Hall and Willis win FIA Masters Sports Car thriller

Rob Hall and Andy Willis powered Abba Kogan’s Matra MS650 to victory in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship thriller at the Silverstone Classic after a dramatic 50-minute race.

Pole belonged to the Rob Hall/Andy Willis Matra MS650, but the Max Smith-Hilliard/Nick Padmore Chevron B19 was also on the front row followed by seven rows of assorted Lolas.At the start, Willis held the lead followed by Padmore but by the end of the lap, Chris Ward (Lola T70 Mk3B) had moved past them both into the lead. Behind, Oliver Bryant and Gary Pearson (both in Lola T70s) overhauled Philip Hall (Lola T212) to run fourth and fifth.

Leo Voyazides (Lola T70 Mk3B) had an early spin at Copse when running seventh, dropping to 21st as Padmore took second from Willis, setting fastest lap in pursuit of Chris Ward, reducing the gap to less than a second by lap five - the Chevron seeming more nimble than the powerful Lola, but both cars setting best sectors. Behind them, Bryant and Pearson were locked in a tight battle for fourth.

Michael Gans (Lola T290) passed Robert Oldershaw’s Lola T212 for eighth, which became seventh when they both went past Hall as Leo Voyazides’ race went from bad to worse, receiving a drive-through penalty for contact.

As the pit window opened, Willis pitted early from third to hand the Matra to Rob Hall, but Padmore was relentless in his chase of Ward, the leaders passing the Alexander Rittweger/Sam Hancock Ferrari on both sides before also tangling with Rob Garofall (in for Hall) on Phil’s out lap.

Pearson and Bryant pitted late on in the window, leaving Ward and Padmore to pit together on lap 13, which ultimately handed the outright lead to Rob Hall in the Matra. Max Smith-Hilliard joined the circuit in the Chevron ahead of Paul Gibson (who had taken over from Ward) but that did not last long, both Gibson and Bryant relegating Smith-Hilliard to fourth.

Oliver Bryant passed Gibson for second but would go no further as Rob Hall was 17 seconds ahead and stretching away.

The Hall/Garofall Lola suffered a wheel failure on the Hangar Straight and retired from eighth place, a position into which the recovering Simon Hadfield (who had replaced Voyazides) leapt after passing Tomlin and Wright, who had swapped places again…

With eight minutes to go, Michael Gans had passed Max Smith-Hilliard into fourth and was only six seconds from Paul Gibson’s third place until he hit problems and dropped back behind Smith-Hilliard again and also Robert Oldershaw who tried everything to nab fourth place on the final corner.

The win went to Rob Hall with Andy Willis, followed by Oliver Bryant (Rodriguez class winner) and the Chris Ward/Paul Gibson T70. Gary Culver (Lola T70 Mk3B) took the Invitation class win, the Daren of Georg Kjallgren/James Littlejohn won the Bonnier class and Mike Whitaker (Lola T70 Spyder) was victorious in the Hulme class.The next round of the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship is at Nuerburgring on August 12-14.

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