Donington Park, UK
MASTERS RACE WEEKEND
7 – 8 April 2023
An eggstraordinary Easter weekend of great racing at Donington!
The Masters 2023 Tour kicked off with a brilliant Easter race weekend held under clear blue skies at Donington Park. Thanks to the five Masters grid grids present, including the brand new Masters GT Trophy, as well as some fantastic action from the grids of the HGPCA, the crowd were treated to some amazing qualifying and racing action all throughout Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Stuart Wiltshire and Sam Tordoff did the most overall winning while Marcus Jewell and Ben Clucas starred by racking up one class win after the other.
Masters Endurance Legends – Race 1
Wiltshire romps to victory in first Masters Endurance Legends race at Donington
Stuart Wiltshire dominated the first Masters Endurance Legends race at Donington Park by storming off to a winning margin of 50 seconds over the second-placed Morgan LMP2 of Dean Forward and Jamie Thwaites. Towards, the Peugeot 90X driver again managed to break the one-minute lap barrier just as he had already done in qualifying.
“It’s the best car I’ve ever driven”, Wiltshire said about the Peugeot 90X. “And dipping below the one-minute mark – I just had to do it for the fans. It was all about beating the clock today.”
During the opening laps, Forward battled with Mike Newton’s MG-Lola EX257 to claim second on lap 4. Newton then failed to survive the pitstop phase, returning to the pits with a fuel leak. This left Thwaites out with a comfortable second place. Michael Birch made it into top-three with a strong race in the Ligier JSP2-17, climbing up from seventh on the grid.
“Up until this race, I literally spent 20 minutes in this car!” said Thwaites, “so I was still learning as I went along. But Dean flies in everything he drives!”
It was a similar story with Birch. “First time in this car for me, I’ve only done some testing before, so I’m pretty happy to end up on the podium!”
Meanwhile, Wayne Marrs starred in his Mercedes AMG GT3 to claim a sensational fourth overall while comfortably winning the GT class from Christopher Compton Goddard whose Ferrari 430 GT3 ended up in seventh place. The two leading GT cars sandwiched the two leading P3 cars, with the Marcus Jewell/Ben Clucas Ligier JSP3 just pipping the Stephan Joebstl/Andy Willis example despite having incurred a stop-and-go penalty for stopping short at the pitstops.
“Yeah, fourth overall – not too bad!” said a jubilant Marrs. “And it was fun fighting the prototypes. At one time, we were three wide down the straight!”
“It was good”, said Compton Goddard, “much better compared to where we were on Thursday in testing. I did lose the grip on both rear tyres, but we managed to make it to the end.”
On a sunny and bright Easter Saturday morning, the chill was still very much in the air when the Masters Endurance Legends grid lined up for its first race of the 2023 season. Starting from the pits, however, was Robin Ward who had added experienced WEC and ELMS driver Richard Bradley as a last-minute co-driver, which not only meant a pitlane start for both races but an elite driver time penalty at the pitstops as well – it only added to the challenge.
Because of the morning cold, the field would start with an additional lap behind the safety car, but as soon as they were allowed, Wiltshire duly powered away to lead from Mike Newton’s MG-Lola EX257, Dean Forward in the Morgan LMP2 shared with Jamie Thwaites, and Marcus Jewell in the first of the Ligier JSP3s. Michael Birch in the Ligier JSP2-17, meanwhile, had made up a place, with Wayne Marrs in the leading GT car following him through at the cost of Stephan Joebstl in the second JSP3 shared with
Andy Willis. Further back, Ward had already passed Marrs’ GT rivals Christopher Compton Goddard and Jason Wright.
At the front, Wiltshire had pulled out a four-second lead on lap 4, with Forward managing to get ahead of the MG-Lola after three laps of strong defense by Newton. Ten seconds further down the road, Jewell was holding off Birch, with Marrs now ahead of Craig Davies in the JSP3 shared with Ron Maydon, Howard Spooner in the Jade-Nissan, and Ward, who had now progressed past Joebstl and Mike Furness in the Courage-Judd LC75.
Ten minutes into the race, Wiltshire’s lead was up to seven seconds, as Forward now kept the Peugeot 90X honest, himself having dropped Newton by some 13 seconds. Birch was still hounding Jewell, with Marrs keeping Davies at bay. Further down the field, Compton Goddard in the Ferrari 430 GT3 had managed to shake off Jason Wright’s Ferrari 430 GT2 by 21 seconds.
For a while, Wiltshire was controlling business at the front, but on lap 11, he cranked out another fastest lap of the race to increase the gap to Forward to ten seconds. Newton now trailed by 22 seconds while Birch had moved up into fourth, having found a way past Jewell. 50 seconds behind the leader, Davies was now putting the Mercedes AMG GT3 of Wayne Marrs under pressure. All gaps were soon negated, though, as the safety car was out as Howard Spooner’s Jade-Nissan had hit the gravel at Coppice – right on the cusp of the pit window opening. This meant that almost everyone was into the pits for their mandatory pitstop, with only the Ward/Bradley Ligier staying out for another lap. Meanwhile, Jason Wright’s Ferrari 430 GT2 was out after having sustained damage from contact.
On lap 15, though, Newton was in for a second time, as was Furness. But while Furness went back out, Newton’s MG-Lola remained stationary, the team investigating a potential fuel leak. He would not go out again. So now the order was Wiltshire leading from Thwaites, Marrs in a stunning third overall, and Birch as the last man on the lead lap. Clucas and Willis were next, leading Compton Goddard, with Bradley fighting Maydon and Furness. The Jewell/Clucas car was under investigation, however, and soon it was handed a stop-and-go penalty for stopping short at the stops.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Wiltshire had romped off to a 17-second lead over Thwaites, with Birch now in third, having dealt with Marrs. Clucas serving his penalty meant that Willis was now up to fifth overall and in the P3 class lead while Compton Goddard in seventh was chased by Bradley who had repassed Maydon and Furness.
