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2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival report
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Nick Padmore


Williams-Cosworth FW07C


Brands Hatch


2018 Masters Historic Festival (May 26, 2018)

Nick Padmore, Williams FW07C, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

This year’s Masters Historic Festival emulated the previous edition by somehow missing out on the traditional spring thunderstorm while treating the visitors to two days of perfect weather for motorsport and picknicks. The action was great too, with some tense racing going on in the various Masters grids in the programme, while the guests featuring on the Masters bill proved to be a fortunate pick – the fans loved the F2s and stayed until the chequered was dropped for the final car across the line in the Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge.

The Saturday started with a morning fog that made for some slightly damp running in the first few qualifying sessions but by 11am the sun was out in full force, and would not be gone until the gates closed on Sunday. Yes, Sunday’s forecasted rains indeed came but much sooner than expected, the thunderstorms all having passed the county well before action got underway at 10am.

Mark Hazell, Williams FW07, Simon Fish, Ensign N180, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

The Martin Stretton Racing garages on Friday, with Mark Hazell's Williams FW07 and the Ensign N180 of Simon Fish. (photo 8W)

On Saturday, Masters’ new addition to its collection of championships kicked off the actual racing, with the second race following on Sunday morning – and on each occasion, Rui Aguas driving Kriton Lendoudis’s Peugeot 908 HDI FAP proved to be an insurmountable challenge for the competition.

An 11-car grid was perhaps slightly disappointing for the second round of the Masters Endurance Legends, with eventually no GTs taking to the grid, but the prototypes made each of the 40-minute races very entertaining to watch. Aguas’s main opposition came from Imola’s double winner Alex Kapadia, this time teaming up with Martin Rich in one the ORECA-Nissan 03 P2 cars in the field, as well as from Steve Tandy’s striking Dyson Racing Lola-Mazda B12/60, the latter unhampered by any of the additional pitstop penalties handed to the professional drivers in the field, such as Aguas and Kapadia.

Shaun Balfe/Andy Wolfe, AC Cobra, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

Shaun Balfe and Andy Wolfe took the Masters Gentlemen Drivers win when Mike Whitaker faltered. (photo 8W)

On Saturday, Tandy’s opportunity to create a gap between himself and Rich was cancelled by a lengthy safety-car period lasting into the pit window, but on Sunday the plan worked, turning Tandy into Aguas’s main rival. On Saturday, Kapadia chased the Portuguese who kept cool on both occasions to deliver the Peugeot its first two wins of its second career in motorsport.

The two FIA Masters Historic Formula One races were crackers, and not least because of Nick Padmore and Martin Stretton both returning to the show. While Padmore and his team boss/mate Max Smith-Hilliard skipped Imola in order to preserve their cars for Monaco, Stretton will always do a part programme with his Tyrrell 012, but his presence meant that on both days the 2016 champion was given a real run for his money.

Pierre Bruneau/Marc Rostan, Pilbeam MP91, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

The crowd took to the modern cars on the historic programme. Here's the Pierre Bruneau/Marc Rostan Pilbeam at the bottom of Hailwoods Hill. (photo 8W)

Not in qualifying as yet, since Stretton pulled off with a broken wheel hub halfway into the session leaving Padmore to claim an easy pole, but in the race the Williams FW07C driver was kept honest all the way, Stretton waiting for a moment of hesitation with Padmore whilst lapping the backmarkers – but that never came, as the race was redflagged by a huge shunt caused by Katsu Kubota’s Lotus 91 being launched over the top of team mate Steve Brooks’s Lotus 81. The Lotus 91 was flipped end over end, and came to rest in the Druids gravel trap, top down. Fortunately, the car’s roll hoop stood up to its task, and the Japanese driver crawled out unhurt.

This didn’t quite help Classic Team Lotus’s cunning plan to have Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) drop back behind his team mates to still win the pre-78 class (which he had dominated) but start higher up the ‘reversed’ grid on Sunday. In fact, with his rival Smith-Hilliard being awarded Sunday’s pole due to finishing eighth overall, the Fittipaldi F5A driver made similarly easy work of the following day’s pre-78 class win.

Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

As usual, the touring cars were magical to watch down Paddock Hill Bend. (photo 8W)

Also making use of the reversed grid, added to some strong overtaking in the early laps, Stretton was into the lead by lap 2, and used the next two laps to create a buffer between himself and Padmore who into second by lap 4. Initially, Padmore clawed into Stretton’s lead but then the Tyrrell inched away again before the race ended under the safety car, with another Druids contretemps as the cause. This time, Mike Cantillon tried a move on Thornton for fifth but the pass wasn’t on and Cantillon’s Williams FW07C ended up in the gravel.

