Adam Southgate surged ahead to lead the Boxster table of the Toyo BRSCC Porsche Championship after three wins at Donington.
Very heavy overnight rain left a damp paddock but two earlier qualifying sessions, plus a fairly constant breeze, meant a dry track for the 24 cars entered for the fourth round of the 2015 season. Adam Southgate was very quickly posting the fastest laps in his 986 Boxster and Adam Croft again showed his return to 924s is paying off with him landing top spot for the grid of the first of three races this weekend.
Nizar El-Chamaa reported being down on power having posted a lowly (for him) P7 and later examination showed the bottom end of his 2-litre engine had failed – game over. James Coleman posted his best place of his new season in the rented Taylors Foundary 986 with P3 and in 5th on the Class A grid, Garry Goodwin also impressed with a best-of-career position on his 40th birthday. The Flegg Racing pairing of Jayson Flegg and Mark Marshall were lucky to make the round having spent considerable time and effort repairing both of their Boxsters after incidents at both Rockingham and Zandvoort.
Race 1 proved to be one of the closest of the season. Tony Mekwinski’s newly-purchased 924 was an early DNF with an electrical issue leaving his car stranded on the Melbourne straight; Richard Matthews ran into the exacpt same issue on lap 2, his car cruising to a halt just after Old Hairpin. Richard Avery span into the gravel requiring a hasty recovery under a single lap of the safety car. Nick Hull’s finish appeared far off the podium pace he showed at Zandvoort having been forced to pit when a item of instrumentation came adrift to skitter around the floor under his pedals. But the timekeepers missed his pitstop and a post-race correction moved him back from 17th overall to P5 in class.
On the last but one lap, Ed Hayes finally got close enough to challenge Adam Southgate’s lead on the exit of the Fogarty Esses, powering down the Melbourne straight forcing Adam to drive defensively – with due attention paid to the regulations on weaving – to guard his line. Southgate crossed the line with Hayes less than three tenths of a second behind. Mark Marshall’s 986 sounded ropey in the opening laps and he soon dropped back with exhaust problems – but did finish. Jayson Flegg’s car ran well considering the rear suspension was set way too high so he was happy with P6.
In the 924s it was three cars abreast into the hairpin with Adam Croft fighting to defend his lead from the attacking Kirkham and Waters and the top five cars finished with barely six seconds between them. Newcomer Jamie Callendar completed his first race in the white JMG-sponsored 924 and Alfred Piesinger again proved he’s not lost his pace after seasons away from racing, taking P4 in class.
After getting a roasting in the cars yesterday with interior temperatures exceeding 50 deg.C Sunday morning’s conditions were a lot cooler with cloud cover to start soon giving way to intermittent sunshine.
Ed Hayes’ extra success ballast seemed to have an effect on his pace, having carried none in Race 1, because he was unable to challenge Adam Southgate’s lead off the line. Mark Marshall’s extreme bad luck continued when he lost control at Old Hairpin and neither grass nor gravel were able to slow him enough to avoid damage to the front and wing as the car collided with the tyre barrier. Garry Goodwin landed P5 after a suspension tweak returned the pace he’d seen in yesterday’s qualifying.
The 924 race proved almost as close as yesterday’s with Alfred Piesinger getting a great start to lead for most of the 20 minutes but a tank slapper with just and handful of laps remaining let Adam Croft, Alastair Kirkham and Philip Waters through to take the class podium in that order, with Alfred himself being a non-finisher. David Jones suffered the same bottom end failure of his 924 engine as Niz and retired after 8 laps.
Both Jayson Yates and John Cleland were missing from the Boxster grid for the final race of the weekend, with its traditional reverse grid. Nick Hull found himself on pole for the Boxsters with Richard Matthews leading the 924s away alongside newcomer Jamie Callendar. Showers began in the 1/2 hour before the cars were called to the assembly area, but these were fairly light and the track had dried again by the time they headed out onto the grid.
Alfred Piesinger seemed to have written the book on 924 standing starts this weekend as once again he launched himself off the line from the very back and by lap 3 he was 13th overall and leading his class. Once the other 924 front-runners had caught up, a five-way battle for the lead ensued with Philip Waters eventually taking the win over Piesinger second and Adam Croft having to settle (for a change) with third.
Nick Hull also got a good start and impressed by holding on to the lead for five laps until Adam Southgate managed to squeeze past. Andrew Hack was on a charge and he grabbed second two laps later leaving Hull to take another third-spot on the podium as he had done at Zandvoort twice in the previous round.
Fastest laps for all three races went to Adam Southgate (Boxsters) and Adam Croft (924s), each receiving a bottle from Fine Drinks Cooperative who had run a wine-tasting event for us on the Saturday evening. Meanwhile donations to our chosen charity CMT UK have already reached £300 with many drivers now sporting the logo on their race cars.
With the top three of the Boxster class so close on points, and with Southgate showing such impressive form, it was inevitable that we would see changes to the Championship tables and he now leads Class A with ex-leader Ed Hayes six points behind. Adam Croft already had a ten point lead over Alastair Kirkham and two wins from him stretches that further but even here, the championship is still open for contention with four founds – and 11 races remaining.
The Porsches next outing is already less than two weeks away as they head for the Lincolnshire circuit known as the Nurburgring of the North, Cadwell Park.
Text and photos: Chris Valentine