On lap 27, the leader now out to fully enjoy himself dieseled to a new fastest lap of the race, still shy of breaking the one-minute mark as he had done in practice, but on lap 28, he did manage to dip below, recording a 59.956. This left Thwaites trailing by 31 seconds, but holding a healthy margin of 18 seconds over Birch himself.
At the chequered flag, Wiltshire won by 50 seconds over Thwaites, with Birch a lapped third. Marrs was fourth overall and the first of the GTs, with Chris Goddard’s Ferrari 430 GT3 in seventh. Behind the Mercedes, Ben Clucas did incredible work to pip Willis for fifth, negating the setback from the stop-and-go penalty.
Masters Endurance Legends – Race 2
Wiltshire doubles up in Masters Endurance Legends walk in the Park
Stuart Wiltshire also made the second Masters Endurance Legends race of the Masters Race Weekend at Donington Park his own, as the Peugeot 90X driver silently but effectively tore off to victory by a full lap. In the process, he beat his morning’s sub-one-minute tour around Donington by 16 thousands to record a 59.940 lap.
“That was tougher, that one”, said Wiltshire, straight out of the car. “The circuit was trickier, there was some oil on the circuit. And I was driving without a rollbar as it broke six laps from the end in the first race. But you know, those 16 thousands – I try to deliver!”
Dean Forward and Jamie Thwaites made sure of a strong second place in the Morgan LMP2, with Forward trying his hardest to keep the Peugeot in sight during his opening stint. In the Ligier JSP2-17, Michael Birch ran third initially but there was nothing he could do about Ben Clucas storming past in the Ligier JSP3 started by Marcus Jewell.
“I was quicker this time”, said Thwaites about learning the car, “but my neck’s killing me! I think getting used to the Gs is going to be the hardest with this car… Dean built a good lead, and he was just great in the second sector.”
“It was good!” said Clucas. “Marcus did a good job to be fourth after his opening stint, and then I got the P2 Ligier at the back of the circuit. We had good pace all day, and didn’t mess up with the pitstops this time…”
The Robin Ward/Richard Bradley and Stephan Joebstl JSP3s completed the P3 class ranks, while the Craig Davies/Ron Maydon example failed to reach the finish.
Glorious sunshine and lovely white clouds were overhead when the second Masters Endurance Legends was given the green flag. In this prototype-only race, Wiltshire’s mighty Peugeot 90X was soon off into a convincing lead of two seconds over Dean Forward in the Morgan LMP2. Birch in the Ligier JSP2-17, meanwhile, headed a train of four P3 Ligiers that was led by Marcus Jewell and also contained Craig Davies, Stephan Joebstl and Robin Ward.
Four laps gone, Forward had managed to hold Wiltshire to a gap of 2.8 seconds while Birch was now 13 seconds adrift of the Morgan as Jewell in the Ligier JSP3 kept the P2 car honest. In the P3 train, Ward and Joebstl had switched places, the former now setting off after Davies.
With half an hour remaining on the clock, Wiltshire had steadily increased his lead to almost seven seconds, while Birch and Jewell continued to quarrel over third. Davies was ten further ticks down the road, with Ward following him by a similar margin, himself having opened up a 12-second gap to Joebstl.
A few more minutes remained until the pit window would open, and when that did open, Wiltshire turned up the wick to improve his fastest lap of the race to a 1.00.2 as Joebstl was the first to come in and hand over to Andy Willis, with Ward following soon for a similar seat-switching manoeuvre with Richard Bradley. Next into the pits was Marcus Jewell who would be relieved by Ben Clucas.
At the front, Wiltshire now led by 12 seconds while Forward did well to beat the Peugeot’s third-sector time. But nonetheless, such was the French car’s pace that Birch had already been lapped. On lap 20, Davies was in for Ron Maydon, and then on lap 21, the three leaders came in simultaneously, three minutes before the pit window would close, with Forward handing over to Jamie Thwaites.
After the stops, Wiltshire’s lead had improved to a lead of over half a minute while Clucas after his driver swap had produced a searing pace to pip Birch for third place. Willis trailed the P2 Ligier by 35 seconds, with Bradley a further 27 seconds down, having to compensate for his elite driver time penalty at the stops. Maydon, meanwhile, had beached his JSP3 in the gravel but it wasn’t enough to summon the safety car.
Like in the morning, Wiltshire now set about achieving his goal of beating the one-minute mark, and he succeeded on lap 25 with a 59.940 – 16 thousands below his earlier target. Soon, his margin to Thwaites was up to 50 seconds, with Clucas now firmly in third place, eight seconds ahead of Birch.
Easing off towards the end, the Peugeot 90X nevertheless managed to lap the entire field, with Thwaites another full lap ahead of Clucas in third. This time, Birch missed out on the podium to take fourth, with Bradley passing Willis for fifth overall.
Masters Gentlemens Drivers
Spiers/Greensall open Masters Gentlemen Drivers account with stunning win at Donington
John Spiers and Nigel Greensall converted their pole position into a hard-fought win in Friday’s 90-minute Masters Gentlemen Drivers race at Donington Park. Spiers led his entire stint from the front while keeping John Pearson’s Jaguar E-type at bay, but Greensall was forced to compensate for his elite driver time penalty enforced during the mid-race pitstops, which made their TVR Griffith rejoin in sixth place.
