Gary Duckman and Ian White took overall wins as the Porsche Club Championship combined with the Porsche Open to support the prestigious A1GP final round with a big crowd packed into Brands Hatch over the weekend - May third and fourth. It was Duckman's first Porsche Club win, and he backed that up with second in Sunday's round behind White, in a race punctuated by Safety Car periods on an oily track.
Scott Kavanagh was another first time winner, taking Class Two on Saturday, while Trevor Lewis stormed through from the very back of the grid to claim the class on Sunday. Jeremy Clark took a Class Three double, after having to rebuild the front of his 944 after an off at Oulton Park two weeks ago.
Qualifying White took pole after Friday afternoon's 30-minute qualifying session, continuing the run of quickest times he has set at each circuit the series has visited so far this season in his new 964 C2.
"This is my first time round the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit in a Porsche," said White. "I have raced on the circuit before, but only in other cars."
Local racer Duckman was second quickest and led the 968 CS mounted runners, with championship leader Mark McAleer third and Ben Demetriou fourth, having suffered power steering failure in the session.
Kavanagh headed Class Two, having raced previously with the championship when it visited Brands at the end of last season, with Lewis second quickest. Jeremy Clark headed Class Three.
Race One Released seconds after the Porsche Open runners had started, White headed the Porsche Club runners away cleanly, and held off Duckman through the first corner as the 968 nosed to the outside of the poleman. By the end of lap one White was over a second clear of his pursuers, Duckman heading McAleer, Demetriou, still running without power steering, and Richard Higgins.
White eased away in the early laps, Higgins coming under pressure from Brian Robinson who went past on lap four. The leading group had the slower Porsche Open runners in sight, but by lap ten were being lapped by the quicker Open cars, changing the gaps between them.
Duckman was able to close right up on White, the pair entering Clearways side by side at the end of lap 12, White nosing ahead on the straight to lead across the line and into Paddock Hill Bend. At the bottom of the hill White's car snapped out of shape, and the leader gathered it up but not before Duckman had dived past - White holding onto second.
Duckman stayed ahead during the remaining laps, White taking second ahead of McAleer, Demetriou and Robinson.
"I started catching Ian, then I think he had problems," said Duckman. "He went away quickly at the start and I had to defend from Ian and Ben. Then Ian got delayed by back-markers and I could see I was getting closer. He had a huge moment and I thought he was going to go into me but I just got past.
"That was the best race I have ever had, the car was fantastic, it felt good, and I was pretty confident at the end, it is my first Club outright win."
"I had a three second lead and lost ground as I caught some backmarkers, but that is the luck of the draw," said White. "I was pushing as hard as I could, and I could see them still there behind. I was on a tight line into Paddock, had too much lock, and the back whipped on me. Gary drove very well - it was close between us, and very clean, which makes it enjoyable. He won fair and square."
"I was getting a misfire from about the third lap in," said McAleer. "It would be ok for two or three laps, but then start happening again. It was intermittent - but was always doing it just were I didn't want it to on the track. Other than that the car was good, though right at the end at Dingle Dell the engine totally stopped - I coasted and got it going again."
Kavanagh claimed his maiden Class Two win, Lewis retiring with engine problems, while Clark took his second win of the season in Class Three.
"I had a bit of a lonely race," said Kavanagh. "I was trying to keep some of the Class one cars behind me as a buffer, but it was getting hot and my tyres were going off. Last year the car was so standard I drove it to the circuit, it is still overweight and we are working on it, but that was really enjoyable.
"We have spent the last ten days or so working on the car repairing after the damage we got at Oulton, and my thanks go out to EMC for their help with the car" said Clark. "The car still isn't right and needs more work on the set up, but I really enjoyed that race. The really quick guys are so much quicker, you have to be careful and sometimes you are in the wrong place at the wrong time for them through no fault of your own, but those guys are good and if you hold your line they are past."
Race Two Sunday's race took place in front of a large crowd, and again White made a good start, but Duckman matched it and they went into Paddock Hill Bend together - White emerging ahead. McAleer was third, and closed on Duckman as White opened a slight gap.
Charles Winterhalder and Mike Clapham clashed on the exit of Surtees on lap four, and with other cars spinning on what was now an oily track, the Safety Car was scrambled to tidy things up. Released again on lap seven, the field managed one lap of racing before finding themselves in the queue behind the car again, an Open runner off at Paddock Hill Bend.
With drivers aware of the state of the track, Robinson was the quickest Club driver on the track, going past McAleer and closing on Duckman in the final laps. White had enough in hand to take the win, with Duckman just holding off the experienced Robinson to claim second.
"I was trying to find a line round the circuit free of oil," said White. "Gary made a cracking start, I only got past him on the run up the hill. An enjoyable race though, you always enjoy a win!"
"I was disappointed I couldn't beat Ian into Paddock Hill Bend," said Duckman, "he got a really good run across me and went ahead. So I tucked in behind me and tried to do the same as yesterday - but this time the Safety Cars played into his hands and let him nurse his tyres. The oil was disastrous, it was hard to know where to put the car - but it has been a fabulous weekend for us, and we had lots of sponsors and guests here."
"Oil doesn't bother me," said Robinson. "I could see where the line was and that was ok. Another couple of laps and I could have been right up there, it was an enjoyable race, just a shame that the Safety Car kept coming out, it was fun while it lasted."
"The engine was still missing - but just on the start finish straight," said McAleer. "We put loads of fuel in to make sure it wasn't that, but we don't what the problem is right now."
In Class Two Lewis was climbing through the field, having started at the back of the grid due to his non-finish on Saturday, and in the final laps was right with class leader Chris Dyer. Saturday winner Scott Kavanagh retired after a clash at Graham Hill Bend, Lewis finding a way past Dyer on the final lap to take the class win.
"My car was good on the fast corners at the back of the circuit, and that was letting me catch people," said Lewis. "I finally took the lead into Hawthorns on the last lap. We were side-by-side but I had the inside and went past. It makes up for the disappointment yesterday."
Clark made it a Class Three double, staying clear of Sarah Bennett-Baggs.
"The circuit was tricky - oil on and off line," said Clark, "and even when I was sliding around today I knew I had to keep it on the circuit. The car was handling great, I was running with Class Two cars and it's great to take two class wins after all our work."
Porsche Club Championship, Race One: 1 Gary Duckman (968 CS) 26m33.416s (125.5kph); 2 Ian White (964 C2) +1.297s; 3 Mark McAleer (968 CS); 4 Ben Demetriou (968 CS); 5 Brian Robinson (968 CS); 6 Richard Higgins (968 CS); 7 Ian Oliver (911 Carrera); 8 Peter Erceg (968 CS); 9 Ed Hayes (968 CS); 10 Chris Stannard (968 CS). Class Winners: Duckman; Scott Kavanagh; Jeremy Clark (911 2.7). Fastest Lap: Duckman 1m43.348s (129.0kph). Pole Position: White, 1m43.769s (128.9kph).
Race Two: 1 White 13 laps in 26m06.981s (110.6kph); 2 Duckman +0.656s; 3 Robinson; 4 McAleer; 5 Demetriou; 6 Higgins; 7 Stannard; 8 Hayes; 9 Erceg; 10 Trevor Lewis (944 S2). Class Winners: White; Lewis; Jeremy Clark. Fastest Lap: White, 1m45.134s (126.8kph). Pole Position: Duckman.
Next Races: Silverstone, Northants, May 31st.