In a busy race day at Oulton Park on Saturday (August 31st) Ben McLoughlin sealed the 2019 Classic Restoracing Championship title in his Porsche Centre Bournemouth Boxster, while wins for Simon Clark and Chris Dyer and a class win for Ross Morris in the two Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli races see that title battle go to the final race meeting at the end of September.
The Classic Restoracing Championship field qualified first, with a quick final lap seeing Will Heslop go top with Matt Bird second, points leader McLoughlin only third after the 20-minute session.
“I had a sneaky race here a few weeks ago,” explained Heslop, “ but I really like Oulton Park, it’s my best circuit. I’ve been bigging myself up all week and realised I had to deliver!”
Light rain at the start of the Porsche Club Championship session made conditions tricky, but Simon Clark went for a time early and sat at the top of the timesheets until the very end of the session, when Mike Price put in a lap half a second quicker. Conditions were easing in the final few minutes and Price timed his run perfectly.
“I was waiting for the right the right moment to go for it,” said Price. “I had almost gone off in the wet but I was sure there was still some grip so did one more lap and that felt better so on the next one I went for it. It’s pleasing to be quickest in such tricky conditions.”
Classic Restoracing Championship
A sudden downpour saw the Classic Restoracing Championship field held in the assembly area for a short time before their race, before they were released onto a soaking track as the rain eased a little. There was a rolling start after two laps behind the safety car, which caused some confusion in the pack, and Heslop had a handy lead at the end of the first lap of racing with McLoughlin second ahead of Bird and Josh Morris.
McLoughlin was the driver with the pace in the tricky conditions, closing on Heslop and into the lead on lap three, all the cars lapping way off their qualifying pace. In second, Heslop was able to match the leader’s pace and keep him in sight for the rest of the race but was never in a position to mount a challenge and they finished in that order – the win giving McLoughlin the 2019 title.
“It’s great to take the title with a win,” said McLoughlin. “Conditions were really tricky at the start but I have raced in similar before and was able to find the limit even though it felt there was oil down at Druids early on. I’m delighted to win this for Porsche Centre Bournemouth and really want to thank Porsche GB and the Porsche Club for giving us the opportunity to race in this series.”
“It wasn’t nice out there!” said Heslop. “The car would wiggle mid-corner but it was a good learning curve for those conditions.”
Matt Bird and Josh Morris took third and fourth, neither under any threat for most of the race, while James Cannon and Ashley White had an entertaining battle for fifth before the latter lost time with an off at Cascades.
The sun was shining down as the field assembled for race two, and this time it was a conventional standing start and both McLoughlin and Heslop got away well from the front row, McLoughlin finally moving ahead and pushing hard on the opening lap to open a gap. The leader eased away in the early in the race as Heslop found himself under threat from Bird, who had a good look inside Heslop at the first corner on lap six but was held off.
That inspired Heslop to push and he set consecutive quickest race laps to start closing on McLoughlin, and they crossed the line with two laps to go right together. Into the Hislops chicane Heslop went around the outside of McLoughlin and into the lead – a move the following Bird, who had the perfect view, described as ‘phenomenal’.
Onto the last lap and McLoughlin was looking to regain the lead, and moved inside Heslop at the downhill Cascades corner, the two clashing and Heslop losing time over the grass to drop to third. McLoughlin finished the lap ahead, with Bird second and Heslop next over the line, the lead three well clear of Josh Morris in fourth.
“We’re pleased to finish the season with a win,” said McLoughlin.
“I had a good battle with Will then he found some pace, I’m pleased with second,” said Bird.
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli
The track was dry for the first Porsche Club Championship race and Clark made the best getaway, Pete Morris coming through for the second row to slot into second place with Craig Wilkins third and poleman Price fourth.
They went into lap two in that order as behind, Steve Cheetham went inside Chris Dyer for fourth at the first corner but went wide at the exit. That saw cars behind take evasive action, at least three taking to the grass, and at the bottom of the hill the chaos continued as Chris Dyer went off but was able to rejoin, although Kevin Harrison was forced to retire.
After a lap behind the safety car to tidy things up the field was released to race again, Clark easing away as Morris was under pressure from Wilkins, Price and Dyer who were right with him. That group were broken up on lap eight when Price went off heavily at the exit of Lodge, and after two laps behind the safety car the race was stopped early giving Clark his fourth win of the season from Morris and Wilkins.
