A Pot and Two Podiums from First Anglesey Visit

This was my first ever visit to the circuit. With a drenched car unwilling to start, I’d managed one session of testing in pouring rain on the Friday. In my continuing chase for the championship title, I went into the weekend needing as many points as possible from this and the second race if I am to stand any chance of catching Hugh and Pete. Bolstering the grid were part-timers Karl and Andrew but we didn’t quite make six cars – which would have given us full points – as local man Alastair had sold his car earlier in the week.

Qualifying was the only activity for us on the Saturday and the rain had mostly disappeared, to be replaced by intermittent clouds and sun. I did most of the session without a need to come into the pits (both brakes and tyres had already seen action at earlier rounds) but in Parc Ferme I was annoyed at myself when I discovered I’d qualified only 4th in class from 5 entries.

I knew that Moluto team mate John was excellent off the line and was likely to get the jump on me at the start of the first of our two races on Sunday – and that’s exactly what happened. He stayed just ahead of me through the first corner but I went up his inside at The Banking and then grabbed the lead – with a slight exchange of paint along the way. It was then a case of maximum effort to catch Pete and Karl up front – who were occupied with their own little battle for a couple of laps. With Karl leading – although very familiar with Anglesey – this gave me some hope as I reckoned I might be able to cash in on his rustiness.

Pete got past Karl as the latter ran slightly wide on the loooong right-hander at the back of the circuit and we all bunched up yet again on the up-hill approach to Rocket. Karl had admitted he was having problems getting Corkscrew right and I nearly went into the back of him there on lap 5. His car became unsettled at Rocket on the next lap and I took 2nd place from him up his inside on the exit. With Karl now on my tail, I tried to reel Pete in, occasionally locking up as I braked ever later and harder. I was absolutely determined to beat Karl – and grab the extra point by finishing 2nd – and at the eventual flag, I finished 9.2 seconds behind Pete but just 0.8 seconds in front of Karl. With five in the class, as well as the vital points, I got a pot to take home with me.

I started Race 2 on the front row but sadly I just couldn’t match the pace I’d managed in Race 1 and Pete and Karl slowly pulled away leaving me to watch them build a lead and leave me with a 3rd place finish.

So, after the disappointment of qualifying, I left Anglesey with a trophy, two podiums and a vital 22 championship points. I’ve closed the gap to John to only three points, so I can pass him at Silverstone, which is a triple-header. Whether I’m able to catch Pete or Hugh is another question – but I’m not giving up on the Championship title until the last round is done and dusted.

Photos kindly provided by Neil Brownlee.

Full in-car footage from Race 1:

First PDA Win – And in the Wet Too!

The last weekend of July saw the BRSCC Toyo Porsches return to Brands Hatch for a pair of races and it proved to be an extremely eventful weekend for me, landing my first win in the Championship followed by a 2nd place on the Sunday.

The forecast suggested rain was quite likely, at least on the Saturday if not both days and up until now I’d never had much confidence – or even done remotely well – on a wet track. It was therefore quite a surprise to climb out of the car after qualifying to be told I’d not only held pole for much of the session but also, at one point, to have been third overall in the 8-car grid.

Although the rain subsided for a while, it returned to make Race 1 as wet as the qualifying session had been. I started on the outside of the front row next to Pete and my start wasn’t quite quick enough to beat him to turn 1. Tucking in behind him – which of course made it pretty difficult to see – I hung on for lap after lap, never quite in a position to challenge him, but the close, relentless pursuit finally paid off when he made a mistake at the notorious Graham Hill bend, spinning off to the left onto the grass. With only one and a half laps left, I just need to keep a cool head to grab my first ever 924 class win. Pete had posted fastest lap so gained an extra point, which I could have done with. The rain meant that the Boxsters just couldn’t use their power advantage and I wasn’t overtaken at all in the race, completing the 20 minutes just under half a lap behind the overall winner, and finishing ahead of one of the Class A cars.

As much as I really wanted it to rain again, race 2 on the Sunday was on a completely dry track. I was on pole with Pete to my left and Moluto team-make and 2019 rookie John Jones just behind us. John made a great start, slotting up the middle of Pete and I. With me closest to the apex, John held on to 2nd into Paddock, delaying Pete enough to help me hang on to the lead for an incredible 6 laps. On lap 7, Pete got a better speed through Paddock and up the hill, meaning he was quick enough to try an overtake up my inside at the Druids hairpin. I hung on to his tail for a while, threatening a move to re-take the lead at Druids on the next lap, but I didn’t want to take too much of a risk and eventually Pete pulled away to win, leaving me to land a safe 2nd.

Our next races – again just two spread over the weekend – are to be at Anglesey – a circuit I’ve never even visited, let alone raced on. Its possible that we’ll see a much increased grid, with some part-time drivers and possibly even a multiple ex-champion (who I have since beaten once) join us on the picturesque circuit. I will need good finishes in both races in order to catch Pete and John, who are now in joint second place in the points table.

