-hour Historic Sports Car race at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon.

Winning by 11 seconds from the Chevron B19 of sole racer Jonathan Mitchell, the overall podium was rounded-out by Chevron B23 duo Goncalo Gomes and James Claridge – the top three cars the only ones on the lead lap at the chequered flag.

Mitchell led away from pole position at the start with Brundle hot on his heels, and it wasn’t long before the powerful Lola moved through into the lead on the run out onto the Grand Prix loop.

Instantly punching in a string of fastest laps, Brundle built an advantage of over eight seconds by the start of lap 10 and Mitchell too was able to open a good gap to third placed Gary Culver’s Lola T70.

Culver’s podium hopes, however, took a big hit when he was served with a stop-go penalty for an infringement at the rolling start. Culver finally took his penalty at the end of lap 14, dropping him off the podium and down to fifth place – helped by an unscheduled pit visit for Steve Tandy’s Lola T70, the first of several visits for him.

As the pit-window opened at the 25-minute mark the race order was Brundle, 10 seconds clear at the front, from Mitchell, Claridge, Robert Beebee’s Lola T70, Culver and the Chevron B19 of Marc Devis.

Claridge was the first of the lead contenders to pit for the mandatory stop a couple of minutes later, handing over to Gomes, and Beebee pitted soon after to give the No.59 Lola to Steve Brooks. Devis moved into third as a result, and he pitted at the end of lap 18 with around half an hour to run.

Brundle finally pitted from the lead at the end of lap 21, some 15 seconds clear of Mitchell, to hand over the No.23 Lola to Pearson and Mitchell also stopped shortly after. When the order settled, Pearson’s advantage over Mitchell was about the same with Gomes third.

On his first flying lap after the pit-stops Mitchell took 1.2 seconds out of Pearson’s lead and he continued to close the gap. Pearson started to respond, though, with around 15 minutes to run and opened the cushion to over 14 seconds again.

The lead gap did fluctuate through traffic during the latter stages, but it was always well north of 10 seconds and Pearson eventually took the flag on lap 38 just over 11 seconds to the good.

Mitchell was some 50 seconds clear of the Gomes and Claridge Chevron B23, fourth position went to the Beebee and Brooks Lola, with Culver taking fifth and Devis sixth.

In terms of the class successes, Pearson and Brundle won ‘Rodriguez’, Mitchell took the ‘Marko’ victory, Gomes and Claridge won ‘Stommelen’, Cooper Monaco pairing Steve Farthing and Chris Jolly won ‘Hulme’, Charles Allison’s Chevron B8 took the spoils in ‘Bonnier’ and John Sheldon’s Chevron B16 won ‘Siffert’.