• Euan Hankey (Taunton) scores first Porsche Carrera Cup GB victory in the opening round of the championship at Brands Hatch (April 2nd/3rd 2011)
• Strength of Carrera Cup GB Scholarship underlined as Hankey is the first scholar to take an overall race win
• Stephen Jelley (Leicester) takes Sunday’s round two to secure the early championship lead.
Euan Hankey celebrated his last-minute return to the Carrera Cup GB championship with a win in round one of the contest at Brands Hatch this weekend (2nd/3rd April 2001). Hankey is the first Carrera Cup GB Scholarship winner (2010 season) to take a race win ahead of James Sutton (London) and Stephen Jelley.
Jelley achieved further success in round two, taking the win, and the current championship lead. George Brewster (Edinburgh) also celebrated the only double-win of the weekend, winning both rounds in the Pro-Am 2 category.
Behind Hankey, James Sutton also edged ahead of Jelley to take second, while Jelley’s reward for leading 19 laps was the final overall podium position. It was a good day for the Celtic Speed team as Rory Butcher (Kirkcaldy) won Pro-Am1 and George Brewster won Pro-Am2 after hard fought races.
Jelley got the jump from pole position to head the packed grid of 25 450hp 911 GT3 Cup race cars into Paddock Hill Bend, with team mate Hankey slotting in behind. Sutton took third from Tim Harvey (Oxford) but even on the opening lap Jelley and Hankey had the pace to start edging clear of their pursuers. That was how it ran over the opening half of the race, with Hankey probing the defences of Jelley as Sutton consolidated third.
But the complexion of the race changed just after mid-distance. Jelley ran wide over the kerbs at Druids and that led to a soft brake pedal into Graham Hill Bend. As he ran wide onto the grass Hankey dived ahead and Sutton was also able to demote the recovering Jelley on the run to Surtees. Two laps later, Harvey was in trouble with a rear puncture and the ensuing pit stop put him right out of contention.
Now, Hankey was able to control the race as Sutton was occupied in covering regular challenges from Jelley over the closing stages. “I’m so pleased,” said Hankey. “I thought all my Christmases had come at once. As the tyres got older I could hold the times,” said the elated race winner.
Fourth overall was a strong opener for Michael Meadows (Banbury) as Sam Tordoff (Leeds), Michael Caine (Newmarket) and Richard Plant (Sheffield) packed out the top seven. For Tordoff and Plant it represented an excellent start to their Carrera Cup campaigns, but Caine was a disappointed sixth. “That was the best I was going to get,” he said.
Through into a fine eighth overall and Pro-Am1 victory went Butcher after a classy performance. He had to battle ahead of Ahmad Al Harthy (Oman) with a bold move into Paddock Hill Bend on the second lap to take control at the head of the category. “After that I ran consistent times and it worked out really well,” said Butcher. With Jonas Gelzinis (Lithuania) bogging down off the line and losing places, it was Al Harthy who took an excellent second in Pro-Am1 after fending off Gelzinis for many laps. “That was a very, very strong start to the season,” said Al Harthy.
Brewster always just had the upper hand in Pro-Am2, but could never relax for a moment as Steve Parish (London) chased relentlessly. It was a fortuitous finish for Brewster when, as he took the flag, a rear tyre deflated, probably the legacy of clipping the kerb at Surtees. “I just had to keep Steve behind,” said Brewster. Parish, in turn, had Pro-Am1 racers and team mates George Richardson (Alderley Edge) and Daniele Perfetti (London) on his tail race-long. Into third in Pro-Am2, after a late spin for Andrew Shelley (Northallerton), came Richard Denny (London) to clinch his first Carrera Cup podium.
Jelley was the class of the Carrera Cup GB with victory in round two on Sunday to take the early advantage in the championship. While Gelzinis won Pro-Am1 category, George became the only double winner of the weekend when he took a Pro-Am2 double.
Jelley dived ahead to lead from pole position as his team mate Hankey slotted into second from Sutton but further down the field there was drama as the cars of Butcher and Alex Martin (Somerset) clashed on the rush to Paddock Hill Bend. That contact pitched Butcher into a spin and his car tagged Al Harthy into a spin. Fortunately, despite some very near misses, everyone else avoided the incident, but the safety car was deployed while Butcher’s stranded car was moved.
Shortly after the re-start the safety car was back out while Denny’s car was moved from the gravel at Clearways after being tagged, so it was lap 12 before the race really got into a rhythm. Jelley was able to re-establish his lead at both re-starts and held his margin at around a second from Hankey and Sutton. Just behind them, Harvey had his mirrors full of the cars of Tordoff, Meadows and Plant.
Jelley was able to control the pace from the front and make sure of his first victory of the season. “The safety car gave me a nice breather and I got two good re-starts,” said Jelley. “It’s really good to go out of the weekend with a win and a points’ lead.” Hankey was never much more than a second adrift of his team mate.
“I struggled a bit to begin with but as the race went on the balance equaled out. Later on I just kept it safe,” he said, as Sutton dropped away in third. However, that later became second when Hankey was penalised for running wide at Graham Hill Bend and dropped out of the final top 10. “I had a really good car for the first half of the race and for the first time this weekend I was as quick as them,” said Sutton. However, he started hearing a vibration from a rear corner and, conscious of the risk of punctures, he eased back his pace to make sure of taking what became second.
That allowed Harvey to get close by the finish and he had Tordoff, Meadows and Plant in close formation right behind. Meanwhile, Caine struggled home seventh, battling against an ill-handling car despite changes to the car after the opening race. Right behind Caine, Gelzinis claimed Pro-Am1 but he had Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) on his tail for much of the race. “I just had to stay cool; there is a long way to go in the championship,” said Gelzinis of a measured drive. Pierce, in turn, took one of his best results with second in Pro-Am1. “I’m delighted,” said Pierce as he chased Gelzinis all the way to the flag. “In places he was quicker and in places I was quicker.” Michael Leonard (Ireland) wrapped up the Pro-Am1 podium.
Brewster always had the upper hand in Pro-Am2 and with Parish more delayed by the start melee; Brewster had a clear run to victory despite a scare at the start when he was edged onto the grass. With Parish later spinning into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend, Shelley took second in Pro-Am2 from Tautvydas Barstys (Lithuania). “I managed to avoid the carnage at the start and just had a steady run,” said Shelley. “I’m a very happy man,” said Barstys after his first Carrera Cup podium.
The next two races of the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship take place at Donnington Park on April 16/17.
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