Bobby Verdon-Roe delivered the perfect response to Lister-Jaguar’s domination at the Donington Historic Festival meeting a few weeks before when he steered his Ferrari 246 to an overwhelming Stirling Moss Trophy success on the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival race card on Sunday May 24.
The outcome was in little doubt once it became clear that Donington winner Jon Minshaw and his Lister wouldn’t be taking up second spot on the starting grid. Verdon-Roe and Minshaw sat in the pits for half of the previous day’s qualifying session – the Ferrari driver because he didn’t need to add any more wear and tear to the car and Minshaw because the Lister had a terminal differential problem.
Verdon-Roe’s pole position time was 1m 41.521s (86.28mph), and in Minshaw’s absence that made him 2.317s faster than fellow front row starter Tony Wood in the Lister Knobbly shared with Will Nuthall. Son and father Dion and Gabriel Kremer logged the next best time in their Lotus 17 with Paul Woolley’s Cooper Monaco following.
Reigning Stirling Moss Trophy holders Keith Ahlers and Billy Bellinger lined up their dazzling silver Lola Mk1 fifth on the grid, where it contrasted starkly with Roberto Giordanelli’s muscular and bellowing Lister-Chevrolet Knobbly.
A rain shower before the race added an extra challenge to the proceedings, but Verdon-Roe was firmly in control of the situation in every sense. Wood gave chase, but the Lister was soon back in the pits for good with plunging oil pressure. The Flatiron Lister-Jaguar of Robert Beebee was an early spinner at Graham Hill Bend in the damp conditions and took some time to fire up again and rejoin from the grass. This affected the rest of the race for Beebee and co-driver Steve Brooks, who finished seventh.
By the fifth lap Dion Kremer had the Lotus in second place, and when Verdon-Roe made his compulsory pit stop on lap 14, giving up a 45s lead, Kremer hit the front. That’s where he stayed before handing over four laps later, but father Gabriel couldn’t maintain the same pace and slipped to a sixth place finish, albeit while still earning a class victory.
In the last few minutes Bellinger was clearly closing on Woolley’s Cooper Monaco for second place, and into the final 2.4 mile lap there was a slender 1.6s margin between them. Back into the Indy circuit stadium section, 1m 16.883s after winner Verdon-Roe took the flag, the Lola Mk1 had the place while Woolley went walkabout when out of sight on the Grand Prix loop. He was still a secure third in the results as fourth man Giordanelli had already been lapped. Fifth car home was the Willment-Climax handled by Steven Smith and Charles Gillett.
The top three, plus the Kremers in sixth and Malcolm Harrison and Patrick Watts back in tenth overall with the Rejo Mk3, were all class winners.
“I started my career here so I know where to place the car when it’s wet,” said Verdon-Roe of the tricky opening laps. “It was a really fun 45 minutes. I’ve got the car going the way I like it, and I am a very lucky boy.”