A thrilling FIA Masters Historic Sports Car race at Zandvoort last weekend went right down the wire when after an hour of hard racing Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield (Lola T70 Mk3B) edged out Michael Gans’ Lola T290 by just half a second. A safety car period just ahead of the pit window played into the Anglo-Greek pair’s hands as Voyazides was still fighting back from a drive-through penalty incurred for a first-lap brush-up with Mark Piercy’s Lola T210.
With the field all bunched up as the pit window opened, early leader Nick Padmore lost out when he stayed out for another lap before handing over his Chevron B19 to Max Smith-Hilliard. This handed the lead to Manfredo Rossi’s Osella-Abarth PA1 but the Italian jumped the restart when the safety car returned to the pits. Rossi’s drive-through penalty gave the lead to Simon Hadfield who, in the space of two laps, had surged from sixth to second, including a sensational pass around the outside at Scheivlak to move ahead of David Hart (Lola T70 Mk3B). Gans harried Hadfield during the entire closing stages of the race but couldn’t find a way past.
“It was the safety car again”, said Hadfield, referring to the Gentlemen Drivers race that he and Voyazides also won because of a helpful safety car period. “I have this very useful app on my iPhone that says: ‘Safety car please’! The last four laps were all about keeping it tidy and not sticking out the rear end. I knew I had an advantage on the fast bit from Hugenholtzbocht to Scheivlak and used that to stay ahead.”
“You always hope for a little mistake”, said Gans, who on the final lap put his nimble Lola T290 alongside Hadfield’s thundering T70. “Running side-by-side is one thing, but you know what’s going to happen when Simon presses the throttle to summon those 500 horsepowers!”
Behind Hadfield and Gans, Martin Stretton finished a close third in Piercy’s Lola T210, trailing the lead duo by eight seconds, with Rossi’s Osella a further 20 seconds adrift. On lap 16, Hadfield, Gans and Stretton had fought their way past David Hart’s Lola T70 Mk3B, who had been running second to Rossi after the safety car period came to an end. Hart later retired from fifth place, after an off at the back of the circuit.
Rossi looked on course for a second consecutive win, having tasted FIA Masters Historic Sports Car glory at the Nürburgring three weeks ago, but his drive-through penalty pushed him down to fourth place. Mike Donovan won his private T70 Mk3B battle with Jason Wright, as the pair finished fifth and sixth. The Padmore/Smith-Hilliard Chevron B19 that started from pole took seventh, one lap down.
Both the Siffert and Bonnier classes looked to have been decided prematurely when the leaders pulled a lap clear during the safety car period. On lap 25, however, John Sheldon (Chevron B16) pitted, engine broken. This handed the class win to Jamie Boot’s similar car. In Bonnier class, Nigel Greensall was sensational as he clawed back a full lap on the Mark Owen/Andrew Owen Chevron B8. Pushing the B8 he shared with Graham Wilson to lap times that were often 10 seconds quicker than the Owen/Owen car, Greensall regained the class lead with one lap to go, to finish eighth overall.
“I had excellent help from our pit boards, so I knew exactly what times I had to do,” said an elated Greensall. “I was flat-out every lap! I absolutely loved it as this is one of my favourite circuits.”
Championship leaders Keith Ahlers/Billy Bellinger were the only Hulme runners in the race. Two laps from the end, Bellinger pulled off, but the Cooper Monaco ‘King Cobra’ was still classified in 16th overall.
“Driveshaft broken,” said Ahlers. “It’s a shame that we didn’t have any competition, as it cut our championship lead to just one point. I know the Revival is in a week’s time, but we’ll race anywhere!”
The Pescarolo class went to the only remaining runner, Mark Bates taking the victory in his Porsche 911. Canadian Peter Hallford’s Chevrolet Corvette led early on, pushed by Nicky Pastorelli (Ferrari Daytona). However, 17 minutes into the race, the Ferrari blew a piston, spitting out huge amounts of oil on the run down to the Audi-S chicane – a situation which sparked the safety car period that would decide the race. With 15 minutes to go, Hallford crashed his Corvette on the Hunzerug, leaving Bates to take the class win.
The next round of the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship will be at Spa on September 16/18 with the deciding round at Jarama, Spain, on October 15/16.