Ben Demetriou took his first outright Porsche Club Championship race win at Brands Hatch, and followed it up at the end of the afternoon with his second win. It was a day for double victories – Scott Kavanagh and Jeremy Clark taking both wins in Classes Two and Three respectively.
The 20-minute qualifying session saw a tense battle with McAleer, Demetriou and White trading pole position. White and McAleer were lapping virtually together, and McAleer made the most of the tow provided by White’s 964 to ultimately claim pole position.
Team-mate Demetriou was second quickest, with White quickest on the non-968s and Hayes, Gary Duckman and Ian Oliver rounding out the top six. Jeremy Clarke headed the Class Three runners in 16th overall.
The Class Two runners qualified with the Porsche Open runners, Trevor Lewis going quickest late in the session.
An action-packed first lap saw White make a good start only to see the gap between the front row runners close, the 964 then going wide and round the outside of the pair. Demetriou made a strong start only to go sideways at the bottom of Paddock Hill Bend, Hayes moving into second, only for white to then get out of shape at Graham Hill Bend, blocking Hayes in the process and putting Demetriou into the lead.
White was under pressure from Hayes and McAleer, with Duckman in fifth, the battle behind allowing Demetriou to profit from a clear track and start to ease clear. The four cars contesting second were all running together, White having to defend from the 968s lining up to challenge his position.
McAleer took second after Hayes lost ground at Druids, and was looking for a way past White as the leaders sliced through back-markers. Duckman went straight on at Druids on lap 15 and lost places, and it took McAleer until lap 22 to take second, going pas White on the way into Druids.
By this time Demetriou was ten seconds clear and cruising to victory, but McAleer gave chase, halving the gap in the final laps but unable to deny Demetriou his first outright victory. White kept Hayes behind to take third, while Duckman recovered to challenge Peter Erceg for fifth before slowing – his radiator holed from his previous excursion and his temperatures rising.
“I got a good start, but as I put the power down out of the first corner the car just snapped on me – I thought I was going to lose it,” said Demetriou. “Ian went past, up the hill I got past Mark, then Ian got it all wrong at the bottom of the hill and I went ahead.
“That did me a real favour – from then on once I knew I was in the lead I just had to focus and that was it. I saw Mark coming near the end and pushed again near the end. You really have to concentrate when you are leading –and I have to thank all the other guys for letting me lap them easily, there was some good driving.”
“I had a nightmare start,” said McAleer, “then was up behind Ian who was defending. I tried to go outside of him, then once I got past I knew I was quick, but there wasn’t enough time to catch Ben.”
“I had to make a good start, but I expected the gap to close so I went to the outside,” said White. “There was a lot of contact, and I had to defend for a lot of the race – I knew it would be tough here the gearing doesn’t suit this circuit and the tyres go off.”
Class Three saw Clark under pressure from Dave Roberts early in the race, before moving clear to continue his run of wins.
“Dave was with me early on,” said Clark, “and I was hoping for a good race, we had some guys in front dicing and they were stopping me getting away from him. I managed to open a gap, and then extended it – it was good to battle with Dave. There was lots of oil down at one point, thirty minutes round here is a long time.”
The Class Two runners had an exciting race amongst the Open field, Trevor Lewis leading early on with Kavanagh in close attendance. Lewis kept his rival behind until lap 20, when his 944 S2 slowed trailing smoke, the engine gone. That left Kavanagh clear to take the win.
“The first 15-minutes were hectic,” said Kavanagh, “we were racing each other and being lapped by the Open cars. Once Trevor went off I looked behind and there weren’t many people there, so the last ten minutes were just counting down the laps. I’m very happy.”
McAleer got the best start with White in second ahead of Demetriou and Hayes. White pitted on lap five in response to a warning flag as his car had been training smoke, as McAleer moved clear, five seconds ahead of the rest.
The Safety Car came out on lap seven with Dave Roberts in the Clearways gravel, letting Demetriou move right up to the rear bumper of McAleer, Hayes third with Tom Segrue up to fourth in his 968 CS. They were racing again a lap later, the front two trading fastest laps.
The lead pack encountered a back-marker at Graham Hill Bend, McAleer badly blocked and losing places, Demetriou moving ahead. McAleer retired on lap 18, while Hayes could not mount a challenge in the remaining laps and Segrue took his first podium of the year in a return to form.
“I didn’t want to win in that way,” said Demetriou.
“I was able to stay with Ben,” said Hayes, “but I’m pleased to be on the podium for the first time. The car has been good all day and it’s been a great day for us – hopefully we can carry on like this.”
“It’s been along time,” said Segrue on his return to the podium, “we’ve had a dramatic time since I crashed this car last year we haven’t been able to recreate the pace we had. We are starting to get there now, and it was good to see the front of the race – I’m over the moon.”
Roberts led Class Three in the early laps, handing Clark the lead once he had spun out.
“Dave made a great start,” said Clark, “ and I got caught behind some 911s and had to watch him go past. Then I was behind him and he had a moment in Clearways and got a wobble on, I thought we were going to hit but then he was in the gravel. Even then it was hard work, I wanted to push and go as fast as I could.”
In the Class Two encounter Kavanagh claimed his second win of the day.
“I was lucky this time,” said Kavanagh, “I was leading but had a misfire for the last part of the race – so I was happy to finish.”
Porsche Club Championship, round ten: 1 Ben Demetriou (968 CS) 32 laps in 30m11.832s (76.21mph); 2 Mark McAleer (968 CS) +1.768s; 3 Ian White (964 C2); 4 Ed Hayes (968 CS); 5 Peter Erceg (968 CS); 6 Gary Duckman (968 CS); 7 Tom Segrue (968 CS); 8 Ian Oliver (911); 9 Kevin Harrison (968 CS); 10 Chris Stannard (968 CS). Class Winners: Demetriou; White; Scott Kavanagh (944 S2); Jeremy Clark (944). Pole Position: McAleer 54.685s (78.90mph Fastest Lap: McAleer 55.376s (77.92mph). Starters: 22.
Round eleven: 1 Demetriou 32 laps in 30m53.511s (74.409mph); 2 Hayes +0.842s; 3 Segrue; 4 Stannard; 5 Erceg; 6 Harrison; 7 David Botterill (964 C2); 8 Paul Finn (968); 9 Dan Modi (968 CS); 10 John Williams (911 Carrera). Class Winners: Demetriou; Kavanagh; Clark. Pole Position: Demetriou. Fastest lap: White, 55.133s (78.62mph). Starters: 19.
Next Races: Castle Combe, Wiltshire, August 25th.