“I was pleased to get away well,” said Clark, “I have had a bit of a thing about starts lately! When I saw the safety car I thought ‘oh no’ as I had opened a gap, but I am glad Mike is ok.”
“I made a great start and thought I might get in front but I slightly fluffed a gear change,” said Morris. “I’m pleased with second though.”
Class two saw a great battle between the Boxsters early on, Barlow leading for much of the race to take his second consecutive win, while James Coleman had to fend of Kevin Molyneaux for much of the race. As Molyneaux lost ground late in the race, Richard Bayston came through to take third in his 944, the first podium for a front-engined Porsche in several seasons.
“That wasn’t easy!” said Barlow. “I got a good start but thought ‘not again’ when I saw the safety car. I had a few seasons out of racing but we are getting back into it now!”
Clark again led the field away in race two, Wilkins second and Glen Broster into third from fourth on the grid. Clark got sideways exiting Cascades which baulked Wilkins, Broster taking the opportunity to take the lead, Dyer second with the recovering Clark third.
With Dyer under pressure from Clark and Pete Morris, some quick laps from Broster saw him pull out a lead. James Caley was running fifth with Mark McAleer and Harrison right with him but was another to get caught out at Cascades and went off on lap five.
Into lap six Broster was over a second clear at the front but stopped out on the loop of circuit near the Shell hairpin, and Dyer crossed the line ahead, with Clark right with him. A six-car train developed for the lead, with Dyer heading Clark, Pete Morris, Mark McAleer, Harrison and the fast-closing Jake McAleer.
Mark McAleer pulled off on lap 10 with an engine problem, while Dyer held on at the front to take his third win of the season.
“There was a big shuffle round at on the first lap,” said Dyer. “I saw Glen Broster aim at a car-sized gap and decided to follow him through, and that put me in second. They were on me for the whole race, there was never a moment to relax, but I knew Simon Clark needs championship points and had more to lose. I was under pressure and I’m happy to win.”
“The car snapped wide at Cascades, I’m not sure why!” said Clark. “I was with Chris Dyer but he didn’t make any mistakes, but I’ve got a first and a second so I’m happy with my day.”
In class two Molyneaux led early on, but Ross Morris went past on lap four, and started to pull out a lead. Barlow was then caught up in a battle with Molyneaux, finally getting past at the first corner as they started lap 11. He then set off after the class leader, rapidly closing and right with Ross Morris on the final lap.
In a tense final tour Morris just held Barlow off to cross the line less than half a second clear.
“I had to work for that,” said Ross Morris. “After the disappointment of getting caught up in an incident in race one it’s great to end the day with a win.”
Classic Restoracing Championship, Race One: 1 Ben McLoughlin (Boxster S) 9 laps; 2 William Heslop (Boxster S) +3.238s; 3 Matt Bird (Boxster S); 4 Josh Morris (Boxster S); 5 James Cannon (Boxster S); 6 Ashley White (Boxster S). Fastest Lap: McLoughlin 2m26.223s (71.14mph).
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Race One: 1 Simon Clark (Cayman S) 10 Laps; 2 Pete Morris (997 C2S) +0.779s; 3 Craig Wilkins (996 C2); 4 Chris Dyer (Cayman S); 5 Mark McAleer (99 C2S); 6 Steve Cheetham (Cayman S). Class Two: 1 Toby Barlow (Boxster S); 2 James Coleman (Boxster S); Richard Bayston (944 S2). Fastest Lap: Clark 1m50.861s (87.41mph).
Classic Restoracing Championship, Race Two: 1 McLoughlin 13 laps; 2 Bird +0.268s; 3 Heslop; 4 Alistair Nelson (Boxster S); 5 Josh Morris; 6 James Cannon. Fastest Lap: 1m57.353s (82.58mph).
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Race Two: 1 Dyer 14 laps; 2 Clark +1.817s; 3 Pete Morris; 4 Kevin Harrison; 5 Jake McAleer (996 C2). Class Two: 1 Ross Morris (Boxster S); 2 Barlow; Kevin Molyneaux. Fastest Lap: Mark McAleer 1m51.492s
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli Next Races: Donington Park, East Midlands, September 28th.
Pictures: Gary Hawkins