TOYO TIRES PORSCHE CHAMPIONSHIP BRANDS OPENER
March 29, 2019
A cool but sunny Brands Hatch hosted the first two races of our 2019 season.
Eleven Porsches mixed seventeen Alfas for the Saturday qualifying session; unfortunately we'd already lost James Coleman's Boxster during Friday's test day. John Jones was taking part in his first race weekend in the red 924 that took Ryan Lowry to a win at Donington on his debut two seasons before.
Rick Styrin, driving Garry Lawrence's smartly resprayed black-and-Rottweiler 987, was quickest in the Boxsters, beating his best time from last season, ahead of Lawrence and Nick Hull. Still bearing a novice cross was Leigh Bowden, having upgraded from Class B towards the end of last season. Hugh Peart shared the front of the 924 grid with Andy Pritchard, back with us after a season out and driving the ex-Steve Potts white car with another 924 part-timer Karl Rossin doing his spanner work.
Ex-Mazda man Anthony Hutchins span off left onto the grass at Graham Hill Bend with a touch too much power applied too early on the exit, while Andy Baker took a route into the Paddock Bend gravel avoiding a wayward 924 and damaging his front bumper in the process.
The lights went out for a clean start by the field but Nick lost his 2nd place in missing a gear, leaving him fifth and Styrin and Lawrence to surge into a lead. Hutchins made a strong debut showing holding on to third for a while. Baker was an early retirement after only three laps when his engine starts making unexpected and unwelcome noises.
Andy Porter, Hull and Hutchins were lapping very closely as they scrapped over third place, and by mid-race Porter lead the bunch with Hutchins dropping back to fifth. By lap 15, Hull got the better of Porter to take third.
At the flag Rick Styrin showed he was already back on top form, taking the Class A win nearly six seconds ahead of Garry Lawrence and Nick Hull.
In the Classic 924s, Peart took an early lead and was never challenged. Chris Valentine got the jump on Pritchard at Druids and started to pull away but by the half way point, both Pritchard and Jones had caught him and a massive battle ensued between Valentine and Pritcard, the pair swapping plenty of places but zero paintwork (see photo). With Peart nealy a lap ahead, Valentine re-took second and held on until the flag to take his first PDA podium and trophy with Pritcard third and Jones close behind, landing his first signature.
Baker's engine issue ruled him out of the start for a slightly shortened race 2.
Styrin again quickest away from the lights but no mistake this time from Hull who was up to third. By lap 4, Lawrence was giving Hull a very hard time and by lap 6, Lawrence gets alongside on the way into paddock and Hull struggles to just hold him off. It wasn't until lap 7 that Lawrence finally got past the defensive Hull to take second.
Lap 8 and Porter and Hutchins were closing on Hull. By lap 13, Porter had closed right up to Hull and chased but then dropped away towards the finish and by lap 20 Hull was in clear air - just not close enough to catch Lawrence who was only 2 seconds ahead. Bowden finished 6th in both races, getting more to grips with the car and lapping just half a second off pace of 3rd 4th and 5th place runners.
So - the Class A results were identical to those of Race 1, with Styrin landing yet another win, from Lawrence and Hull.
In the 924s, improving his start even futher over the first race, Valentine backed out of a potential lunge down the outside of Hugh Peart at Paddock to avoid any unnecessary contact. He nonetheless pulled away from rival Pritchard until he put pedal to metal and caught up. The pair again swapped places twice with Pritchard daring a charge down the inside at Paddock on the penultimate lap putting him second to the flag, leaving Valentine third despite posting a new personal best on the final lap. Jones again delivered a faultless performance to go away from with weekend with two signatures on his rookie license.
Championship coordinator John Broadley said afterwards "It's really pleasing that after two exciting and close races all the cars came back looking immaculate, reflecting the high standards of driving in this year's championship and rewarding the pre-season efforts put in by teams and drivers to produce some beautifully finished and attractive Porsche race cars".
The PDA Porsches return to the track for three races on Snetterton's long 300 circuit on 20th / 21st April.
Words by Chris Valentine and John Broadley; photo by Derek Partridge
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