For all our friends and followers that have been missing my tweets and posts this year I thought I’d give you a round up of how our season went. You haven’t actually missed any tweets or posts; I just haven’t had time to write them this year – so thanks for hanging in there!
After a 2014 season that ended on a high, we decided to make a real effort in the Porsche Club Championship for 2015 and, if possible, get both the 996 and 968 out in every meeting. This pretty much went to plan, and while we had our ups and downs, this year turned out to be our best year in the Championship.
Brands Hatch Indy
The year started off where it had ended in 2014; at Brands Hatch on their Indy circuit. Results were better than expected with Paul getting a 5th and a 3rd and a fastest lap in Class 1 and Tim getting two 1st places in Class 2.
In 2014 we had concentrated on developing the 996 and while there would undoubtedly be improvements to make throughout the year, we were pleased with the way that car performed in the first race in 2015. We had had the opportunity to do some development on the 968 over the winter, trying some radical changes to geometry settings and spring rates and these appeared to have paid off; making the car much more drivable and ultimately quicker. We left Brands Hatch full of optimism for the season ahead.
Silverstone Historic GP
The second meeting of our year saw us return to the Silverstone Historic GP circuit and we approached this with some trepidation. The 996 seemed to suffer more reliability issues at this track than any other so it would be a real test of our car development if we could get the car performing well around this famous circuit.
Track conditions were tricky for qualifying with neither car on the pace. Tim had taken the “somewhat” brave decision to go out on slicks on a very damp track in the hope it would come back to him later on in the session. Unfortunately, this gamble didn’t pay off and he found himself in a very lowly position on the grid. Paul never got a clean lap so he was a little disappointed with his qualifying position too.
Race 1 presented the team with the low point of the season. Paul never really got to grips with the damp tack, which is unusual because normally he goes very well in the wet. Worst of all though, Tim got disqualified from 1st place for a technical infringement! This was a genuine mistake by the team due to a refuelling error, which made us 3.5kg underweight. Because, we felt, the 968 was at such a disadvantage to the Boxsters in Class 2 we were running our car near our class weight limit and it’s unfortunate that a calculation error can cause such a result, but that’s motor racing and rules are rules. We took it on the chin and looked forward to the second race.
Race 2 saw an improvement all round. Paul came 2nd in Class 1 and Tim came 2nd and gained the fastest lap in Class 2 – we were back on track.
Donington Park National
The third meeting of the season was at Donington Park, normally a favourite for our drivers. Paul didn’t go so well at this meeting with an 8th and a 6th. We did have a braking problem and incorrect tyre pressures in the second race but Paul didn’t feel comfortable with the car all meeting. Tim went well with a second place and fastest lap in class in race 1 and a class win in race 2. It seemed that the changes we had made to the 968 over the winter were really paying off!
Brands Hatch GP
Our next meeting was at Brands Hatch, this time on the rarely used in club motorsport, GP Circuit. Qualifying went almost as expected for Paul and Tim continued his fine run of form and gained Class 2 pole. I say almost as expected for Paul because we had a nasty incident with the bonnet coming loose and bending back over the roof and smashing the windscreen – a particularly worrying moment for the understandably unhappy driver.
After a sterling effort to source and fit a new screen Paul finished 4th in race 1 and Tim finished 3rd in class behind the ominously fast Boxsters of Evans and Cheetham. It seemed they had managed to find some performance on this track and we did wonder if the writing was on the wall for 968 runners from this point forward.
Race 2 didn’t go so well for the 996 with a finish in 8th, but Tim managed to bring the 968 home in 2nd after some heroic defensive driving trying to keep the Boxster of Evans at bay. Unfortunately as the race went on Tim’s tyres just couldn’t put up with the pace and Evans got by for the win on the last lap.
Although Tim’s results were reasonable this wasn’t a great meeting for us and the team weren’t particularly happy on the trip home. We really needed to up our game in paying more attention to detail. This wasn’t really reflected in the points however! Paul was running 2nd in class behind last year’s champion and current championship leader Pete Morris and Tim was in the lead of Class 2 and second in the championship overall.
For our fifth meeting of the year we found ourselves at Snetterton on the 300 circuit. Not a place with great memories for the team, after a big shunt in our GT3 Cup car nearly put pay to our Britcar 24 entry in 2011, but we were trying to think positively!
In race 1 Paul came in a credible 4th with some close racing with Harrison and Tim came in 2nd in class after the Boxster of Cheetham took the win, with the Boxster of Evans gaining the fastest lap in class. Tim really had nothing more to give, and the car was at its limit, we were worried that the Boxsters were going to start running away with results.
Race 2 saw Paul come in 3rd and a chance to soak people with champagne on the podium and Tim gain a 2nd in class, again behind the Boxster of Cheetham who also gained the fastest lap. We could feel things slipping away, but you can do nothing more than try harder.
