Silverstone Race Report

Double Delight for Clark and Flegg at Silverstone!

What a terrific debut to the 2011 season! Racing at the UK’s premier track in glorious sunshine, and with a line up of twelve Boxsters and eleven 924’s, this meeting promised to produce some exciting racing and it didn’t disappoint!

An impressive twelve Boxsters lined up to start the season. Joining last year’s campaigners Clark, Taylor, Hughes, Hull and Braybrook were first time Boxster racers Stephen Warburton, David and John Bearman, Arjo Ghosh and Steven Boyles with Richard Styrin and Mike Sellar starting their first full season following their maiden Boxster voyages last year.

The 924 lineup included ten old hands and one newcomer to motor racing, lady driver Rebecca Jackson driving car number 0.

The camaraderie among the 924 drivers that displays itself every season with racing advice and practical help was once again evident before racing started. Although remarkably robust machines, it is a fact that the 924 cars were already clocking up miles in the decade when Fittipaldi, Lauda and Hunt were dominating motor racing; unsurprisingly then, bits do stop working or fall off these thirty something year old Porsches. Drivers who are fiercely competitive against each other once the lights go out, will always help each other with the loan of parts, tools and advice to ensure that their adversaries get to the starting grid.

Handshakes over, the battle commenced.

Qualifying

In the Boxster class, Clark, Warburton, Taylor and Styrin occupied rows 1 and 2. D Bearman, Ghosh, Sellar and J Bearman on rows 3 and 4, Hughes, Hull, Boyle and Braybrook on rows 5 and 6.

924 qualifying saw Brown, Hannington, Piesinger and Flegg take the two front rows on the grid with Marshall, Croft, Siddall, Mackenzie, Bravo and Jackson following. Last place on the grid was occupied by one of the 924 top drivers, Alastair Kirkham, whose labours over the winter to overcome the mechanical problems that had dogged his number 7 car last season were not looking successful.

Race 1 – Boxster Class

Lap 1 and reigning champion Clark immediately took the lead. Taylor moved ahead of Warburton and Styrin held 4th place. Sellar moved up to 5th with rookie Ghosh dropping to 8th place behind David and John Bearman. Boyles took a place from Hull to move in behind Hughes. Meanwhile, Braybrook was trailing the lead 924 car.

There were no changes to position in Lap 2 but Lap 3 saw David Bearman take 5th place from Sellar who was later to lose 6th place to John Bearman in Lap 6.

Lap 7 and Sellar re-took 6th place from Bearman whilst Braybrook, still in 12th place, spun and moved back through the ranks of 924’s.

Lap 8 saw John Bearman again take 6th place from Sellar. The Boxsters were now beginning to lap the 924’s.

The next ten laps saw no change to positions and that is how they crossed the line but a 10 second startline penalty for Sellar, gave Ghosh 7th place.

Race 2 – 924 Class

Lap 1. Hannington and Flegg both made early moves to go ahead of Steve Brown with Martin Braybrook’s Boxster sandwiched between them. At the finish of the lap Kirkham had made up an incredible seven places to finish in fourth place behind Brown. Piesinger had dropped two places; Croft had overtaken Marshall but remained in 6th place. Mackenzie had passed Siddall and Bravo stayed ahead of Jackson.

Lap 2 saw Brown move ahead of Flegg to take second place behind the 22 car which was now leading the pack by 2.25 seconds, Braybrook was still between the two leading 924’s. The rest of the field maintained their positions

Lap 3 and Brown moved ahead of Braybrook, Siddall took back the place lost to Mackenzie and Mark Marshall was forced to retire with a lost water hose.

Lap 6 saw second place again change hands when Flegg took it back from Brown and Paul Bravo stole 8th place from Mackenzie. A flying Dave Clark now started to lap the slower 924’s.

Lap 7 and an abortive move by Braybrook to overtake Hannington saw the structure of the 924 race change completely. Hannington was forced to brake hard behind a spinning Braybrook, Jayson Flegg seized the opportunity and blazed through the gap followed by a fired up Steve Brown. Hannington was now relegated to 3rd place followed by Kirkham still holding on to 4th. place. Alfred Piesinger and Adam Croft in 5th and 6th places now had Martin Braybrook sandwiched between them. The lap ended with only 0.395 seconds separating Flegg and third place Hannington with Brown between the two of them.

