Paul McLean won the first 20-minute Porsche Open race at Silverstone, while Mike Johnson won the longer race two - despite not realising he was leading at the end. The Open runners shared the track with a variety of sports cars and prototypes for their races, and the Porsches did themselves proud, McLean at one point setting the fastest race lap in the opening event, quicker than any of the purpose built single-seaters at that point.
Paul McLean and Peter Fairbairn headed the Open runners in qualifying, their 993 GT2 the only car to duck under the one-minute mark for the 1.7-mile circuit. Mike Johnson was second quickest, having headed the Open times early in the session, the Yorkshireman finding it hard to get a clear run on the busy track.
"The circuit was very slippery at the beginning of the session," commented Fairbairn.
Tim Speed was quickest in Class Two in the 996 GT3 he shares with Paul Winter, while once more Tony Brown was quickest of the Class Three runners.
As the lights went out to start the race, McLean stuttered away, the new clutch in the 993 making the car harder to get off the line. The driver most hindered by McLean's stuttering start was Johnson, who had to lift, and McLean was rapidly under power again, and went into the first corner with a gaggle of cars, where contact saw him spin down the order.
That left Johnson as the leading Open runner, with Winter's Class Two 996 GT3 close behind. From eighteenth in the order, McLean was on a charge back through the field, and was back in the top ten by lap four, at one point all three 993 GT2s in the race going down the Silverstone pit straight in formation as McLean went past Paul Livesey and Mark Chilton
By lap six McLean was right behind Johnson, who was running fifth overall in the race and the leading Porsche, and went by at the end of that lap. Having taken the Porsche Open lead McLean kept his pace high, setting at one point the race's fastest lap, quicker than the sports prototypes had run until that point.
McLean claimed third overall and the Porsche win at the end of the race, Johnson taking second with Livesey third from way down on the grid, having had a boost pipe come off the car in qualifying. Paul Winter was seventh overall and won Class Two, with Tony Brown adding to his list of Class Three victories.
"The clutch we broke at Brands we had to replace," said McLean, "but this set of clutch plates make it far easier to stall the car, and I nearly did that. I got going, and had so much power that I caught all the cars in front into the first corner. We were three or four abreast and they came across and an orange sportscar hit me and we all spun round.
"From then on I just had to fight my way back, and I didn't know where I was for a while, and when I saw a pit board I knew I was leading the Porsches and knew there was no point in pushing hard. It was hard racing these little cars, it can be difficult to see them in your mirrors."
"On the start I got the clutch out, pulled out to go down the middle," said Johnson, "and saw a yellow flag, so I feathered a bit - and everyone went shooting past me. I saw Paul get caught up with one of the Radicals at the first corner, but he got himself gathered back up and was quick again. He has a really nice car - I need to look in the back of my truck for some turbos I think!"
I had a blinding start, I was ahead of Mike Johnson at one point," said Winter. "Then the quicker cars went flying past and I settled down in seventh overall. An uneventful race with a good result for us."
Speed was sharing Winter's 996 GT3 for race two, but stalled on the line as the rest of the field streamed round him. McLean got the GT2 cleanly away and led the Open runners, Livesey initially second ahead of Johnson before a spin sent him down the order.
McLean pitted on lap 13 of the 40-minute race to hand over to Fairbairn, Johnson pitting two laps later, and emerging the leading of the cars who had made their stops, Livesey the leader on the road but yet to make his pit stop. Johnson was then adjudged to have stopped for les than the 35-second minimum time, and the screens indicated a drive thru penalty, only for this to be passed to Mike as a drive-thru penalty, which he took on lap 20, the yellow 996 crawling down the pit lane and back out, losing his 20-second lead.
To add to the confusion, Speed pitted at the end of his twelfth lap, only to rejoin again and pit once more, his stop catching the team by surprise and Winter not yet ready to take the car over.
Johnson closed on Fairbairn, but thought himself a lap behind after having made two pit stops. He went past on his 36th lap, the two cars staying close in the remaining laps, Johnson taking the chequer flag but thinking himself a lap down on the McLean and Fairbairn car in second, which had lost a side window during the race.
"I was counting the seconds for the pit stop to myself," said Johnson, "as I was trying to do it by the book. I thought I was unlapping myself from Peter, as I thought I was a lap down after doing the drive-through. I wanted to chase him down just to have a race - I didn't know I was battling for the lead, it was all a bit vague really!"
"One of the windows fell out," said McLean, "which must have been entertaining for the car behind at the time. I think Mike thought he was a lap down because of his stop-go penalty."
"I was amazed how windy it got in the car," said Fairbairn, "but other than that the car ran well. Mike went past me at Becketts."
Livesey recovered from his early spin to come back through the field, which was becoming a theme for the driver over the day, and was only seconds behind Fairbairn at the end.
"I just needed a few more laps and I could have got second" said Livesey, "I'm learning how to drive the car, and spun early on after I didn't let things warm up - it was a good fun race."
A lap down on the leaders was the 996 shared by Winter and Speed, fifth Porsche home behind the well-driver 997 of Rob Payne, and Class Two winners.
"I made a bad start, stalled on the line," said Speed, "then got the bit between my teeth and came back at them. I came down the pit lane, saw Paul didn't have his helmet on, so I thought I wasn't going to wait for him so I drove back out!"
"We were unprepared - as usual!" joked Winter. "I didn't put the seat far enough forward so I could only just get full throttle. Racing Richard Chamberlain was brilliant - what a star he is!"
"I simply opened a gap and then cruised," joked Tony Brown after his second Class Three win of the day.
Porsche Open, Race Two (21 Laps): 1 Paul McLean (993 GT2 Evo) 21m22.727s (96.59mph); 2 Mike Johnson (996 GT3 R) +20.546s; 3 Paul Livesey (993 GT2 Evo); 4 Paul Winter (996 GT3); 5 Mark Chilton (993 GT2); 6 Zubin Randeria (993 RSR); 7 James Fillingham (996 Cup); 8 Rob Payne (997 Cup); 9 Lajos Varga (996); 10 Paul Howells (993 RSR). Class Winners: McLean; Winter; Tony Brown (964 RSR). Fastest Lap: McLean 58.653s (100.59mph). Pole Position: McLean 59.392s (99.34mph).
Race Two (39 LAPS): 1 Johnson 41m24.589s (96.21mph); 2 McLean / Fairbairn +0.806s; 3 Livesey; 4 Payne; 5 Tim Speed / Winter; 6 Howells; 7 Fillingham / Chamberlain; 8 Brown; 9 Neil Primrose (964 RS);10 Adrian Clark (928).Class Winners: Johnson; Speed/ Winter; Brown. Fastest Lap: McLean 59.605s (98.99mph). Pole Position: McLean / Fairbairn.
Next races: Silverstone Historic GP Circuits, July 26th / 27th.