Mark Sumpter took two outright wins as the Porsche Club Championship made its first visit of 2012 to Oulton Park on Saturday June 2nd, both races Pete Morris dropping out the lead battle when a good result looked there for the 996 racer – losing the lead on the final lap of race two. Paul Follett set the Class Two pace in qualifying and translated that to his first two class wins in the his 968, chased home by Alex Eacock in both races.QualifyingLight rain made for a greasy track during the 20-minute early morning qualifying session on the full version of the Cheshire circuit, with newcomer Andy Toon quickest early on before Sumpter and Morris took over to trade times at the front of the field. Sumpter came out on top with a storming last lap, but Morris was happy in second, having used the standard dry tyres rather then wets during the session.“We lined up early to get out at the front and had a clear track for much of the session,” said Sumpter, “which let me get some banker laps in before you try the late braking. I got into a nice rhythm and then went for a banzai lap at the end.”“I had lots of understeer,” said Morris, “but I’m happy with the time. Slippery conditions, but the car suits that and if its stays wet like this I’ll be happy.”This was Sumpter’s Paragon team-mate Andy Purdie, on his first visit to Oulton Park, with Mark Proctor fourth ahead of Paul Follett taking his first ever class pole in fifth.“The set-up on the car was great,“ said Follett, “I got out there early and was following some of the quicker cars which let me know how much grip there was. It’s my first class pole – let’s hope it is not the last!”
Race OneWheelspin for Sumpter’s 964 C2 saw him make a tardy getaway, Purdie taking advantage to head the field into the first corner. At the end of the first lap it was Purdie at the front, leading Morris, Proctor and the charging Ben Demetriou, with Sumpter recovering in fifth.Morris moved ahead on lap two, while the reigning champion pushed hard to get back to the front, Sumpter passing Demetriou’s Hartech Boxster on lap two, and Proctor and Purdie on the next lap. Proctor got alongside Purdie into Old Hall, and they sat it out together before Proctor gained the advantage through Cascades to move into third.A fastest race lap saw Sumpter right up with Morris, before going past in a brave move round the outside into Old Hall corner at the start of lap six. Morris responded with a fastest race lap of his own, and looked to be closing in on the leader when, for the second time this season, he retired from the lead battle, this time with a throttle problem. That left Sumpter well clear at the front and heading for his second win of the season, while a four car battle for second was brewing as Proctor headed Purdie, Demetriou with Paul Winter closing in with his 996.Demetriou was past Purdie on lap nine as they all closed up on Proctor, who pulled out the race’s fastest lap himself with one tour to go as he held on claim his second consecutive runner-up finish. Demetriou took third ahead of Purdie, Winter going off with two laps remaining.Behind the lead battles there was an engrossing all-Boxster battle as Lee Atkins and Marcus Carniel fought over what would ultimately be fifth, Atkins prevailing as Carniel lost ground after a moment at Druids. Kevin Harrison took sixth ahead of Carniel and Mark McAleer.“I gave it too many revs and it was my first race start in the car on a damp track,” said Sumpter. “It was fun charging through, there was some good driving from the field today and everyone got out their cars smiling. I was looking to have a good battle with Pete Morris when he had his problem, I couldn’t pull away from him, but once he was gone I was able to just watch my mirrors and finish the race.”“I was enjoying the race, had a good battle with Andy Purdie,” said Morris, “then Mark was catching me a bit quickly so I thought I’d let him go for a bit and see what happened – then my throttle cable broke!”“We didn’t really have the pace,” said Proctor, “I need to get more comfortable in the car and I am crunching gears! I didn’t have Mark Sumpter’s pace, I thought I was only good for third today, but poor Pete Morris had his problem which was fortunate for us and we got second. It’s fantastic racing, I seem to be drawn to racing Ben Demetriou each race.”“A good clean race for us,” said Demetriou. “I made a fairly good start, got past Andy Purdie, then he got back ahead as I was looking for a way past Mark Proctor. Then I saw Pete drop out, I got Andy when he went wide, but Mark held on.”Class Two was headed by race long by Paul Follett, but Alex Eacock closed in on the latter part of the race and the two were together in the final laps. Follett held on to take the class by just over a tenth of a second, his first class win in the series.