Boxster Championship to Go To The Wire

Standing water was the biggest threat to both visibility and safety as the cars of the Toyo BRSCC Porsche Championship sat in the Croft assembly area ready for 20 minutes of qualifying for the penultimate round of the 2015 season. A road sweeper was deployed to remove as much of the worse puddles as possible but the rain continued as seven Class A Boxsters and 4 924s ventured forth – Niz Elchamaa missing from Class C after having had his helmet stolen overnight. Karl Rossin capably demonstrated to the rest of the pack just how treacherous it was by spinning at Hawthorn on the out lap.

Rick Styrin took pole in the TF Motorsport 986 with Adam Southgate a mere 0.3 seconds behind and with a simlar gap to Richard Avery in third. In the 924s Adam Croft was again out front leading Linda Warren a career-best 2nd and Karl Rossin third. Richard Avery had to clean and dry out the inside of his Boxster after his fire extinguisher was accidentally triggered – fortunately a spare was available.

Heavy rain again soaked the track as the clock ticked down to the first race of the weekend but luckily the clouds parted and sunshine and rainbows greeted the 13 cars as they assembled in the pit lane. Rick Styrin led from pole but the most exciting racing was to take place in his mirrors.

Due to his late qualifying, Niz El-Chamaa was forced to start from the back of the grid and an early spin from him meant Linda Warren was able to say ahead right until the final lap when she spun and lost her lead; you could tell Niz was on a charge, though, as he posted the fastest 924 lap. Adam Croft took the class win and a battle between Karl Rossin and Alfred Piesinger eventually led to Alfred taking 2nd in the newly-completed white Victoria Garage car; Karl was less than 1.5 seconds behind in third.

Ed Hayes had a very bad start and spent most of the race playing catchup. Adam Southgate first encountered a failing 2nd gear at the start but was later forced to take all of the slower corners in 3rd – he and his team, aided by Angus Archer, swapped to a spare gearbox from series sponsors Jasmine Porshalink for Sunday’s races. Nick Hull went wide twice in his battle with TF Foundary team mate Garry Lawrence for 4th place but eventually Nick’s 987 locked up and sailed into the turn 1 gravel, where Southgate was relatively lucky earlier, skipping across the gravel and dealing the tyre wall just a glancing blow.

Phil Grayson had received his 18″ wheels just in time for the first race but admitted the car still hasn’t been set up correctly since its upgrade from Class B. He finished in 6th behind Ed Hayes’ uncharacteristically poor 5th and Angus Archer in 7th.

A big crash at Turn 1 in race 2 led to deployment of the safety car while Garry Lawrences’s Boxster was recovered from the gravel, its right rear wheel only just still attached to the rest of the car. Ed Hayes’ Boxster had also picked up damage to his right front, the door skin pushed back and the wing left in contact with the wheel, requiring him to quickly pit and fix it. Nick Hull’s 987 suffered front and mirror damage and was again a DNF.

In the 924s, Niz El-Chamaa grabbed a win over Adam Croft – already looking to close out the 924 Championship this weekend – although Adam effectively equalled Niz’s point score with a fastest lap point. Linda Warren’s cooling system again failed her and she pulled into the pits emitting steam and coolant, one of the newly-fitted after Brands Hatch hoses having come adrift. Philip Grayson’s bad luck continued with a failing exhaust and flashing engine management light warning of more problems to come later. Karl Rossin and Alfred Piesinger were neck and neck for many laps before Karl tried a risky move down Alfred’s inside at the Hairpin, but he locked up and sailed into Alfred’s left door causing him to spin.

After the race, our Championship clerk Andy Holley called both Adam Southgate and Karl Rossin to his office to hand both drivers disqualifications for “driving in a manner incompatiable with general safety” – that’s Blue Book-speak for causing avoidable contact. At this late state in the season, zero points from this race, together with penality points, could prove crucial to both drivers’ final Championship standings.

Phil Grayson retired his Boxster before the start of Race 3 after a serious missfire, later diagnosed as a possibe failing IMS bearing. Garry Lawrence’s 986 just made it out to the grid, and only then because Jasmine Porshalink had been able to supply the needed replacement hub and suspension components to repair the damaged he suffered at Clervaux earlier that afternoon. Some may have expected him to take it fairly easy, Garry wasn’t having anything of it and a massive battle ensued between him and team mate Richard Avery for 2nd, Rick Styrin again having taken the lead – even from the reverse grid. Richard led and defended for much of the race but Garry finally got the better of hime to take 2nd and he pair had driven so hard they finished only 3.4 seconds behind Rick.

Another great battle was taking place between the 924 front-runners: Niz El-Chamaa was determined to get another win over class leader Adam Croft, and the series’ resident Austrian Alfred Piesinger joined the fray. Niz ran wide at The Complex and clobbered a tyre barrier with his left-rear – it did little to dampen his pace but in the end Alfred took 2nd with Niz nearly 9 seconds back. A little further back in Class C and Linda Warren finally got the better of Karl Rossin and beat him across the line to take 4th.

Statistically Adam Croft is now uncatchable in the Class C Championship table – even if Alastair Kirkham makes an unexpected return and wins all three races, the dropped scores factor means Adam’s adjusted total would still beat him. Either Niz or the returning Philip Waters could theoretically leapfrog Karl Rossin to take second place, but I fully expect all three to take their battle to the last of three races at Silverstone on 17-18th October. In the Class A Boxsters its even closer, with their Championship still open to no less than four drivers – Ed Hayes’s relatively poor showing this weekend severely dented the safety cushion he could have built up over Richard Avery, Garry Lawrence and Adam Southgate.

Text and photos: Chris Valentine


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