“That was way beyond my expectations!” said Spiers about maintaining the lead for his entire stint. “But the car kept coming to me. It was a great battle with John Pearson, and a fantastic feel to win. Driving behaviour was very good too. If just every race was like this!”
Soon after those stops, John Davison in another TVR Griffith had stolen the lead from John & Gary Pearson’s E-type which was later hit by a ten-second penalty for an infringement during their mandatory stop. In a finely poised finale, Davison made his fellow Griffith driver work hard for the win, though, as he chased Greensall over the line by 1.8 seconds.
“What a great race, I think our left rear tyres were gone in 20 minutes!” Davison enthused. “John and I are friends, but I was determined not to let Nigel get away too easy…”
The Pearsons contained the damage of their time penalty to still take third overall, with one second in hand over CLP class winner Giles Dawson.
“We didn’t turn the engine off”, Pearson explained about their time penalty, “but we would have been third anyway. The funny thing at the end was that I was chased by Sam Tordoff but I didn’t know he was a lap down. I saw +4 on the board and I thought that was him. So that gave me the incentive to push!”
In the hands of Ward, the Robin Ward/Ron Maydon Ginetta G4R was the early class leader but Maydon was forced to pull off towards the end after Dawson had already reclaimed the class lead. This handed second and third in class to the Elans of John & Sam Tordoff and Austrian-Swiss duo Stephan Joebstl/Philipp Buhofer.
“I wish I hadn’t thrown it off at Coppice, as that would have been third overall. But fighting with the big boys, toughening up the TVRs – that was just great!”, said a jubilant Dawson.
“I really enjoyed that”, said Sam Tordoff. “That was a good start of the year. I hadn’t driven it since Spa last year but I dialled into it really fast.”
Brian Caudwell and Kieran Clarke completely dominated the C2 class in their Austin Healey 3000, Caudwell having fought off an early challenge by the returning Keith Ahlers in the Morgan SLR shared with Billy Bellinger. The latter soon disappeared from the action, but only after Richard Hywel Evans and David Smithies/Chris Clarkson in two more Big Healeys had made it past into second and third place in class. The Turner 1650 of Luke Wos and Andy Yool similarly reigned in C1 while James Hanson and Paul Pochciol bagged the B2 class win in their pre-63 Jaguar E-type.
On a glorious Good Friday, with the sun shining as bright yellow as all the Easter eggs and daffodils in the paddock, John Spiers lined up in pole position, followed by three more TVR Griffiths. Soon after the start, though, there was a cat among the pigeons, as John Pearson got his E-type ahead of Mike Whitaker’s TVR for fourth, and next time around he was up into third, also having dealt with John Davison’s Griffith. In sixth overall, Giles Dawson initially led the CLP class in his Elan 26R, but he was soon passed by Andrew Haddon’s in the ex-Mark Martin Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé and Mark Donnor in another E-type, while Robin Ward got hold of the CLP class lead in the Ginetta G4R that now sported no.1 in honour of his 2022 title.
Further back, Brian Caudwell (Austin Healey) and Keith Ahlers (Morgan SLR) picked up the traditional Healey vs Morgan battle in C2, while Luke Wos led the C1 class in the neat Turner 1650, profiting from class polesitter Mark Bates not starting after Bates’ 911 broke a conrod towards the end of the qualifying session. Among the B class runners, Robert Ingram’s Elite S2 had lost a rival after Niall McFadden’s older E-type was forced to visit the pits after a single lap, but the other E-type of James Hanson and Paul Pochciol was still running.
7 laps gone, Spiers still led, but Pearson (J.) continued his move to the front, having also usurped Oliver Reuben’s TVR. Davison was fourth ahead of Haddon, Whitaker and Ward, with Donnor, Dawson and Jason Minshaw in Martin Melling’s E-type completing the top ten. Behind them, the fight was on for third in CLP, John Tordoff chasing Simon Jackson’s similar Elan. Billy Nairn in another of the Elans was into the pits, however, retiring with brake issues.
Having set fastest lap of the race, Pearson had all but closed the gap to Spiers who still had three tenths in hand going into lap 10. Further back though, Haddon had lost places to Whitaker, Ward, Donnor and Dawson while running two seconds off the pace that he had shown before, but seemed to be gathering up the car into lap 12.
In C2, Caudwell had gradually dropped Ahlers to lead by seven seconds while David Smithies in the second Big Healey was now four seconds adrift of the Morgan. Wos, meanwhile, still comfortably led the C1 class from Dean DeSantis’ Porsche 911.
In the top-five, both Davison and Ward turned in their quickest lap so far, allowing Ward to demote Whitaker to sixth, the TVR driver by contrast just having completed one of his worst laps. It soon transpired why, as Whitaker was into the pits to abandon the lead battle. The TVR only returned to the game after it had been dropped to 15th overall. Soon, Whitaker’s Griffith was seen losing pace once more, having visited the gravel trap, and on lap 18 he was in for a second time to have his brakes checked. In CLP, Ward maintained his class lead, now four seconds ahead of Dawson, with Simon Jackson further back in tenth overall still occupying third in class.
Approaching one third’s distance, Spiers held strong at the front, maintaining his slender margin of three tenths over Pearson lap after lap, but five seconds behind the leading pair, Davison had made a move for third, demoting Reuben to fourth, with Ward now eager to join this battle, having just recorded the fastest lap of the race! And if that wasn’t enough, the reigning champion then set about beating that time on the next lap to be the race’s only driver in the 1.19s. And sure enough, the Ginetta was up into fourth by lap 21. Whitaker, meanwhile, rejoined the race for the second time but was now plum last, four laps down. Two laps later, the TVR was truly out, its brakes having cried enough.
