Dunlop Production Championship: Cayman Shines at Croft

Colin Willmott and Jack Wright dominated the damp qualifying session in the #70 Porsche 997 Cup ahead of the Aston Martin Vantage of Chris Murphy and Jonny Cocker. Jonny MacGregor was solo again in his bright yellow Taranis, slightly concerned by and pitting soon after kerb contact, its pops and bangs enough to give any noise tester a headache. Also joining our grid was a second Porsche 997 Cup with the experienced Marcus Fothergill and renowned celebrity photographer David Benett sharing the drive.

Kevin Clarke, after his second overall placement in the Endurance race on Saturday, returned to co-pilot Mike Moss’ BMW M3 but pitstops were frequent. Lance Gauld was without his son this time in the Porsche Cayman, the car apparently suffering an annoyingly interruptive stability system. We’d seen Andy Robinson earlier in the season but his Ford Falcon V8 was joined by Andy Wilson and Philip Seaman in another Antipodean V8, a Holden – although they were initially scheduled to only run in the first of today’s two races.

Two Aussie V8s graced the Dunlop Production grids at the weekend

RACE 1

The heavens opened on a grid of almost entirely slick-shod cars for the first race and it was the pole-sitting Porsche hanging on to a lead with Jonny Cocker at the controls of the Aston during the opening laps.

The rain catches out the Taranis at Hawthorn and the team was immediately active; there are two more spinners at Tower: the Falcon and Cayman – so the decision to start on slicks is looking to have been rather optimistic.

The #69 Porsche of Fothergill is missing with a flat tyre so we’ll see if they take on wets – yet as they now start to warm up, the slicks on the #70 Porsche are carrying it to quicker times lap by lap. Most teams now pitting are switching to wets although these conditions are very changeable.

The Wilmott Porsche now spins so they too will be in shortly to change to Dunlop wets – Jonny Cocker’s Aston takes the lead.

The pit window is effectively open as soon as the lights go out so the stop some cars are making now, less than 10 laps into the race, may be the only one they make in the 50 minutes; those cars being shared have to follow a different rule however since no one driver can complete more than 60% of the race – and they must pit with at least 15 minutes of the race left to run.

The Holden and Cayman swap 2nd places a couple of times; meanwhile the #70 Porsche of Willmot is still in the pits. Our scrutineer is taking a look at damage to the other Porsche, the #69 Fothergill car.

Lance Gauld snatches the lead from the Aston; the #70 Porsche has suffered hub damage and is forced to retire where the #69 997 returns to the track.

The Taranis goes ahead of Mike Moss’ BMW to take 4th and has enough pace to shortly make third, just as the rain increases; Kevin Clarke said later “it was definitely a slicks race to start with”.

The #69 Porsche pits now for the first driver change – Marcus Fothergill takes the wheel – as the Taranis takes third from Wilson’s Holden.

The young Jonny Cocker pits the Aston to allow Championship leader Chris Murphy to take over; the #57 BMW finally adopts Dunlop wets as Kevin Clarke takes over.

Lance Gauld continues to lead. The Taranis needs a live snatch under yellows at Turn 1. The two Aussie V8s are now 2nd and third, the Holden leading Robinson in the Ford but their lap times are varying considerably.

Asked about his stint, Mike Moss says “it was really enjoyable – the car was all over the place – lap times were OK and I decided to stay out on slicks”.

Race leader Lance Gauld now pits the Cayman – a full 90 seconds stop required but the team’s absence of Dunlop wets means the driver has to stay on slicks – but the safety car is now deployed for the recovery of the Taranis. Gauld exits before the safety car completes a lap.

Wilson and Robinson pit the two V8s at the same time while the Taranis is finally retrieved from the turn 1 gravel trap.

Del Shelton is up to 4th in the white E36 BMW – the only car the Geoff Steel team are running this weekend – as the safety car now peels in and race pace resumes.

The #00 Falcon is having problems with the right front wheel, Andy Robinson philosophical as he is forced to retire with something broken in the suspension.

The race-leading Cayman is right up behind Chris Murphy’s Aston and is having to fight to get past to lap him. Meanwhile the rain has fully ceased and a dry line is becoming apparent with only 10 minutes left on the clock.

Philip Seaman spins the Holden but recovers with only superficial damage, dropping him to fifth.

The Taranis is back to its garage with a badly damaged its front splitter – and a fair amount of on-board gravel – but hopes to return for the later race.

Lance Gauld is lapping a full six seconds faster than the second place Aston but Chris Murphy’s pace is increasing as the track dries. Kevin Clarke is closing on the Aston though as the clock counts down. Del Shelton continues in 4th as the Last Lap board goes out.

