During dramatic weekend at Donington
Porsche Carrera Cup GB: rounds 11 & 12, Donington Park GP
Donington Park, Great Britain. Porsche Carrera Cup GB – the fastest single-marque GT racing championship in the UK – arrived at Donington Park last weekend to race on the full Grand Prix circuit for the very first time. Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2022 / 2023 Junior Adam Smalley (Duckhams Yuasa Racing with Team Parker) took pole position and led much of the opening wet race. However, victory went to James Kellett (Rosland Gold by Century Motorsport), but Smalley returned to the top step of the overall podium in the weekend’s second encounter.
The first race on Sunday morning was conducted in tricky wet weather conditions and was interrupted by a brief Safety Car period. An action-packed race ensued, with Kellett emerging ahead of his main rivals, including 17-year-old Dutch sensation Robert de Haan (Richardson Racing). Jake Giddings (Parker Classic Works) took his third Pro-Am category win of the season while Justin Sherwood (Parker Classic Works) secured Am victory to become provisional 2023 category champion.
From second on the grid, Smalley raced to victory in the afternoon’s dry race – which also featured an appearance by the Safety Car – joined on the Pro category podium by championship returnee Will Martin (JTR) and Kellett. In his final year as Porsche Carrera Cup GB Junior, Smalley now enjoys an extended championship lead. Giddings took a second Pro-Am category win of the weekend with Sherwood’s unbroken run of Am victories continuing unabated.
Dry and sunny weather conditions greeted the weekend’s first 45-minute practice session. As the drivers took to the longer Grand Prix circuit for the first time, Matthew Graham (Redline Racing) was the early pacesetter with a lap time of 1:29.791, followed by Ross Wylie (Team Redline Racing) – the top Pro-Am – while Sherwood was ahead in Am. Kellett soon set two quick lap times, his fastest was a 1:29.234 which would become the benchmark for the session. Following a short red flag period to allow for debris to be recovered from the circuit, Graham stayed at the top of the timesheet with Charles Rainford (CCK Motorsport) a close second. Oliver White (Redline Racing) topped Pro-Am and Sherwood Am.
Returnee de Haan and Kellett dominated the top of the timing screen during the first half of the afternoon’s dry 45-minute practice session. In Pro-Am, Josh Stanton (JTR), Angus Whiteside (Century Motorsport) and Ryan Ratcliffe (Team Parker Racing) each took turns to set the category pace, while Sherwood remained the Am driver to beat. During the second half of the session, Martin came close to matching Kellett’s benchmark time, however, Smalley later got ahead – his time of 1:28.461 would be the fastest of the day. Giddings topped Pro-Am with Sherwood ahead in Am. At the flag, less than second covered the top 20 cars.
Saturday afternoon's 30-minute qualifying session took place in dry conditions. Rainford and Graham were two of the early pacesetters before Smalley became the first driver to lap the circuit in under 1:29 – his time of 1:28.777 topping the timing screens early on. Just before the midpoint of the session, de Haan set a quicker time of 1:28.408, leaving Smalley second and Graham third. In the Pro-Am battle, Wylie was ahead of Max Bird (Team Redline Racing) and Whiteside.
In the closing stages of the session several drivers made improvements. Smalley produced the fastest time of the day, 1:28.114, but de Haan failed in his attempt to beat him, ending his session in second, 0.184 drift. Josh Malin (Rosland Gold by Century Motorsport) was third. On his last qualifying lap, Bird moved ahead of his Pro-Am rivals, Wylie ended the day second in category, and Whiteside was third. As the only Am driver, Sherwood claimed category honours.
The 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekend format meant that Smalley earned two championship points for his pole position, as did the top qualifiers in their respective categories: Bird (Pro-Am) and Sherwood (Am).
The weekend's first race took place in wet conditions on Sunday morning. At the start, Smalley and de Haan went side-by-side into Redgate for the race lead but, in the tricky conditions, de Haan took a trip through the gravel trap emerging in P14. Smalley continued to lead with Malin now second and Kellett third. Bird was the highest placed Pro-Am category driver, in fifth overall, while Will Aspin (Team Parker Racing) came next with Giddings third. Towards the end of the opening lap, Wylie and Whiteside came together, leaving Wylie beached in the gravel trap at Goddards while Whiteside pitted to make his retirement. The Safety Car was scrambled to allow for the recovery of Wylie’s stricken car.
