Ian White and Marcus Carniel took outright wins as the Porsche Club Championship season closed at Spa, but it was Jez Clark who left the famous Belgian circuit with the overall championship after another pair of Class Three victories.
Championship challenger White was the man to beat in qualifying, lapping his 964 almost three and a half seconds quicker than the rest at a circuit he enjoys. Ben Demetriou was the best of the rest, just pipping Marcus Carniel who was making a rare 2008 outing in his 964, with Peter Erceg fourth despite damaging his 968.
Gary Duckman was sixth on the grid behind Mark McAleer, but was another to damage his car, the regular front runner going off exiting Eau Rouge in an incident which saw the session red-flagged.
“The top of Eau Rouge was more slippery than I expected,“ said Duckman. “I had a big slide, thought I had caught it, and it went, it the wall and took off the front bumper, then spun me round and dinged the back.”
Scott Kavanagh continued to set the Class Two pace, a super seventh overall, with Jeremy Clark heading Class Three on his first visit to Spa.
White and Carniel both made the most of their rear-engined 911 traction to make good starts, White with a gap on the field at the end of lap one and Carniel second ahead of Demetriou on a damp track with a dry line appearing. White continued to ease clear as the race progressed, never headed as he continued his run of Porsche Club Championship Spa successes.
“I love this track,” said White, “this is my sixth consecutive Porsche Club win here, I didn’t want the race to end. Its special coming here, Eau Rouge is superb and I could lap here all day. I think that is Class One sown up – but I was behind Jeremy Clark near the end, he tried to get out my way, got a bit of a slide on and for a moment I was thinking ‘this is it!’”
Behind, the battle for second between Carniel and Demetriou was close, a race long dice with Demetriou never able to find a way past the 946. They crossed the line less than a second apart, clear of McAleer in fourth.
“The car is just as we raced it at Silverstone,” said Carniel, “and we found we had a cracked wheel just before the race and had to run an old wheel and old tyre. It was a case of holding Ben off the whole race, and it was slippery in the damp out there.”
“I got a good start and thought I had Ian for a moment,” said Demetriou, “and stayed with Marcus for lap after lap, he could pull on my down the straight and past the pits, then I could catch him all round the back. Racing flat out like is quite something round here, we were side by side in fifth gear at one point through Blanchimont, it always seems to be me having to battle with him.”
Duckman was out in a repaired and heavily taped car, but finished a lap down on the front runners he normally competes with in a car off the pace.
“The car is not right,” said Duckman, “which is a shame as the County Classic guys have worked really hard to get me back out there.”
Kavanagh was dominant in Class Two, taking fifth overall of the Club runners, and well clear of his class rivals. “It was straight-forward after the start,” said Kavanagh, “I ran with some Class One cars, then was on my own and having fun, I love it here.”
The battle of the race was for Class Three, with Clark eager to score points to take the overall title, but caught up in a three-car dice with Sarah Bennett-Baggs and Adrian Stock. Each of the three took a turn at the front, Clark making the dominant move past Bennett-Baggs through Blanchimont with a lap to go to take the vital points for the win.
“The car just didn’t feel right,” said Clark, “very loose and in places the others were just blitzing me. Sarah got past and Adrian fell away a bit, but the car came in a bit with two laps to go so I thought I had a chance and got her through the long left hander – we were side by side through there.”
“I thought Jeremy was being a gentleman and letting us all have a go at leading!” said Bennett-Baggs. ”I had a big lock up into the hairpin, Jeremy got me back the lap before last going through Blanchimont, I chased him hard but couldn’t get him back.”
Sunday’s race started behind the Safety Car to allow the drivers to get the feel of the soaked circuit as the rain poured on Spa. White led the field once they were free to race, Carniel second with Demetriou third.
Carniel went past White on lap five, taking advantage of the spray from another car to move into the lead, The two were closely matched for the rest of the race, White unable to find a way back past to continue his run of Spa successes, Carniel taking the win.
“I got past Ian at the end of the Kemmel Straight,” said Carniel, “he was behind a GT3. I knew I could get past Ian but I was lucky I didn’t touch the GT3. Ian said he couldn’t see in the spray, but I had wet cut tyres and he didn’t, he did fantastically well just to hang on. It’s great to take a win at Spa.”
“I was pleased to stay with him with my tyres,” said White, “in certain places I could get to him, then he would pull away. On the last lap I nearly had him into the chicane, I just had to have a go. A good end to the season, but there was no visibility out there.”
Demetriou held on to third amid the spray, while Kavanagh took Class Two with a superb fourth overall, his eighth class in a row. Clark stayed out of trouble in the conditions and took Class Three – sealing the overall title to become 2008 Porsche Club Championship champion.
“I’ve raced in those conditions before,” said Demetriou, “but you are doing 120mph into a blanket of spray, you have to focus on bringing it home. I went wide and lost touch with Ian and Marcus. I was happy with third.”
“We changed to a wet set-up,” said Kavanagh, “which I had never driven, and I made a good start then got my head down. The car was well-balanced, it was just a case of trying to see out the front window – you couldn’t see much out there.”
“I missed the instruction that it was going to be a rolling start,” said Clark, “and then the ABS stopped working behind the Safety Car. I got in front of a couple of Class Two cars and that gave me a bit of a cushion, but that was the slowest race I have ever driven, it was just so slippery. I was tip-toeing everywhere and the car was sliding all over the place, but it was the same for everyone. There are no words to describe how good it is to take the championship!”
Porsche Club Championship, Race One: 1 Ian White (964 C2) 11 laps in 32m26.760s (88.528mph); 2 Marcus Carniel (964 C2) +16.016s; 3 Ben Demetriou (968 CS); 4 Mark McAleer (968 CS); 5 Scott Kavanagh (944 S2); 6 Peter Erceg (968 CS); 7 Chris Stannard (968 CS); 8 Richard Harrison (911 Carrera); 9 David Botterill (964 C2); 10 Paul Finn (968 CS). Class Winners: White; Kavanagh; Jeremy Clark (944). Pole Position: White 3m20.092s (126.014kph). Fastest Lap: Carniel 2m53.546s (90.278mph).
Race Two: 1 Carniel 14 laps in 53m38.884s (68.142mph); 2 White +1.288s; 3 Demetriou; 4 Kavanagh; 5 McAleer; 6 Finn; 7 Duckman; 8 Richard Ellis (911 SC); 9 Richard Harrison (911 Carrera); 10 Charles Winterhalder (944 S2). Class Winners: Carniel; Kavanagh; Clark. Fastest Lap: Carniel 3m33.176s (73.495mph).
Final Porsche Club Points
(best 15 of 17 Scores):
Ian White 403
Mark McAleer 345
Gary Duckman 334
Chris Dyer 351
Scott Kavanagh 316
Tim Bates 275
Jeremy Clark 426
Sarah Bennett-Baggs 334
Adrian Stock 312