Oulton Park International
The penultimate meeting of the year was a visit to Oulton Park, a wonderful circuit in the Cheshire countryside. We didn’t get a lot of luck at this meeting. During a rare testing session on Friday the 996 started to develop a gearbox fault and this gradually got worse over the weekend. It was clear after race 1 it was pointless trying to push through with the 996 so we withdrew it from race 2 to avoid more damage. This was a disappointing end to what would be the last race of the season for Paul as he had family commitments that meant he couldn’t attend Croft.
By the seasons’ standards Tim didn’t fare much better with two 4th places, this was a serious hit to our points tally and meant we were no longer in the lead of class 2 with Evans in the Boxster taking over.
Croft then, our last meeting of the year, somewhere we had never been before and the furthest track away from us on the sunny south coast. After Oulton I had calculated that, with dropped scores we were laying 3rd in the championship. We were wondering whether the trip to Croft would be worthwhile but we put the entry in anyway so we could say we had done a full season and given it our best shot.
However, a technical bulletin dropped into my inbox informing us that to redress the performance advantage of the Boxsters, that had apparently become evident since Oulton, we could reduce our weight by 20kg – this was on top of a 10kg reduction that we should have been running at Oulton, but we missed the technical bulletin for that (as did the other 968 runners). This left us with two days to try and get a lot of weight out of the car – which ended up being impossible. Nevertheless, with a bit less weight to push forward and stop we hoped we could at least keep up with the Boxsters.
We made the long journey north early Friday morning and we were grateful to Pete Morris for letting us use two of his afternoon test sessions to allow Tim to learn the track. Pete knew that we had potential to beat him in the championship should things go badly in a race so we thought this was a very sporting gesture.
Tim found the track to be very challenging and technical but with a few damper settings changed we found a balance in the car which was acceptable if not that quick compared with the other cars testing – however, we were testing on ancient tyres so we had some hope.
While it might have been mathematically possible for us to win our Class, or even the Championship, we felt that this was the most unlikely outcome from the meeting. To keep the pressure off we tried not to think about what could happen and just concentrated on trying to enjoy the last two races of the season.
Qualifying, predictably, went badly with Tim managing a 6th in class. Race 1 found us finishing 4th in class behind local expert Dave Botterill in his 964 and the two Boxsters of Cheetham and Toon. The only positive we could take from the race was that Evans had finished behind us in 5th and he was our class nemesis and had been all year.
After race 1 there were rumours going around the paddock that we were back in the lead of Class 2. We really didn’t want to think about it so avoided the points sheet that had been produced – what would be would be; Tim would drive at his normal 11 tenths to ring as much as he could out of our 968 – if we won or lost, it wouldn’t be for the lack of trying.
Race 2 was pretty exciting, both in the car, on the pitwall, and for those at home watching the timing screens on TSL. Early on, after a good start, Tim kept Jonathan Evans honest until he made a mistake allowing Tim to take the class lead. Tim then had an intense but fair battle with Andy Toon in his Boxster. Andy did manage to overtake Tim but Tim fought back and was able to take an inside line after a small mistake by Andy and regain first place in class. At times Tim was driving beyond the limits of the car and the final hairpin produced some hair-raising moments for me on the pitwall but eventually the chequered flag went out and Tim had come 1st in class.
Up until Oulton Park, Paul, in the 996, was never outside the top three in the class 1 points classification. The failure at Oulton and the fact that he couldn’t attend Croft meant that he dropped away at the end of the season. While this is disappointing, it does reflect how competitive the class is and it shows us we have to try hard to maintain consistency throughout the year.
Tim had his best ever year in Motorsport. Coming second in the overall championship and winning his class outright. The 968 is a true warhorse and has proven itself to be able to take on the later machinery that everybody forecast would run away with the class this year. Tim has benefited from the work in the off season which helped us provide a set up that suits his style of driving more and having more time in the car has enabled him to improve his race craft – he is REALLY looking forward to 2016.
2015 was our most successful season racing with the Porsche Club.
Winner of Class 1 and Championship Winner – Pete Morris – Porsche 996 – 390 points
Winner of Class 2 and Championship 2nd place – Tim Speed – Porsche 968 – 375 points
Tim won his class by 5 points from the Boxster of Jonathan Evans.
The drivers and team would like to thank the following companies and individuals who helped them go racing this year.
Nitron Racing Shocks – Custom Dampers
Euro Car Parts – Pagid Brake Pads
Dave – Bourne Transport
Jonnie – Racelogic/Vbox
Tyrone & Steve – giving up time to help out at meetings and coming up with wild ideas and theories – some of which worked, some didn’t!
We also thank the competitors and organisers of The Fuel Protect Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli for providing us with some great competition this year and we’d like to congratulate Pete Morris for winning for the second year in a row!
Thanks also to those supporters who have spectated at various meetings throughout the year and followed us on timing screens across the internet, including the members of the Wessex Car Club.
Picture Credits – Porsche Club Motorsport, Anne Michaelides, Keith Nielson, Tony Todd