Crowds wowed at Brands Hatch Masters Festival

Big crowds and fantastic racing marked the annual Brands Hatch Masters Festival last weekend (at the Kent circuit with a host of historic machinery in action. Two fabulous FIA Masters Historic Formula One races headlined the weekend with Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) the winner of both legs, despite tough opposition from Simon Fish (Ensign N180). The pair edged away from Mike Wrigley (Williams FW07) in the opener, but once clear Fish concentrated his attention on Hartley but couldn’t quite get close enough to attack. Wrigley took third place from Greg Thornton (Lotus 91/5) who charged from the back of the grid after an off in qualifying, while Silvio Kalb (Arrows A4) took fifth. Fish led away in race two but Hartley forced a way past on lap five as he attacked going into Surtees, although Fish never gave up and had a second chance after a safety car period to retrieve Mark Dwyer’s battered March 811. Wrigley again took third, while Kalb got the better of Thornton. Simon Hadfield and Leo Voyazides took a win apiece in the Greek driver’s Lola T70 Mk3B in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship, despite massive pressure from Martin O’Connell (Chevron B19). On a wet but drying track, Hadfield won the first race despite driving cautiously to look after the tyres, but O’Connell did everything he could to find a way by, missing out by just six-tenths of a second. Andy Wolfe took third (in Jason Wright’s Lola T70 Mk3B) from Sam Yates (Chevron B16) and Manfredo Rossi di Montelera (Abarth Osella PA1). Sunday’s race was dry and led by O’Connell but he was concerned about the Chevron’s gearbox output shaft. Fearing the worst, he retired leaving Voyazides to win from Jason Wright (Lola T70 Mk3B) and di Montelera with Andy Newall (Chevron B8) a class-winning sixth. Both Masters Pre-66 Touring Car races produced entertainment, the first with Nick Swift (Mini Cooper S) on pole after a wet qualifying. Voyazides was the man to beat in the race, however, as he hustled his Ford Falcon to the win from Henry Mann (Ford Mustang) and Roger Wills (Mercury Comet Cyclone). He also bagged race two, despite the best efforts of Phil Keen in Mike Gardiner’s Ford Falcon who charged from the back of the grid after a gearbox problem stopped the car on Saturday. Wills chased them home third with the swift Swift fourth. The two Gentleman Drivers Pre-66 GT races had action aplenty at 40 minutes duration each. Race one, was led by Leo Voayzides/Simon Hadfield (AC Cobra) until rain came and the race was stopped, with Mike Whitaker (TVR Griffith) second and Roger Wills (Bizarrini 5300GT) third. The second race fell to Whitaker on a dry road, but Voyazides led early on before losing out to the similar Cobra of Andy Wolfe. Whitaker took the lead on the pit stops and hung on to win from Hadfield/Voyazides, with Chris Scragg/Matt Nicoll-Jones third after Wolfe ran out of fuel on the last lap. Dan Brown took an unusual first and second in the 70s Celebration race, his win coming in the Ford Escort Mk2 he shared with father Sean, and his second place with brother Robert in the family’s Mk1 Escort. The next stop for masters Historic Racing is Brno, Czech Republic, on July 4th - 6th.