Mike Donovan took a brace of wins as the Porsche Open and Porsche Club fields combined to provide two huge grids and exciting racing at Silverstone’s 24-Hour race meeting. The two 30-minute races saw Donovan recovering from poor starts in both events to win, Peter Morris, who sponsored the races with his PMC Midlands company, doubling up in Class Two.
Donovan headed the times after Friday morning’s 30-minute qualifying, drivers finding the track slippery as they were the first runners on the Silverstone track in the 24-Hours meeting. Donovan was almost three seconds clear of series returnee Morris, who headed the Class Two runners and showed his Silverstone experience.
“The circuit was very slippery,” said Donovan. “I was a bit late getting out for the session and it was busy out there, I overtook two cars on my quick lap, I think getting a clear lap was just down to the luck of the draw.”
“I’m back in my old car,” said former Class Two champion Morris, “The circuit has to be slipperiest I have ever known it. I only got one clear lap there was so much traffic.”
Donovan was slow away from pole, while Morris made a storming start and led at the start of the first lap in his Class Two 996. The power of Donovan’s 997 told on the Hanger Straight and he swept past round the outside into Stowe to take the lead. Paul McLean took his 993 past Morris before the end of the lap and set off after Donovan, the leader over a second clear at the end of lap one.
Mike Johnson looked inside Morris into Copse for the second time, and was into third by the time they completed the lap. Donovan was easing away at the front, the rapid leaders encountering traffic just five laps in and from then on the gap between the two fluctuated as they swept past slower cars. On lap six McLean was badly baulked on the pit straight, extending Donovan’s advantage.
A best race lap for Donovan on lap nine emphasised his pace, and he stayed clear of McLean in the remaining laps to take the win at the end of the 30-minute race. Johnson was a lonely third, while Morris stayed clear of the chasing Paul Winter to take Class Two honours and Brian Robinson took Class Three after moving across from the Porsche Club Championship.
“I was slow getting the clutch home,” said Donovan, “it has been a while since I have done a standing start and that wasn’t my best one. There wasn’t as much grip as in qualifying and had to get through the traffic and it was a good race.”
“We were coming across Club cars three abreast at times,” said McLean, “which makes it difficult but they are having their own race. Sometimes it is you that gets a bad run of them, and some times the other guy. The gap from me to Mike was yo-yoing, I would have liked to close a bit more but I have to think about the set-up for tomorrow.”
“I made a good start – then missed a gear,” said Johnson. “Then I tangled with Pete Morris a couple of times and I owe him an apology, but I just can’t live with the pace of the front two today.”
“That was my first standing start all season,” said Morris, “but I got a good one, looked I my mirrors and was able to block Mike Donovan – but that only lasted until the Hanger Straight. It is good to back with the Porsche Open.”
Once more Donovan made a tardy start, McLean getting the better start and leading into Copse. Donovan soon closed on the leader, and moved ahead on lap four then began easing clear.
Donovan set fastest race lap on lap ten, eager to open a gap as a twitch on the start line had left him concerned he might get a ten-second penalty for a jump start. At the end of the 30-minutes he was 12-seconds clear, and no penalty appeared so it was a second victory of the weekend for Donovan, McLean again claiming second.
“That was fun, though I still have to practice my standing starts,” said Donovan. “I was concerned I would get a penalty and tried hard to pull out a ten-second lead, I really enjoyed that race. I got past Paul into Stowe, he is a great guy to race with – firm but fair.”
“I got a good start and good in front of Mike as planned,” said McLean, “but the combination of Mike and that car is just awesomely quick. He went past me on the straight and is a very good driver, once in front he opened a gap and there was nothing I could do. I was trying my best, and Mike said he was pushing hard too.”
Johnson ran third for much of the race before slowing and retiring to the pits with a fuel pick-up problem. That elevated Morris to third overall and Class Two victory, while a superb fourth at the finish was Glenn McMenamin, making his race debut over the weekend and putting in two strong races to leave with silverware for two Class Two top-three finishes.
“I like to get on the podium, but we had a problem with the electrics and Pete and the ABG guys just managed to fix it before the start,” said Morris. “The car was going well, and it’s good to leave with a couple of trophies this weekend.”
Robinson again took Class Three finishing 12th overall.
PMC Midlands Trophy – Porsche Open Race One: 1 Mike Donovan (997GT3 Cup) 15 laps in 35m03.255s (82.00mph); 2 Paul McLean (993 GT2 Evo) +6.414s; 3 Mike Johnson (996 GT3 R); 4 Peter Morris (996 GT3 Cup); 5 Paul Winter (996 GT3 Cup); 6 Glenn McMenamin (996 GT3 Cup); 7 Lajos Varga (997 GT3 Cup); 8 Ray Dias (996 GT3 Cup); 9 Brian Robinson (968 CS); 10 Mark Chilton (928 GTS). Class Winners: Donovan; Morris; Robinson. Pole Position: Donovan 1m57.988s. Fastest Lap: Donovan 1m57.339s (97.98mph).
Race Two: 1 Donovan 15 laps in 30m09.380s (95.31mph); 2 McLean +12.752s; 3 Morris; 4 McMenamin; 5 Winter; 6 Andrew Tate (997 GT3 RSR); 7 Dias; 8 Varga; 9 John Taylor (996 GT2 Cup); 10 Robinson. Class Winners: Donovan; Morris; Robinson. Pole Position: Donovan. Fastest Lap: Donovan 1m59.092s (96.54mph).
Next Races: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, October 4th/ 5th