Motor Legend Festival Imola 2018
Friday 20th April – Sunday 22nd April 2018 – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Italy
Historic Formula One Race Report
Saturday, 21 April
Mike Cantillon took a well-deserved first-ever FIA Masters Historic Formula One win by beating CGA Engineering team mate Christophe d’Ansembourg in a Williams FW07 double at Imola.
“It was two years coming!” said a beaming Cantillon, whose form started to improve in the last half of the previous season. “Yes, I’ve a done a lot of work with a personal trainer and that’s paid off. It’s a great day!”
Dubbed the first Historic San Marino Grand Prix by the Imola organisers, the race first saw poleman Martin O’Connell drive away into the distance, setting fastest laps on lap 2 and 3 and pulling out a 6.5-second lead before his ATS D4 ground to a halt on lap 8.
Cantillon, having been the only driver to have kept pace with O’Connell, was handed a lead of 17 seconds over d’Ansembourg, the Belgian having been busy fending off runaway pre-78 leader Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) and Joaquin Folch in the Brabham BT49. Cantillon’s lead was wiped out, however, when on lap 10 the safety car was deployed to allow the retrieval of Katsu Kubota’s Lotus 91 from the Rivazza gravel trap.
At the restart, Cantillon kept his cool and ran out to a 1.6-second lead over d’Ansembourg, with Thornton not far behind.
“The restart was clean”, said the winner. “I had lots of time to think about it!”
It wasn’t clean for Joaquin Folch, however. The Catalan had been fourth but started experiencing lack of power when the safety car came out. “I decided to keep going as we were circulating slowly behind the safety car anyway. But when the green flag was waved the power wasn’t there.”
Folch put his hand up, and fifth-placed Steve Brooks (Lotus 81) rightfully decided to keep behind until the safety-car line was passed. “But by then I was in the wrong gear”, said Brooks, “and three cars came flying past!”
So suddenly Greg Thornton in third was looking at a 10-second gap to Jamie Constable’s Shadow DN8 as the quickest of the cars that had jumped Brooks at the restart. “I was looking in my mirrors to see where everyone was”, Thornton explained, “as with the new reversed-grid start order in race 1 for the top-8 of race 1 I was planning to drop down two places to still maintain the pre-78 class lead but start two places further up the grid tomorrow. But then I looked – and there was nobody there!”
In fourth, Constable made up for a torrid qualifying session to take second in the pre-78 class, ahead of Henry Fletcher (March 761) who in his first Historic Formula One race took a fine fifth overall and third in class. In sixth, Manfredo Rossi (Lotus 80) took third in the post-78 class while Brooks recovered to seventh overall.
Jason Wright, another pre-78 podium favourite, initially tracked Constable on his way up before dropping out on lap 9. Steve Hartley (Arrows A4) and Bob Blain (March 761) were early retirements.
Sunday, 22 April
Martin O’Connell took revenge for his mishap in the first FIA Masters Historic Formula One race of the Motor Legend Festival weekend at Imola by fighting his way forward from 21st on the grid to take Marc Devis’ ATS D4 to a spectacular win.
The former British Formula 3 National Class champion put his single-seater savvy to good use to be 12th after the opening lap, and sixth after 2 laps. A short spell behind the safety car dispatched for the retrieval from the gravel of Vincent Rivet’s March 811 was followed by O’Connell jumping both Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) and Christophe d’Ansembourg (Williams FW07) at the restart. One lap later, the ATS surged past Jamie Constable’s Shadow DN8 to take second place.
Meanwhile, from second on the grid, Steve Brooks (Lotus 81) drove a very strong race, leading until lap 9 after inheriting the lead on the opening lap when pole man Patrick D’Aubréry wildly spun his March 761 on the climb up to Tosa. Having valiantly defended first position for three laps, the Classic Team Lotus driver had to finally give in to O’Connell on lap 7 but stuck with the ATS in the four laps remaining to the finish. Brooks eventually crossed the line just a couple of seconds down on the winner.
Christophe d’Ansembourg (Williams FW07) produced a steady race to claim third, profiting from a clash between pre-78 class rivals Jamie Constable (Shadow DN8) and Greg Thornton (Lotus 77) that dropped both of them down the order. Their places were picked up by Joaquin Folch (Brabham BT49) and race 1 winner Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07), the latter having spun on lap 2 and on his way up again until Folch halted Cantillon’s progress. Manfredo Rossi (Lotus 80) was a brief second after two laps but failed to keep pace with the top-five. The Italian finished sixth.
Pre-78 class winner Constable kept Brooks honest in the opening stages but then saw his class rival Greg Thornton pass him on lap 6. Contact one lap later lost both of them places, Thornton eventually finishing well down, fifth in class.
