Oulton Park - Race Report - 31st March 2012

2012 Season is go at Oulton Park!

Excitement descended amongst the drivers, veteran and rookie, after weeks of testing and preparation finally brought the Logson Group Porsche Championship to Oulton Park in Cheshire on Saturday 31st March. Oulton Park is one of the toughest circuits in Great Britain to start a championship campaign from. Its tight sweeping turns and steep crests and cambers make the demands put on a car all the more intense, and it certainly took its toll on some of the drivers and their machines.

RACE ONE

Despite a drivers briefing reminiscent of the first day back at school warning drivers about aggressive driving, the first race could easily have been mistaken for the championship decider! In the Boxster class, the race started as an epic duel between Richard Styrin and Gerry Taylor with Taylor getting the upper-hand early on, and Richard Sykes keeping close behind. But by lap 3, the action had turned a little brutal as a four-way scrap involving Mike Sellar, Tom Andrew,  John Bearman and Adam Croft ended with Bearman’s car slamming the right front of Andrew’s and then ploughing into Mike Sellar at Shell, with only Tom and Adam escaping from the scene of the accident. Just behind the leading trio an epic race duel then began between former 924 racer Adam Croft, and Logson Group owner Ian Loggie, brewing into a battle of wits through each corner of the track akin to a chess match, which would run on until the chequered flag with neither driver backing out of the fight. Then just as things couldn’t get more interesting, Styrin’s efforts to overhaul Taylor would end in dramatic style with the Porsche Boxster snapping away from his control at Druids with just 4 laps to go. So, as Styrin could only watch, it enabled Taylor to complete his run to victory gifting Sykes an easy run to second with David Bearman inheriting a podium position to round out the top three. Croft’s first race in the Porsche Boxster saw him beat Ian Loggie’s car across the line after a great battle of no-holds-barred racing.

In the first outing for the two Production Boxster class competitors, Steven Potts grabbed the win after Stephen Brown ended his race in the pit lane with boiled brakes whilst running ahead of his rival for the class

In the Porsche 924 category, several racers showed signs of excellence to come during the season, but a few teething troubles hampered several drivers first race, particularly David Hornsey who ended his race early with technical difficulties, and Rebecca Jackson who failed to complete a lap of qualifying due to a wheel nut issue and then brake failure ceasing all hope of making the start. The drama meant that 924 veteran Alistair Kirkham was able to clinch his first win of the year from the experienced Sean Siddall, and impressive new addition to the field James Atherton. The 924 class still has its place in the championship as Kirkham proved by finishing an impressive 11th overall out of 23 starters.

RACE TWO

Another warning in the drivers meeting before race two and a few sheepish grins showed that the spirit of the racing driver was certainly not going to ease up for race two, and with John Bearman’s car out of action for the second race, John had resolved to use his car to patch up Mike Sellar’s efforts to continue racing which he subsequently managed. The attitude and ethos of the drivers in this series is very much an “all-for-one, one-for-all” atmosphere, with drivers and mechanics helping each other when things go wrong, a sentiment very reminiscent of how Formula One used to operate.

But by the time the chequered flag fell after the second encounter, the final result failed to tell the whole story after a thrilling spectacle. At the start of the Boxster race,  David Bearman made a sensational start and almost lead away into Old Hall from Taylor, only for Sykes and Styrin to drop him to fourth by the end of the lap, whilst behind them Loggie and Croft renewed their struggle as if race one hadn’t even finished. The racing was a lot closer throughout the field second time around, particularly for Syd Coombes and Arjo Ghosh who were occasionally a little too close for comfort. But as the final four laps commenced, racing for the victory become a fight between who would win the right to chase after Taylor: Sykes or Styrin. Two laps of sheer determined racing and swapping of positions that were similar in style to ‘that’ duel between F1 drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux over 30 years ago, resulted in a painful reminder that Oulton Park really is a car-breaker. Richard Styrin had pushed Sykes and Taylor doggedly to forget his race one retirement, until brake problems sent his car leering to the right before the car even reached Old Hall and all hopes of a podium were gone in an instant. It meant that Taylor could once again lead home Sykes and Bearman, but this season will certainly have more to offer if the first two races have anything to go by. Behind them Loggie this time beat Croft home, to even the score in a duel that could go on for the whole season.

As Steven Brown clinched the Production Boxster class to make up for race one (and ahead of several of the ‘full fat’ Boxsters), the 924 class race would end on a brilliant note. Kirkham and Siddall led home the field again, but Rebecca Jackson’s awful weekend finally turned around when starting last in race two didn’t prevent her from surging forwards through the field to take third in class, after some brilliant moves on Tony Mekwinski, Karl Rossin and Richard Jones early on, which set her on the path to a trophy and a standing ovation back in the paddock.

Oulton Park delivered some titanic racing, brilliant driving and a stronger field than last season in the very first weekend. While other championships are struggling to keep their heads above water, it seems that the Porsche Championship has only just completed its first chapter on an epic season of racing to come.

Next stop, Snetterton 300 on the weekend of 29th / 30th April.

Next race

Donington Park - 20th / 21st October 2018

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