Brands Hatch 2nd May 2015

Porsche Club Championship

Our first race this year saw us return to Brands Hatch in the Porsche Club Championship. For those that don’t know us, our 996 is driven by Paul and is entered in class 1 and our 968, driven by Tim, is a class 2 car.

Since the end of last season we have been working hard on developing both cars, simplifying them where possible and attempting to make them more reliable and ultimately faster. It would be fair to say that we have struggled with reliability on the 996 but we are hopeful that those days are behind us and that we now have a solid platform from which to move forward. Both cars have undergone significant suspension work, but we weren’t sure whether that would pay off as business commitments have meant we hadn’t been able to do any pre season testing – a perennial problem.

This year we also have a new livery of silver, black and red which we think looks much more photogenic. We’ll get some photos published as soon as we can.

We’d booked the Friday test day before the meeting, which made for a very early start from our base near Bournemouth in Dorset, but we arrived in good time. Testing is always valuable and it allowed us to tweak settings, things were looking promising for Saturday’s races. There is always a sense of nervous anticipation at the first meeting of the year and this year was no different. For drivers, anxieties creep in, and for the rest of us; we worry about whether our ideas will pay off. Thankfully, once the meeting starts our nervousness eases, or we’re just too busy to worry about it.

Qualifying

An early and chilly Saturday morning saw us at the Pirelli truck getting fresh rubber for both cars. The cars returned from scrutineering without issues as expected, so all that was left was to fuel up and wait for our qualifying session to start. We generally get allocated the first session of the day for qualifying which means the weather and track can play a big part on how well the cars perform, especially early in the year. The track seemed slower than our last visit in September when we ran both cars in the Festival of Porsche but we were getting better use out of the tyres this meeting, probably due to our suspension changes.

Paul had a reasonable session but there was probably more in the car and driver, he qualified 7th.
Tim felt his times were OK considering the radical suspension changes we had made and he was still getting used to. Tim qualified 10th, 2nd in class.

Race 1

Paul Winter – 996 Class 1: 5th
Tim Speed – 968 Class 2: 1st in Class
Both drivers had pretty good starts, after some exciting shuffling in the pack around Paddock Hill Bend and up to Druids the end of the first lap saw Paul in 5th and Tim in 8th. A safety car did nothing for the nerves of the guys in the pits but it gave the drivers the opportunity to settle in and defend their places that they had made up. Some good close racing between Tim and David Botterill saw Tim finish 1st in class (9th overall). Paul put as much pressure as he could on the leading pack and finished in 5th place, which he was a little disappointed with. Encouragingly, both cars ran faultlessly and were both on the pace in their class.

Here’s the first lap from Tim’s car, Paul is starting to the right just in front of Tim. We’ll publish a more complete video when time allows.

Race 2

Paul Winter – 996 Class 1: 3rd & Fastest Lap
Tim Speed – 968 Class 2: 1st in Class
The grid for race 2 is decided by the second fastest lap from qualifying and whether any competitors have dropped out since race 1. This meant Paul started in 5th and Tim in 10th. The start caught a few competitors out as the starting lights didn’t stay on very long and with much wheel spinning off the line the race had begun. The first corner always offers some excitement at Brands and having reviewed the video footage we can see that this race was no different. Some excellent close racing all round, with some brave manoeuvres and one or two “moments”  saw Tim take the class win again. Paul also had a much better race rising to 3rd place and putting pressure on Pete Morris, last years championship winner, for 2nd. Most satisfying for the driver however is that he achieved the fastest lap of the race.

Summing Up

This was our most successful meeting for a very long time and the team were extremely pleased with the way the cars performed. The points bulletin has yet to be released but we think there is a good chance that Tim is leading the championship. It’s still early days, and we’re aren’t getting too excited, but considering the level of driver the championship attracts its no mean feat to be 1st at any point of the season.

Performance wise, the drivers are benefiting from more time in the car and the lap times and final positions reflect this. The 968, with Tim at the wheel, is a proven strong competitor in its class and Paul with the 996 is now able to run with the leaders and even be the quickest car. Results like this brings confidence and makes the hard work we put in to developing the cars worthwhile. We also enjoy the meetings much more when things are going to plan, and it makes the drive home much more pleasant!

We would like to thank our guests and supporters who visited us over the weekend, including those from the Wessex Car Club. We would also like to thank Nitron Racing Shocks for their support over the winter and Jon from Racelogic for his help and demonstration of the Vbox at this meeting.

Next meeting: Silverstone 20th June 2015