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Drift ace Michelle Westby – in only her second ever circuit race – shared the 924 class 2nd place with me in the CALM 4Pot Trophy race at Brands Hatch GP last weekend.
Although I was able to get to the circuit on the Friday, neither of us had an opportunity to do a test session so we both went into qualifying on the Saturday morning without ever having driven the full GP configuration before. I’ve raced at Brands many times – in fact had taken my first 924 win there only weeks before – but the GP more than doubles the length and completely changes the character of the circuit. Unlike the Silverstone round, our 10 Porsches would be sharing the grid with over 20 cars from the 750MC Bernie’s V8 – and a more varied mix of cars you’re not likely to find anywhere!
It was decided that I would qualify first to get heat into both the MRF tyres and the brakes and I set out after a frantic early-morning scrutineering session and briefing of the entire 33-car grid. But the session was dogged by hold-ups – no less than four crashes and two red flags – and I wasn’t able to find the pace I wanted. Michelle then jumped into the car – complete with “booster seat” cushions – and while was concerned she would not be able to get the required three laps completed before the session ended, the results sheet later showed just how well Michelle has taken to circuit racing – she’d posted the quickest and second quickest laps of the both of us.
Moluto team chief mechanic Clive and I had discussed who should start the race and we decided that, given it was to be a rolling start, it would give Michelle a chance to be among competition immediately. Having the drviers this way round would also make the driver change a little easier since we would be removing the extra seat cushions and moving the seat backwards.
All three of the other 924s pitted before us but two (#15 Philip Waters/Dan Gick and #69 Richard Jones/Alaric Gordon) suffered electrical problems and did not return to the circuit, leaving only two cars in class – so unless we suffered a DNF, we were already on for a podium finish.
Fortunately the race was not dogged by the crashes and red flags that we had had in qualifying and I spent my entire session racing the #23 944 of new racer Ben Anderson, another entry from the 4Pot section of the grid. We swapped places several times but ultimately he finished around a second ahead of me.
I took the flag 2nd in class, so we shared a trophy – Michelle’s first – in the after-race presentation. From the timing sheet, Michelle again showed how quick she’s adapted to circuit racing with a fastest lap a mere 0.76 seconds slower than mine.
Here’s the in-car video of all of my stint.
Our original aim was to also compete in the annual Birkett Relay on the Silverstone Historic GP circuit which this year falls on the 26th October but unfortunately all drivers need to have completed at least six races – and Michelle has only finished two. So, for now at least, this is the last of Michelle’s circuit races for 2019. Lets hope she is able to land some sponsorship so she can continue to race next year.
Photos kindly supplied by Darren Skidmore