Donington Park, UK

MASTERS HISTORIC FESTIVAL
8 – 9 June 2019

Rain and sunshine produce fabulous racing in Masters Donington Historic Race Weekend

A mixture of weather conditions – with very wet qualifying and largely dry racing – produced some great racing in Masters Historic Racing’s Donington Race Weekend. Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield triumphed in the Gentlemen Drivers race on a very cold and wet Saturday while Craig Davies, Michael Gans and Endaf Owens took the wins on a lovely sunny Sunday.

RACE REPORTS

Masters Gentlemen Drivers
Voyazides/Hadfield take unexpected Masters Gentlemen Drivers win at Donington

Despite being regular winners, Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield took a very unexpected win in the Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Donington Park. The twist was very much in the tail, as first a safety car with 15 minutes to go negated Hadfield’s 50-second deficit to the four lead cars, and then moments later the long-time leading Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé of Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie retired into the pits, the car on fire.

“I went as fast as I could for as long as I could”, said a smiling Hadfield. “And then the safety car came, and we won. I’ll take it!”

Hadfield took no time in dealing with new leader John Pearson, and despite a five-second time penalty incurred by Voyazides earlier, the Daytona Cobra stretched out enough of a lead over Pearson’s Jaguar E-type to take a win that had seemed very unlikely when Hadfield was still in sixth, catching John Spiers’ TVR Griffith that eventually finished third.

“It was a lovely race”, said Pearson. “I had really great fun but I was disappointed with the safety car – I knew how quick that Daytona Cobra is, and I just couldn’t keep it behind.”

“We had a disappointing qualifying”, said Spiers, “so to be up here is great. Everything was absolutely fine in the race – in fact, it was quite uneventful for me!”

In fourth came Ron Maydon in the CLP-class-winning Ginetta G4R, Maydon sharing with Andy Willis on the occasion. From 11th on the grid, Willis had been the star of the opening stint and was in a solid fourth – and second in the CLP class – when he handed over to Maydon. The class win – and maybe even overall victory after the demise of the Thomas/Lockie Daytona Cobra – looked to have been Steve Soper’s, but a stop-and-go penalty for stopping short at the pitstops dropped him back, and then the Lotus Elan slid off into the gravel trap right after the safety car had gone. This handed second place in class to Mark Martin who went off twice and took a stop-and-go penalty himself but still salvaged ninth overall.

“My co-driver did all the hard work, and just had to finish it off”, Maydon quipped. “And then I saw Soper in the gravel – tough!”

Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger were the clear C2 class winners in their Morgan Plus 4 Super Sports while Peter Aylett and Steven Farrall took C1 class honours in the Diva GT, having chased the Austin Kinsella/Olivia Wilkinson MGB Roadster until Wilkinson’s retirement became the cause of the safety car – and that unexpected win for Voyazides and Hadfield.

From the start, Julian Thomas in the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé had duly led away from pole but Steve Soper’s little Elan was on the prowl for second place and into Hollywood indeed moved past Leo Voyazides in the second Cobra Daytona Coupé. John Pearson’s Jaguar E-type was still fourth after four laps but Andy Willis in Ron Maydon’s Ginetta G4R was the true hero of the opening stages, charging up to fifth from 11th on the grid. One more lap, though, and Willis was up into fourth. On lap 6, he was third, ahead of Pearson who had taken care of Voyazides, the Greek also falling behind John Spiers’ TVR on lap 7.

In C2, Keith Ahlers had moved the other way, from fifth on the grid – achieved in a very wet qualifying session – to 12th on lap 8, but still led the class ahead of the Allan Ross-Jones/Richard Dodkins Triumph SLR, with Dodkins at the wheel. Austin Kinsella’s MGB led the C1 class ahead of Peter Aylett in the Diva GT shared with Steven Farrall.

