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Masters kicks off with beauty and drama in equal measure

Saturday, May 24 2014

This year's Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival kicked off in fine style today (Saturday) with a line-up that included the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship and Historic Grand Prix Cars Association.

The Historic Sports Cars may be able to boast one of the most expensive grids in motor racing, but the drivers seemed completely unconcerned by such matters, putting on one of the best shows of the season so far. Simon Hadfield started led away from pole position in his Lola T70, ahead of the similar machine of Andy Wolfe, but both were caught off guard by the Chevron B19 of Martin O'Connell, who made the most of slippery conditions to dance into the lead.

O'Connell was able to maintain a small gap over regular winner Hadfield, in the opening stages; however the persistent Lola driver eventually found a way through mid way through the race. Hadfield wasn't able to extend his lead and he exchanged positions with the inspired O'Connell a number of times throughout the remainder of the race.

Heading onto the last lap of the race, Hadfield held what appeared to be a comfortable margin over the Chevron, however O'Connell was able to re-pass the leading car as they came across traffic on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, though they would switch positions once more as they headed out onto the Grand Prix loop. All the while Andy Wolfe was able to close the gap to the leading duo in the second Lola T70 meaning that as they exited the woods for the last time the leading trio were separated by less than a second!

FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars - Race 1
1, Simon Hadfield, Lola T70 Mk3B, 30m45.062s
2, Martin O'Connell, Chevron B19, +0.661s
3, Andy Wolfe, Lola T70 Mk3B, +0.826s
4, Simon Carrington-Yates, Chevron B16, +1m43.962s
5, Manfredo Rossi Di Montelera, Abarth Osella PA1, +1Lap

Steve Hartley claimed an a dominant pole position in his Arrows A4, as the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship qualified for tomorrow's races, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the circuit's first Grand Prix. He will start the first of tomorrow's two Formula One races alongside Simon Fish in his Ensign N180, ahead of Mike Wrigley and Richard Barber on an all-Williams second row.

FIA Masters Historic Formula One - Qualifying
1, Steve Hartley, Arrows A4, 1m23.316s
2, Simon Fish, Ensign N180, +1.607s
3, Mike Wrigley, Williams FW07B, +2.291s
4, Richard Barber, Williams FW08C, +2.805s
5, Ian Simmonds, Tyrrell 012, +3.366s

The Brabham name returned to the top step of the podium in the Historic Grand Prix Car Association's opening race of the weekend, John Fairley guiding his BT11 to a comfortable win. This race evokes memories of an era in which Brands Hatch hosted its first World Championship Grand Prix and it was great to see these cars out on track again!

Formula Junior racers also had their first taste of race action for the weekend today in the FIA Lurani Trophy, with Jonathon Hughes coming to the fore for another Brabham victory.

The Pre-66 Touring Car race was made an even more intriguing proposition than usual, after tricky conditions allowed the nimble Minis to out qualify the powerful Ford Mustangs and Falcons. Jonathan Lewis did his best in his Cooper S to repel the powerful American giants in the early stages but was forced to surrender as the race wore on and conditions improved. Simon Hadfield and Leo Voyazides' 1964 Ford Falcon eventually came through to take the top spot, the winning drivers missing the podium ceremony to make the start of the following Gentlemen Drivers race, which they also won in an AC Cobra.

Tickets for the Masters Historic Festival on Sunday 25 May are available on the gate for £25 with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information please call 0843 453 9000 or click here.