Running in combination with the Porsche Club Championship in support of Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, the Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship enjoyed its second meeting of 2019 at Brands Hatch on Saturday 4 May. Porsche Centre Bournemouth continued its winning streak in 2019 with driver Ben McLoughlin converting two pole positions into two wins to extend his championship lead.
Finished in a range of iconic Porsche racing liveries, 15 mechanically identical ‘Type 986’ Boxster S race cars formed part of a packed 34 car grid for two Porsche Club Championship races on the full 2.4-mile Grand Prix circuit. In front of the Blancpain GT World challenge Europe's international audience of teams, drivers and spectators, the Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship produced close and exciting racing in challenging weather conditions.
The championship represents an accessible entry level into the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid, which could lead drivers from their maiden race experience all the way to the international stage. Several drivers on the Blancpain grid have competed in Porsche one-make championships over the course of their racing careers, while at Monza the 2019 911 GT3 R claimed the first victory of the current Blancpain season.
Dry conditions greeted the cars at the start of round three for a race scheduled for a 25-minute duration. Ben McLoughlin (Porsche Centre Bournemouth) made a perfect start from the front row of the grid, leading a fast-starting Wayne Minogue (Porsche Centre Nottingham) who slotted into P2 from the second row. Ollie Coles (Porsche Centre Swindon) quickly found his way into P3 as Christian Short (Porsche Centre Wolverhampton) fell back from his front row starting position to P4. As the cars streamed through Graham Hill bend Jamie Woods (Premier Panel Skills) spun across to the inside of the track, his "Hippie" liveried machine making light contact with the barriers before continuing.
In the early part of the race McLoughlin set a rapid pace, pulling away from the chasing pack. Behind, Short piled pressure onto Coles as the pair battled for position, Short eventually finding a way by the red and white car for third. A recovering Short in the "Pink Pig" liveried entry then set after Minogue, successfully overtaking him on lap seven for P2 – Coles kept a watching brief behind before following Short through for P3. Soon afterwards Mark Duncan (Porsche Centre Glasgow), battling without a rear screen after losing the hardtop in qualifying, found the gravel trap at the bottom of Paddock Hill which ended his race.
At the mid-point of the race, a titanic three-way battle for sixth developed between Simon Ruffell-Ward (Porsche Centre Leeds), Sam Beckett (Porsche Centre Wilmslow) and Paul Blakesey (Porsche Centre Cambridge) – the trio running nose-to-tail. Meanwhile, the battling Coles and Minogue were absolutely together in the hunt for the final podium spot, Minogue ultimately finding a way back to reclaim the place. Having found his way to the front of the battle with Ruffell-Ward in sixth, a charging Beckett set up a move on Julian Morris (Elite Motors) out of Druids and into Graham Hill for fifth.
When the chequered flag fell it was McLoughlin who claimed his third consecutive win of the 2019 season – a lights to flag victory – with Short following McLoughlin home in second, Minogue third. Coles came across the line fourth from Morris then Ruffell-Ward. Mike Thompson (Porsche Centre Bolton), Blakesey, Beckett and Carl Hazelton (Porsche Centre Chester) rounded-out the top ten. Scott Adams (Porsche Centre Cardiff), Mark McCullough (Porsche Centre Hatfield) and Steven Shore (Shorade) were the final classified finishers after an eventful 25 minutes of racing.
Mixed conditions made choosing a tyre strategy for race two a tricky prospect for the competitors on the Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship grid. However, unlike Class 2 of the Porsche Club Championship, the Restoracing grid uses road-going Pirelli tyres, making the strategy more a question of pressures. Though the track was wet, it was drying rapidly as race one winner Ben McLoughlin (Porsche Centre Bournemouth) got away well from his second pole position of the day.
Shadowing McLoughlin was fellow front row starter Wayne Minogue (Porsche Centre Nottingham), while also maintaining formation off the line were second row qualifiers Christian Short (Porsche Centre Wolverhampton) and Jamie Woods (Premier Panel Skills) in third and fourth respectively.
In the challenging damp conditions on lap one, Ollie Coles (Porsche Centre Swindon) ran off the track at Druids before continuing his race and Woods, in a repeat of his first race, left the track at Graham Hill before also continuing. However, with two other cars from the extended Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli grid stranded at the bottom of Paddock Hill, the Safety Car was brought into action to enable both cars to be cleared.
When the Safety Car returned to the pits on lap five there were just eight minutes of the scheduled 25 minutes of racing remaining. Taking advantage of the bunched pack at the restart, Short found a way around Minogue for second, and soon the pair were joined by an advancing Paul Blakesey (Porsche Centre Cambridge) making it a three-car fight behind leader McLoughlin. The trio swapped positions more than once, but by lap seven it was Blakesey on top leading Minogue from Short in fourth.
As the flag fell after lap nine it was McLoughlin – despite now carrying 45 kgs of success ballast – who triumphed. Blakesey took the second step on the podium, Minogue just beating Short at the line for the final podium spot. Simon Ruffell-Ward (Porsche Centre Leeds) crossed the line sixth, Mike Thompson (Porsche Centre Bolton), Carl Hazelton (Porsche Centre Chester), Steven Shore (Shorade) and Sam Beckett (Porsche Centre Wilmslow) rounding out the top ten. Coles, Julian Morris (Elite Motors), Scott Adams (Porsche Centre Cardiff), Mark McCullough (Porsche Centre Hatfield) and Woods were the final finishers.
Rounds five and six of the Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship will take place at the shorter Brands Hatch Indy circuit on 7 July, where the grid will return to the earlier format of a standalone grid as Porsche Club Motorsport supports the Deutsche Fest event – an enthusiast-led celebration of German vehicles with spectator attractions both on and off the track.