It was good to see Historic racing back at a warm and sunny Brands Hatch on the Bank Holiday weekend, where an array of Formula One cars of yesteryear were racing wheel to wheel once again in the Masters Historic Formula One race.
It was Steve Hartley who dominated the first race, driving his McLaren MP4/1 to victory from pole position, never relinquishing his lead even when there was a safety car, which gave Lukas Halusa in his McLaren M23 the opportunity to beat Warren Briggs in the McLaren M29 into second place on the final sprint to the chequered flag.
There were three hard fought battles going on during the 20-minute race. The first was between Briggs and Hulusa, the second between Phil Hall’s Theodore TR1 and Mark Hazell’s Williams FW08, who were racing in fourth and fifth, with the third battle being between Ian Simmonds in the Tyrrell 012 and Marc Devis in the Surtees TS16, dualling for sixth and seventh position.
Hall got off the fantastic start, having worked his way up from ninth on the grid to fourth place in the Theodore TR1, but was forced to retire just three minutes before the end of the race when his car gave up the ghost.
Meanwhile Mark Hazell passed class rival Ian Simmonds in his Tyrrell 012 to win in the post-82 class. with Mark Harrison taking seventh place in the Shadow DN9 having been unable to hold on to his fourth place grid position.
As soon as the lights went green, Hartley was away and was already leading the field by four seconds at the end of the first lap. Just behind him, Halusa put Briggs under pressure but was unable to take second. But the star performer was without a doubt Phil Hall in the Theodore TR1, who made up five places at the start of the race ending up fourth before the end of the third lap. Having got past his post-82 class rival Ian Simmonds, Hazell then fought Belgian Marc Devis for sixth.
By the fifth lap Hartley was by now seven seconds ahead of the Briggs and Halusa battle, with the three Marlboro McLarens still leading the race. Further back, American driver Ken Tyrrell was ninth in the Tyrrell 011 of his famous namesake (no relation), ahead of Neil Glover in the Arrows A5, with Jonathan Holtzman in the Tyrrell P34 closing in on the tail of the Arrows and Chris Perkins in the Surtees TS14.
With less than four minutes to the chequered flag, Hall’s Theodore coasted to a standstill at Druids which resulted in a safety car, with it looking like the race would finish under yellow. But fortunately, the Theodore was cleared quicker than expected and the field was released for one final lap to the finish line.
Hartley disappeared off into the distance once again, but Halusa tried to get past Briggs around Druids while Simmonds was pushing Hazell for the post-82 class lead. Briggs initially fended off Halusa but the Austrian was not about to give up that easily and hung on around the outside through Clearways, managing to take second from the New Zealander right on the finish line.
So, Steve Hartley took a decisive victory at the first Masters Historic Formula One race of the season, ahead of Halusa and Briggs, with Halusa also claiming pre-78 honours. Hazell was handed fourth through Hall’s retirement and successfully defended the post-82 class win from Simmonds’ Tyrrell. Devis finished sixth, followed by Harrison, Tyrrell and Glover, with Jonathan Holtzman completing the top-ten in the Tyrrell P-34.
Ken Tyrrell commented after the race:
“Such an honor to drive 011/6! My first outing in the car and at Brands. Absolutely phenomenal experience! Had a mechanical issue in the second race and unfortunately retired early. Looking forward to Silverstone and hopefully better results!”
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Gary Harman