• James Sutton (London) celebrates a double victory in the Porsche Carrera Cup at Thruxton on Sunday (1 May)
• Sutton leads the championship ahead of round six at Oulton Park (4/5 June 2011)
• Coverage of the weekend’s racing and behind the scenes videos are now available on Porsche Origin – www.porsche.co.uk/origin
James Sutton was in control of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Thruxton on Sunday (1 May) with a double victory, ahead of Euan Hankey (Taunton) and Stephen Jelley (Leicester).
Jonas Gelzinis (Lithuania) mirrored Sutton’s success in Pro-Am1 taking both victories ahead of Rory Butcher (Kirkcaldy), whilst the top podium spot in the Pro-Am2 category went to Andrew Shelley (Northallerton) and George Brewster (Aberdeen).
Sutton fended off Euan Hankey on the run to the first corner, but then had to withstand constant pressure over the following 20 laps as Hankey was never more than a second behind. At a circuit that is notoriously tough on tyres, through careful planning, Sutton managed to fend off Hankey as they steadily pulled clear of the battle for third place.
The result was always in doubt and at the finish each driver paid tribute to his rival. “We had an exceptional car, but Euan was driving particularly well,” said Sutton. “I was working myself hard because he was a constant shadow.” Equally, Hankey acknowledged his rival. “He drove a very good race; it was just really frustrating. Every time I got close to him I got understeer at Church and lost ground,” said Hankey.
In the early laps, Gelzinis fended off Michael Meadows (Banbury) and Stephen Jelley for third, but as the race developed Jelley was able to work his way to the head of the pack. “I went wide around a slower car and got a lot of debris on the tyres,” said Gelzinis of the moment that led to him losing third place. Jelley had been forced wide at the Complex on the first lap and dropped two places as a result, but battled back to third as the race progressed. Late in the race, Jelley also went wide to pass a slower car and the pick-up on his tyres left him struggling to fend off Meadows to the flag.
Recognising that winning Pro-Am1 was his prime target, Gelzinis was content to slot into a secure fifth ahead of Tim Harvey (Oxford). Second in Pro-Am1 and seventh overall was a fine result for Butcher, who fended off a late race challenge from Ben Hetherington (Cheshire). “I’m happy with that; it was a good clean race,” said Butcher, who chased Harvey in the opening laps before easing back to conserve his tyres.
Third in Pro-Am1 was the subject of a mighty four-way contest as Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) fought off a mammoth challenge from Ahmad Al Harthy (Oman), Alex Martin (Somerset) and George Richardson (Alderley Edge). To mark his birthday, Pierce held on for the final place on the podium, but Al Harthy challenged at just about every corner on every lap of the race. “He was all over me all the time,” said Pierce. “He was really good on the brakes.”
There was more drama in Pro-Am2 as poleman George Brewster was sidelined early on by a puncture. Instead, Redline Racing team mates Andrew Shelley and Keith Webster (Liphook) enacted a race-long contest with the category lead changing many times before Webster finally asserted himself to take his first category victory. “That was such hard work, and it’s great to get a first win,” said Webster. Shelley was still only a second behind at the flag, acknowledging that he was losing too much time at the chicane. Through to complete the Pro-Am2 podium went Richard Denny (London) who had to fight back after an early spin. However, after the race the cars of Al Harthy and Webster were excluded from the results over a technical infringement. The championship results remain provisional.
Sutton again converted pole position into a first lap lead despite pressure from Hankey. In the early laps, this pair eased away from the chasing pack as Jelley slotted into third from Gelzinis, Harvey and Meadows.
Over the first half of the race Hankey tracked Sutton, but as the race moved into the later stages, Hankey knew he was in tyre trouble. “The rear tyres just went away,” he said of the punishing Thruxton track surface. “Then I had a big moment with a backmarker at Goodwood and lost two seconds in one lap.” Instead of chasing Sutton, Hankey now had to focus his attention on Jelley, who was closing in.
Meanwhile, Sutton reeled off the remaining laps to complete a double win and extend his early points’ lead. “Over the course of the weekend I was really starting to find the limit of the car,” he said of the latest 450bhp 911 GT3 Cup. “I’m very, very pleased with the weekend.”
The battle for second was a real highlight as Hankey and Jelley went wheel-to-wheel in a sporting contest. It was finally resolved in Jelley’s favour at the chicane with a lap to run. “Euan covered the inside so there was only one place to go,” said Jelley after diving to the outside under braking. Hankey left his braking very late, but had to leap his car over the chicane kerbs as Jelley grabbed the place. “The car was really consistent all the way through,” said Jelley, which contrasted with his team mate’s experience. “It was really strong at the start but later I had massive oversteer. I salvaged something!”
Meadows battled ahead of Harvey and Gelzinis to take a strong fourth, while Gelzinis was pleased to secure another Pro-Am1 victory in fifth place ahead of Harvey and Michael Caine (Newmarket).
In the early laps, Butcher chased Harvey with good pace, but a spin into the chicane dropped him behind the battling pack of Team Parker Racing’s Richard Plant (Sheffield) and Sam Tordoff (Leeds) and Hetherington. Butcher still recovered to take second in Pro-Am1 and complete an excellent weekend at the challenging Hampshire track. “I’ve made a big step forward with the car this weekend,” said Butcher. Al Harthy wrapped up the Pro-Am2 podium. Brewster always controlled Pro-Am2, with Shelley and Steve Parish (London) delayed in a first corner tangle. While Brewster led from the front, Webster ran second from Denny. That was how it finished, but Denny had to contend with a strong challenge from the recovering Shelley over the closing stages.
The next two races of the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship take place at Oulton Park on June 4/5.
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