15 minutes gone, Thomas led Soper by 15 seconds, with Pearson back in third, one second behind, and Willis another tick further down the road in fourth. Spiers was fifth ahead of Voyazides, who had 10 seconds in hand on the fighting E-types of Mark Donnor and Andy Wolfe. In ninth, Mark Martin was third in the CLP class, behind the class-leading pair of Soper and Willis, while the David Smithies/Chris Clarkson (Smithies driving) completed the top-ten. Meanwhile, the Ross Hyett/Chris Fox Elan had been the race’s first retirement, the suspension of the Lotus giving up on Fox. Ten laps later, Patrick Jack’s Elan joined the retirements with a broken diff.

On the half hour, all remained the same, Thomas still leading Soper and Pearson but Willis was dropping away in fourth. Spiers was a lonely fifth while Voyazides – hit with a 5-second time penalty for exceeding track limits once too much – was even lonelier in sixth. Ahlers and Kinsella remained the front-runners in C2 and C1 respectively. Ahlers’ closest rival Dodkins, though, had spun on lap 23, increasing the Morgan’s advantage even further. On lap 28, Dodkins retired the Triumph for good.

As the pit window approached, Soper had cut back Thomas’ lead to 11 seconds while creating some space between himself and Pearson in third. However, bang on the pit window opening on lap 29, Thomas put in a series of fastest laps of the race to increase the gap to Soper back to 17 seconds. Voyazides was the first one to stop, handing over to Simon Hadfield on lap 30, Thomas pitting one lap later to hand the wheel to Calum Lockie while Soper followed suit on the same lap. On lap 31, Pearson, Willis and Spiers were the last of the front-runners to come in.

With the Thomas/Lockie Cobra Daytona Coupé obliged to stop ten seconds longer than Soper’s under-2-litre Elan, Soper was the new leader, five seconds ahead of Lockie. In third and fourth, Ron Maydon (having taken over from Willis) and John Pearson had similarly swapped places. However, two laps later, Lockie and Pearson had passed the CLP-class leaders to reassert their cars’ authority, moving back up into first and third places, as Lockie set fastest lap of the race in the process. The Keith Ahlers/Bellinger Morgan (with Bellinger at the wheel now) was unthreatened in the lead of the C2 class while Olivia Wilkinson (having taken over from Kinsella in the MGB) still led the Diva GT in C1.

As Lockie continued banging in fastest laps of the race, Soper was given the bad news – he was called in to serve a stop-and-go penalty for stopping too short at the pitstops. This dropped him down to third behind Pearson, who was now trailing Lockie by a massive 34 seconds, with two-thirds’ distance done. Soper was now a further ten seconds behind but he still led the CLP class ahead of Maydon, as Spiers in fifth saw his lead over Hadfield evaporate at a rapid rate. In seventh and eighth, both Donnor and Martin also needed to serve a stop-and-go penalty but both were well ahead of the Smithies/Clarkson Cobra Daytona Coupé.

On lap 49, however, with 15 minutes left on the clock, the safety car was called as Olivia Wilkinson’s C1-class-leading MGB had come to a halt at Mcleans. Then even more drama ensued – suddenly Lockie was into the pits with a Cobra Daytona Coupé on fire! So after two wins in a row, and looking for a third, it was all over for the car in the lead.

On lap 53, the green flag was waved, with Pearson now leading Soper, Maydon, Spiers and Hadfield – the latter now just ten seconds adrift. The drama wasn’t over yet, though, as Soper suddenly found himself in the gravel at Coppice while Hadfield had moved to the front in the space of one lap – but still trailing Pearson on time because of the five-second time penalty that Voyazides had incurred earlier. In third, the Willis/Maydon Ginetta G4R resumed the CLP class lead, ahead of Spiers, Donnor and Martin.

Hadfield now had a sniff of victory, though, as on lap 56 he set fastest lap of the race, and again on lap 57 – which was the one that finally gave him the actual lead. Then, another twist in the tail – Mark Martin went off into the gravel to lose sixth overall but he recovered to ninth to keep second place in the CLP class.