In CLP, Simon Jackson was forced to relinquish his third place in class, having gone into the pits on lap 24 with overheating issues. This handed the place to Stephan Joebstl’s Elan, but the Austrian was chased hard by John Tordoff’s example, now five seconds in arrears. The C2 class was now led by three Big Healeys, as Richard Hywel Evans had passed Smithies while the two of them had each been able to overtake Ahlers for second and third places in class. The fierce tussle between Smithies and Ahlers was observed by Wos, two seconds down on the pair and still leading the C1 class in the Turner.
As the pit window approached, Spiers had managed to increased his lead to a full second but it had come at the cost of a black-and-white warning flag for exceeding track limits. The TVR driver could now afford no more mistakes. Behind Spiers and Pearson, Ward continued his impressive run by grabbing third overall at the cost of Davison while in the process further improving on his own fastest lap of the race. Behind them, Reuben was in no man’s land, with Donnor being pushed by Dawson. Haddon was eighth, now over half a minute down on the leader, but with a comfortable cushion to Minshaw. Peter Thompson in another Griffith had entered the top ten just as the pit window had truly opened.
Spiers was soon in to hand over to Nigel Greensall, with Davison also opting for the early stop but staying in the car. In the CLP battle for third in class, both Joebstl and John Tordoff were in simultaneously to hand over to Philipp Buhofer and Sam Tordoff, while C2 class leader Brian Caudwell swapped places with Kieran Clarke. On the next lap, Reuben was relieved by Harry Barton, while Minshaw made way for Melling. Dawson was in for his stop on lap 33, which by now was past the halfway mark, while John Pearson elected to hand over to brother Gary on lap 34. This elevated Ward into a momentary P1, but he was in on the next lap, handing over to Ron Maydon, along with Haddon swapping with James Hagan.
After all the pitstops had panned out, Gary Pearson led Maydon by three seconds, with Davison and Donner ten and 13 seconds adrift respectively. Dawson was fifth ahead of Greensall, who as usual had to come from behind due his elite-driver penalty keeping him stationary for longer at the stops. Barton now ran seventh, with a big gap to Charles Allison in the Griffith taken over from Thompson. Hagan and Buhofer completed the first ten, but the Swiss driver had BTCC race winner Sam Tordoff breathing down his neck soon.
Clarke had kept Caudwell’s Austin Healey 3000 in the C2 class lead, now leading Hywel Evans by six seconds. Chris Clarkson in the third Big Healey was now fighting Michael Russell for third in class, with the Allan & Daniel Ross-Jones Triumph TR4 now up into fifth, as the Ahlers/Bellinger Morgan SLR had departed the scene, as by the way had Martin Melling’s E-type. Now in 21st overall, Andy Yool in the Turner started by Wos led the C1 class by two full laps over the DeSantis Porsche 911 now taken over by David Hinton. In the B class, George Pochciol had grabbed the older E-type by the neck to run in a stunning 13th place overall.
After an hour of racing, Pearson still led but his next pursuer was Davison, the TVR having demoted Maydon to third. Donnor continued to be fourth but not for long, as Greensall had beaten Ward’s previous fastest lap of the race to take Dawson for fifth and close the gap to the red Jaguar. On lap 43, he was passed and up into fourth place, trailing Maydon by 11 seconds and the leading Pearson by 18. This was going to be close.
Pearson was by no means under pressure from Greensall alone, however, as Davison also hunted down the E-type, and to add insult to injury, the Jaguar was hit by a ten-second time penalty for a pitstop infringement. Davison – on a real charge and now into the 1.19s along with Greensall – soon swooped into the lead, as Greensall had narrowed the gap to Maydon by dipping into the 1.18s! Further back, Tordoff (S.) was now in the top ten, having dealt with Buhofer, but perhaps the gap to class rivals Maydon and Dawson would prove too large.
On lap 49, the endurance aspect of the 90-minute race came into play as Mark Donnor was forced to abandon his fifth spot to come into the pits with a Jaguar leaking fluids. Moments later, Greensall passed Maydon for third and now set after Pearson who was six seconds further up the road.
With 15 minutes remaining on the clock, everything was still to play for, as this finely poised lead battle began to reach its apotheosis. On lap 54, Greensall finally powered past Pearson to snatch second place and could now see the lead with his own eyes, as Davison led his rival Griffith competitor by 1.5 seconds. Behind them, Dawson was equally on a charge to move past Maydon for fourth overall and the CLP class lead. In fact, the Ginetta was slowly losing pace, and on lap 56, Barton went by as well. It was all over for Maydon later in the lap when he pulled off at Starkey’s Bridge just as Greensall hit the front with less than ten minutes to go.
Maydon’s demise elevated Sam Tordoff into second place in class and sixth overall ahead of Allison, Hagan and class rival Buhofer in ninth, while C2 class leader Clarke had entered into the top ten, having dropped Hywel Evans by a lap and Clarkson by two. Pochciol remained the B class leader in 15th overall while Yool led C1 serenely in 20th overall.
As the final seconds on the clock ticked away, Greensall bagged the win for himself and car owner John Spiers, leading Davison over the line by a mere 1.8 seconds, the latter having kept the leader honest in those dying laps. Gary Pearson salvaged third by maintaining an 11-second lead over Dawson, who took the CLP class spoils in fourth. Barton took fifth ahead of Tordoff, who took second place in CLP, with Buhofer in third, as the Swiss driver trailed home Allison in eighth overall.
