BUTCHER SHOWS CELTIC SPEED TO SCORE PORSCHE CARRERA CUP GB DOUBLE AT CROFT
• Rory Butcher and Celtic Speed team complete perfect weekend with back-to-back wins at North Yorkshire circuit
• Advantage of Championship leader Michael Meadows narrowed to 18 points
• Ahmad Al Harthy takes a Pro-Am1 double
• Will Goff wins again in Pro-Am2
Scottish driver Rory Butcher had the weekend of his racing life to score an emphatic double victory in rounds nine and ten of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Croft, North Yorkshire, after two thrilling races that featured tremendous battles between the identical 450 hp 911 GT3 Cup race cars all the way through the pack.
Ahmad Al Harthy (Pro-Am1) and Will Goff (Pro-Am2) both enjoyed tough races to twice win their respective categories, but there was disaster for Championship leader Michael Meadows who retired from the opening race with a puncture and saw his lead in the title chase slashed from 34 to 18 points.
Butcher (Kirkcaldy) didn’t get a great start from pole position, but was able to fend off Jonas Gelzinis (Lithuania) and Meadows (Banbury) into the opening lap. However, Meadows was in trouble as early as lap two when he clipped the tyre markers at the chicane and damage to the front bodywork ripped the splitter off the front of the car. Just behind Meadows, Daniel Lloyd (Huddersfield) was put off line as the tyre markers spilled over the track and dropped from fourth to seventh with a big moment on the grass.
Now struggling for grip, Meadows had to defend hard from Glynn Geddie (Aberdeen) and Sam Tordoff (Leeds) as Ben Barker (Cambridge) and Lloyd closed in to make it a five-car pack. Meadows was clearly struggling to hold on and was locking a front brake, which ultimately led to his retirement when he slid off the road at Tower corner on lap 12. By then, Tordoff had pulled off an opportunist move at the hairpin to grab a place from Geddie and duly claimed the final podium position, as Meadows limped back to the pits to retire.
But the big glory was reserved for Butcher who had driven a tremendous race to take a first Carrera Cup win for both himself and the Celtic Speed team.
“It can’t get much better than a lights-to-flag win,” said the young Scot after the podium ceremony. “I wasn’t going to let this one slip and I’m just coming to terms with it.”
Meanwhile, knowing that Meadows was struggling, Gelzinis had driven a measured race to make sure of a big haul of points. “I saw that Michael had trouble with the other guys and to go after Rory would have been a big risk,” said Gelzinis.
Tordoff starred on his way to finish third from sixth on the grid. “I had to work for that: we made a big transformation in the car from qualifying,” he said. Geddie fended off Barker and Lloyd for fourth despite a damaged front splitter.
The contest for Pro-Am1 was almost as close even though Al Harthy (Oman) led from the start. But with Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) and Victor Jimenez (Spain) chasing constantly and trading places, it was always in doubt and only 1.5 seconds covered three cars at the flag. “The pressure was on and it was extremely hard to keep the gap,” said Al Harthy. “I’m pleased to be back on the top step of the podium.”
There was also a close finish in Pro-Am2 as Goff (Dereham) just held off Tautvydas Barstys (Lithuania) by three-quarters of a second. “I nearly chucked it off three times,” said Goff. “I thought I was okay but then I ran wide at Sunny and he caught me again!”
Round nine results:
Pro category: 1 Rory Butcher; 2 Jonas Gelzinis; 3 Sam Tordoff.
Pro-Am1 category: 1 Ahmad Al Harthy; 2 Derek Pierce; 3 Victor Jimenez.
Pro-Am2 category: 1 Will Goff; 2 Tautvydas Barstys
Butcher completed a superb weekend with another victory in round ten. Despite constant pressure from Meadows, Butcher drove a mighty race to secure his second win in two days at the North Yorkshire track.
Al Harthy (Pro-Am1) and Goff (Pro-Am2) also completed weekend doubles.
The pivotal moment came as the pack stormed into the first corner, Clervaux. Meadows made a strong start and just had his nose in front of Butcher, but Meadows was unsure of just where Butcher was and the Scot was able to grab the advantage back as they turned through the bend. “He was ahead to turn one, but he gave me some room and that was crucial,” said Butcher.
Butcher now had to race for 15 laps with Meadows on his tail and Gelzinis trying to make it a three-way contest for the lead. Meadows battled to find a way around Butcher’s defences, but could ill afford to take a big risk and record a second non-finish of the weekend.Butcher now had to race for 15 laps with Meadows on his tail and Gelzinis trying to make it a three-way contest for the lead. Meadows battled to find a way around Butcher’s defences, but could ill afford to take a big risk and record a second non-finish of the weekend.
“Michael was fair the whole way through,” said Butcher. “Once I got in front I could hold him off and it’s a great feeling to win both races. It doesn’t get any better and I’m within striking distance of the Championship contenders now.” Butcher earned the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ award and Celtic Speed was confirmed as the ‘Team of the Weekend’.
Meadows accepted that a strong second place was a reasonable finish to what had been a difficult event.
“It’s gone against us this weekend,” said Meadows, who arrived at Croft with a 34 point Championship lead and left with an 18 point advantage. “Without taking a lunge at Rory it was going to be difficult,” he said. In turn, Meadows had to watch his mirrors for Gelzinis, who was never far away. “I stressed my tyres a little bit too much at the beginning,” said Gelzinis. Lloyd always ran fourth, but had to contend with considerable pressure from Tordoff and Geddie over the first half of the race.
In Pro-Am1, Al Harthy always had the upper hand and was able to build an early lead of around four seconds as Pierce battled ahead of Pro racer Richard Plant (Sheffield) while Oly Mortimer (Edinburgh) chased Pierce home for the final Pro-Am1 podium position. “I’m delighted,” said Al Harthy. “It was hard to do it again, but I had a good start and kept pushing. It’s been a perfect weekend.” Pierce, however, struggled with his tyres all race. “The car never really came on,” he said.
Goff had to race hard to make it a double Pro-Am2 win and take over at the top of the category points’ table.
In the early laps, Barstys was ahead until Goff edged ahead when Barstys ran wide at Tower. From then on it was close all the way to the finish. “I had a lot of pressure and it wasn’t over until the chequered flag,” he said.
Round ten results:
Pro category: 1 Rory Butcher; 2 Michael Meadows; 3 Jonas Gelzinis.
Pro-Am1 category: 1 Ahmad Al Harthy; 2 Derek Pierce; 3 Oly Mortimer.
Pro-Am2 category: 1 Will Goff; 2 Tautvydas Barstys
The next rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship take place at Snetterton, Norfolk, on August 11/12.
Porsche can claim more than 28,000 race victories in almost every motor sports series worldwide, and while many of these successes have been achieved with immensely powerful specialist race cars like the evocative 917 and 956, the iconic 911 sports coupe is the bedrock on which the peerless racing reputation of the Stuttgart marque has been built.
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With its range of 911 GT3 Cup, GT3 R and RSR, Porsche is the world's largest manufacturer of racing cars. The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car competes in the Mobil1 Supercup, the world’s fastest international one-make Championship, which supports Formula One Grands Prix. The 911 GT3 Cup also entertains spectators around the world racing in the many domestic Carrera Cup Championships in Germany, Asia, France, Italy, Japan, Scandinavia and Great Britain. The GT3 R is designed to be the first step for drivers moving up to GT racing, while the RSR is the standard-bearer for Porsche in international blue riband events like the Le Mans 24 Hours.
With 16 overall victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in Le Mans history. In 2014, Porsche will return to Le Mans with a works-run sports prototype race car in the top LMP1 category.