After 90 minutes, Hadfield’s on-the-road advantage was enough to secure an unlikely win for himself and Voyazides. Pearson was second but right at the end Spiers passed Maydon for third overall, the Ginetta still taking CLP class honours. Ahlers and Bellinger took an unchallenged C2 class win, with Peter Aylett and Steven Farrall in their Diva GT the surprise victors in C1.

Masters Pre66 Touring Cars
Davies takes controlled Masters Pre-66 Touring Car win at Donington

Craig Davies almost led from lights to flag to take a controlled win from the front in the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race at Donington. From ninth on a rain-affected starting grid, the Ford Mustang driver charged up into the lead on lap 2 and never looked back.

“It was really good fun”, said Davies. “I love the track here, and full respect to everyone out there that gave us the room. The car was good, really well prepared.”

For most of the race, Davies was chased by the Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie Ford Falcon until that ground to a halt at Starkey’s Bridge with ten minutes to go. After that, the Mark Martin/Steve Soper Cortina took up the gauntlet but Davies allowed Soper no closer than 1.6 seconds at the end. The Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Ford Falcon finished a distant third.

“No, he was just cruising to the end”, said Soper when asked if he could have caught and passed the leader.

“Yeah, it was good”, said Martin about his stint. “It was nice to keep up with the bigger-engined cars!”

“We seem to have some kind of clutch problem”, said Hadfield. “So I just kept it going to the finish. It wasn’t glamourous, it wasn’t exciting, but it’s a podium!”

Having already taken wins at Paul Ricard and Brands Hatch, Tom Bell again drove the fastest Mini, converting his shock pole position into a strong fourth place overall.

“Not a bad start of the season to win all three!” said Bell. “We never dreamt of it, really. That first lap from pole was actually very good, I was surprised that I even built a good lead, but I knew that they were coming. It’s Magny-Cours now, a place I’ve never been before, but that was the same at Paul Ricard, and we won that, so…”

Qualifying having taken place on a very wet track, the American V8 cars used the first four laps to restore the natural order on a dry circuit, Craig Davies’ Mustang relieving poleman Tom Bell from the lead on lap 2, with Julian Thomas in the Falcon joining him in second place on lap 4. By lap 7, the field had settled into a rhythm, and Davies led Thomas by three seconds, followed by Mark Martin’s Cortina, Bell’s Mini, Warren Briggs in another Mustang and Leo Voyazides in the Falcon.

On lap 8, Briggs made his way past Bell. In seventh, Jeff Smith easily maintained his place in the top-ten, now chased by a gaggle of more Minis pedalled by Edwin Solheim, Dan Lewis, David Edgecombe and Ben Hatton. Martin Strömmen and John Spiers were next up, as the second and third Cortinas in class. Meanwhile, shock front-row qualifier Tom Sharp retired his BMW 1800 TiSA on the very same lap.

Fifteen minutes gone, Thomas was closing on Davies but a couple of laps later the Mustang had eased away from the Falcon, its lead now up to seven seconds. Martin trailed the leader by 16 seconds, as Briggs and Bell still fought over fourth place, six seconds down on the class-leading Cortina. Voyazides was still in sixth, half a minute in arrears on Davies. Further back, Strömmen had put some space between himself and Spiers’ rival Cortina, space now occupied by the Minis of Lewis (Dan) and Edgecombe. Edwin Solheim was with them on the road but was handed a five-second time penalty for repeatedly exceeding the track’s limits.

As the pit window opened on lap 19, Martin was the first of the leaders to come in, handing over to Steve Soper. Voyazides pitted on the same lap, with Simon Hadfield taking over from the Greek. One lap later, the leader was in, but Thomas stayed out for two more laps before handing the wheel of the Falcon to Calum Lockie. One lap before, Jeff Smith had handed his Mini to Jo Polley.