Lap 8 and all was not well for the new leaders. The number 3 car had developed a rupture to its exhaust system but with no apparent loss of performance, Flegg decided to go for broke. Brown however was not so fortunate; a total clutch failure caused his exit from the race. Piesinger now occupied 3rd place followed by Kirkham and Croft.

The second half of the race contained some very close racing, both at the front and the back of the pack, with the lapping Boxsters now running interference.

Lap 10 and Kirkham’s car suffered a breakdown which was unfixable signaling that his race was run.

Lap 18 the final lap gave us a fantastic finish. Jayson Flegg stormed home to take the win and at the final bend after 21 minutes of racing, Alfred Piesinger, who in lap 15 had clocked the fastest lap time, got his nose ahead of Andrew Hannington to take second place by a margin of 0.238 seconds!

It would now be a long night of frantic repair work for Marshall, Flegg and Brown to get their cars back into shape for Sunday’s race. Alastair Kirkham’s problems were terminal and he would not race again at this meeting.

Race 2 – Boxster Class

The grid order was Clark, Taylor, Warburton, Styrin, D Bearman, J Bearman, Ghosh, Sellar, Hughes, Boyles, Hull and Braybrook.

Lap 1 saw the leading two drivers maintain their start positions but witnessed Styrin move into 3rd place, Sellar jump two places, taking 5th from D Bearman with Braybrook moving ahead of Hull.

Lap 2 and Warburton took 3rd place back from Styrin and Hull retook 11th place from Braybrook.

Lap 3 saw Ghosh move ahead of Hughes and with the retirement of John Bearman, find himself in 7th place. Alas, it all went wrong though when he span in Lap 5 and was relegated to the back of the pack.

Positions were maintained until Lap 9 when Styrin was given a drive through penalty for excessive use of the track – it is worth mentioning here that in-car footage from Richard displays fancy footwork that would not disgrace Fred Astaire, perhaps he just needs to learn to keep it on the dance floor?

Lap 10 Styrin rejoined in 6th place behind Hughes and Ghosh made up a place to move ahead of Braybrook.

Lap 11 saw Sellar drop back from 4th to 6th place but in Lap 12 he followed Styrin around Hughes to put them in 4th and 5th place. Race positions remained unchanged until Dave Clark powered his way to another impressive victory.

Race 2 – 924 Class

The grid order was Flegg, Piesinger, Hannington, Croft, Siddall, Mackenzie, Jackson, Brown and Marshall.

Lap 1 saw some significant changes in race order. Hannington had passed Piesinger two take 2nd place and glue himself onto race leader Flegg. Behind them though, more dramatic moves had occurred; Marshall starting from the back of the grid had stormed through to 6th place ahead of Brown who in turn had leap-frogged Jackson, Bravo and Siddall. Sean clearly had car problems and did not complete the lap. Siddall’s was not the only car to develop a problem in the opening lap. In-car footage clearly shows Hannington’s bonnet start to lift – a securing clip mounting post had broken off and left the bonnet secured at only three of the four fixing points and although the two leading 924’s were in some very close jousting through the first two laps, it was clear that the damage to car 22 was worsening.

Lap 3 and at the front, Hannington’s fortunes were worsening; a loss of brakes saw him leave the track in a shower of dust only to return at the end of the field. The race order was now Flegg in a commanding lead, Piesinger, Croft, Marshall who had overtaken Mackenzie and was now in 4th place, Mackenzie, Brown, Bravo, Jackson and Hannington.

Lap 4 saw Brown move into 5th place ahead of Mark Mackenzie.

Lap 5 and Brown, driving a fantastic race had now moved up behind 3rd place Adam Croft. A badly flat-spotted tyre and a dangerously flailing bonnet caused Hannington to call it a day.

Lap 6 and when Paul Bravo obeying the blue flag slowed to allow a Boxster to pass, rookie driver Rebecca Jackson took immediate advantage and stole 7th place – a situation that Bravo was unable to reverse until the penultimate lap.

Despite some hard fought duels, the placings remained unchanged until Lap 13 when Brown took Croft’s 3rd place spot and in a superb manouvre at the final bend on the final lap, jumped Alfred Piesinger to grab a 2nd place finish – some achievement for a driver who had started the race on the back row of the grid.

1st place honours went to Jayson Flegg who had driven superbly to lead the race from the start.

One meeting down, seven to go! If the rest of this season’s meetings have the same buzz, it’s going to be a great year of racing!

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