Hagan was ninth while Clarke completed a dominating race to finish tenth overall and come away with the C2 class win. Hywel Evans and Clarkson took second and third in class. In 18th overall, Yool brought home the C1 class win while Pochciol still bagged the B2 class victory despite the E-type not quite making it to the end.
Masters GT Trophy – Race 1
Wilkins claims emphatic first win in Masters GT Trophy at Donington
Craig Wilkins proved to be the dominant force in the first ever Masters GT Trophy race, as the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo driver led the entire race bar the first few corners to win by a full lap from Sam Tordoff in the Porsche 997.2 Cup, the BTCC race winner having stormed up into second place after two laps.
“I was very lucky, with Aaron [Scott] dropping out”, said Wilkins. “To be fair, the car is new to me, I haven’t had a chance of driving it much. It’s a new series and I’m looking forward to racing it more often. I’m a gentleman driver, so I was getting comfortable in the car, slowly getting a feel for it. With more cars in the pipeline who knows if I will ever stand here again!”
“I had a little issue at the end so I had to manage the last few laps, but other than that I totally enjoyed that”, said Tordoff. “It’s been a long time since I raced a Cup car!”
The threat of the second Lambo shared by Neil Glover and Aaron Scott failed to materialise when Scott ground to a halt as he chased down Tordoff. This elevated Matthew Holme’s 997 Cup into third, but Dallas Carroll in the Porsche 991.2 Cup started by Marcus Jewell was all over his Porsche rival towards the end. However, Holme would not let his third place slip away and kept 1.2 seconds in hand across the line.
“It’s just a great car”, said Holme, “it’s such a pleasure to drive it!”
“You know, Aaron is not only my driving coach but the team owner as well”, said Wilkins. “I was looking to having a fight with him, although who knows what the conversation afterwards in our garage would have been!”
Ray Harris initially fought Alex Brundle in an intra-Ginetta battle but eventually ended up a lonely fifth in the lead G55. In sixth, Martin Addison prevailed over the delayed Chris Griffin to win the battle of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4s, with the George Haynes/Adam Sharpe BMW M3 GT4 and the Alex Brundle/Ron Maydon Ginetta up next.
It was 11.40am on the Easter Saturday when the first race of the inaugural Masters GT Trophy season got underway, the two Lambos leading away in front of the Porsches and the Ginettas. Craig Wilkins passed Neil Glover around the back to lead the first time around, with Sam Tordoff and Marcus Jewell in the chasing Porsches. Matthew Holme made it three Porsches in the first five, leaving Ray Harris to fend off Alex Brundle in the Ginetta shared with Ron Maydon. Meanwhile, Chris Griffin in the first of the Aston Martin Vantages had got past George Haynes in the BMW M3 GT4.
Three laps gone, however, Tordoff, Jewell and Holme had muscled their way past Glover while further back Martin Addison’s Vantage had also caught and demoted the BMW. At the front, Wilkins set the fastest lap of the race to lead by five seconds, while Tordoff had pulled out a similar gap to Jewell, Holme and Glover – those three separated by two seconds each. Brundle still harried Harris for sixth in their intra-G55 battle, while Griffin and Addison equally fought for the honour of prevailing Aston Martin.
As Wilkins continued to rattle off the fastest race laps, Tordoff’s lead over Jewell grew in similar style, the gaps between the top three now increased to eight seconds each on lap 7. Further back, Glover had dropped into the clutches of the two Ginettas as he himself tried to hang on with Holme’s Porsche. Griffin and Addison, meanwhile, had left Haynes’ BMW three seconds behind.
At the end of lap 10, with the pit window just minutes away, Wilkins led Tordoff by 10 seconds, with the latter now 12 seconds ahead of Jewell. 40 seconds down on the leader, the fight was still on for fourth, as Holme, Glover, Harris and Brundle continued to run in close order. Chris Griffin, however, was slowing and soon into the pits, just as the pit window opened. Harris was the first to stop, followed by Jewell, who handed over to Dallas Carroll. The rest stayed out for the moment as Wilkins again beat his fastest lap of the race to increase his lead to 17 seconds.
Addison was in next, as was Haynes, the latter handing over to Adam Sharpe. Now, Holme came in for his stop too, as did Glover, who would hand over to Aaron Scott. Tordoff pitted on lap 18 while Wilkins got down into the 1.06s. Both the leader and Brundle left it to their latest opportunity before pitting, Brundle handing over to Ron Maydon.
After the pit window had closed, Wilkins was still the leader, now with a massive 57-second lead over Tordoff, who in turn was chased by Scott – but not for long, as the second Huracán pulled off to retire. This handed third to Holme who faced the threat of Carroll being just four seconds down and closing. Harris in the Ginetta was fifth while Addison in the Aston Martin had got ahead of Maydon for sixth. Griffin in eighth had set his sights on the second Ginetta too.
With ten minutes still on the clock, Wilkins once more lowered his best-lap mark by producing a 1.06.8 on lap 25 before turning that into a 1.06.6 on lap 26. In fact, his pace was so stunning that the Lambo lapped the second-placed Porsche on the following lap. As the minutes wound down, Holme still clung on to third but Carroll was now less than two seconds adrift. Meanwhile, Griffin and Sharpe both managed to pass Maydon in their pursuit of Harris and Addison in fifth and sixth.
At the finish, Wilkins completed a dominant run by having a full lap in hand over Tordoff, as Holme’s defence proved impenetrable, the 997 Cup keeping the Jewell/Carroll 991.2 Cup behind by 1.2 seconds. Harris was a lonely fifth, a full minute ahead of the Addison and Griffin Astons and Sharpe in the BMW, with the Brundle/Maydon G55 a further 19 seconds behind.