Thornton’s demise helped Jason Wright (Shadow DN8) into second place in class while fellow Canadian Keith Frieser (Shadow DN1) picked up third. Frieser had been ahead of Wright before the latter made the pass on lap 8. Squeezed in between Constable and Wright was Andrew Beaumont’s Lotus 81 in eighth overall.
Also starting from the back, Steve Hartley was up to seventh by lap 8 but his weekend of horror continued when he pulled his Arrows A4 into the pits one lap later.
Endurance Legends Race Report
Saturday, 21 April
Alex Kapadia converted pole position into a win in the Masters Endurance Legends race of the weekend at Imola. The ORECA-Nissan 03 P2 driver came back to pass Steve Tandy’s Lola-Mazda B12/60 with two laps to go, having dropped behind the P1 car after the pitstops.
A thrilling battle for third place was ended in favour of Gareth Evans who used his Creation-AIM P1 machine to overtake Keith Frieser’s ORECA-GM FLM09 for the final podium spot while Travis Engen ran the pair close in his Audi R8 P1.
The ORECA 03s of Michel Frey and Ralph Meichtry were in hot pursuit of Kapadia up until the pitstops – the three drivers with previous Le Mans experience driving away from the opposition led by Tandy’s Lola. At the halfway mark it all fell apart for both Swiss drivers, as Frey was handed a 15-second stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact with the Venturi LM600 of Gérard Bouvet and Christian Perrier. Having done his regular pitstop, Frey returned to serve his penalty but didn’t bother to go back out again. Meanwhile, Meichtry pulled into the pits on lap 16, his race over.
Due to the various handicaps in pitstop times, Kapadia dropped behind Tandy during the pitstop phase and was now faced with closing an 11-second gap. The ORECA driver took five laps to be back snapping at the Lola-Mazda’s gearbox and made the pass on lap 20. On the same lap, Evans swooped past Frieser for third. Setting his fastest personal time right at the end, Engen was also looking for a way past Frieser but the Canadian managed to stay ahead of the American.
In relatively lonely races, Mike Newton (Lola-MG EX257) and Darius Ahrabian (Lotus-Lola P2 Coupé) were sixth and seventh.
In his Aston Martin DBR9, Nikolaus Ditting sealed GT honours when the Antonio Fuoco/Yoshiki Ohmura Ferrari 458 GTE suffered gearbox problems. As the rest of Ditting’s opposition also faltered – his lead rival Dominik Roschmann in the second DBR9 getting a drivethrough penalty – Ditting’s life was made easy in the second part of the race, the German taking eighth overall.
Sadly, Bob Berridge’s Peugeot 908 was a non-starter.
Sunday, 22 April
Alex Kapadia made it two out of two on track by winning the second Masters Endurance Legends race at Imola’s, only to be demoted post race a time penalty for a pit stop infringement placed him 4th overall in the final results. The ORECA-Nissan 03 P2 driver dominated from start to finish, heading the P1 machines of Gareth Evans (Creation-AIM) and Travis Engen (Audi R8).
Evans had a race-long fight with Steve Tandy’s P1 Lola-Mazda B12/60 before Tandy pulled off with a puncture on lap 17. Also in the mix from the start was Engen’s Audi, who was hot on the heels of Tandy’s Lola when he spun off into the gravel on lap 19, causing the red flag to come out with three minutes still on the clock. The race would not be resumed.
The race’s main excitement came in the laps leading up to the pitstops, as Michel Frey and Ralph Meichtry joined Evans, Tandy, Engen and Keith Frieser’s ORECA FLM09 in a six-car battle for second place. The two quick Swiss drivers had come from the back in their ORECA 03s and soon began mixing it with Kapadia’s initial pursuers, Frey moving up to third by lap 9.
The longer pitstops that were forced onto former Le Mans drivers Kapadia, Frey and Meichtry did not handicap Kapadia much, as he kept a 31-second lead over Tandy when the pit window closed. Frey and Meichtry, however, dropped back well behind Tandy and were fighting with Evans’s Creation when Frey spun into the gravel at Rivazza on lap 14, leading to the arrival of the safety car.
At the restart, Kapadia quickly ran out a sufficient lead over Tandy – and then over Evans and Engen when Tandy dropped out with his puncture. Meichtry’s progress was stopped by a gaggle of backmarkers separating him from Engen,
Meanwhile, Keith Frieser’s ORECA FLM09 was lost during the pitstop phase, the American coming into the pits but failing to leave it again. This handed positions to Mike Newton’s Lola-MG EX257 and Darius Ahrabian’s Lola-Lotus P2 Coupé.
In the GT class, Dominik Roschmann made it 1-1 in his intra-Aston Martin DBR9 battle with Nikolaus DItting by bringing his DBR9 home ahead of Ditting’s similar machine. Roschmann was further helped by yesterday’s winner Ditting spinning on lap 2. The Gérard Bouvet/Christian Perrier Venturi LM600 finished a distant third in class.