A dominant display by Nick Padmore (Williams FW07C) netted two more wins at Zandvoort at the weekend to make it 10 victories this year for the Head and Lauda Class Championship leader in the FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship.
Padmore led the opening race from lights to flag to claim his ninth victory of the season. From pole, his Williams FW07C controlled a lead between two and three seconds to keep Christophe d’Ansembourg in a similar FW07C at bay. The Belgian had to fend off the close attentions of Greg Thornton’s Lotus 91 for the entire race. Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308E) recovered from a pitlane start to still claim pre-77 glory, beating Max Smith-Hilliard (Surtees TS9B) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8).
“Brilliant, loved it”, Padmore said, well satisfied with his win. “As soon as I had a two-second lead I just held it, which means the tyres are still good for tomorrow. I really had to be careful with traffic, but this is a great circuit, it’s so busy with the crowds lining the track all the way.”
In second and third place, D’Ansembourg and Thornton fought the entire 25-minute race, the Lotus almost passing the Williams at the start and then often trailing it by less than half a second.
“I wasn’t going after Nick”, said the Belgian. “I was just trying to keep Greg behind. It was only thanks to traffic that I was able to put some distance between him and me. The start was tricky! He put his car inside of me out of Tarzan and almost got past me!”
“Yes, almost!” said Thornton, “but it doesn’t matter what you almost do. The team told me that Christophe would get tired – but he didn’t!”
In fourth place and first of the Lauda class runners, Italian Stefano Di Fulvio (Tyrrell 012) had a lonely race, but behind him the battle for pre-77 honours was well on. Michael Lyons prevailed, even though he was forced to start from the pit lane, having received a penalty for passing under a red flag in Friday’s qualifying session. Having clawed his way through the field, the Hesketh 308E driver passed both Max Smith-Hilliard (Surtees TS9B) and Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) for the pre-78 lead on lap nine. Smith-Hilliard easily won the Stewart class for pre-72 cars.
“The first laps were crazy,” said Lyons. “This is such a challenging track that it’s really hard for the slower cars to be aware of their surroundings. Once past those, I managed to reel in Max and Jason for the class win. Still happy with that!”
“I was never going to keep Michael behind,” Smith-Hilliard said, “but it was good to be right at the front in an older car. And I enjoyed my fight with Jason!”
Further down the field, Ian Simmonds (Tyrrell 012) and Andrew Beaumont (Lotus 76) entertained the crowd with a tense battle for eighth, while James Hagan – ever sideways in his Hesketh 308 – enjoyed a close fight with Tommy Dreelan’s Williams FW08 for 10th. At the line, Simmonds and Hagan prevailed.
Local hero Frits van Eerd finished 12th in his ex-Ronnie Peterson March 761.
Padmore had to keep an inspired Greg Thornton at bay in Race Two, Greg having outbraked second-placed Christophe d’Ansembourg into Tarzan on lap three. Mid-race, Thornton saw Stefano Di Fulvio close in, the Italian having passed D’Ansembourg on lap eight, but the Lotus driver shook off Di Fulvio’s Tyrrell 012 to finish just 1.3 seconds behind the winner. In his chase of Padmore, Thornton also put fastest lap of the race in the bag on lap 15. D’Ansembourg (Williams FW07C) finished a lonely fourth.
“It was all very good,” said a delighted Padmore. “I got my head down in the first few laps to pull out a gap. I was very worried about the tyres but they were good. The wind was really bad, though, it really hit me hard in the final corner. And Greg kept me honest in the end. Did he really nick fastest lap from me?”
“You weren’t even trying!” quipped Thornton before explaining where he found the extra speed. “We took away some wing which got us some more straightline speed. That is how I got past Christophe. It’s four years in a row now that I finished second here. I still want to go one up!”
Starting from the pitlane again, just as in race one, Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308E) took a mere six laps to snatch the lead in the pre-78 class. On lap two, the young Briton was up to ninth position and blasted past early class leader Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) four laps later to add a second pre-78 class win to his weekend’s tally.
“It was a shame I couldn’t fight out front,” said Lyons, “but I love it out here. Racing an F1 car on this track is so cool, I could drive here all weekend!”
Wright was a lonely second in class but behind him the battle raged for the final step of the podium, Max Smith-Hilliard (Surtees TS9B) passing Andrew Beaumont (Lotus 76) on lap nine, with the newer cars of Ian Simmonds (Tyrrell 012) and Tommy Dreelan (Williams FW08) adding to a four-car dogfight.
Simmonds dropped out of the fight with a pit stop on lap 10. This brought Keith Frieser’s Shadow DN1 into the top-ten. The American headed the Ligier JS11/15 of Pierre-Alain France, the Frenchman having earlier on duelled with Frank Lyons in the McLaren M26. Lyons Sr then dropped back for a ‘family album’ finish as he trailed his son Michael across the line, one lap down.
Phil Hall’s fast-starting Theodore TR1 was up to sixth on the first lap but dragged to a halt at the start of lap two. Local man Frits van Eerd retired his March 761 with gearbox problems on lap 2, while James Hagan pitted his Hesketh 308 twice before retiring the car with a broken gear linkage.
The FIA Masters Historic Formula One Championship moves to Spa-Francorchamps on September 16th to the 18th.