Porsche Sprint Challenge Silverstone triple-header review

Porsche Sprint Challenge Silverstone triple-header review

Clark and Cavers lead after first triple-header weekend

Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB entered its biggest season yet at Silverstone with the championship's first ever triple-header weekend and a return to the British GT package. The season got underway on Saturday with the opening race of 2022, two further races following on Sunday which provided close racing in both categories – Pro and Am. Charles Clark (Team Parker Racing) emerged as the overall pacesetter taking two victories while Carl Cavers (Valluga) chalked-up three Am category wins.


Saturday's qualifying session saw Clark master Silverstone's 3.6-mile Grand Prix circuit to top the grid of 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport cars. With a driver's two fastest laps used to form the grid for races one and two, Clark would also start the second race of the weekend from pole position, joined on the front row on both occasions by Matthew Armstrong (Team Parker Racing). In turn, newcomer Rupert Laslett (Raceway Motorsport) had the measure of his category rivals – he would start both races as the highest placed Am driver.


The opening race of the season saw Armstrong overtake Clark on the first lap, initiating a race-long duel for victory. Despite attempting to regain his original position throughout the race, Clark could not find an opening which allowed Armstrong to secure his maiden championship victory. Meanwhile in Am, returnee Cavers fought off the advances of newcomers Laslett and Timothy Creswick (Parr Motorsport) to take his first category win.


The second race of the weekend took place on Sunday morning and saw a role reversal for Clark and Armstrong. This time Clark maintained his starting position to occupy the lead, keeping Armstrong behind throughout. Harry Foster (Team Parker Racing) rose through the ranks to take the final podium place, while Cavers overtook Laslett to record his second Am category win of the new season, Creswick once again completing the Am category podium.


The weekend's final race was very much a repeat of the second. Clark got away well at the start and Armstrong had no answer, while Foster looked racey in the early stages he could not get on terms with those ahead. In Am, Laslett produced an impressive defence from Cavers but ultimately succumbed, Cavers making it three Am category race wins from the first three races, joined on the category podium by Laslett and Creswick once more.


Qualifying
Saturday morning's 20-minute qualifying session took place in dry weather conditions. On triple-header weekends a driver's fastest and second fastest laps are used to form the grid for races one and two, the grid for race three determined by the finishing positions of race two.


Clark was the early pacesetter, lapping the fast and sweeping Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in a time of 2:10.008. He was followed on the timesheet by fellow championship returnee Armstrong and newcomer Steve Roberts (Redline Racing). The fastest Am driver in the first part of qualifying was Creswick with John White (Team Parker) coming next ahead of Jason Pelosi (Deranged Motorsport). With 12 minutes of the session remaining, Cavers produced a lap time good enough to move him to second spot in Am.


With most drivers pitting for a fresh set of Michelin slick racing tyres just after the mid-point of the session, Laslett leaped to the top of the Am category times with Cavers and Pelosi in his wake. In the closing stages Clark improved, setting a time of 2:09.356 – good enough to cement pole position for the first of the weekend's three races while Laslett remained ahead in Am. Clark's second fastest time was also good enough to secure him pole position for race two, joined on the front row by Armstrong once more.


Race one
The first of the weekend's three races took place in dry and warm weather conditions on Saturday afternoon. At the start of the race Clark and Armstrong got away evenly from the front row, Clark maintaining his advantage into Copse with Armstrong tucking in just behind and Foster staying third. In Am it was a similar story with the order at the front of the category maintained from qualifying – Laslett leading Cavers, although Creswick would soon jump Pelosi for third. Rookies Matt Greenwood (Race-Lab) and Toby Trice (SVG Motorsport) engaged in a tight battle for fifth overall, but all eyes turned quickly to the front of the race as Armstrong overtook Clark to snatch the race lead.


Putting his championship experience to good use, Cavers mounted a successful challenge on Laslett to take the lead of the Am battle with Creswick just behind. As Laslett attempted to regain his category lead, the battle kept the trio in very close formation. Laslett's continued pressure on Cavers allowed Creswick to stay in touch with both, ready to take advantage should the opportunity arise. Meanwhile, at the front of the race, Clark drew closer to leader Armstrong while Foster had his mirrors full of Roberts in their battle for third overall.


At the mid-point of the race Clark closed up to the rear wing of Armstrong, the gap between them reduced from 0.791 to 0.486 seconds, Clark ducking and diving in Armstrong's mirrors in an attempt to distract him but to no avail. An exciting new battle then emerged between Creswick and Pelosi for the final Am category podium place, that coming to a head when Pelosi moved to the inside of Creswick at Village. Pelosi got alongside at the apex but spun on the exit before recovering.


