World Sportscar Masters 2005 Review
by entrepreneur Ron Maydon and his partner, ex-Lola and Panoz director
Chris Tate, The Masters Historic Racing Series added to its series
for Grand Prix cars from 1960s and 70s with the acquisition of the
former Historic Group 4 events last winter.
Now called the ‘World Sportscar Masters’,
and aimed exclusively at Group 4 and Le Mans prototypes of the period
1964-74, this prestigious series had a strong first year in 2005,
with race formats being varied - either two separate half hour races
over a festival weekend, or a straight one hour mini-enduro, with
compulsory pitstops, and the option of driver changes.
The season’s overall star – it’s not a championship
– was clearly Portuguese Carlos Barbot in his immaculate Lola
T70 MkIIIB, prepared by Lola specialist Clive Robinson. Here he
chases Abba Kogan's Matra MS650 at Pau.
Two wins at
Pau set Barbot on his way, and he was competitive on every outing.
In fact, Lola T70s were triumphant overall, with other race winners
including Richard Meins at the Nurburgring, Andre Bailly at Zolder
and Frank Sytner at Silverstone, sharing his version of the classic
Lola (the ex-Sid Taylor T70 Mk III) with the ultra rapid Simon Hadfield.
It was also
good to see Peter Dunn in his earlier Lola Spider T70 enjoying success
after many years of trying. Behind the Lolas, the Chevron B8s were
always a delight – good, clean fast racing from the likes
of Jerry Hooper, Chris Chiles, Joe Ward and Andrew Schryver - even
if David Methley’s unique Lenham coupe with its FVA could
generally wail away into the distance for a class win.
The WSM events
are divided into classes named after sports car heroes of the period
– Siffert, Pescarolo, Rodriguez, Hulme, Barth and Bonnier
– and strong class battles, with fields drawn from all over
Europe and the USA, set the tone for WSM’s first season.
The series is
set for major expansion in 2006, having closed out ‘05 at
Spa with 38 immaculate and period-correct sports cars on the grid,
and now with many ‘new’ cars set to take on the T70s
– Ferrari 312 PB, Lola T280, Alfa Romeo T33/3 – promised
for 2006, on tracks to be visited including Brands Hatch, Pau, Dijon,
Silverstone, Nurburgring and Spa.
The Masters has also acquired control of the two well-established
Gentleman Drivers series, one for pre-65 GT cars and the other for
pre-65 sports racers, so the new year promises to be a busy one.
One of the reasons for the expected growth in WSM grid sizes in
2006 is that owners and collectors and historic preparers can now
expect to attend a Masters Historic Festival and run a car in at
least four events, if they wish. The historic scene is changing
fast across Europe - and The Masters Racing Series welcomes interest
from event organisers, preparation companies and owner drivers alike.
Contact Chris Tate for more details:
Tel: +44 (0) 1908 587545
Fax: +44 (0) 1908 587009
Mob: +44 (0) 7976 400402