Donington Park Race Report

Donington Park Race Report - 14th / 15th May

At a circuit that was new to most of the PDA drivers and on a cold, windy weekend that threatened rain, the Design911.com Porsche Championship moved on to the second meeting. The Donington circuit proved immensely popular with the petrol heads, and happily it stayed dry. Once again we were treated to a great weekend of racing.

Qualifying

In the Boxster class, Dave Clark recorded a blistering qualifying time of 1:19.855 - leaving everyone else to pick up the ‘Bits & Pieces’- sorry, being old enough to remember hit records from 1964, I had to get it out of my system… next to DC in row 1 was new Boxster driver, but vastly experience racer, Nigel Greensall sitting in Martin Braybrook’s no. 41 car. Row 2 was occupied by Gerry Taylor and Richard Styrin (used to be known as ‘The Stig’ but has now become more famous for his Bruce Forsyth footwork impressions). The Bearman brothers, David and John were side by side in row 3. Arjo Ghosh and Mike Sellar were in row 4. Steven Boyles and Nick Hull, in unfamiliar orange livery, occupied row 6, and making his debut in row 7 was Guillaume Gruchet.

In the 924 class, No 18 driver, Alfred Piesinger earned class pole position, lining up on row 6 with the last of the Boxsters. Andrew Hannington and Steve Brown were on row 7 with Mark Marshall and Alastair Kirkham in his ‘reserve’ car on row 8. Jayson Flegg, who had reigned supreme at Silverstone had only managed 7 qualifying laps due to a misfiring engine and shared row 9 with Adam Croft. On only her second competitive outing, Rebecca Jackson managed to qualify ahead of Marc Mackenzie and Sean Siddal.

Porsche Boxster – Race 1

According to the official lap charts the first Boxster race appears to have been a procession, albeit a very fast one, around the circuit in grid order from start to finish with three exceptions: on lap 1, Gruchet was seen hurtling off the track at the Esses (courtesy of on-board footage from a 924 car) and went out of the race. Hull took 8th place from Ghosh in lap 8, only to lose it back again in lap 9 and Sellar appears to have had a mishap on lap 15 and finished last. I’m sure that it was much more interesting than that for the drivers involved, but in the absence of any footage, this trackside reporter has no way of knowing!

The podium was occupied by DC; race, fastest lap and class winner, Gerry Taylor in 2nd place with Nigel Greensall taking 3rd on his first Boxster outing.

Porsche 924 - Race 1

In a characteristic start, Hannington got away first but Piesinger reclaimed his number one slot on the first bend. By the end of the lap Marshall and Kirkham had demoted Steve Brown to 5th place, Croft jumped Flegg off the start to take position in 6th, Mackenzie then stole 7th place from Flegg and Siddal moved ahead of Jackson.

Lap 2 and in a reverse manoeuvre at the end of Wheatcroft Straight, Hannington took back 1st place from Piesinger. At the conclusion of the lap Marshall maintained his 3rd place but Kirkham had given away two places to Brown and Croft with the remaining four cars holding position.

Lap 3 and the leading pair were putting distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, ‘Speedy Steve B’ regained 3rd place putting Marshall back to 4th. Kirkham moved up to 5th place above Adam Croft whose car had developed an alternator problem and Jayson Flegg took 7th place from Marc Mackenzie who was trailed by Siddal and Jackson.

The only change in lap 4 saw Adam Croft take back 5th position from Alastair Kirkham and those positions were maintained through lap 5.

Lap 6 and only one position change, Flegg passed Kirkham to take 6th place…meanwhile, the Boxsters were getting ever closer to the backmarkers.

In lap 7, the lead changed again. Following some close and competitive racing between the two, once more at the end of Wheatcroft Straight Piesinger wrestled the lead back from Hannington.

Lap 8 saw Rebecca Jackson move ahead of a slowing Sean Siddal, both drivers having been lapped by the lead Boxsters, and Kirkham took 6th spot from Flegg.

Lap 9 and the positions were Piesinger; Hannington, who despite clocking the fastest lap of the race was unable to retake the lead; Brown; Marshall; Croft; Kirkham; Flegg; Jackson; Mackenzie and Siddal, the last four having been lapped.

Laps 10 & 11 saw the field except for Piesinger and Hannington lapped. Sean Siddal was forced to retire with brake problems.

Lap 12 witnessed a dramatic change of leadership when Piesinger giving way to a lapping Boxster opened the door for Hannington to follow through. A combination of Alfred attempting to close the gap and Andrew braking late resulted in a coming together through the Esses. Fortunately both emerged relatively unscathed with Hannington winning the place and holding it to the chequered flag.

In lap 13, Adam Croft went ahead of Marshall to claim 4th and Marc Mackenzie span, letting Rebecca Jackson through. The race finished two laps later with no further change of position. On the podium for race 1 were; Andrew, class winner and fastest lap, Alfred in 2nd and Steve taking 3rd place

It was now back to the garages to patch up damaged bodywork, change alternators, fuel pumps, starter motors, brake pads and more in readiness for Sundays race.