Masters GT Trophy – Race 2
Tordoff says thank you in second Masters GT Trophy outing at Donington Park
Sam Tordoff went one better in the second Masters GT Trophy race of the Masters Race Weekend at Donington, as he profited from the demise of long-time leader Craig Wilkins, whose Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo looks set for a dominant second victory before the Italian car was seen coming into the pits twice before retiring from the lead with just three minutes remaining on the clock.
The result was a Porsche 1-2-3 as Tordoff’s 997.2 was followed home by the Marcus Jewell/Dallas Carroll 991.2 Cup, with Matthew Holme making it three Porsches in the top three by adding his 997 Cup to the all-Zuffenhausen podium.
Ray Harris once again occupied the lead Ginetta G55 to take fourth overall and win the GT4 class from Chris Griffin’s Aston Martin Vantage N24 GT4 and the Adam Sharpe/George Haynes BMW M3 GT4.
For the second Masters GT Trophy race of the weekend, Craig Wilkins led away from pole as the race 1 winner, but the Lamborghini was immediately chased hard by Sam Tordoff’s Porsche 997.2 Cup car. Behind the lead pair, Marcus Jewell in the 991.2 Cup took Matthew Holme’s 997 Cup for third, with Ray Harris following through on the next lap in the first of the Ginetta G55s. From the back, Adam Sharpe demonstrated great pace by storming up to sixth in three laps on board George Haynes’ BMW M3 GT4 while from last on the grid Alex Brundle in the other G55 had gained a spot by passing Martin Addison’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Sadly, the other Huracán Super Trofeo Evo of Neil Glover/Aaron Scott had failed to appear at the start.
With a string of fastest laps, Wilkins built a five-second gap after five laps, with Tordoff extending his margin to Jewell to seven seconds. Further back, Brundle now also made it past Chris Griffin in the other Aston to be seventh while chasing Sharpe in the BMW that was in striking distance just three-tenths up ahead.
With Wilkins improving his grasp of the Lambo with every lap, more fastest laps were waiting in the wings – and these duly arrived on tours 9 and 10, as the Huracán again dipped into the 1.06s. The result was that Tordoff now trailed by 12 seconds, with three more minutes until the pit window would open. Jewell was 27 seconds down in third, with Harris and Holme each looking at a 12-second deficit to their rivals ahead. Sharpe, meanwhile, was proving a tough cookie for Brundle to crack, the BMW holding on to its sixth place as the Ginetta continued to pile the pressure on.
As the pit window opened, Jewell was the first one in, handing the Porsche to Dallas Carroll. The next driver to blink was Chris Griffin in the N24 GT4 Aston, followed by Tordoff and Griffin’s Aston rival Addison. Brundle then entrusted the Ginetta to Ron Maydon, with Harris, Holme and Sharpe following suit, the latter switching places with Haynes. The leader left it until the final two minutes before doing his stop.
Now, with 15 minutes still to go, Wilkins led by a huge margin, but with his elite-driver pitstop penalty Tordoff was still under threat from Carroll, a mere seven seconds away. Holme trailed them by 35 seconds, and behind him cars were seven seconds apart each – from Harris to Griffin, to Haynes, to Addison, to Maydon.
With five more minutes off the clock, proceedings took a surprise turn with Wilkins visiting the pits for a second time, but such was his lead that he returned with 21 seconds still in hand over Tordoff, who himself had increased his advantage over Carroll to 15 seconds. But seven minutes later, true disaster struck when Wilkins was seen trundling into the pits for a third time. The team reported that they had an engine issue and wanted to be cautious.
And so Tordoff said thank you to win the second Masters GT Trophy race with 19 seconds in hand over Carroll, and a full lap over Holme. The Porsches were followed home by Harris, Griffin, Haynes, Addison and Maydon.
Masters Pre66 Touring Cars
Tordoff completes fine day with Masters Pre-66 Touring Car win at Donington
Sam Tordoff closed the curtains on a wonderful Masters Race Weekend at Donington Park by leading the entire Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race from the front, only allowing the Nigel Greensall/John Spiers Ford Mustang briefly in front right after the stops. When that dropped out, the Ford Falcon driver brought it home safely from Mike Whitaker Jr who drove a strong race in what turned out to be the afternoon’s strongest Mustang.
“It was really good, I enjoyed that!” said Tordoff. “Jumping straight from the Porsche [997 Cup] into the Falcon, they’re totally different cars, with a quite difference in speed and handling. To be honest, initially the Falcon felt absolutely appalling – but that was because I’d just been in the Porsche! Then I saw the other guys slide around too, and I knew that I was fine. It also helped to change tyres during my stop – due to the elite-driver penalty I’m sat stationary for so long, I might as well do that!”
“I found myself in no man’s land, really”, said Whitaker Jr about his storming race to lead the Mustangs home. “So I said to myself, just stay here and see what happens. After the stops, I tried to follow Sam but he was nudging away. So I just carried it home.”
Third in another Mustang, Craig Davies made up many places to hit the podium and deny the Henry Mann/Steve Soper Mustang despite Soper trying his hardest all the way to the line. Alex Brundle and Abbie Eaton took fifth in another Mustang.
“Yes, I managed to get through, which was well handy”, said Davies, “but I just didn’t have the pace to stay with the guys in front. Towards the end, all the dials were in the red!”
In a race of attrition that would particularly hit the Cortinas, Marcus Jewell and Ben Clucas dominated to bring their Cortina home in sixth overall to be the dominant Cortina class winners. They were followed by the Jon Wood/James Pickford and Peter & Guy Smith pairings.
“We did OK, I guess”, said a happy Jewell about an immensely fruitful day for himself and Clucas. “Three class wins from three races is not too bad!”