The chequered flag therefore falls for production class Porsche Cayman of Lance Gauld, with the Mike Moss/Kevin Clarke BMW 2nd and the Aston third.

His victory the more impressive given he stayed on slicks for the entire race, Gauld after the race quips “we get a lot of rain in Scotland” – but he was oblivious to having lapped the entire field including the second place car.

Chris Murphy said “this was the first time I’ve raced in these conditions – I did Silverstone in the heavy rain but this time I didn’t really know what I was doing”. The Falcon was lucky to avoid a blowout where bodywork had carved a grove right down to the cords in one of its Dunlop slicks.

Jonny MacGregor, a DNF from Race 1, took the overall win in Race 2

Jonny MacGregor, a DNF from Race 1, took the overall win in Race 2

RACE 2

Jonny MacGregor and team were still working on the Taranis as the start of Race 2 approached and the skies darkened. Describing his race 1 exit, he said “the car locked up for turn 1 and although I jumped off the brakes, the car didn’t stop braking – so I just aquaplaned off”. The Wilmot/Wright Porsche is the only non-starter.

At the start the Wilson/Seaman Holden is quickly into a lead with the Aston 2nd but having started from the back, MacGregor is soon carving through the field and by the second lap he’s up to third, with lap times suggesting that the lead isn’t far away. All cars will have started on slicks this time but there are drops of rain coming now.

Lap 3 and the Taranis posts a new fastest lap to take the lead. Having started on pole, the Cayman has dropped to 4th but the #97 Holden has pulled off into the collection area down near turn 1 with a gearbox failure.

Similarly troubled, Mike Moss’ BMW seems to have having a problem, with lap times having grown significantly, and a radio message from driver to team says the gearbox stuck in 4th.

The Fothergill/Benett pair are on a charge in their Porsche, setting a new fastest lap back in third and by lap 9 they are less than 8 seconds adrift of the 2nd placed Aston.

The podium finishers from Race 1 have success time penalties added to their pitstops time – up to 15 seconds for the lead car, meaning they need to be in the pit lane for a total of 105 seconds. This will benefit the Taranis though as he can exit after just 90 seconds.

The #69 Porsche 997 Cup posts a fastest lap in their pursuit of the Murphy/Cocker Aston in 2nd. Lance Gauld is right up with the Falcon but Robinson responds. Mike Moss continues to circuit, nursing the severely hampered single-gear BMW.

The Aston pits now for a driver change with 29 minutes left on the clock; Dan Shelton takes advantage and his BMW E36 is now up to 5th.

Mike Moss is the second to pit, Kevin Clarke having the unenviable task of nursing the car to the flag; the Aston jumps a place as a result. MacGregor is next in, shortly followed by the second placed Porsche of Fothergill and Benett. Andy Robinson takes the lead but is yet to pit; Andy Robinson now the only one still running who hasn’t stopped and there’s only 15 minutes left on the clock.

The #69 Porsche 997 Cup, now circulating 10 seconds adrift of its fast lap, finds itself in 3rd as the Falcon finally pits and once again the Taranis is in the lead by just under a lap with 11 minutes left.

With just 9 minutes remaining, Lance Gauld is obviously after a podium finish again, passing its #69 German stablemate for third. Meanwhile the Taranis looks comfortable up front with the best part of a lap lead over the 2nd-placed Falcon of Andy Robinson.

TSL live timing now says that Andy Robinson has been issued a 20-second penalty – if Gauld can keep pushing he might just grab 2nd. Meanwhile with less than 2 minutes left, MacGregor posts yet another a new fastest lap of 1:26.247

So Jonny MacGregor’s Taranis wins Race 2, with Andy Robinson 2nd and Lance Gauld very happy with a second podium of the weekend in third. Robinson’s penalty was for not pitting early enough but it didn’t change the final standings.

Regarding the BMW’s gearbox issue, Kevin Clark said afterward “I thought, shall I try changing gear, but then I thought the last thing I want is it getting stuck in neutral”.

Boosted Porsche presence in the two Production races at Croft on Sunday

Boosted Porsche presence in the two Production races at Croft on Sunday

Overall results – Race 1:
1st – Lance Gauld – Porsche Cayman – Cloud Cover IT
2nd – Mike Moss/Kevin Clarke – BMW E46 M3 – Moss Motorsport
3rd – Chris Murphy/Jonny Cocker – Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 -Whitebridge Motorsport

Race 2:
1st – Jonny MacGregor – Taranis – MacG Racing
2nd – Andy Robinson – Ford Falcon 5000 – A Robinson Autocentre Ltd
3rd – Lance Gauld – Porsche Cayman – Cloud Cover IT

The Dunlop GT & Production Championship returns to the track as part of a single-day event on Silverstone’s International circuit on Saturday 13th August.

Text and photos: Chris Valentine.


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