After a successful day testing on Friday we awoke to a wet and chilly Brands Hatch for the first rounds of the Porsche Club Championship. We were running both of our cars at this meeting; Paul driving our newly prepared Porsche 911 Carrera 2 (996 3.4) in class 1 and Tim driving our Porsche 968 in class 2.
The championship regulations for this year had changed quite a bit with the first water cooled 911; the 996 3.4, being allowed to race, along with 968’s being able to race in class 2 if you accepted a weight penalty. We had made the decision over the winter to build a 996 from scratch and have Paul compete in it all year and it seemed sensible to drop our 968 to class 2 and have Tim drive that when logistics allow. The 28 car grid also had Boxster models that had been introduced last year and with a winter of testing under their belt we felt that the 3.2 models would provide a stiff challenge.
A very slippery qualifying found Paul qualifying in 8th and Tim in 18th. We had nothing to go on with regard to a wet set up for the 996 so we went with our best guess and it handled reasonably well. With such a big grid on the Indy circuit it’s hard to hook a good lap together but it’s the same for everyone.
Race 1 didn’t go to plan. Paul got a good start, running near the front of the pack for the first few corners, however a dive down the inside from a following car put him sideways into the corner. Being hit again by the same competitor straightened him up but by now he had been passed by many cars so damage limitation was all that could be hoped for. Paul nursed the car for several more laps but an unfortunate problem with the brakes sent him into Paddock Hill with no stopping power and into the gravel. It was a DNF for Paul in a frustrating race with our new car.
Tim managed to keep clear of trouble by using some unusual lines and avoiding action. He put in some reasonable laps bringing the 968 home in 12th, 3rd in class.
With brakes sorted on the 996 both cars were out again in race 2. Conscious of needing to get a finish Paul had a steady start and as the race went on picked up a few places eventually finishing in 5th place and first of the 996’s home.
Tim finished in 16th, 4th in class, with some close racing further back in the field mixing it with some of the class 1 968’s.
We were reasonably happy with the performance of the 996 but we still have development work to do to get the most from the car. The potential in the chassis is obvious and with the Nitron shocks we are using this year we hope that we can get the best from it.
We need to do some dry testing with the car to understand the set up a little better and we hope to do that before our next meeting at Oulton Park.