Hard-charging Quaife takes podium

n eventful Snetterton weekend

Phil Quaife scored a race 1 podium with a through-the-field drive, but was denied a race 2 repeat by a combination of bad luck and a bizarre late-race Safety Car incident in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Snetterton.

The weekend began in fine style for the Kent-based racing driver on Friday as excellent pace in testing saw him go second fastest, just a couple of hundredths of a second behind championship leader Michael Caine. But a qualifying session ruined by traffic meant he had to rely on all his race craft to salvage third place in race 1.

Starting from seventh, Quaife made a superb getaway from the grid and was fourth by the end of the first lap having passed Caine, Jake Rosenzweig and Tim Bridgman on the opening tour. Bridgman re-took the position later in the race as Quaife battled to get temperature into his tyres, but the BRDC Rising Star fought back again in the dying stages and nipped past both Bridgman and Charles Bateman in the latter part of the race when the two had a coming together while fighting over third place.

A podium finish was just reward for a battling drive and Quaife admitted he was pleased to join Jota Sport team mate Sam Hancock and race winner Tim Harvey on the rostrum. “I think that was probably the best start I have made all season,” he admitted afterwards. “The car felt good and we were coming into our own towards the end of the race. I was right with Tim and Charles when they touched and went off, so to get third position was a very good result after what happened in qualifying.”

A problem in the closing stages of race 1 meant the team replaced the gearbox on Quaife’s Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car for race 2, but he suffered the worst possible start when a problem with the clutch on the grid saw his car begin to creep before the lights and then stall completely when he touched the brake pedal.

After eventually getting away, Quaife began to fight his way up the 18-car field to seventh by lap 12, only for more bad luck to halt his progression. Having passed Porsche VIP drivers Sarah Franklin and Jack Clarke, Phil was the unfortunate victim of an incident between the two which saw Franklin swerve into him and cause him to puncture.

A pit stop for a new tyre once again dropped him to the back of the field, but he had clawed his way up into the top ten when a Safety Car period was called. Unusually, the Safety Car missed the race leader and instead picked up Quaife and RSS Performance’s George Mackintosh, losing both drivers a full lap. After realising the mistake, the clerk of the course allowed them to pass the Safety Car and catch up the back of the field, but bizarrely then restarted the race before they had the chance to do so. Having lost around half a lap, Quaife had to settle for ninth.

“I don’t seem to be getting any luck at the moment,” said Quaife after the race. “Usually the rule is that the Safety Car doesn’t come in until everyone is in a line behind it. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and it meant I had no chance of making further progress through the field as there were only a few laps left. I think it has definitely cost me some important championship points.

“Overall it’s been quite a frustrating weekend because we had the pace on Friday to challenge for wins. But qualifying didn’t go my way because of the problems I had in traffic and that left us facing an uphill task.

“While I’m happy with the podium in race 1, I’ll be glad to put this weekend behind me and look ahead to Oulton Park where I am sure the results will be better.”