of Double Winners
The Porsche Club Championship made its first visit to the Anglesey Circuit in North Wales for what turned out to be two close and exciting races on Saturday and Sunday, April 18th and 19th in superb spring weather. Just as at the opening rounds, both races saw a battle at the front between Class One runners Ben Demetriou and Mark McAleer, this time Demetriou taking a pair of wins in two hard fought races.
It was a day for double winner Jeremy Clark taking two more Class Two wins, and qualifying on the front row overall for both races, to keep his perfect season going. Mark Taylor took the Class Three double, to make it three wins out of four.
Demetriou set the qualifying pace, claiming pole position for both races, but the surprise was the pace of Clark, the reigning champion hustling his 944 S2 round the twisty 1.55-mile circuit quickly enough to be on the front row for both rounds. The grid in the front few rows was the same for both races, Duckman heading McAleer on row two, with Erceg and Kevin Harrison filling row three.
Demetriou made the best start in Saturday’s 30-minute race, Duckman taking second from Clark into the second corner. By the end of the first lap McAleer was up into third, Clark fourth from Peter Erceg and Marcus Carniel.
The battles behind saw Demetriou open an early gap, and when McAleer found a way past Duckman, he had found a gap stretching out ahead to the leader. McAleer chipped away at Demetriou’s advantage, setting the fastest lap to date in the race on lap seven, and closing to within a second of him on lap ten.
From then on the lead pair of 968s ran close, McAleer poised to take advantage of the slightest error from the leader, but Demetriou never gave him a hint of an opportunity and held on for his second win of the season. While these two were well clear at the front, the battle behind for third was a highlight of the race.
Duckman held sway for the first part of the race in his new to the series 993, coming under pressure from the 968 of Peter Erceg. Just as it looked that Duckman was safe in the position, Erceg came under pressure from the flying Richard Higgins, who had been down in eighth on lap four.
Climbing up the order, and setting fastest lap on the way, Higgins looked inside Erceg at the hairpin with five laps to go, and had another big attack there a lap later. Once into fourth Higgins set about Duckman, taking is 968 past down the inside of the first corner going into the last lap to see Higgins record his second Porsche Club Championship podium after a strong drive.
“We had a wheel bearing go yesterday, so my father had a four hour drive to go and get a new one – but it was worth it,” said Demetriou. “I thought I had a gap, then I saw Mark coming and knew that unless I made a mistake he wasn’t going to get by. It was tough, but I made no mistakes and managed to keep it going. Mark’s a good driver – I’m happy to carry on having battles like that, but this is a tough track, very draining.”
“I had a brake problem testing yesterday and only did half a session, so I was pleased to be on the pace in the race,” said McAleer, “I felt I was quicker than Ben, and I was on his bumper in the last five or six laps. I hoped I could get him to make a mistake but he didn’t give me a chance – but it was an exciting race, we were both on the ragged edge every lap. It’s a short lap and hard work, when I got out of the car I was totally….tired out.”
“The car is going well, “said Higgins. “I was caught behind some other cars early on, then I was able to get past people on the brakes. It’s fantastic to get fastest lap, the competition is tough in Class one.”
Clark was the Class Two pace setter, and after electing not to battle with the Class One front runners at the front in the early laps, ran securely in sixth. In the final laps, the champion started to close in on the battle for third in his 944 S2, but settled for sixth behind Erceg at the flag.
“I didn’t want to battle the Class One guys,” said Clark, “as their tyres got warmer they were quicker so I waved them through. I found I was catching the guys at the end, but I didn’t want to get involved. I was happy to take a place if they took each other off, but I wasn’t going to push my nose in anywhere.”
In Class Three Mark Taylor took the category win ahead of Anthony Oliver.
Sunday’s race again saw Demetriou lead them away, Duckman going round the outside into the banked second corner to slot in behind the leader, but then lost ground as his car’s ABS-system dropped onto fault mode. By the end of the opening lap McAleer was into second, and set consecutive fastest laps as he once again homed in on Demetriou.
