The Donington Park National circuit was the venue for our last Toyo BRSCC Porsche Championship round of 2013. Qualifying plus three races were spread over a two day triple-header, combined with varying but reasonably warm weather. At least we missed the fog that dogged last season final round at the same venue.
The Class A title had already been put firmly to bed by Rick Styrin, taking the silverware with a record 17 wins. Rebecca Jackson also secured the Class B Championship as her only possible rival for the title, Bernie Printy, was unable to attend. This left the 924s where on paper Simon Hawksley was in with a chance of snatching the crown from Alastair Kirkham’s hands.
Joining us for this final round was Autosport editor Ben Anderson - a very experienced racer but for him his first races in a Boxster. With some of our regular part-timers returning, an impressive 31 cars lined up in the assembly area for qualifying on Saturday morning. After overnight rain, the track offered varying but mostly slippery conditions but birthday boy JM Littman put himself on the front row next to Styrin with an impressive 1:28.192
After the compulsory drivers’ briefing, plus some time set aside to ponder regulation changes for next season, the first race was late in the afternoon. The rain had held off and with races in between, the track had mostly dried. Rebecca Jackson soon showed she wasn’t going to cruise through the last round and a battle quickly ensued with Michael Goodacre in the other Class B car. Adam Croft got a nudge on the exit from Redways and span right, with avoiding cars, including Garry Goodwin, going wide left onto very wet grass to avoid him.
The slippery conditions took their toll on the 924s, with no less than four drivers finding a gravel trap, but Alastair Kirkham secured himself another class win, with Clive Morison taking second, meaning it became almost impossible for Simon Hawksley to catch Alastair on overall points.
A collision at the Roberts Esses between JM Littman and Rick Styrin left JM disqualified but later re-instated as the winner. Styrin again fell foul of his Doninton demon later in the race when the engine in his 986 Boxster blew, leaving him potentially car-less for the rest of the weekend: Ian Loggie was in the new Taylor’s Foundary 987 and team manager Gerry Taylor was due to drive it in the two races the next day.
The forecast for Sunday had been a picture of doom all week so we were all very surprised - and most of us were happy - to be on a dry track for Race 2. However, this proved to be the most eventful race of the weekend with a red flag and restart half-way-through when Will Sharpe’s Boxster suffered a suspension failure at Coppice. His car span and collected Rick Styrin, now piloting the TF 987 – resulting in Wills car stranded mid-track with a burst radiator and even further damage to its undercarriage.
After a long wait, the cars were carefully re-gridded in the precise order they were in at the point the race was stopped - in theory giving slower drivers an opportunity to improve their position. A couple of laps in and on the climb up the hill under Starkeys Bridge, Ben Anderson went around the outside and made contact with Chris Valentine resulting in the loss of his wing mirror - the Newbridge team lads had all season accused him of using his mirrors too much, so at least they were happy!
Ten-second penalties for rolling on the restart grid hit two Class A drivers. Arjo Ghosh dropped to a place behind both Simon Hawksley and Alastair Kirkham in 924s. And it robbed JM Littman of a second win of the weekend, thus gifting Steve Brown with his best result of the season, his first Class A podium, behind Steve Boyles and Jonathan Greensmith. Combined with his 2nd from Race 1, Boyles was now beyond reach in overall second in the Race Boxster title; and although unable to race again, Will Sharpe was to pip Greensmith to third by just two points.
Rick Styrin made a tactical decision to back off the pace, presenting back-marker Chris Valentine with a unique opportunity to overtake him, thus creating a one-off side-by-side front row for the final race of the season, which was to start with a reverse grid.
Those wishing for rain - which included Rebecca, master of a wet track - were rewarded for Race 3 when the heavens literally opened as the drivers made their way from garages to assembly area. Attrition had left just 27 starters under the worst conditions of the season – as bad as Snetterton had been the year before.
A double green flag lap saw Styrin disappear into the distance but with everyone returned to the grid, a nervous and careful start – accompanied by considerable spray – saw the pack carefully negotiate Redgate and head down the hill towards Old Hairpin. Will Sharpe’s 986 was forced to retire early when the hasty fixes by the guys from Jasmine Porschalink proved not quite sufficient to sustain race pace. As anticipated, the conditions took their toll but this time the Boxsters came off worse with four of their number not finishing, joined by Paul Bravo in a 924.
Our visiting driver from Autosport Ben Anderson took third in the Class A Boxsters behind Stryin and Greensmith. Michael Goodacre grabbed his second Class B win of the weekend – along with fastest lap. And Alastair Kirkham returned to the 924 top step with Karl Rossin a season-best 2nd and the astonished rookie driver Mark Rocco in third.
All drivers and teams would like to express their gratitude to Toyo Tires for our title sponsorship, Jasmine Porschalink and webheads for their partnerships with us, John Clark and Drew Furlong at the BRSCC for the organisation, the scrutineers, clerks and all of the marshals and officials who give their time to make our sport possible.
Photo courtesty of SportscarFan917