With 25 minutes still to go, the top-three had remained the same through the stops: Davies led Lockie by five seconds and Soper by 17 seconds, all circulating at the same pace, but Tom Bell had moved back up to fourth again. Eight seconds further down the road, Hadfield had caught and passed Briggs for fifth, while Spiers had jumped Strömmen for seventh. The Cortinas were followed by no less than five Minis, Edgecombe leading Lewis, Polley, Lars Ekorness (in the car started by Solheim) and Hatton.

On lap 29, with 16 minutes remaining, Hadfield passed Bell for fourth but now needed to close a gap of half a minute to Soper to have any chance of third place, but as both were setting similar lap times this was looking very unlikely. Bell and Briggs looked settled in fifth and sixth, but Spiers and Strömmen were really battling it out for seventh, the Norwegian moving back up on lap 31. On the next lap, Spiers outbraked himself into the chicane to drop down the order, before deciding to return the Cortina to the pitlane.

With ten minutes still on the clock, Lockie began to lose pace – and then on lap 34, the Falcon failed to come through. Parked at Starkey’s Bridge, it saw Soper fly past into second place, and fly the Cortina did, now closing on Davies at the rate of a second a lap. Was the leader simply controlling his pace? Yes, he was, as with five minutes to go, Davies stabilised the gap at around seven seconds, and then let Soper close to within 1.6 seconds at the end.

As Davies won, with Martin/Soper as the leading Cortina in second, Hadfield took a distant third ahead of Tom Bell who like at Paul Ricard and Brands Hatch was at the wheel of the fastest Mini. Warren Briggs in the Mustang finished fifth ahead of Martin Strömmen in the second Cortina, leading the Minis of Dave Edgecombe, Dan Lewis and Jeff Smith/Jo Polley. Allan Ross-Jones was 12th as the third of the Cortinas.

Masters Sports Car Legends
Gans takes emphatic Masters Historic Sports Car win at Donington Park

Michael Gans took a dominant non-championship Masters Historic Sports Car win at Donington Park after the challenges of the Andrew & Max Banks McLaren M6B and the Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Lola T70 Mk3B faded.

“A winning return!” said a smiling Gans on coming back after having been absent from the start of the season. “I was a little sad to see Leo and Simon go, as I was looking forward to battling Simon – to an extent at least! I was all dreading the safety car coming out right at the end and Simon overtaking me on the last lap…”

Andrew Banks led during his opening stint, chased by Gans, but a stop-and-go penalty and a puncture put the McLaren out of contention. Hadfield then took up the chase but at two-thirds distance the Lola began smoking, the car retiring on lap 28 with a suspected broken rocker.

This left Matt Wrigley’s Chevron B19 in second place, and although a late safety-car period bunched the field up, Gans re-established a useful gap as soon as the green flag was waved. Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie took a stunning third overall in the Bonnier-class-winning Chevron B8, with Paul Allen’s Lola T212 in fourth.

“It was a good race”, said Wrigley. “I was trying to keep myself in a rhythm, as this was the first time I did the full distance in the car. I was not going too fast in the first half to conserve the tyres, and then gave it a try in the second half.”

“If you enter enough races you’re bound to finish one!” said Thomas, whose cars retired from all the races he and Lockie had done so far during the meeting. “It’s one of those weekends, but the Chevron ran really well – no trouble at all this time.”

Pre-66 Hulme class victory went to Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra, after an easy run due to their class rival Ian Simmonds retiring early on.

“In the end, it was more like a test than an actual race”, said Bellinger, “but it was fine, and the car ran absolutely perfect.”

After a three laps behind the safety car, needed to retrieve Ian Simmonds’ Lola T70 Mk1 Spyder stranded at Coppice on the warm-up lap, the field was sent on its way on lap 4. Andrew Banks led away from pole, but on lap 5 Michael Gans moved past Leo Voyazides into second place and the nimble Lola began chasing the McLaren in front. Behind them, Voyazides kept Matt Wrigley’s Chevron B19 at bay, as the pair lost ground on the two leading drivers. On lap 10, Wrigley was up into third.