Three Thirds from Croft

My first ever races at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire this weekend resulted in three third place finishes and 31.5 points towards the 2019 BRSCC Toyo Tires Porsche Championship title.

Very few of us had signed up to race this weekend and missing from the lineup were my two closest rivals, John Jones and Andrew Pritchard. JJ was already ahead in the points having done the Cadwell Park round a few weeks before, so I had to at least finish every race to stand a chance of catching him in the rounds ahead. Ahead of me would be Hugh Peart, who was leading the championship, and Pete Smith, who started the season late but was already winning races.

To add to the challenge – although I’d been to Croft a couple of times before, I’d never even driven the track so I was going to be qualifying on an almost completely unknown circuit! I soon got the hang of things though and qualified third, albeit 2.5 seconds slower than Hugh.

This was to be a “triple header”, with a single race on the Saturday, followed by two more on the Sunday. The weather had cooled off a bit from the proceeding week but with the strong sunshine, it was still hot in the car. In Race 1, my final lap was the quickest and 2.8 seconds quicker than qualifying – certainly moving in the right direction.

Sunday was a late start – Croft don’t allow racing before 12:00 – and although I’d slowed a little, I pushed harder earlier on to try to keep pace with Hugh and Pete. The final race of the weekend was our traditional reverse grid – although with our small number, it didn’t make much difference. I was able to hold Pete off for the first few corners and stay with them for four laps or so. This time my fastest laps were much closer to the leaders, finishing just 1.2 seconds off Pete’s winning time.

So I headed home with three third places and although it didn’t move me in the championship table, it moved me a lot closer to both JJ and Hugh’s totals. Hugh is to miss the next two rounds – four races in total at Brands and Anglesey – and I should be able to pass both him and JJ and keep close to Pete’s score.

My thanks as usual to Clive Morison at Moluto Motorsport for providing and running the car and my sponsors WeShield and AMPS UK Ltd.

Michelle Debuts at Inaugural 4Pot Trophy Race

June saw the inaugural race of the new CALM 4Pot Porsche Trophy at Silverstone (switched from the GP to the National circuit after Silverstone’s calendar was disrupted for a second resurfacing at F1’s insistence) and the first ever race for famous and successful drift racer Michelle Westby.

In between her first time in the car at Donington back in March, she’d attended a track day at Silverstone and, although the day was dogged by rain, she got some tuition and drove a few laps to start to learn the circuit.

After a very warm Saturday – where I was doing media duties for Britcar – the weather had cooled somewhat so I was relieved I wouldn’t have the same problems with heatstroke that I’d had at Snetterton! The timetable was unkind to us – helpful though for those cars who had gremlins – as our qualifying session was at 09:25 with the race not until 17:05 in the evening. Rarely has a motorsport day felt so long!

Jakob Ebrey – one of the most well-known motorsport photographers in the UK – had brought his silver 944 turbo but ran into problems in qualifying that were later determined to be a failed head gasket. Gary Campbell was more unfortunate, falling ill before he’d even qualified, and his car was to be driven by Matt Holtom from the Civic Cup – once a difficult electrical issue was cured.

Ours was one of two cars on new tyres from sponsor MRF; additionally it had brand new front brakes so we decided I should qualify first, under strict instructions to avoid overheating or glazing the brakes. I only managed four timed laps before Clive brought me in for a driver change and my times were very much off the pace. Michelle, on the other hand, did a fantastic job, posting our three fastest qualifying laps with a best lap over a second quicker than mine.

A long rain shower – that really looked like we would be racing in the wet – stopped about 15 minutes before we were called to the assembly area for the race, by which time the usual brisk Silverstone breeze had started to dry the track. Again I was to take the first stint and by the time I’d completed the two green flag laps, the race surface was almost completely dry. Starting from the back, I held on to the tails of Rick Matthews (yellow car), with only the unfortunate Andy Pritchard behind me – who soon dropped away with a failed battery.

Taking a bit more care than usual with the start, over the period of my stint (watch the video) I overtook #888 double BRSCC Porsche champion Alastair Kirkham, then #47 Rick, then #15 Philip Waters in the sister Moluto car, putting me 2nd in class. Nine of my 15 lap times were consistently in the 1:14s – more than four seconds quicker than I’d managed in qualifying – with a best of 1:14.169.

My 20 minutes were up and Clive boarded me into the pits for the driver change – and the start of Michelle’s first time out in a competitive race environment. She impressed everyone with her driving and concluded her stint with a lap of 1:14.487 – less than half a second off my quickest.

The next 4Pot race isn’t until September, which is to be on the rarely-used Brands Hatch GP circuit. Before then I have two more rounds of the BRSCC Porsches (Croft and Brands) where I hope to land plenty more championship points.

My thanks as usual to Clive Morison of Moluto motorsport for running the car; Philip, Ryan and Karl for organising and running 4Pot and John of MRF for his very generous donation of the two sets of tyres the Moluto cars ran on – we were impressed! And thanks of course to my sponsors WeShield and AMPS UK Ltd.

Photos kindly donated by Jakob Ebrey photography.