It was an historic racing weekend at Brands Hatch last weekend with two FIA Masters Historic Formula One races taking place at the Kent circuit.
The first race, which took place on Saturday, saw Martin Stretton take the chequered flag in his 1983 Tyrrell 012, just beating Michael Lyons in his Williams 1980 FW078 and Matteo Ferrer-aza in his 1979 Ligier JS11 who did not let up the entire race.
The three cars ran flat-out, nose to tail and even side by side at times the entire race, giving spectators a thrilling spectacle to watch and a reminder of how exciting Formula One used to be back in the 1980s when there was a lot more overtaking than there is today.
Whilst Mike Cantillon ran a lonely race in fourth place in his 1981 Williams FW07C, just behind him, Christophe d’Ansembourg’s 1982 Williams FW07C managed to get ahead of Steve Hartley in his 1982 McLaren MP4/1 on the first lap, only to lose fifth place back to Hartley on lap 4.
By lap 9, the top three were stretching out a bit, with Ferrer just over a second away from Stretton, who was just managing to keep Lyons in his Williams behind him. By lap 10 though Ferrer and his Ligier were just a tenth of a second away from the Williams, with Lyons was now the fastest runner on the track, giving Stretton in the lead, a little breather whilst the second and third placed drivers battled it out.
Lyons was again fastest on lap 15 as both he and Ferrer closed in on the race leader, but as the Williams tried an outside manoeuvre going into Paddock Hill bend, he went off into the barriers, bring his charge to an abrupt end as well as bringing out the red flag. As consolation, he ended up being classified second ahead of Ferrer.
Stretton commented after the race: “That was hard work. Michael was all over me in various places. It was a great battle”.
Ferrer commented: “The pace was so equal. I once got to Michael but then I dropped away, and there was no point in wearing the tyres out!”
Phil Hall won the Historic Formula One pre-78 class in his 1978 Theodore TR1, managing to just stay ahead of James Hagan’s 1974 Hesketh 308, while Jason Wright took third place in class in his 1978 Shadow DN8. Hall said after the race that: “I never expected to be here, so it’s an absolute pleasure! I had a really good scrap with James, two genuine gentlemen drivers giving each other some space.”
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Gary Harman