The action resumed at the start of lap four, de Haan beginning his recovery drive battling hard with Giddings, meanwhile Ollie Jackson (JTR) attacked Jason Lockwood (EXCELR8 Motorsport), overtaking at the Melbourne Hairpin for seventh in Pro-Am. On lap six, Malin slid off the circuit before rejoining, which promoted Kellett to second, and two laps later Martin gained a run on Graham, passing at Redgate to assume fourth. Kellett quickly closed on Smalley, shaving one second off his advantage to arrive on the leader’s rear bumper on lap nine. A close battle developed between Giddings, Micah Stanley (Richardson Racing), Stanton and Ratcliffe for P12, however, Giddings was soon in a position to get ahead of a struggling de Haan for P11. Stanton and Ratcliffe then engaged their own a scrap for fourth in Pro-Am.
On lap 14, Kellett was closer than ever to Smalley. He looked to the inside at the Melbourne Hairpin and again at Goddards but could not gain an overlap. With five minutes of racing remaining, the rain grew in its intensity, and shortly afterwards Smalley slid wide at Goddards. Kellett and Malin capitalised to go ahead, leaving the Junior to battle with Martin – they bravely ran side-by-side down the Crater Curves with Martin emerging ahead. At the same time, Giddings passed Bird for the lead in Pro-Am, the new category order being Giddings from Bird and Ratcliffe. When Malin slipped down the running order, Kellett found himself leading Martin – the returnee up nine places – and Smalley, and that is how things would remain to the flag. As the sole Am runner, Sherwood took his eleventh category win to be crowned provisional 2023 champion.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Smalley (Pro), Giddings (Pro-Am) and Sherwood (Am) each received one additional championship point. As part of the 2023 podium procedure, winner Kellett selected at random the number four ball, which reversed the grid positions of the top four overall finishers from the opening race. The grid for the second race would be Malin and Smalley on the front row, Martin and Kellett on row two.
Following the race, Aspin was disqualified from the results for an incident with Stanton and was deducted four championship points.
The weekend's second race took place in dry conditions on Sunday afternoon. Malin maintained the advantage at the start of the race to lead Smalley through Redgate. Martin and Kellett drove side-by-side through the Craner Curves as they disputed third, Martin nosing ahead. Off the line, Stanton put two wheels on the grass but there was further drama when Ratcliffe ended his race in the gravel trap at Redgate, which called the Safety Car into action.
At the restart, on lap four Lockwood immediately pitted to make his retirement from the race. Martin slipstreamed Smalley all the way to the first corner, but he could not mount a pass. Having started the race in P10, de Haan was already up one position from the start and began to challenge Harry Foster (Duckhams Yuasa Racing with Team Parker) for eighth, overtaking at the Melbourne Hairpin. At the end of lap four, Hugo Ellis (Team Parker Racing) and Bird entered the pit lane with damage, both making their retirements from the race.
On lap five, Malin made an error at the Melbourne Hairpin. This allowed Smalley to assume the overall lead of the race, with Martin adopting second and Kellett third – Malin would rejoin in seventh place. A close battle brewed between White, Stanton and Jackson for second in Pro-Am, however, Jackson quickly found himself under attack from Aspin, and the pair took a trip through the gravel trap at Old Hairpin before rejoining the circuit. Having slipped backwards, de Haan pitted on lap 12 to end a disappointing weekend.
On lap 13, Stanton was attacking Foster for ninth but he soon went wide and fell back down the order, Jackson emerging ahead to occupy the final Pro-Am podium spot. On lap 16, Malin drove to the inside of Graham at the Melbourne Hairpin to snatch fourth, and on the same lap Frazer McFadden (Toro Verde GT) struck the tyre stack at the Fogarty Esses, forcing his retirement. Two laps later, Jackson suffered the same fate, ending his race in a heavy collision with the barriers. Smalley took the chequered flag first to record his third win of the season, joined on the overall podium by Martin and Kellett. The final Pro-Am category order at the flag was Giddings, White and Stanton. Sherwood continued his unbroken run of Am victories.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Malin (Pro), Wylie (Pro-Am) and Sherwood (Am) each received one additional championship point. Following the race, Jackson was docked two championship points for causing a collision with Aspin.
The penultimate weekend of Porsche Carrera Cup GB takes place at Silverstone on 26-27 September where it is once again joined on the roster by Porsche Sprint Challenge GB. At a crucial stage in the championship battles, Smalley will arrive with a 37-point advantage over Kellett, meanwhile Bird has extended his lead over his main Pro-Am category rival, Wylie, to 23 points. Sherwood has already been crowned provisional category champion – a record fourth Am title.
Adam Smalley - Duckhams Yuasa Racing with Team Parker - 112
James Kellett - Rosland Gold by Century Motorsport - 75
Charles Rainford - CCK Motorsport - 54
Max Bird - Team Redline Racing - 97
Ross Wylie - Team Redline Racing - 74
Ryan Ratcliffe - Team Parker Racing - 61
Justin Sherwood - Parker Classic Works - 143
David Fairbrother - Toro Verde GT - 52
David Stirling - Redline Racing - 31