“Yes, I’m very happy, I really enjoyed that”, Clucas agreed.
Closing off a brilliantly sunny Masters Race Weekend at Donington Park, the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars made their way out for the finale. With Greensall starting in John Spiers’ Mustang, polesitter Sam Tordoff had his work cut out from the get-go, as Greensall harried the Falcon through the corners. More ‘stangs followed, led by Mike Whitaker Jr who was followed by Alex Brundle, Craig Davies and Henry Mann, with Marcus Jewell occupying the lead Cortina in seventh, just ahead of Mike Gardiner’s example. Dan Williamson’s Falcon and Dave Coyne’s Mustang completed the top ten in these opening stages. Gone already were Mark Shaw’s Cortina and James Davison’s Mustang.
Gardiner soon dropped down the order to hand second place among the Cortinas to Richard Dutton, with Justin Law now third in class. In 17th overall, Harry Barton led the 2-litre class in his BMW 1800 tiSA while Carl Nairn brought up the rear in the only Mini Cooper S present on this occasion.
On lap 5, Craig Davies – always more of a racer than a qualifier – surged past Brundle for fourth, and was now looking at a five-second disadvantage to Whitaker Jr. Meanwhile at the front, Tordoff had inched away to a lead of three seconds over Greensall. Further back, both Luke Davenport and Kiwi Warren Briggs made it into top ten with their Mustangs. On the Cortina front, however, Dutton also joined the retirees with engine maladies, promoting Law to second in class, with Jon Wood now in third. Wood was chased by the Peter & Guy Smith Cortina, now pedalled by father Peter, and Mark Drain who had taken over Mark Martin’s Cortina, but soon James Hanson demoted Drain to sixth in class.
At quarter distance, Tordoff’s lead had grown to 5.8 seconds while Whitaker Jr trailed the leading Falcon by 16.7 seconds. Davies and Brundle still warred over fourth, as Mann in sixth was hounded by Jewell in the lead Cortina. In a long train of cars, Williamson, Briggs, Davenport (L.), Doyne and Law were next, before an eight-second gap opened up to Wood, Hanson, Smith (P.) and Drain. Behind them, Stephen Mawhinney in another Cortina had come charging from the back to leap past Barton and the David Smithies/Chris Clarkson Falcon that had already seen a pitstop. The Nairns’ Mini, however, was in the pits, full stop.
On lap 13, Briggs moved ahead of Williamson as Davenport dropped from the group to visit the pits and stay there, while two laps later, Williamson lost another place to Coyne. With two minutes remaining before the pit window would open, Tordoff had accumulated a lead of 12 seconds over Greensall who in turn had extended his advantage to Whitaker Jr to 16 seconds. Davies had left Brundle behind by another eight seconds, as Mann inched closer to the Mustang in front. Behind Mann, Briggs was the man on the move and, along with Coyne, the Kiwi surged past Jewell in the top Cortina. Law in the second Cortina was now just three seconds off the class lead, with Wood harrassing him – although the latter was handed a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits one time too many.
Mann (being relieved by Steve Soper) was the first to come in, along with Law (making way for Rob Huff), Jewell (replaced by Ben Clucas) and Jon Wood (handing over to James Pickford). Brundle, meanwhile, handed Abbie Eaton the reins, while Dave Coyne switched places with Mark Wright, with Guy Smith taking over from dad Peter. So with all the star drivers now into their racing seats, it was time for the leaders to come in. Tordoff and Davies would stay in the car, but Greensall made way for owner John Spiers, who had been on it all weekend. But was he up for the job of taking on all the second-stint pros?
With all the pitstops and various penalties having panned out, Spiers found himself going into lap 25 with a seven-second lead over Tordoff, and one more of over Whitaker Jr, with Davies not too far away either. From further away would come Soper, Williamson, Wright, Huff and Easton. Clucas in the lead Cortina was 11th overall, with a 13-second lead over Guy Smith, and 20 seconds over Paul Pochciol in the Cortina that was started by Hanson. In the gaggle of cars from seventh to 12th though, Huff soon made his way to the front.
At the front, meanwhile, Tordoff had been nibbling away at Spiers’ lead and was just three tenths behind when suddenly the leader slowed and was seen heading into the pits. The Spiers/Greensall challenge was over, the Mustang hit by a Cortina and retiring with contact damage. So now Tordoff led Whitaker Jr by 8.2 seconds and Davies by 18.4 seconds. Soper moved up to fourth, 35 seconds behind the leader. Fifth was Williamson, who had seven seconds in hand over Eaton, while Clucas had fought back to reclaim the Cortina class lead from Huff. Guy Smith was third in class and chasing Wright who had been slammed by a track-limits penalty. Further back, Barton had moved his BMW up into 14th overall at the expense of James Hagan in the Cortina started by Mawhinney. A couple of laps later, however, the BMW would be seen stopping out on track.
15 more minutes remained, and out in front Tordoff was still the fastest man out there. Whitaker Jr now faced a 14-second deficit, as the top five were now neatly spread out with 15-second gaps in between them. On lap 31, we were down another Cortina after Huff was forced to retire with a clutch issue, so now Guy Smith was firmly in second place in class, having picked off Pickford who was still facing that track-limits penalty. But then disaster struck for the Smiths as well, as they were hit by a two-second stop-and-go penalty for stopping too short for their mandatory pitstop…
Going into lap 35, with ten minutes to go, Tordoff’s lead now seemed secure, the Falcon leading Whitaker’s Mustang by 19 seconds, but Davies was coming under threat from Soper. In seventh overall, Clucas looked a safe bet for the Cortina class win, sufficiently holding Pickford and Smith (G.) at bay.
