PORSCHE GB ‘DRIVER OF WEEKEND’ AT THRUXTON Porsche Carrera Cup GB rookie Robert Lawson secured his first ever Pro-Am 1 class victory during round three of the season at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire Sunday, 26th April, and saw his efforts rewarded further when named ‘Driver of the Weekend’.
Capping off a great event for the 31-year-old North Yorkshireman, the result – combined with second place in Pro-Am 1 in round four – was all the more impressive considering it was his, and the JHR Developments team’s, first competitive run at the ultra-fast Hampshire circuit with the powerful Porsche 911 GT3 car, reaching speeds up to an incredible 170mph.
Starting his maiden season of rear-wheel drive competition at Brands Hatch in Kent three weeks ago with a mixed outing, Robert – who lives in Barton near Richmond – made a huge step forward at Thruxton this weekend as he continues to adjust from the less powerful front-wheel drive cars he has been campaigning for the past three years.
It must be remembered too, his JHR team are new to the category this year and starting from scratch in terms of set-ups and the like against teams with many years’ experience in the prestigious, demanding category.
Beginning round three from an impressive fifth on the grid in his eye-catching Bardon Aggregates and Bardon Concrete-backed car, four places ahead of nearest Pro-Am 1 rival Tony Gilham, he got away from the line well but was challenged on the outside on the run into Allard Corner by Lewis Hopkins and slipped to sixth position.
Leading Pro-Am 1, the 2008 SEAT Cupra Vice-Champion came under pressure early on from Jake Roszenweig but as the race hit mid-distance, Robert started to put some clear air between himself and the young American as he edged nearer to fifth placed Hopkins.
On lap 20, Robert was finally able to make his move after shadowing Hopkins for about eight laps and passed the Pro class racer with a great move on the exit of the complex. Moving back into the top five, he remained there to the chequered flag to take his first class win and to end up less than six seconds shy of the outright podium.
Round four didn’t go quite as smoothly for the category rookie but he still emerged with the runner-up spot in Pro-Am 1 and also the class fastest lap with a time of 1m 16.844 seconds (110.37mph).
Running comfortably in the lead of Pro-Am 1 once again, Robert had no intention of pressuring sixth placed Tom Bradshaw and risking damage to his car but as the latter lost pace, and with Gilham edging closer, he had no choice but to make a move.
Nipping past Bradshaw on the run to Church, the fastest part of the circuit, Robert headed up Woodham Hill to the chicane but Bradshaw slip-streamed him as he tried to regain the place and this forced the pair wide over the kerbs. Pro-Am 1 rival Gilham seized his chance and passed both cars to take the class lead.
The excursion over the high kerbs at the chicane broke a bumper bracket on the rear of Robert’s Porsche which led to a three inch-wide cut on one of his rear tyres. Seriously affecting the car’s handling, his pace slowed drastically and after a small spin caused by the tyre issue he had to call on all of his skill to get the car back to the chequered flag.
“We should have had two class wins this weekend really”, said Robert, “We’ve taken some good points though and to win my class in race one and to be named Driver of the Weekend was great. It’s been a positive event and we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
“I was delayed by slower cars in both races which was a shame but the second was the disappointing one. I had a comfortable lead in Pro-Am 1 so I thought I’d bide my time behind (Tom) Bradshaw as I didn’t need to race him. His pace dropped off though as the race wore on and with (Tony) Gilham then beginning to close in I had to make a move.
“I went up the inside on the run to Church but Bradshaw got a better exit to slipstream me up to the chicane and he didn’t give me any room as we were side-by-side. He turned across me and so, rather than risk a collision, we both ended up going over the kerbs which caused the damage and allowed Gilham to get through."
He added: “Over the last four laps, my pace dropped right off due to the three inch cut in the tyre from the broken bumper bracket, it was like driving a shopping trolley to be honest. We were lucky really not to have an accident or suffer a big puncture. All in all it’s been a good weekend though and we’re making great progress. Being second in Pro-Am1 this early in the season is very good.”
Robert will be back behind the wheel of his fabulous Porsche 911 GT3 racer at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire over the weekend 16th/17th May for rounds five and six of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship.
Provisional 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Overall Driver Standings (after Rd4):
1st Tim Bridgman, 76pts; 2nd Tim Harvey, 75pts; =8th Robert Lawson & Ollie Jackson, 29pts
Provisional 2009 Porsche Carrera Cup GB 'Pro-Am1' Class Standings (after Rd4):
1st Glynn Geddie, 38; 2nd Robert Lawson, 32pts; 3rd Tony Gilham, 31pts