JohnAction Packed Silverstone Sees Wins for Duckman and McAleer
Gary Duckman and Mark McAleer took Porsche Club championship wins at Silverstone, in a dramatic meeting that saw championship challenger Ian White racing a borrowed 964, and a heavy incident in race two bringing out the Safety Car.
Class Two wins went to Chris Dyer and Charles Winterhalder, while Jeremy Clark continued his Brands Hatch form and took a Class Three double.
McAleer took pole for the opening Club race, despite having to pit early in the 20-minute session to have a throttle cable problem sorted. It was a Summit Preparation dominated qualifying, with their cars taking the first two rows with McAleer heading Brian Robinson, Ben Demetriou and Paul Livesey.
"The car felt slow in the opening laps," said McAleer, "so I came in and we found an issue with the throttle. After that the car felt good, it was my first pole of the year."
For White the dramas began before qualifying, a collision with a sports car in testing on Friday at Silverstone leaving his 964 C2 too damaged to continue. Some quick calls saw him borrow the similar car of Marcus Carniel - the race wining 964 used by James Neal in 2007 - and qualify his new mount fifth.
Cieren Brewer headed the Class Two runners, while Sarah Bennett-Baggs headed Class Three going quickest on her final laps to take her first class pole.
White and Duckman made strong starts from the third row of the grid, but at the end of the first lap it was Demetriou who came through leading from White, McAleer and Robinson. With White under pressure from the reigning champion, Demetriou seized his opportunity and started to ease away from the field, to be two seconds clear by lap five.
With the cars from second to sixth running close, and Richard Higgins lapping quickly and closing on that pack, Duckman wet past Robinson for fifth, only to lose the place two laps later before making the move stick on lap eight. Livesey was now the driver on the move, up to fourth on lap nine and then into second two laps later. He started to close on Demetriou, the quickest car on the track at that point of the race, but slid off into the Brooklands gravel on lap 15, ending his race.
As White and McAleer battled, Duckman found a way past the pair and took second, with Demetriou almost four seconds clear at the front - before his car suddenly slowed, allowing Duckman through.
"The first 20-minutes of the race were the best of my career," said Demetriou. "I made a good start, and took the lead in a drag race with Mark into Brooklands on the opening lap. Then I was lapping well and the others were just disappearing behind - I couldn't believe it. Suddenly I hit a problem - it may be fuel or electrical, we don't know yet, but the car slowed when the race was there to be won."
McAleer finally found a way past White to move into second, and set the race's fastest lap in his pursuit of Duckman, who held on to take his second win of the season. White claimed third, ahead of Robinson and Higgins, with Demetriou struggling round to take sixth.
"That was a harder win at Brands, I think I was sixth at one point," said Duckman, "I was battling for fifth, then I saw Mark and Ian ahead and they touched, and I got past Mark when he was out of shape. I caught and went past Ian and had settled for second place, and was saving my tyres when I realised Ben was having a nightmare. I shot past him and then Mark started catching me - I was sure the 30-minutes were up and I was praying for the flag at the end."
"If I had not been caught behind Ian for so long I think I could have won," said McAleer. "I was hoping to get on terms with Gary and nick the race - but it wasn't to be."
"I felt better with the car in the race than in qualifying, but still am not as confident in this car as in my own. We lost the ABS part way through the race, but I am pleased with the result, I was expecting to drop these scores after what happened on Friday, so any points are good."
Class Two saw Trevor Lewis leading initially, Dyer in close attendance, before the former slowed and fell down the order, leaving Dyer to take the class win despite a late scare.
"We had a good race with Trevor early on, it was very clean, he is a good driver," said Dyer. "At the end I was starting to run out of fuel, I had to drop my lap times to make sure I finished - we'll put a lot more fuel in for the next race!"
Clark took his third consecutive Class Three win, opening a lead in the early laps and staying clear of Bennett-Baggs till the end.