In the closing stages of the race Armstrong came under increasing pressure from Clark, just 0.363 seconds splitting the pair at their closest. Clark tried everything possible to challenge, pulling out from his rival's slipstream at every opportunity and even forcing Armstrong to go defensive at Brooklands. Clark then went to the outside at Luffield but lost a little ground, leaving Armstrong to accelerate away.


Armstrong's victory was the first of his Porsche racing career, the 23-year-old joined on the Pro category podium by Clark and Foster. Cavers crossed the line to secure his maiden category win with newcomers Laslett and Creswick forming the rest of the Am podium.


For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Cavers (Am) each received one additional championship point.


Race two
The second of the weekend’s races took place in dry and cool conditions on Sunday morning. In a repeat of the weekend's first race, Clark got off the line well to maintain his lead into Copse with Armstrong slotting in behind. Sticking with Clark and Armstrong were Roberts and Trice, making the fight for the lead a four-car affair. Just behind the quartet Foster and Greenwood engaged in a close scrap for fifth, Greenwood attacking at Vale but Foster defended well to stay ahead.


The Am drivers maintained their grid order at the start with Laslett leading Cavers from Creswick. Switching from defence to attack, Foster then closed on Trice and snatched fourth at The Loop on lap two before setting after Roberts ahead. Halfway through the race, Cavers once more began closing on Laslett for the Am category lead. Laslett looked quicker than Cavers through Stowe but Cavers was the faster of the pair elsewhere. Cavers tried his luck at both Brooklands and Luffield but was denied.


In their fight for third, Foster and Roberts ran side-by-side at Village in an exciting dice, the duo giving one another just enough racing room before Foster managed to get ahead. Notice of a five-second penalty for White and Trice for exceeding track limits was soon followed by a spin for White at Becketts, leading to his retirement from the race. Having run within striking distance for a few laps, on lap seven Cavers got by Laslett at Brooklands to take the lead in Am.


The gap between Clark and Armstrong ebbed and flowed at the front of the race but towards the latter stages Armstrong fell back, leaving Clark to take his maiden championship win. Armstrong crossed the line in second with Foster completing the overall podium. Cavers took his second Am category victory of the weekend, joined on the podium by Laslett and Creswick.

For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Laslett (Am) each received one additional championship point.

Race three
The final race of the weekend took place in dry and sunny conditions late on Sunday afternoon. Clark made a good start from pole position to retain his lead over Armstrong into Copse. Just behind them Roberts challenged Foster for third, but their positions remained unchanged. Soon Roberts was defending from an attacking Greenwood over the very early phase of the race. Am category race winner Cavers became involved in a fight with Pro category runner Trice, allowing Laslett to get ahead in Am with Cavers forced to give chase while Creswick slotted into third.


Keen to make it three Am category wins from three races, Cavers closed on Laslett as the pair reignited their weekend-long battle for supremacy – just three tenths of a second separated the duo making theirs the closest battle on track. Cavers used all of his experience to push the newcomer into an error and after some impressive defensive driving Laslett ran slightly wide though The Loop and Aintree complex, giving Cavers the run he needed. Cavers drew alongside his rival down the Wellington Straight and had the move completed by Brooklands.


At the mid-point of the race Foster was pushing hard from third position and gradually closing on Armstrong ahead, but race leader Clark had everything seemingly under control out front. Clark increased his initial lead of 1.023 seconds back to Armstrong to a gap of 1.970 seconds towards the closing stages of the race, providing him with a comfortable cushion. In the final five minutes of the race Laslett attempted to mount a comeback at Cavers, but he could not gain an overlap on the Am category returnee.


At the flag Clark took his second win of the weekend, Armstrong was second with Foster third – an exact repeat of the round two podium. It was a similar story in Am, with Cavers making it three race wins from the first three races of 2022. Laslett finished second in category for the third time, while Creswick completed the Am podium once more.


For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Cavers (Am) each received one additional championship point.


Following the Silverstone weekend, Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB travels to Thruxton on the weekend of 28 / 29 May, where it returns to the TOCA package running in support of the British Touring Car Championship and a traditional weekend format of two races. Clark takes an early championship lead to Hampshire but Armstrong will be keen to halt his rival's march, while local star Foster will hope to utilise his home advantage. In Am, newcomer Laslett will certainly want to convert his qualifying pace into the race wins Cavers denied him at Silverstone, a close fight that could rage all season long.


Championship positions*

Pro:
Charles Clark - Team Parker - 32
Matthew Armstrong - Team Parker Racing - 26
Harry Foster - Team Parker Racing - 18

Am:
Carl Cavers - Valluga - 32
Rupert Laslett - Raceway Motorsport - 26
Timothy Creswick - Parr Motorsport - 18

*results remain provisional


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