Snetterton - Race Report - 28/29 April

Sykes takes the 'triple' at a sodden Snetterton in the Boxster class, whilst the 924 class sees three different winners!

If Oulton Park had been thrilling, Snetterton was even more so as the weather threw a bouncer into the mix of an already exciting championship.

 In qualifying, the union jack liveried Boxster machine of Richard Sykes put himself firmly in pole position for two of the three races, with Oulton Park’s double winner Gerry Taylor in 3rd behind Richard Styrin. But poor Guillaume Gruchet had to miss the first race after a frightening crash in the session. Fortunately, only the car was damaged. The rain also caught out 924 man Mark Mackenzie who shunted coming onto the Bentley Straight after setting a time good enough for p2 on the grid! Many of the usual front running names in both classes struggled in the conditions, producing a topsy turvey grid.... but this was just the beginning of what was to be a spectacular weekend’s racing.

RACE ONE

As race 1 began in wet conditions, getting off the line cleanly mattered the most. The leaders in the Race Spec Boxster class were certainly more successful than others as Sykes led away from Styrin, Taylor and David Bearman while Syd Coombes dropped back to 11th place and started his bid to fight his way back up the order. Attrition is always expected to be higher in wet conditions, but incredibly despite a few scary moments through the field all 24 competitors would come through to take the chequered flag, although Marc Mackenzie’s race dropped two laps early on and then became an extended test session to the finish line.

The race concluded with Sykes dominating the race in fabulous style ahead of Richard Styrin, and a beautifully timed overtaking move by David Bearman ensured him a place on the podium whilst Gerry Taylor could only manage fourth whilst a great fightback for Syd Coombes brought him back up to 7th by the finish.

The Boxster Production Class duel between Stephen Potts and Steven Brown rumbled on and after a win apiece at Oulton, race 1 at Snetterton was a real duel of wits. Potts qualified ahead, but off the line Brown showed superior prowess to take the lead and go on to win, which sets the scene for two more fabulous races for championship honour.

Meanwhile in the Porsche 924 class, all of the problems of the first weekend of the series were completely forgotten by Rebecca Jackson, as she stormed her way up from third on the grid to grab a famous and very popular first win of 2012 ahead of rookie James Atherton and Oulton Park dominator Alistair Kirkham.

RACE TWO

Sunday morning and conditions were no better. If anything, the weather was even worse.  Despite this the quality of the racing was undisturbed by high rates of attrition. The race’s only retirement came on lap 4 when Porsche 924 newcomer Simon Hawksley could go no further with a broken alternator, but amazingly everyone else took the flag.

At the start Sykes once again blasted away from Styrin and Bearman in appalling conditions, and never looked back. Once Gerry Taylor dispensed with David Bearman on lap 2, he then set off in pursuit of Rick Styrin. No Matter what Styrin did to hold him off, Taylor soon made his move on lap 5 and held second to the flag. But neither he nor anyone else for that matter could keep up with Richard Sykes who once again showed his Snetterton speed with a magic second victory, despite Taylor’s hard charge to close the gap down to just 3.6 seconds by the flag. Time was definitely on Sykes’ side this time! Tom Andrew also showed his competitive hand by storming through to 4th place at the finish

The Brown vs Potts battle for Production class honours resumed in brilliant fashion, as Brown streaked away, also passing full fat Boxster class pilot Adam Croft who was having a torrid time in only his second race weekend in the Boxster class. Potts was left struggling with the full fat Boxster of  Nick Hull. By the time he got past, it was too late. So it became two out of two for Brown, with the threat of a Norfolk hat-trick very ominous.

In the 924 race, Jackson’s pole position effort was thwarted off the line by James Atherton, but the 0 car was never more than 7 seconds adrift matching Atherton’s pace lap for lap. Sadly for Jackson, she had reckoned without an incredible start by Sean Siddall resulting in him using that fast momentum to sweep past the 0 car on the final lap to snatch second place away. So Atherton’s first win of the year opens the 924 Championship fight up even more.

RACE THREE

This race was to be dramatic for various reasons, but Sykes was determined to sew up a clean sweep and duly set off to pursue a third straight win. His start was perfect and in the opening stages he kept enough seconds ahead to have a reasonable gap back to a titanic struggle for second. Rick Styrin’s tough start to the season was not about to get any easier and whilst scrapping with Gerry Taylor for ‘best of the rest’, he lost second gear. On a track like Snetterton, this can be the signal for retirement but bravely Rick struggled on, losing the place to Gerry at the start and then grabbing it back in robust fashion on lap 4. As for Syd Coombes, his up-to-then great weekend ended four laps in with a spin.

After nearly losing everything on lap 5, Styrin recovered behind Taylor and somehow hung on to the top two, only to grab an unlikely second place when Taylor struggled to bring it home on the final lap. No such concerns for Sykes though who cruised through the spray from backmarkers to claim three wins from the front, with Styrin second from Gerry Taylor.

Steven Brown stamped his authority on race 3 from the start, once again duelling with Adam Croft early on and leaving Potts far behind. Once Coombes had retired, Brown was able to hang on for 9th overall and a third win in class out of 3.

In the 924 class, there was to be no challenge for a second win in race 3 for James Atherton and by the time the first lap was over, James was already on the sidelines. With Atherton out, Jackson and Kirkham were left to battle for the honours, and what a battle it was! Kirkham made a poor start leaving Jackson to take an early lead. But Kirkham knuckled down and charged for it, snatching the win on the very last lap. A titanic race gives Kirkham his third win of the year, but the story developing in this class really seems to be a four way scrap. This championship could become a real epic.

So as the racing moves to Cadwell Park in May, the racing is certainly fantastic in every class with every driver finding something to talk about. Although it’s no surprise that everyone is hoping for sunshine in Lincolnshire!!

Race report by Jake Sanson.

Next race

Knockhill - 12th / 13th May 2018

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