"That was hard work, I was trying to open a gap as early as possible," said Clark. "The handling is still not quite right on the car, which made it a bit lary from the mid-point onwards."
Both Duckman and McAleer made good starts, but at the end of the first lap it was the number one car ahead, McAleer leading White who had moved ahead of the first race winner. Duckman looked outside White into Brooklands on lap two, with Robinson and Demetriou in close attendance behind.
Duckman was into second on lap three, with Demetriou and Robinson also past White after he was nudged wide on the exit of Luffield. Duckman was three seconds behind the leader, and promptly set a fastest lap, Robinson going past Demetriou and doing the same a lap later, with Dyer retiring from the Class Two lead battle.
With Duckman just a second behind McAleer, the Safety Car was scrambled after Cieren Brewer went off heavily at the entry to Copse while battling for the Class Two lead with Lewis. His car was heavily damaged, and the safety crew where rapidly on the scene, but Brewer was fine after the incident.
Racing resumed on lap 14, McAleer now able to ease away from Duckman, who was under pressure from Robinson and Demetriou. Robinson went past on lap 16, and closed to within a second of the leader, but McAleer held on to take the win.
"I got a good start, which has been a bit unusual for me," said McAleer, "I opened a nice lead, then we had the Safety Car out which brought every back with me. I got away again and got caught up with some slower cars which made it quite close at the end."
"I've always been good at the end of races," commented Robinson.
Duckman and Demetriou traded places in the final laps, the former finally clinching the final podium position into Copse on the last lap. Behind, a storming drive from Livesey saw him claim fifth from the back of the grid.
"I was having problems with the tyres, then the Safety Car did it for me," said Duckman. "We've had a good weekend, scored lots of points and the car is in one piece so it as been a good weekend."
With the carnage in Class Two, it was Charles Winterhalder who kept out of trouble and claimed the class victory, leading home Mike Donnelly, the teenager taking home a trophy on his Porsche Club debut.
"The win feels a bit hollow after seeing Cieren go off," said Winterhalder, "that was a big whack he took. I just kept out of trouble when everyone else had their own incidents. I knew I had a big gap over the car behind, so just took it easy to bring the car home. After my shunt at Brands the guys have worked hard on the car, and I was pleased to take a first and a third this weekend."
"That was brilliant," said Donnelly, "the car wasn't handling so well this race, which I think was the tyres and the rubber down on the track. I really enjoyed myself, and maybe the win was there if the Safety Car had not split us up. I hope to be back later in the year."
Clark took his fourth Class Three win in a row, Bennett-Baggs staying in sight all race without being able to mount a challenge.
"Sarah gave me a run for my money," said Clark, "she is getting quicker. I was watching her in the mirrors and I had to push, and even with these wins she is still ahead in the points."
Porsche Club Championship, Race One (27 Laps): 1 Gary Duckman (968 CS) 30m47.791s 986.21mph); 2 Mark McAleer (968 CS) +0.933s; 3 Ian White (964 C2); 4 Brian Robinson (968 CS); 5 Richard Higgins (968 CS); 6 Ben Demetriou (968 CS); 7 Chris Stannard (968 CS); 8 Tom Segrue (968 CS); 9 Peter Erceg (968 CS); 10 Ian Oliver (911 Carrera). Class Winners: Duckman; Chris Dyer (944 S2); Jeremy Clark (944). Fastest Lap: McAleer 1m06.684s (88.48mph). Pole Position: McAleer 1m06.427s (88.78mph).
Race Two: 1 McAleer 30m48.183s (79.81mph); 2 Robinson +0.474s; 3 Duckman; 4 Demetriou; 5 Paul Livesey (968 CS); 6 White; 7 Higgins; 8 Oliver; 9 Erceg;10 Segrue. Class Winners: McAleer; Charles Winterhalder (944 S2);Clark. Fastest Lap: Livesey 1m06.871s (88.23mph). Pole Position: Duckman.
Next rounds: Silverstone Historic GP Circuits, July 26th / 27th.