Graeme Mundy recovered from not setting a time in practice to taking two wins in the final three Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge races of the 2011 season at Silverstone over the weekend, but it wasn’t enough to stop Oly Mortimer claiming the Driver of the Year title in the final round.
Mortimer set out his stall right at the start of qualifying with some quick laps as the others got up to speed on the series’ first encounter with the new Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, which they shared with the Porsche Club Championship field. He was always quickest and improved gain right at the end to take pole for races one and two, Steven Liquorish second ahead of Pete Smallwood and Andrew Tate.
“I always think its best to go quick early, the temperatures are good, tyres are new and you have a clear track,” said Mortimer. “The car felt good and it was a short session for such a long lap, but this is a brilliant circuit, it’s the first time I have been properly using sixth gear.”
Mundy was set to start from the back of the grid after losing a water hose early in qualifying. The GT3 runners had their grid boosted by a number of invitation class runners as well as some new faces, Piers Masarati quickest in Class Two on his series debut.
Mortimer took the lead at the start of Friday’s race, Liquorish second and a storming start from Mundy seeing him up to third at the end of lap one. Into second by lap three, Mundy set about reeling in Mortimer, and took the lead on lap six.
Just as it looked like Mundy was on course for his first win of the 2011 GT3 Cup Challenge season, his pace slowed as he suffered a gearbox problem, Mortimer going by and then Liquorish, Mundy having to settle for third. The win saw Mortimer one step closer to the Driver of the Year crown.
“It’s my championship to lose, and three times we saw the slippery surface flags so I was being a bit careful through those,” said Mortimer. “Graeme was driving a stormer, and then I tried to go inside a Club car and didn’t get the gear and did a quick spin, but was able to get it in gear and carry on.”
“I had to push hard early after not getting out in qualifying,” said Mundy, “I knew I had to get to the front, it was that simple. We didn’t get to stay there, but I think I have reminded Oly that he is there to be beaten.”
Pete Smallwood took fourth ahead of Andrew Tate, with Piers Masarati sixth overall and first in Class Two.
The first of Saturday’s two 25-minute races once more saw Mortimer open an early gap, as Mundy again charged from the back, into third on the first lap again and past Liquorish for second on lap three. As they hit traffic Mortimer was much more circumspect than his pursuer, the track made treacherous in parts with oil down entering the Wellington straight.
Mundy closed on Mortimer and was ahead on lap eight, and though Mortimer stayed close, Mundy pushed hard and took the win he had been denied the day before.
“That felt good, I was hoping to have won yesterday so it was great to do it today,” said Mundy. “I think Oly got away a bit, and by the time I was into second he was the length of the Hanger Straight ahead. I knew I had to do something a bit special for a couple of laps, luckily I was more decisive through traffic and gave nobody any second chances. Very enjoyable!”
“My plan was to go for it early and try to get fastest lap,” said Mortimer, “then take my time in the traffic, and Graeme caught me up, I had to be careful and not compromise the championship. Then there was coolant down and Graeme was giving it 100% and I couldn’t rick throwing the car off. I tried to defend when he caught me but when he had a fair look down the inside that was it.”
Liquorish took third, with Tate Fourth, Smallwood retiring, and Masarati once more heading the Class two runners.
His race two win meant Mundy was starting the final race from pole, and though Mortimer looked to move ahead down the inside at the first corner, by the end of lap one the order was Mundy from Mortimer with Liquorish right with them. Liquorish was pushing hard to find a way past Mortimer, and seized his opportunity on lap six, the leaders by now lapping the slower runners.
The gaps changed as they encountered traffic though Liquorish never quite got in a position to challenge the leader, Mortimer easing back to take a secure third at the end and the points he needed for the Driver of the Year award.
“If we’d have had the car out in qualifying I could have won all three races and been right with Oly in the points,” said Mundy, “but I’m really happy with the weekend and the car has been fabulous. Winning the final two races is a good boost over the winter and I know now I am quick enough to win.”
“It’s been a good weekend and I am finally feeling much more comfortable in the car,” said Liquorish. “The car has been good all year thanks to Parker and I have learnt so much, which is really the objective in this series with these cars. It’s a good end to the season, I am sure Oly was being a bit conservative but it was nice to see him disappearing in the mirrors!”
“We have done what we set out to do,” said Mortimer, “just score points enough to win the championship. Steven Liquorish pulled a move on me that I didn’t see coming and I was happy to let him go, they were both on new tyres and I was just looking after the car and happy to bring it home third, thanks to Tynecastle it has been one of the most reliable GT3s out there. I made it hard for myself after the DNF at Croft, but it’s great to finally win it.”
Smallwood came through to take fourth, head of Tate with Masarati making it a clean sweep of Class Two wins.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (11 LAPS): 1 Oly Mortimer (997 GT2 Cup); 2 Steven Liquorish (997 GT3 Cup) +2.902s; 3 Graeme Mundy (997 GT3 Cup); 4 Peter Smallwood (997 GT3 Cup), 5 Andrew Tate (997 GT3 Cup); 6 Piers Masarati (996 GT3 Cup). Class Winners: Mortimer, Masarati, David Whelan (993). Fastest Lap: Mundy 2m 14.309s (98.11mph).
Race Two (11 LAPS): 1 Mundy; 2 Mortimer +0.898s; 3 Liquorish; 4 Tate; 5 Masarati; 6 Stuart Walker (997 GT3 Cup). CW: Mundy, Masarati, Whelan. FL: Mortimer 2m 11.567s (100.15mph).
Race Three (11 LAPS): 1 Mundy; 2 Liquorish +7.339s; 3 Mortimer; 4 Smallwood; 5 Tate; 6 Masarati; CW: Mundy, Masarati, Whelan. FL: Mundy 2m 14.656s (97.85mph).