• James Sutton and Stephen Jelley were the big winners in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park, Cheshire, as a packed grid of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars raced at the picturesque Cheshire track
• Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholar Ben Hetherington scored another top ten finish in race one
• In a wet second race, Celtic Speed ace Rory Butcher finished fifth and clinched ‘Driver of the Weekend’
• Teams and drivers now prepare for the next race on June 25 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany
Sutton (London) clinched his third win in a row at Oulton Park on Saturday in an action-packed round seven, but it was at the expense of his team mate Michael Meadows (Banbury) who led for 16 of the 18 laps. When Meadows fell foul of coolant spilled on the track, Sutton swept ahead and Stephen Jelley (Leicester) battled though to take second from Meadows. Jonas Gelzinis (Lithuania) claimed Pro-Am1 victory and Andrew Shelley (Northallerton) won Pro-Am2 from long-time leader Steve Parish (London).
Meadows did everything right from the start to lead from pole as Sutton ran second under constant pressure from Jelley. For lap after lap it was nip-and-tuck, but Meadows seemed set for victory until two laps from home. Down to Knickerbrook chicane on lap 17 of 18, Meadows was first to find coolant dropped by the car of Sam Tordoff (Leeds). “I just lost the front of the car,” said Meadows, recalling how he slithered across the grass. Jelley had been attacking Sutton at the same time, but as Sutton dived ahead, Jelley had to slot in behind Meadows. On the final lap, Meadows again ran across the grass and Jelley nipped through to second.
Despite taking his third win on the trot, Sutton was disappointed for his team mate. “It was a shame to see him go off because we’ve been working so hard as a team,” said Sutton. “You’ve got to be as consistent as you can in this championship,” he added, after extending his points’ lead. “When the coolant went down it gave us another thing to think about,” said Jelley, who had spent the whole race attacking the distinctively-liveried SAS cars. “Gutted,” was how Meadows understandably summed up his feelings after taking third.
Into fourth went Michael Caine (Newmarket), but he was fortunate to finish after a clash at the Island hairpin with Gelzinis left Caine with a damaged rear wheel. Fortunately, the tyre pressure stayed up, but any chance of chasing the top three was gone. Gelzinis also elected to ease back his pace over the closing laps once his constant shadow of the first half, Euan Hankey (Taunton) dropped down the order when a run through the gravel at Druids peeled the front splitter off his car. “It was too risky as you could not see the coolant,” said Gelzinis of his decision to back off and make sure of Pro-Am1 victory.
Behind sixth-placed Richard Plant (Sheffield), Ahmad Al Harthy (Oman) grabbed second in Pro-Am1 after a lengthy challenge on Plant. Right with them was Ben Hetherington (Cheshire) from Hankey and Rory Butcher (Kirkcaldy) who claimed the final Pro-Am1 podium position. “That’s one of the hardest races I’ve had,” said Al Harthy.
For 12 laps Parish led Pro-Am2 under a constant challenge from Shelley as George Brewster (Aberdeen) chased. Then, Shelley’s patience was rewarded when he grabbed a chance to dive inside Parish into Old Hall corner. Parish ran wide and lost his front splitter over the kerb, which left him powerless to re-challenge Shelley. “It was hard work on that spilled coolant,” said Shelley, while Parish was pleased to have run so strongly and taken second. Brewster went out after clipping the tyre barrier at Knickerbrook after his own deviation on the coolant and it was Keith Webster (Hook) who moved through to complete the Pro-Am2 podium.
Jelley mastered tricky conditions to win round eight on Sunday (5 June) in a race that was full of action and drama on a track that was wet and slippery. While Jelley dived ahead from the start to lead Meadows and Sutton into the race, Butcher delivered the drive of the weekend to win Pro-Am1 while Webster raced hard to win Pro-Am2. Jelley did the hard work off the line as he powered ahead of Meadows on the wet track. It was the decisive moment in the race for the lead. “The initial start was good, but then I had to scare myself on the brakes into the first corner,” said Jelley. He immediately pulled clear as Meadows had his team mate Sutton right on his tail. Meanwhile, once he had worked ahead of Hankey, Caine ran a strong fourth and chased after Meadows and Sutton.
That was how it stayed at the front, with Jelley gradually building his lead as Meadows ran second with Sutton and Caine right on his tail. Caine constantly looked for a way to get ahead of Sutton and they were side-by-side several times, but with such evenly-matched cars, the places did not change. Over the closing laps, the charging Butcher flew up to Caine’s tail after a stirring drive up the order from ninth on the grid.
“I was trying not to hit my team mate and keep Michael Caine behind,” said Sutton of his knife-edge position. “It was a massive juggling act, but Rory Butcher helped me later by attacking Caine.” But the big winner was Jelley after a faultless drive. “I saw the gap and tried to be careful,” he said who used the damp patches of the circuit to try and keep his tyres cool. “I wasn’t sure how the tyres would work because we’ve had no experience of them in the wet this season.”
Caine was pleased to be in the battle for the podium with his best race of the season to date. “Motorbase gave me a car that could win today,” he said of his first run in the new 911 GT3 Cup on a wet track. However, the big star of the race was Butcher who scythed up the order to take fifth overall, first in Pro-Am1 and the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ award. “I took five laps to get into it and then built up the speed; that’s my best performance of the year,” said an elated Butcher.
Hankey clinched sixth as Plant worked ahead of Al Harthy who took second in Pro-Am1. However, by the finish, Al Harthy was under pressure from George Richardson (Alderley Edge), who drove a fine race in tough conditions to take ninth overall and the final Pro-Am1 podium. Tordoff completed the top 10, but was under pressure from Kieran Vernon (West Chiltington) at the flag.
In a topsy-turvy Pro-Am2 contest, Webster recovered from a grassy moment and clash with Brewster at Cascades on lap one to win. “That was the hardest race I’ve ever had,” said Webster, as Parish, Shelley and Brewster all had moments. By the final lap, Parish was right back on Webster’s tail, with Brewster recovering to third.
The teams and drivers are now preparing themselves for the next round in the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, which will form part of the Porsche Carrera World Cup, held at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on June 25.
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