“We took a gamble on a dry set-up though it was spitting with rain the whole race,” said Follett, “Alex was right with me the last three or four laps, but it was good clean racing and that was the most competitive ten minutes of racing I have had in three years of driving. I missed a gear on the last lap, but Alex was so close he couldn’t go round me.”“It was a good fun race,” said Eacock. “I was amongst some Class One cars, but I was able to close on Paul then had a slide at Knickerbrook, and had to catch him back up again. I just needed one more lap!”Race TwoSumpter nailed his start this time, to be followed into the first corner by the fast starting Proctor from fourth on the grid. Front row starter Morris slipped to fourth, but was back in third by the end of the first lap having moved back past Purdie.Morris was second by the end of lap two, and the next lap Sumpter responded by setting fastest race lap, only for his time to be eclipsed a moment later as Morris went quicker as he chased the leader. Behind, Purdie was into third ahead of Proctor.Morris moved ahead round the outside of Sumpter through Cascades on lap six, and started to open a gap, as behind, Purdie held off Proctor’s 993 C2, who was now joined by brother-in-law McAleer in the battle for the podium places. Their task became easier on lap seven as Purdie went wide on the exit of Old Hall and put his 964 C2 broadside into the barriers, retiring from the race.Two laps later a bigger incident changed the story off the race as Lee Atkins, who had been running ninth, went off heavily on the run down through Lakeside, escaping injury but badly damaging his Boxster. That brought out the Safety Car, which saw Morris’ lead instantly disappear and the field close up to tour round as the situation was rectified by the marshals.Racing resumed with a one-lap dash to the chequer flag, Morris leading them away as light rain began to fall. Unfortunately for the leader’s victory hopes, it was him caught out by the conditions, the car sliding off and letting Sumpter past to take his second win of the day. Morris rejoined well down the order, McAleer, who had passed Proctor just before the Safety Car, second ahead of his brother-in-law, then Chris Dyer, up from 13th on the grid, took fourth ahead of Carniel.“That one was unexpected,” said Sumpter, “I feel sorry for Pete as I didn’t expect to win and he deserved that. I was trying to put pressure on him the last lap, it was a bit damp, we had the wipers on, and he made a mistake. Pleased with the points though – a good weekend.”“It’s been a challenging weekend for us,” said McAleer,” we qualified further down than we wanted, but today the car felt quick and it was a car I could race with confidence. I know it was Mark I was racing – but you can’t treat family any different. On the very last corner I got alongside Mark Sumpter – but he held me tight and I couldn’t get on the power at the exit.”“I was fighting with my brother-in-law – and when I joined the series I knew that was going to happen sooner or later!” said Proctor. “He had the pace on my, and I helped him off for three laps but he was quicker, and today I’ll take third – though I feel sorry for Pete Morris.”
“It was raining at the back of the circuit,” said Morris, “and that just caught me out.”Follett had led Class Two race long, running well up the top ten overall, but the Safety Car put Eacock right on his back bumper going in the final lap. Once again Follett was able to resist the pressure from the car behind, matching Sumpter by making it two class wins on the day.“I was running well up with the Class One boys, the car was going brilliantly,” said Follett. “It’s all gone like a dream today, but I just can’t believe how calm I stayed in the race, there was a lot happening, at one point Lee Atkins had a run on me at Cascades, I was waiting for him to come past and next thing he was in the barriers – which brought out the Safety Car. That put Alex with me on the last lap, but I was determined not to let him past – pole and two wins, a good day at the office.”Porsche Club Championship Round Three: 1 Mark Sumpter (964 C2) 12 laps; 2 Mark Proctor (993 C2) +3.603s; 3 Ben Demetriou (Boxster S); 4 Andrew Purdie (964 C2); 5 Lee Atkins (Boxster S); 6 Kevin Harrison (964 C2); 7 Marcus Carniel (Boxster S); 8 Mark McAleer (996 C2); 9 Paul Follett (968 CS); 10 Alex Eacock (968 CS). Class Winners: Sumpter; Follett. Fastest Lap: Proctor, 2m02.037s (79.41mph).Round Four: 1 Sumpter 12 laps; 2 McAleer +0.727s; 3 Proctor; 4 Chris Dyer (968 CS); 5 Carniel; 6 Follett; 7 Eacock; 8 Richard Ellis (993 C2); 9 Mark Koeberle (968 CS); Paul Winter (996 C2). Class Winners: Sumpter; Follett. Fastest Lap: Pete Morris 1m55.309s (84.04mph).Next Rounds: Donington Park, East Midlands, June 30th.