first continental Festival
The first Masters Festival to be run outside Britain was judged a great success, when an eight-event programme of races from the Masters Racing Series were held at the French Grand Prix circuit of Magny Cours over the weekend (30/31 August).
Close racing held in warm sunshine was the story of the weekend, which presented a major logistical and organisational challenge for the Masters team. However, with the support of several organisations, the weekend ran very well and competitors thoroughly enjoyed both the driving challenge of Magny Cours and the relaxed and welcoming paddock atmosphere, which included a paddock party on Saturday evening.
The success of the weekend was significantly assisted by the efforts of Christine Villalon from the PITS Organisation and of Celine Compans, who took on the role of secretary of the meeting. The event was greatly assisted by Philippe Decharne, the director general of Circuit Nevers Magny Cours, and his team for the circuit’s first major historic event.
The weekend clearly demonstrated the international reach of Masters, with race winners from Portugal, Greece, Italy and Great Britain, as well as competitors coming from Sweden, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Monaco and Switzerland.
Six different non-Cosworth Grand Prix engines running in one Grand Prix Masters race made it a truly mechanically unusual event. Aside from the regular Cosworth DFV pack, the Nevers circuit reverberated to 12-cylinder power from Matra, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari and V8s from Repco and Alfa Romeo.
Victories in the pair of GPM races were shared between the Brabham BT42 of Manfredo Rossi and the March 761 of David Methley. It could have been a double for Methley had he not been put out of the opening race when a stone jammed in the rear brakes and shredded the disc on the warming up lap.
Rossi won the first race after a fine battle with Hubertus Bahlsen (Brabham BT45-Alfa Romeo), with Ron Maydon taking a career-best third place in the Amon. Bahlsen and Maydon also claimed podium finishes in the second race after Rossi was hit by gearbox problems.
A tremendous Gentleman Drivers GT field delivered a great race, with 28 of the 34 cars still racing hard at the end of an epic three-hour race on Saturday evening. The Jaguar E Type of Jon Minshaw and Martin Stretton just clinched a 20 second margin of victory, fending off a spirited chase by the Chevrolet Corvette of Dutchmen David Hart and Alexander Weavers.
The Proto 70s entry included a debut appearance for the ex-Guy Edwards March 75S-DFV, now restored in period Ultramar livery by Simon Hadfield for new owner Frank Sytner. Having put the car on pole, Sytner was sidelined by teething problems in the opening race. Instead, Cosimo Turizio made his journey from Naples worthwhile with a double win in his Osella PA5, beating some significant 3 litre competition.
Consolation for Sytner/Hadfield came in the hour-long Sports Racing Masters race when they won in Sytner's Lola T70 Spyder. Second, driving solo in hot and testing conditions, was Adrian Newey (Ford GT40) from the Lola T70 Spyder of Andrew Smith. Having started the race from the pit lane with no clutch, Smith turned in a fine performance.
The T70Mk3B pack dominated the results of the 90-minute World Sportscar Masters race, with Carlos Barbot/Oliver Bryant heading a clean sweep of the top four places. However, the 2 litre Lola T210 of Chris Fox/Charlie Kemp had lead until the closing laps, when Kemp fell foul of increasing rain and slid off into the gravel.
Earlier on the Sunday, the hour-long Top Hat Saloon Car race had been won by Leo Voyazides (Ford Falcon) from the Ford Mustang of Ulf Larsson and the Falcon of Harry Wyndham/Don Salvage. Notable class victories went to Walter Meloni (Lotus Cortina) and Ron Maydon (Mini Cooper S).
Finally, the Masters Racing Series and drivers were sad to learn of the death during the event of Eliane Piedallu, Secretary to the Stewards and wife of James Piedallu, himself one of the FFSA Stewards present. Sadly, Eliane was taken ill in Race Administration itself, and a minute’s silence was observed on Sunday.
Plans are now underway for a Masters return to Magny Cours in 2009.