Brands Hatch Masters 2017

The iconic Brands Hatch circuit in the South East of England hosted the
11th running of the annual Masters Historic Festival. Brands Hatch, being
inextricably linked with Formula One racing seemed a fitting location to
also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Cosworth DFV engine,
Grand Prix racing’s most dominant power unit, which left a winning legacy
from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. The event was to celebrate
the 50th anniversary by way of a Lunchtime demo on the Sunday of a range of
cars which utilised this power unit.

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Brands Hatch Historic 2017

 

Saturday morning saw a huge downpour during the initial session, which
drenched the sun baked track, after a week of unseasonable warmth across
the UK. Negotiating the tricky conditions initially were the Stena Line
Gentlemen Drivers grid, with the practice session for the Masters Historic
Formula One going out subsequently on a rapidly drying track, as the sun
appeared, and an almost tropical humidity enveloping the tree lined
circuit. Despite this, Michael Lyons in the Williams FW07B set a blistering
lap in practice, over a second quicker than his nearest competitor.

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With the majority of Saturdays track time taken with qualifying sessions,
as unbroken sunshine saw idyllic conditions for racing, it was the Historic
Touring Car challenge that launched the racing for the day. What seemed a
straightforward performance for Mark Smith in the BMW M3, as he stretched
to a healthy lead over the pursuing Metro Turbo and Capri 2600RS, an early
retirement for Smith, and a spectacularly blown turbo for the Metro of
Watts/Smith, it was left for Mark Dance to bring the Ford Capri 2600RS home
in top spot, ahead of BTCC’s Adam Morgan and Ric Wood in the Capri 3400,
and the glorious Rover SD1 of Charlie Williams in the first of two races
over the weekend.

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The initial Masters Historic Formula One race saw the Williams FW07B of
Michael Lyons sit on pole, and unfazed by a safety car period in the first
race, controlled the race supremely to take a well deserved win ahead of
the Shadow DN5 of Nick Padmore, and Ensign N180 of Simon Fish.

A 90 minute race for the Stena Line Gentlemen Drivers concluded the first
days racing, with an incredibly healthy grid packed with a host of Pre 1966
GT cars. Ordinarily a battle between the AC Cobras and Jaguar E Types, the
race was won quite comfortably in the end by the Cobra of Michael Gans and
Andy Wolfe, with the ever impressive TVR Griffith of Mike Whittaker
claiming second spot, narrowly edging out the stunning Bizzarrini 5300GT of
Roger Wills into third.

With a slightly cooler and more refreshing temperature to commence
proceedings on the Sunday morning, the smooth lines and endearing contours
of the grid for the Stirling Moss trophy took to the track The Lister
Costin of Chris Ward dominating the race, with Michael Gans in the
curvaceous Lotus 15 heading home in second.

The second of the Historic Touring Car Challenge races saw luck return to
Mark Smith in the BMW M3, easing to the win, ahead of the ever competitive
Capri of Mark Dance, and the Ford Boss Mustang of Peter Hallford. A real
step back in time to the golden era of the late ’60s, 70’s and 80s Touring
Car racing, the grid brought delight to the crowd in the second of two
spectacular races.

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The lunchtime break gave no respite for the crowd to retreat, as the
Cosworth DFV demonstration was arguably one of the highlights of the
weekend. Indeed, the sound of the DFV unit brings both joy, and perhaps a
mere hint of pain to the listeners ears. On track to commemorate this
legendary engine, the Brands Hatch crowd were treated to a feast of
historic Formula One cars, including the McLaren M14A, Williams FW04, Lotus
88, March 821 and McLaren M26. The crowd, enthralled by this demonstration,
served to prove that the legacy of the DFV is not forgotten, and indeed, a
new generation of fans had just been won over.

With barely enough time to let the dust settle and the calm return to the
Kent countryside, it was time for the Masters Historic Formula One to take
centre stage once more, in the second of their two races over the weekend.
With the Williams of Michael Lyons retiring with a broken driveshaft after
the first lap, it was left to Martin Stretton in the stunning Tyrrell 012
to claim a hard fought win over the Arrows A4 of Steve Hartley, with an
ever impressive Nick Padmore in the Shadow DN5 taking a class win and third
overall.

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Strictly adhering to period specification, the RAC Woodcote Trophy for post
war sports racing cars up to 1955 saw an elegant field comprised of
unmistakable racers such as the Jaguar D Type, Aston Martin DB2 and DB3 and
the Lister Bristol Flat Iron. The race was dominated by the Cooper T38 of
Gillette & Blakeney-Edwards, with an enthralling fight for second place
between the Jaguar D Type of Benjamin Eastick and Karl Jones, and the
Cooper Bristol T24/25 of John Ure and Nick Wigley, a mere 0.082s separating
the pair at the chequered flag.

One of the undoubted highlights of the event was the FIA Masters Historic
Sports Cars race, and a field packed with the heavyweights from Lola,
Chevron, McLaren, Ford and Porsche. A sudden downpour before the race
drenched both the track, and the hordes of spectators eagerly anticipating
the start. With the race started under safety car conditions, the water was
soon dispensed by the field, and a residual heat soon dried out the racing
line. The Chevron B19 of Martin O’Connell taking the chequered flag over
half a minute ahead of his closest rivals, the gorgeous Lola T212 of Robert
Oldershaw, followed by Gary Pearson in the Lola T70 on the third step of
the podium,

Concluding the weekends racing, the Tony Brise Trophy, for Classic Formula
Ford, saw a huge grid of cars taking to the track. Easing to the victory
was Adriano Medeiros in his Van Diemen RF80, followed by Mike O’Brien in
the Merlyn MK20 which took the class win, with a stellar drive from Simon
Hadfield in the Titan Mk4 to come from last place on the grid to claim 7th
overall and second in class.

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Brands Hatch Historic 2017

A fitting tribute to possibly the greatest racing engine of living memory,
the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival saw a healthy crowd entertained
by a feast of historic machinery, showing that enthusiasm for classic
racing is very much alive in the UK. Brands Hatch, with its undoubted
history, yet intimate atmosphere, provides the perfect stage to witness
historic racing, and it is with this sentiment, that the memory of a
fantastic weekend of historic racing will live on in the memory of
racegoers and drivers alike for a long time to come.