The Saturday was rounded off by the 90-minute Masters Gentlemen Drivers race, and while it seemed to be all Mike Whitaker’s for some 70 minutes, a small off at the back of the circuit causing the exhaust and a brake duct to come loose lost the TVR Griffith a dominant win, as he was ‘meatballed’ to have the damage repaired in the pits. Whitaker’s demise handed the win on a plate to Andy Wolfe and his one-time team mate Shaun Balfe, who adapted well to the AC Cobra to give Wolfe a car with which he could put Whitaker under pressure. The latter looked under control, Wolfe not making any significant inroads into the TVR’s lead, but then the black-and-orange flag came…

Henry Fletcher, Chevron B19, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

In FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars, Henry Fletcher was a pre-race favourite in the OC Racing Chevron B19 but a puncture put paid to his chances. (photo 8W)

Whitaker momentarily dropped back behind fellow Griffith pedaler John Spiers but he was soon past to salvage second place, the lack of rear brakes making it impossible for Spiers to put up a defense. Rob Fenn starred on his way to a CLP class win by taking a strong fourth overall.

Sunday morning’s biggest Masters spectacle was surely the FIA Masters Sports Car race in which Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield surged from last to first in their Avallone Lola-Chevrolet T70 Mk3B. Further helped by a large assortment of safety-car interruptions, the pair flew up the order leaving Hadfield with an easy win. Early leader and pole man Manfredo Rossi (Osella-Abarth PA1) dropped out on lap 10 while Henry Fletcher’s quick Chevron B19 was hit by a puncture. This left Jason Wright in another T70 Mk3B to finish in second place, even though Fletcher took back second shortly before the race was redflagged due to Paul Allen’s Lola T212 beached at Druids after which the final result was declared on the order of the previous lap.

HSCC F2, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

It was good to see a field of both quality and quantity turn up for HSCC F2. (photo 8W)

Meanwhile, Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger (Cooper Monaco King Cobra) got their title defense underway by claiming a hard-fought pre-66 win over Chris Jolly and Steve Farthing in the Cooper Monaco T61M. Imola winner Michiel Smits (Lola T70 Mk1) lost touch with the class leaders after he was another that was hit by a puncture.

When pole man Craig Davies’s Ford Mustang succumbed to – you guessed it – a puncture on lap 6, Sunday afternoon’s Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race evolved into a tense battle between the Lotus Cortinas of Mark Sumpter and Steve Soper. Sumpter only briefly lost the lead after the pitstops but was still narrowly ahead when Soper began to drop back for reasons that the man himself was unable to explain. This left Sumpter with a clear win over the Falcons of Mike Gardiner/Andy Wolfe and Julian Thomas/Calum Lockie. Wolfe and Lockie fought over the place until Lockie was called in for a drivethrough penalty, Thomas having missed the pit window for their mandatory pitstop. Nick Swift annihilated the Mini opposition on his way to a superb fourth.

YTCC, 2018 Brands Hatch Masters Festival

The crowd was quickly enamoured with the sheer variety of YTCC cars. (photo 8W)

With Masters expanding to five grids this year, just two guest series were needed to spice up the programme. Both the HSCC Formula 2 and YTCC grids were jam-packed with quality as well as variety, leaving the crowd with little to complain about. Dean Forward (March 782) won the first race after it all unraveled for the leading March 742 pair of Mike Charteris and Mark Dwyer. When Forward and second-place man Chris Lillingstone-Price failed to start the second race, Matthew Wrigley duly converted pole into a win for his March 79B Atlantic machine.

The Dutch-based YTCC proved to be a surprise favourite with the crowd, its 47-car grid the largest that Brands Hatch had seen this season so far. The variety in the field was mindboggling – from Trabant to thundering Dodge Challengers – but in the end the Brown family’s trio of Escorts (one Mk2 and two Mk1s) dominated proceedings, son Daniel beating dad Sean twice, with brother Robert coming in third on Sunday. Peter Stox in the Porsche 964 Carrera RS was the only one capable and fast enough to spoil the family party, and he did so on Saturday by claiming the final podium spot. On Sunday, however, the Dutchman was forced out of play by one of the Dodges.

The full Brands Hatch Masters Festival event gallery