Julian Thomas in the Chevron B8 and Ross Hyett in the B16 had moved into fifth and sixth, profiting from Robert Oldershaw’s demise on lap 6, his Lola T290 having lost power, while Stefano Rosina had dropped three laps in the other McLaren after an unscheduled pitstop, and then pulled in to retire for good. Following Thomas and Hyett were James Allen’s Lola T212 and Billy Bellinger in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra.

On lap 11, though, the notice came up that the leader was under investigation for a safety-car infringement. As Gans trailed Banks by just five seconds, the American was looking good. With the pit window approaching, Wrigley was a further 14 seconds adrift of Gans, having left Voyazides four seconds behind. And indeed, the investigation into Banks’ maintaining his speed initially when the safety-car boards were out was concluded on lap 17, and resulted in the issue of a stop-and-go penalty.

Leo Voyazides was the first to come in and hand over to Simon Hadfield on lap 19, their disadvantage to the race leader now 36 seconds. Andrew Banks was next up – but that was for the stop-and-go. This meant that Gans took up the lead, but Wrigley was in from third. In fact, more went on than just the mandatory stationary time, as Wrigley was signalling ferociously at one of the car’s corners, the team using the stop time to investigate. The next lap, Andrew Banks came in for his second stop, but it wasn’t for the driver change to brother Max, but for a retirement, Andrew explaining something started feeling wrong at the rear – a puncture appeared to have been the reason.

Gans, Thomas and Bellinger were the last to pit, Gans continuing in the lead, Thomas handing the Chevron B8 to Calum Lockie, and Keith Ahlers taking over from Bellinger. Gans led Hadfield by 24 seconds but Hadfield was driving a smoking Lola T70 Mk3B, lapping two seconds off Voyazides’ earlier pace. He couldn’t afford to lap any slower, as Matt Wrigley was just two seconds away in the Chevron B19. Calum Lockie was fourth in the B8 but Paul Allen had now taken up fifth place in the Lola T212, with Ahlers ahead of Chris Fox in the Chevron B16 started by Chris Fox.

On lap 28, though, Hadfield was given the meatball flag and the Lola duly turned into the pits and into retirement, a broken rocker the root of the problem. So was it all done and dusted for Gans? Not quite, as on lap 30 the safety car was sent out to recover Chris Fox’s Chevron B16 stranded out on the circuit. This meant that Gans lost his 30-second lead on Wrigley to set up a lead duel for the final 12 minutes. One lap down, the Thomas/Lockie Chevron B8 was third and Paul Allen’s T212 fourth. Two laps behind, Ahlers was fifth.

In the end, it wasn’t much of a lead fight, though. On the drop of the green flag, Gans put the hammer down and stormed off to a four-second lead, as Wrigley was further handicapped by a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits. Towards the end, Wrigley eased his pace to allow Gans to win by 23 seconds.

Masters Minis
Owens storms to dominant Masters Pre-66 Mini win at Donington Park

Endaf Owens took a dominant Masters Pre-66 Mini win at Donington Park, having shaken off the close attentions of Ian Curley and Jeff Smith early on. When first Smith and then Curley retired, Owens was home free to win by almost a minute.

“It was mega, just brilliant!” said an elated Owens. “The first half of the race was really good – some nice clean racing with Ian and Jeff.”

Elliot Stafford took second after a lonely race behind the initial top-three and a multi-car tussle behind him, that saw Nick Paddy come through to take third. Mark Burnett’s Mini Countryman took fourth when the Mini of Norwegian pairing Lars Ekorness/Edwin Solheim lost its engine on the penultimate lap.