The front two were together by lap four, and McAleer seized his chance as they climbed up to Rocket corner on lap five to take the lead for the first time over the weekend. Demetriou stayed close, the pair somehow going through the twisting Corkscrew section of the circuit side-by-side on lap ten.
McAleer was suffering gearbox issues, second gear disappearing for the middle section of the race, and Demetriou pounced as he was slow out a corner to move back ahead on lap thirteen. McAleer closed up once more in the final laps, but could do nothing about denying Demetriou a second win of the weekend – and his third in four races this season.
“I think Mark and I racing the front is becoming the theme of the season,” said Demetriou. “I had new tyres on so it was hard to get going at the start, and Mark was straight on me then made a good move on the inside and I decided to let him go. We were side-by-side through the Corkscrew on one lap, then I was getting out one of the corners better than him and got back ahead.”
“The car was quick early on, then I couldn’t get second gear,” said McAleer. “The car was good, but out of Rocket without second he was quicker. Then it came back with about three laps to go and is fine now… It was a good race, Ben was quicker in some places, I was better in others, and I felt in control at the front and then the gearbox started acting up.”
Kevin Harrison had his new 964 C2 into third on the opening lap, and held the position race long with team-mate Clark right behind, well ahead of the other Class Two runners. Clark closed up in the final laps, but was happy to take the class win points rather than challenge for outright position.
“A new set of tyres made the difference for us,” said Harrison. “Hopefully that’s the first of many good finishes for us.”
“I had no intention of going past Kevin, “said Clark, “ I wanted us to work together and see if we could close down on the leaders. I lost gears for a moment early on, and thought that was it – but then it all came back. That was hard work, we had a decent race and really enjoyable.”
Marcus Carniel ran fifth early on, the place soon becoming the prize in a multi-car battle that included the recovering Duckman, Erceg and Adrian Grieves. Duckman finally got past Carniel on the run out the second corner on lap 18, the latter holding on to take sixth ahead of Erceg and Grieves.
Mark Taylor took is second win of the weekend to complete a set of double-winners in each class.
“It’s good to take a double win,” said Taylor. “I’ll mix it with the Class Two guys if we can, but they are difficult to keep up with. It’s been good fun this weekend, I’ve never raced here on this circuit layout before – it’s difficult to get the hang of it at first, and there is nowhere to rest anywhere on the lap.”
Porsche Open racers Mark Chilton and Mike Johnson, joined by Dave Whelan guesting from the Irish Porsche series, also upheld Porsche honour in the final race of each day, Chilton wining both. Whelan was third on Saturday’s race, while Sunday’s saw Porsche the dominant marquee, Chilton, Johnson and Whelan taking all three podium slots.
Chilton was on form all weekend, on a tight track that did not suit his 993 GT2, and achieved the rare feat of lapping the entire field on the way to Sunday’s win.
“I really enjoyed the racing and I don’t think I have lapped everyone since my days in karts,” said Chilton. “The car was getting better all weekend, the circuit was hard work, I was in second or third gear almost everywhere.”
Porsche Club Championship Round Three, 30 minutes: 1 Ben Demetriou (968 CS) 30m11.411s (70.85mph); 2 Mark McAleer (968 CS) +0.282s; 3 Richard Higgins (968 CS); 4 Gary Duckman (993 C2); 5 Peter Erceg (968 CS); 6 Jeremy Clark (944 C2); 7 Marcus Carniel (964 C2); 8 Chris Dyer (944 S2); 9 Adrian Stock (968); 10 Kevin Harrison (964 C2). Class Winners: Demetriou; Clark; Mark Taylor (911 SC). Fastest Lap: Higgins 1m17.379s (72.11mph).
Round Four, 30 minutes; 1 Demetriou30,14.857s (70.71mph); 2 McAleer +0.406s; 3 K Harrison; 4 Clark; 5 Duckman; 6 Carniel; 7 Erceg; 8 Adrian Grieves (968 CS); 9 Higgins; 10 Dyer. Class Winners: Demetriou; Clark; Taylor. Fastest Lap: McAleer 1m17.693s (71.82mph).
Next Races: Brands Hatch, Kent, May 30th.