Disappointing 924 Weekend at Rockingham

Rockingham isn’t a track I particularly like racing at, but it was one of the few BRSCC Toyo Porsche Championship rounds I could actually compete in this season, due mostly to clashes and other committments. I again hired a 924 from Moluto Motorsport and turned up in plenty of time on the Saturday morning for qualifying, joining a quite respectable grid of 22 cars.

I had a best time to aim for but that was from my Boxster days and by today’s standards, it would have put me among the 924s. I posted a fastest lap around 9 seconds shy of that, putting me P10 on the grid for Race 1 – second from last and around 0.2 seconds quicker than Andy Pritchard who happens to be chair of the 924 Owners’ Club.

Race 1 turned out to be quite a lot of fun: I made a poor start and Andy, Bernie and the two Class B Boxsters (who grid up behind us) were quickly passed, but I hung on to their tails and got past Andy which led to an almost race-long battle between as has he fought to get past. Eventually he did and was on the verge of beating me when the heavens opened and the circuit got very slippery, very quickly – catching Andy out on the long left-hander after PiffPaff where he span out left onto the wet grass. I sailed through to finish P7 in class but afterwards in parc ferme we were both grinning from ear to ear having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

So for Race 2 we would again be close on the grid, with me on the row in front. Unfortunately I made an even worse start and everyone disappeared into the distance, leading to a race that wasn’t remotely enjoyable – so bad in fact that I decided to call it a day and not even enter Race 3. Perhaps that was a prophetic decision since there was a very bad crash among the 924s on the banking soon after the start, leading to severe damage to three cars, including that of Class C champion contender Pip Hammond and another local friend Karl Rossin who has been competing in a new-build car this season.

I’ll miss the final round of the 2017 season due to being at Oulton Park with Britcar in October; I’m currently 10th in the championship table but expect to get bumped down a few spots in the final races at Brands.

My thanks go to Clive and Philip of Moluto for looking after the car; AMPS Ltd for their continuing sponsorship; and the BRSCC marshals and volunteers for making our crazy sport possible.

 

Last-minute Boxster Race at Silverstone

On Sunday I was invited at the last minute to co-drive a Porsche Boxster in the 750 Motor Club‘s Cartek 2 hour endurance race at Silverstone. I had planned to attend the races anyway, to watch PDC Racing mechanic Esther Quaintmere make her debut in their Stock Hatch championship, but I got a call from Jonathan Evans, who I’ve known through the Porsche Club Championship and 24 hour races for some years. He’d signed up to take part in Sunday’s race and the original plan was to drive his new-build Cayman. With that car not ready, he instead rented a 987 Boxster S from one-time BRSCC Porsche Championship team Taylors Foundary.

I’d raced in the 987 variant of Porsche’s mid-engined roadster before, sharing Canadian Farees Ali’s car for a season in Britcar, but this car was new to me – and to Johnathan, who had only ever raced 986s. He and his team SE Motorsport had spent a lot of Friday testing the car and trying to get it set up correctly. As well as its stability management system – which sometimes decided to lock the wheels under breaking – they’d struggled with tyres with no one on site able to provide a suitable set in the right size. A call to local BRSCC Porsche driver Richard Avery resulted in the loan of a set of part-worn Toyo R888Rs on suitable wheels and we had these swapped onto the car for the race.

Johnathan qualified first and had posted a best time of 1:18.99 – which I was unable to better – and that put us in the middle of the 42-car grid.

He also took the first stint and with lap times down to 1:18.66 had got the car up to 2nd in class B with a significant gap to the next car, also a Porsche, in the same class. He came in after 60 minutes, but unfortunately a problem with the refuelling jugs meant a very long pit stop and despite my best efforts, I could only finish P4 in class.

My thanks to Jonathan for the unexpected chance of another race, his sponsors ESRG Group, S.E. Motorsport, Auto Fuel Fix and Treacle Media, plus BRSCC Porsche drivers Richard Avery for the tyre loan and Jamie Callender, who helped out on the pit wall.

Birkett Relay plan takes shape

I’m happy to announce that once again I will be taking part in the annual 750MC Birkett Relay race, in a Toyota MR2 run by Rogue Motorsport. This historic 6-hour event takes place towards the end of each race season on Silvertone’s GP circuit.

Me during the 2014 Birkett, photo courtesy Joshua Barrett

Rogue are of course the team that took me to a fantastic 4th-in-class debut in the Creventic 24 Hours of Silverstone in 2016, and I’ve raced with them on-and-off for a number of seasons in different 750MC events. No one knows more about circuit racing Toyotas than Rogue team boss Patrick Mortell, and he and his team are always great fun to work with. The Birkett is a unique event, its results being based on a handicap system that I can’t pretend to understand, so its not always outright pace that wins on the day.

Britcar Race 1 fastest lap

I’ve now obtained in-car footage from Race 1 of the Britcar Silverstone race and this is a cropped down section of it showing my fastest lap – a full second improvement on my personal best and as you’ll see, there’s still quite a way to go!

This is me trying to keep up with Alyn James in the Honda Civic, who with Barry McMahon had spun at Stowe on lap one. After they’d recovered and rejoined, I’d managed to keep the two of them at bay for a while but one by one they got past. I’ve only ever beaten Alyn once – that was at Thruxton a couple of seasons back when his car was less than perfect – so wanted to beat him again if I possibly could. No chance!

Click the YouTube logo to watch it at full resolution.