“We finished the car only last week!” said an equally delighted Stafford. “I missed a gear early on and that allowed them to break away. Yes, it was a bit of a lonely race but I’m happy to be second!”

“There was a lot happening!” Paddy said about his eventful race. “I came off once and went into the gravel – and to be honest, I thought that was it. But you can’t give up, you have to keep going – and here I am in third! Thumbs up to Masters too – everything was so well organised, and everyone was so friendly.”

At the start, Jeff Smith got away well from pole but still lost out to Ian Curley and Endaf Owens into the first lap. Following the first three was Elliot Stafford, with Nick Swift initially on his heels, but Swifty had overrevved the engine coming out of the chicane and along with Dan Lewis was the first casualty of the race – and a very prominent one. Meanwhile on lap 3, Owens had nicked first place from Curley who kept on hounding the Welshman.

Ten minutes into the race, Owens led Curley by a whisker, but as Owens hit traffic, Curley was back in the lead, Smith and Stafford in the grandstand seats for the lead battle. Barry Sime had charged into fifth while Lars Ekorness had also found a way past Bell, who on lap 8 trundled into the pits with an overheating engine. Almost simultaneously, Owens was back into the lead, with not just Curley hot on his heels now – Smith had left Stafford behind to join the fight at the front.

The three-way tussle between Owens, Curley and Smith saw the latter take second place off Curley on lap 11, with Stafford in fourth now trailing the trio by nine seconds and running on himself. 14 seconds in arrears Sime and Ekorness battled for fifth, the Norwegian taking the place on lap 12. Dave Edgecombe, Stephen Woodrow, Mark Burnett in the Countryman and Nick Paddy completed the top-ten.

20 minutes into the race, Owens had created some breathing space between himself and the fight between Curley and Smith, but then Smith slowed coming onto the main straight, giving up on the chase having mistakenly selected first gear instead of third…

Curley himself was in trouble too – failing to heed to three previous warnings he was slammed with a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits. This left Owens with an effective lead of seven seconds over Curley, as the pit window approached ever nearer. Stafford was still a lonely third, now 16 seconds down on Owens, while Ekorness and Sime kept switching places in fourth and fifth. Due to Smith’s demise, Will Nuthall had made his way into the top-ten.

The excitement now concentrated on the battle for sixth between Edgecombe, Woodrow, Paddy and Nuthall, with Woodrow finding a way past Edgecombe on lap 17. One lap later, Stafford was the first frontrunner to pit, joined by Woodrow and Edgecombe, and on lap 19, the race leader was in. The next lap, Curley was the last of the leaders to stop.

As the pit window came to a close on lap 23, Owens’ lead over Curley had grown to 12 seconds. 20 seconds further down the road, Stafford continued his lonely race, with four seconds in hand on Norwegian Edwin Solheim in the Mini started by Lars Ekorness. In fifth and sixth, though, Mark Burnett and Nick Paddy were all over each other, with Woodrow and Jimmy Sime two more seconds down. Dan Wheeler and Ollie Streek now rounded out the top-ten.

On lap 29, Curley was into the pits with an oil leak – another famous retirement. Owens now held a comfortable 51-second lead over Stafford, whose lonely race was now under threat, as Solheim was inching ever closer in third place. Slightly further back, Paddy was sixth on the road but in an actual fourth place because of Burnett and Woodrow being handed five-second penalties. Paddy was on a charge himself, though, first passing Burnett and Woodrow, and then hounding after Solheim. With five minutes to go, Paddy made it through up into third position.

As Owens won by nearly a minute, Stafford successfully hung on to second place, with Paddy taking third. There was drama right at the end when Solheim’s engine let go two laps from the end. This allowed Burnett to take fourth ahead of Woodrow, Jimmy Sime and Ollie Streek. Harvey & Rupert Death and Graham Churchill/Peter Baldwin took eighth and ninth, with Norwegians Ekorness and Solheim still classified tenth, a lap down.