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Masters Historic: Griffiths wins in Fittipaldi F5A at Brands Hatch

Saturday, May 28 2022

Miles Griffiths won the opening Masters Racing Legends race of the Masters Historic Festival weekend at Brands Hatch this afternoon (Saturday). Griffiths prevailed in a lively race for Formula 1 cars from 1966 to 1985 on the full Grand Prix circuit, behind the wheel of a Fittipaldi F5A. 

Griffiths started the race from second on the grid, but took the lead with a superb move on pole-sitter Steve Hartley at Graham Hill Bend on lap one. Hartley had beaten Griffiths by 1.402s in qualifying earlier in the day in his McLaren MP4/1, but that wasn't obvious during the early exchanges as the Fittipaldi comfortably held its position at the head of the field. 

For several laps the duo ran nose-to-tail, with Griffiths tending to edge slightly clear as they rounded the opening section of the lap from Paddock Hill Bend to Surtees. Hartley would often gain time through the sweeps of the woodland Grand Prix section however, and he was right on Griffiths' tail as they rejoined the Indy circuit's natural amphitheatre at Clearways most laps.

It was this that allowed Hartley to produce several strong runs on Griffiths down the Brabham Straight towards Paddock Hill Bend. Griffiths was wise to Hartley's initial efforts though, with the Fittipaldi ace using bravery on the brakes into Paddock Hill and Druids to maintain his advantage. 

Just as the race passed its mid-way point, Hartley finally made a move stick to move into first. With momentum and pace on his side, it appeared that the McLaren might drive into the distance. It wasn't to be however, with the experienced historic F1 racer noticing a technical issue shortly afterwards. This forced him to pit from the lead, just as he'd taken it and retire from the race.

With Hartley eliminated, Griffiths was able to calmly drive home to the chequered flag in clear conditions at the Kent circuit. This returned the Fittipaldi name to the top of the Brands Hatch podium, 50 years on from when Emerson Fittipaldi claimed three wins in a year at the venue across the British Grand Prix plus two non-championship events.

Mark Hazell was a beneficiary of Hartley's misfortune, guiding his Williams FW08C to second position after a lonely race between the lead battle and the chasing pack. Steve Brooks completed the podium in a Lotus 91, whilst Warren Briggs (McLaren M29) and Mark Harrison (Shadow DN9) rounded out the top-five. 

Masters Racing Legends, Brands Hatch, Race 1, Top Five

1. Miles Griffiths, Fittipaldi F5A, 18 laps
2. Mark Hazell, Williams FW08C, +38.908s
3. Steve Brooks, Lotus 91, +47.451s
4. Warren Briggs, McLaren M29, +53.897s
5. Mark Harrison, Shadow DN9, +1m21.691s

For full results from this weekend's event, click here

The Masters Racing Legends will return to action for a second 25-minute contest on SUnday at 15:05. Other Sunday highlights will include a double header for the Masters Endurance Legends for '90s and '00s sports and GT cars plus the Masters Sports Car Legends, Masters Pre-'66 Touring Cars and more.

Tickets for Sunday will be available on the gate. Under-13s go free.