The Porsche Open and Porsche Club fields combined to provide two exciting races at the prestigious Silverstone Classic meeting - Mike Johnson taking overall honours in both winning Saturday's Mark Donahue Trophy race then retaining the Derek Bell Trophy in Sunday's exciting event - a race long battle with Paul McLean.
A single qualifying session on Friday afternoon saw the 993 GT2 shared by McLean and Peter Fairbairn quickest, with Johnson second and a rapid Zubin Randeria third fastest.
At the head of the huge field Fairbairn was slow away, the 996 of Johnson opening a big gap on the first lap. Johnson continued to push hard, setting a series of fastest laps, to be over ten seconds clear after five laps.
Fairbairn swiftly recovered to be third at the end of lap one behind Randeria's 993 RSR, and a lap later was into second. Johnson was well clear, and made no mistakes amongst the back-markers to take the win in the 20-minute race.
"I needed to get a good start and try to get ahead," said Johnson. "There was no time to take two or three laps to get into a rhythm, I needed to get out there and go fast from the start and keep going with no mistakes. It seemed to go to plan, and then it was a case of trying to get through the back markers quick. We won Sunday's race here last year at this meeting, so it would be good to try to do that again tomorrow."
"It is not the easiest car to start and it bogged down badly," said Fairbairn, "I put my foot down and got unbelievable wheelspin. I was about seventh or eighth in the first corner, and just worked my way back up. When I got to second I backed off a bit as Mike was away down the road, but I wasn't looking behind and with two laps to go saw Paul Winter catch up. The rear tyres went off really quickly, and there was very little grip in the slow stuff - but it is great to drive the car on the full circuit here."
Winter was a driver on the move, bringing his Class Two 996 GT3 through the field to be third at the end of lap four. He then closed on the 993 GT2 of Fairbairn, but was unable to find a way past the more powerful car.
"We lost the clutch in qualifying on Friday," said Winter, "but had a fantastic race. I got a good start, got blocked but went through. Then I was picking them off one by one and got up to third. If I had wanted to be rude I could have had a go at second and barged past Peter - but I was after the class points and was pleased to be on the podium."
Tony Brown led home the Class Three runners.
The front three on the grid made strong starts in Sunday's race, Mark Chilton powering his gold 993 GT2 along the put wall and almost getting by Johnson, but from the outside of the front row it was McLean who took the lead. Johnson stayed close behind, these two pulling clear, with Chilton a secure third.
On lap five Johnson looked inside McLean at Luffield, but the Gt2 powered round the outside at Woodcote and claimed the racing line onto the pit straight. Their battle continued neck and neck, the pair soon lancing through the back-markers in the 48-car field.
On the final lap, McLean found a group of backmarkers across the road at Brooklands, and Johnson took the opportunity to slam his car down the inside of the leader and move ahead - to be greeted by the chequer flag a corner later. The win saw Johnson retain the Derek Bell Trophy he first won last year - his maiden victory in the 996.
"Where's Derek to hand me the trophy?" joked Johnson after his second win. "I got some wheelspin, then saw Mark Chilton get a superb start. Paul is a brilliant driver, really knows how to handle that car, and I just couldn't get inside him anywhere.
"When we came on the backmarkers I was on the outside, but I boxed him in and was able to go through, I did clip a 944 and need to go and say sorry to him. Then we were in traffic over the line and I didn't see the chequer flag, I was trying to get through them cleanly and was too busy to see it. It was a great race - I never expected two wins this weekend."
"The hot weather takes a lot out of our tyres," said McLean. "I knew Mike would be tough competition today, and I was hoping that if I could hold him off for the first four or five laps his tyres would drop off and we would be fine. On the last lap the whole track was full of Club cars, I had to wait, and Mike just steamed in and took the lead. If we had another lap I would have got past him again - disappointing to lose the win right at the end of the last lap."
"I thought for a moment Mike had not seen me at the start," said Chilton who stayed clear to take third. "I then had to be careful about going too quick on the cold tyres. We are going in the right direction on the car, it was good to watch Mike and Paul up ahead."
Winter took a Class Two double and came through to fourth overall.
"I couldn't get first gear on the grid," said Winter, "and had to switch the car off and on again so I didn't get the greatest start. Then I was having problems with the gears on the down change, and was in a good battle with Bob Lyons. We were both trying to close on Mark, but it was good close racing - Bob is a gent. It has been a great weekend, we are fortunate to be part of a meeting like this."
Brown took his second Class Three win of the meeting: "I enjoyed playing with the GT3s in the first few laps, but when their slicks come in they can get away. I was able to stay clear of the guys in my class and it has been a great weekend."
Race One, Mark Donahue Trophy with I-MOB: 1 Mike Johnson (993 GT3) 10 laps in 20m15.749s (93.95mph); 2 Peter Fairbairn (993 GT2) +18.298s; 3 Paul Winter (996 GT3); 4 Mark Chilton (993 GT2); 5 Zubin Randeria (993 RSR); 6 Bob Lyons (997 GT3); 7 Tommy Dreelan (997 GT3); 8 James Fillingham (996 GT3); 9 Ray Dias (996 GT3); 10 Paul Howells (993 RSR). Pole Position: Fairbairn, 1m56.776s (97.81mph). Class winners: Johnson; Winter; Tony Brown (964 RSR); Ian White (964 C2); Chris Dyer (955 S2); Jeremy Clark (944). Fastest Lap: Johnson, 1m59.629s (95.48mph). Starters: 48.
Race Two, Derek Bell Trophy with I-MOB: 1 Johnson, 9 laps in 30m02.672s (85.48mph); 2 Paul McLean (993 GT2) +0.644; 3 Chilton; 4 Winter; 5 Lyons; 6 Randeria; 7 Dreelan; 8 Dias; 9 Robin Clark (997 GT3); 10 Fillingham. Pole Position: Johnson. Class winners: Johnson; Winter; Brown; White; Trevor Lewis (944 S2); Jeremy Clark. Fastest Lap: McLean, 1m58.754s (96.18mph). Starters: 47.
Next Race: Brands Hatch, Kent, August 16th 2008.