As the clock ticked down, two more casualties were noted down – Williamson’s Falcon as well as Wright’s Mustang failed to make it to the finish in a true race of attrition. Tordoff, however, sailed on unperturbed to claim victory with 28 seconds in hand to Whitaker Jr, with Davies holding Soper at bay by four ticks to take third. Eaton moved up into fifth after Williamson’s demise while Ben Clucas completed a great day for him and Marcus Jewell by winning the Cortina class in sixth overall. Jon Wood and James Pickford took second in class ahead of Peter & Guy Smith.
Masters Sports Car Legends
Beighton rumbles to Masters Sports Car Legends victory at Donington
In a race punctuated twice by lengthy safety-car periods, Chris Beighton guided his Lola T70 Mk3B to the narrowest of wins when the sting proved to be in the very tail of the Masters Sports Car Legends race at Donington Park. Gary Pearson and Alex Brundle looked the likely winners until their T70 Mk3B failed with just two laps to go. This handed Beighton the lead which he only narrowly kept across the line, as he defended from Andy Willis in the Stephan Joebstl/Andy Willis Lola T212.
“It was so close at the end”, said Willis. “One more lap? No, with half a lap, I would have done it!”
However, Beighton said that he had it all under control. “I was watching all the yellow flags, with cars suddenly stopping all over the place. I didn’t want to be a naughty boy and get nicked because of that.”
“Well, he almost gave us a nervous breakdown!” said Beighton’s preparer Simon Hadfield.
Behind the two up front Gary Furst in another T212 was lifted up on the podium after Brundle’s demise, with Nick Pink taking fourth in his T210.
“It was pretty physical doing the race on my own”, said Furst. “It was wonderful chasing the T70s, but they have so much grunt! I think I lost out a bit at the pitstops, as I pitted right after the first safety car – but that’s the luck of the draw. I still enjoyed it!”
On their return to the series, Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger and their Cooper Monaco King Cobra snatched the pre-66 class win after the John Spiers/Nigel Greensall McLaren M1B faltered to provoke the first safety-car period shortly before the pit window opening. The third T70 in the race dropped out to create the second neutralisation after Jason Wright hit the gravel trap.
Still in glorious Easter weather, the Masters Sports Car Legends field blasted away for their one-race race, Gary Pearson leading the other T70 Mk3Bs of Chris Beighton and Jason Wright, as Gary Furst was fourth in the first of the open-top 2-litre sportscars, his Lola T212 ahead of John Spiers in the McLaren M1B and Stephan Joebstl in the second T212. Pink in the T210, Sheldon in the Chevron B16 and Billy Bellinger in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra were up next while Paul Allen’s T212 was the race’s first retirement. John Davison, sadly, proved to be a non-starter in his Chevron B6.
After five laps, Pearson led Beighton by four seconds, with Wright a further 11 seconds adrift. The American had Furst breathing down his neck, with Spiers also at close quarters. Four more laps in, though, and Beighton wasn’t letting go. In fact, the gap had narrowed down to 3.7 seconds, as behind the two leaders Wright had slowly dropped away to trail the lead T70 by 23 seconds as he continued to be harried by Furst in the Gunston-liveried T212.
15 minutes into the race, the safety car was called to negate all the accumulated gaps. John Spiers had gone off, in the process handing the pre-66 class lead to Bellinger in the Cooper Monaco King Cobra. The field now fully bunched up with the pit window fast approaching, the field was given the green flag with just five seconds remaining before the window would open!
With everything to play for again, Beighton was handed the lead when Pearson pitted to hand over to Alex Brundle, while Wright similarly took the first opportunity on lap 19. A lap later, Joebstl came in to give the T212 to Andy Willis, with Nick Pink coming in as well to serve his mandatory pitstop. Out on track, meanwhile, Beighton was giving his everything by recording a string of fastest laps of the race before Brundle on his second lap out eclipsed that. With his elite driver time penalty having been effected at the stops, the former WEC and ELMS driver had some catching up to do, just as both Beighton and Sheldon elected to pit on lap 23, leaving Bellinger the last one out before handing over to Keith Ahlers.
The catching-up was done fast enough, though, as Brundle hit the front as soon as lap 25. Beighton was suddenly leaving six seconds a lap on the table, which meant that Willis was catching him at a quick rate too. However, action was suspended once again as now Wright found himself in the gravel.
On lap 29, the green flag was waved for 17 more minutes of racing. Brundle put the hammer down immediately, lowering the fastest lap of the race to a 1.08.7, getting some two seconds in between himself and Beighton, with Willis, Furst and Pink all chasing, the latter passing Sheldon into lap 31. Putting his mind to finishing the race after his long absence, Ahlers was seventh overall and down to win his class.
There was no change with ten minutes remaining, as Brundle’s lead increased to some seven seconds, with Willis a similar margin adrift from Beighton and ahead of Furst. Pink trailed the two T212s by half a minute but had some eight ticks in hand over Sheldon.
Towards the chequered flag, Brundle kept maintaining a safe pace towards the end to nurture a ten-second lead to the flag. However, the sting was definitely in the tail, as the lead Lola was suddenly seen slowing! On lap 43, Beighton, Willis and Furst all zapped past before the T70 coasted to a halt, while at the same time John Sheldon’s Chevron B16 also bowed out. And still it wasn’t over, as Willis was now homing in on the leader too! As they crossed the line, Beighton had kept just four tenths in hand to salvage the win. Furst inherited third, with Pink fourth and the Bellinger/Ahlers Cooper Monaco King Cobra in fifth.