Porsche Boxster – Race 2

The grid line up was: Clark, Taylor, Greensall, Styrin, David and John Bearman, Ghosh, Boyles, Hull, Sellar and Gruchet lining up at the back of the grid behind the 924’s

The race started with four serious contenders vying for podium honours. Clark led from pole with Taylor glued to his rear bumper. Close behind them locked in a personal duel for 3rd place on the track were Greensall and Styrin. The Bearman brothers were again racing each other with David holding 5th place. Sellar moved ahead of Hull, both overtaking Boyles to move into 7th and 8th place respectively. At the end of the lap, Ghosh, who had stalled it on the grid had regained a lot of ground was in 12th place behind 924 leaders Piesinger and Hannington. Gruchet, who had started from row 11, was still in last place after Marshall’s retirement.

Lap 2 and Taylor was closing the gap with Clark while Greensall had fallen back to over two seconds behind the 2nd placed car. Styrin, who presumably felt that he was being held back, was by now gesticulating like a Tottenham taxi driver. Hull, still behind the 87 and 31 cars of the Bearmans took 7th place away from Stellar. The lap finished with Boyles still holding 9th, Ghosh moved to 11th sitting between Piesinger and Hannington and Gruchet had moved ahead of the three trailing 924’s in to 17th place.

Lap 3 saw Taylor make a bold move going into the Esses and snatch 1st place from Clark. The close racing between Messrs Greensall and Styrin continued without a change in position as did the Bearman battle. Behind them at the end of the lap were Hull and Sellar, Boyles, Ghosh, now in 10th with Gruchet still in 17th place.

Taylor continued to hold off Clark through lap 4 although by laps end the margin was a tiny 0.378 seconds! The rest of the cars held station.

Lap 5 and DC won back first place spot at exactly the same location on the track where Taylor had taken it away from him. There was no change in the racing order for the others.

On lap 6, Styrin made a move on Greensall coming out of Redgate and claimed 3rd spot, he now punched the air in jubilation - but at laps end, he was still 3 seconds behind Taylor. The lap ended with John Bearman stealing 5th place from his brother by a margin of 0.090 seconds. Gruchet had made up another place and was now lying in 16th place.

Apart from the Bearmans swapping positions back, lap 7 saw no other changes.

At the beginning of lap 8 Taylor moved on Clark going into Redgate and took P1. The race was now beginning to buzz. Styrin had so far not been able to rein in the two lead cars but had put a gap of over two seconds between himself and Greensall. At half way through the race, the field was beginning to stretch out with gaps of over 5 seconds separating 4th and 5th and 6th and 7th placed cars.

Lap 9 saw the race leaders start to lap the slower 924’s and Styrin began to reduce the gap. Approaching the Esses, Clark made a bold move on the inside of Taylor to once more take the lead. At the lap’s conclusion the gap between 1st and 3rd placed cars had narrowed to 1.888 seconds.

The second half of the race saw no significant changes to position except for Gruchet exiting on lap 13 and a flurry of excitement when Styrin, on lap 14 made a move to lap Alfred Piesinger, who’s priority was, understandably, to defend his P1 against Andy Hannington and did not afford Richard the courtesy that he thought was his due – more hand gestures followed!

The race ended with just 0.625 seconds separating Clark and Styrin, taking his first Boxster podium in 3rd place and with fastest lap, with Taylor sandwiched between them taking his second P2 trophy of the weekend.

Porsche 924 – Race 2

The line up was: Hannington, Piesinger, Brown, Croft, Marshall, Flegg, Kirkham, Jackson, Mackenzie and Siddall.

Adrenaline pumping, as the lights went out a potential disaster loomed for the 924 pack in the form of a stationary car on the track. Arjo Ghosh’s Boxster was stalled on the starting line! Thankfully no one collected him and the race was on. Lap 1 saw an early change of race leader when Piesinger took full advantage of a driver error as Hannington appeared to select a wrong gear going into the Craner Curves. Alfred snatched the lead and despite a hard fought duel, successfully defended it to the finish. Alastair Kirkham had a great first lap, passing four cars to gain 3rd place while Marshall in 5th had a dramatic and very necessary retirement caused by a split fuel hose. The lap ended with Brown in 4th followed by Croft, Flegg, Jackson, Siddal and Mackenzie.

Lap 2 and Flegg came from behind Croft to take 4th place from Brown with Siddall claiming 7th from Jackson. Lap 3 saw Rebecca Jackson in an ailing car demoted to last place. The positions stayed that way until lap 6 when Rebecca’s No 0 car limped through the Esses and onto the Wheatcroft Straight where, due to a fuel starvation problem, she was forced to park it against the pit wall creating a yellow flag zone.

There were no further changes in race position but a potential overtaking situation occurred for Hannington during lap 14 when he and Piesinger were being lapped by the leading Boxsters. At the approach to the Esses, Richard Styrin came storming through to take Alfred and Andrew tucked in behind, Alfred was having none of it this time though and skillfully shut the door.

So, in a reversal of fortunes, the podium stack up was Alfred; class winner and fastest lap, Andrew in 2nd place with Jayson Flegg taking 3rd place honours.

Close and very watchable racing in both classes that augers well for the future of the championship!

Next race

Oulton Park - 24th March 2018

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