The JD Classics-supported Motor Racing Legends Historic Touring Car Challenge shared a grid with the Masters ’70s Celebration runners and the imposing mix made for an intriguing dual circuit double-header during the seventh Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch on May 25-27.
Michael Lyons – who races a modern Ferrari 458 GT car and dominated the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship rounds at the meeting – planted father Frank’s 308 GTB on pole for Saturday’s frenetic stanza on the 1.2-mile Indy course. But the 21-year-old’s Q-time was but 0.246s quicker than HTCC pacesetter Chris Ward with JD’s 3.4-litre Broadspeed Ford Capri-GA, with Paul Pochciol’s Jaguar XJ12C a further half second back courtesy of Simon Hadfield.
Dad and lad Sean and Robert Brown had two pristine Brown & Geeson Ford Escorts on hand, having built a ‘new’ one, and sat on row three. Next of the HTCC runners was the Chris Ward/Alex Buncombe TWR Jaguar XJS, sharing row five with Tom Pochciol’s UFO Jeans clone Ford Capri and Ed Simpson’s Mitsubishi Starion turbocar directly behind.
Former BTCC ace Patrick Watts was sharing his Computervision MG Metro Turbo with engine guru Nick Swift; Andy Pyke/Tony Paxman (Zakspeed Ford Escort clone), the pretty BMW 2002 of Allen Tice/Chris Conoley and the Triumph Dolomite Sprints of Anthony Robinson and John/Alun Edwards completed the MRL set.
Sadly the Williams family’s Bastos Rover SD1 and Richard Hope’s gorgeous ex-Fabien Giroix BMW 635CSL – the looks and sound of which Duncan Wiltshire eulogised over on its debut – were trailered with mechanical dramas in qualifying.
Lurking at the back of the 26-car grid, having missed practice, was the eventual winner, Manfredo Rossi di Montelera’s fire-breathing Porsche 935 K3, the Travel Cruiser car which finished fourth in the 1981 Le Mans 24 Hours with John Cooper, Dudley Wood and Belgium’s Claude Bourgoignie up. The Italian, racing it for the first time, carefully picked his way to the front, and led home a Porsche 1-2 with reigning ’70s Celebration champion Mark Bates’ 911 RSR leading the chase.
Ward started the Jaguar (handing it to Buncombe), then took over the Capri from John Young, thus finished winner and runner-up in HTCC, third and fourth overall. Simpson, Pyke/Paxman, Watts/Swift and Tice/Conoley completed the top six MRL series contenders. Neither Pochciol entry finished.
Monday’s race on the spectacular 2.4-mile GP switchback, boiled down to a dogfight between Rossi and Ward in the Capri. They circulated as one until the mighty Porsche’s engine coughed passing the pits on the penultimate lap and finally ran out of fuel behind the pits on the Cooper Straight. “Thirsty bitch,” grinned legendary crew chief Kerry Adams later.
Young and Ward thus earned an unexpected victory from invitees Jon Finnemore/Chris Beighton – whose monstrous orange Sunbeam Tiger had got alongside the 935 at one point – and the Ward/Buncombe Jaguar XJS, which was only 1.5s clear of hard-charging Sean Brown’s Escort-BDG at the chequer. Pyke/Paxman (8th), Tice/Conoley (11th), Tom/Paul Pochciol (13th, having substituted their ex-Vince Woodman Capri) and Robinson’s Dolly completed the HTCC finishers.