21-year-old maintains top rookie position in PCCGB standings
Richard Plant enjoyed a competitive weekend on his maiden visit to Knockhill in Scotland, returning home with a haul of points from both Porsche Carrera Cup GB races.
Buoyed by his first ever PCCGB podium at Snetterton last time out, it was easy to think Plant would be fighting for victories this weekend. But in truth, this event and the next one at Rockingham were always expected to pose the biggest challenge to Plant as he’d never raced at either circuit.
The Porsche rookie acclimatised well during the pre-event test on Friday however, where he ended up sixth and eighth respectively in the two sessions, before he was then caught out by the notorious traffic problem at the tight 1.27 mile circuit in qualifying. Plant eventually had to settle for fifth and sixth row positions in qualifying after only setting a lap time close to his potential in the final minutes of the session.
"Qualifying obviously didn't go to plan," said a philosophical Plant. "I had to abandon a few laps just to get a gap in the traffic - it was just so busy out there. Then there was a red flag when we were on a run and before I knew it, the chequered flag was out. All in all it was a disappointing session but the car felt really good. I feel confident we can fight from there and hopefully walk away with some good points from a circuit that I've never raced at before."
The Multiplex-backed racer was right to be in confident mood with the statistics showing his race pace being up there with the best of them and his consistency had seen him finish every race of the season so far.
Starting from tenth in the opening race, Plant lost a place to team-mate Sam Tordoff on the opening lap and was then caught out by an opportunistic move by Kieran Vernon – the youngster that replaced former Champion Tim Harvey midway through the campaign. After a frenetic start Plant gathered momentum and immediately blasted by Rory Butcher. Ben Barker retired around the mid-distance stage, promoting Plant to ninth, but ninth became eighth when the Team Parker driver muscled his way by team-mate Derek Pierce. Plant spent the remainder of the race all over the back of Vernon’s car, who was holding up the pace by up to half a second per lap. Unfortunately for Plant, his rival maintained position without making a mistake and all overtaking attempts were successfully thwarted by Vernon. Plant crossed the line in a slightly frustrating eighth place, which merely highlights his achievements so far during his rookie season.
Like race one; Plant improved two places from his grid position in the final contest of the weekend, which also included another eye-catching pass on Pierce. He also managed to gain revenge on Vernon but was again left frustrated by another young rival. Plant was forced to stare at the rear bumper of team-mate Tordoff’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car for the duration of the race and was unable to find a way past –choosing to collect valuable championship points rather than risk an incident.
Such has been Plant’s consistency during the season that he is one of the only drivers to have finished each and every race so far – scoring points in all thirteen races. It’s this consistency and ability that’s maintained his position as the leading rookie and fifth in the overall standings, behind the experienced quartet of Michael Meadow, James Sutton, Stephen Jelley and Euan Hankey.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB now moves on to Rockingham for rounds 14 and 15 of the series on the 17/18 September, where another new circuit and experience lies ahead for the talented Plant.
“Obviously it was a little frustrating to be fighting at the lower end of the top ten, but it’s also easy to forget just how far we’ve come in such a short space of time this season,” said Plant. “The podium at Snetterton was fantastic but Knockhill and Rockingham were always going to be tougher for me having never raced them before. Finding space in qualifying was the big problem but I kept my head in the races and decided that the long game was better to focus on rather than forcing the issue. If we can leave Rockingham as the top rookie, then I’ll be a lot more confident going to Brands Hatch and Silverstone to end the season – both circuits I know really well. All in all, it was good points to win here this weekend.”