in Oulton Thriller
Paul McLean took victory in an exciting Porsche Open race at Oulton Park, battling with Mike Johnson for the lead as the two rapid Class One cars tore through the 30-car field. Paul Winter claimed third and Class Two honours after Paul Livesey clashed with a backmarker and retired with four laps to go.
Tony Brown took Class Three to make up from his retirement from the class lead at Donington Park. The Open grid was bolstered by the very welcome visit of eight Porsche racers from Ireland, Robin Titterington taking sixth overall in his 996.
QualifyingJohnson took pole in his 996 GT3R, the only driver under 1m50s for the full Oulton Park circuit, with Livesey was second quickest in his GT2. McLean was third quickest despite only completing the first part of the session, the ABS on his GT2-R failing and a corner weight issue further compromising the braking.
"It's my first time here with this car," said Johnson, "the trees seem to go past much quicker with the 996! I'm pleased to take pole and the car felt really good, I just have to keep it up now for the 30 minutes of the race."
Winter just headed Paul Howells for Class Two grid position, with the experienced Tony Brown quickest in Class Three and seventh overall.
RaceJohnson made the best of the start, McLean demoting Livesey on lap one to slide into second. On lap two McLean dived inside Johnson into Old Hall, but the leader stood his ground and emerged still ahead, but a lap later McLean simply outpowered Johnson on the straight and was ahead.
Johnson stayed close as they lanced through the traffic of the 30car field, and was back ahead on lap seven. Side by side through Knickerbrook on lap 10, McLean was back in front by the end of the lap, and was then able to edge out a lead over the final laps to take the win.
Livesey was third until thirteen when a clash with a Porsche Club runner saw him retire with frontal damage on his car, Winter inheriting the final podium slot after a quick and tidy run in his 996 GT3, the only car not lapped by the flying lead duo.
Howells was fourth and second in class behind Winter, with Mark Chilton getting to grips with his new 993 GTS and taking fifth ahead of Titterington. Brown had a clear run through to win Class Three, completing a successful day for Harvey Race Engineering who also had two class wins in the first Porsche Club race.
"I got the ABS fixed from the morning but the corner weights were still out," said McLean. "Really pleased to have such a good race, I thought I was going to have to settle for second at one point, then we were side by side and very close through Old Hall. The traffic was hard to judge, and that also helped us get past each other - I went past him once when he missed a gear and was baulked. I lost the venturi floor after a touch, but the car still felt good so I could still push."
"It's easy though the backmarkers when you have your eyes closed!" joked Johnson. "It was a good race, I got a good start and got a clean run out the first corner. Paul is just so quick in that car and reeled me in, and I got back past him and could have made it difficult for him to get back, but I missed a gear into Knickerbrook and he breezed past me. I got delayed by a backmarker and wasn't getting back at him towards the end, so I settled for second. An enjoyable race."
"The car went like a dream and that was an excellent result," said Winter. "The backmarkers were really sensible and always went the right way, so we had no mishaps and no worries. This is an awesome circuit and that was an enjoyable race."
"It was a bit lonely out there really," said Brown, "I was seventh on the grid and the guys in front had a lot more power and just went away from me. This makes up for my retirement at Donington."
Porsche Open Championship and Porsche Club Championship Class 2: 1 Paul McLean (993 GT2-R) 16 laps in 28m57.250s (89.25mph); 2 Mike Johnson (996 GT3R) +9.414s; 3 Paul Winter (996 GT3 996 Cup); 4 Paul Howells (993 RSR); 5 Mark Chilton (993 GTS); 6 Robin Titterington (996); 7 Tony Brown (964 RSR); 8 Bob Cameron (993 GT2); 9 Brian Gorman (911); 10 Tim Bryan (928 GTS). Pole Position: Johnson 1m49.638s (142.25kph). Fastest Lap: Paul Livesey (993) 1m44.613s (81.28mph). Class Winners: McLean; Winter; Brown, Mike Clapham (944 S2). Starters: 30.
Next Race: Brands Hatch, Kent, May 2nd - 4th.