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28 Jul 2020

Photos by Luke Holroyd / Porsche Sport

Sim Racing season finale at Brands Hatch

Phillips scores maiden victory in final race of the inaugural season

There was plenty to play for as the PCGB sim racing Club Championship headed to Brands Hatch for the final races of the season. Having secured the championship title at Spa a week earlier, Ryan Parkins again showed his dominance by securing pole position for the first race on the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
There was still championship positions up for grabs with a tasty battle for P2 shaping up between Carl Sharkey and Austin Greatorex. It would take almost a miracle for Greatorex to claim second position with Sharkey only needing a handful of points to claim the second step.
Going into race one, it was Greatorex who had the better starting position over Sharkey and fans were in for a great race. Despite a clean start by everyone, drama soon followed with several drivers spinning on cold tyres. It was an unfortunate end for Luke Holroyd in the PorscheSport liveried 911 as he was collected by Stuart Clark which ended the race for Holroyd in spectacular fashion. Dan Bathie also suffered incidents, resulting in retirement of the car.
By lap six, the race had settled down into a steady rhythm, with Ryan Parkins leading the rest of the pack by an impressive six seconds. Gavin Halls in second was being followed by Greatorex in third. Sharkey followed behind in a position that would leave him needing just 15th place or better in the reverse grid race. Paul Riga, last week’s Spa winner and Mark Baxter-Jones were entertaining the viewers with some close racing throughout.
Brands Hatch proved to be a difficult track for many of the drivers to master and more track excursions and spins continued throughout the race. Whilst locked in a battle with Riga, Baxter-Jones became the latest victims to spin off, resulting in his heavy contact with the barries and ending his race with only five minutes left on the clock.
Gavin Halls tried chasing down the race lead, but to no avail. Ryan Parkins took yet another race win, leaving Halls to settle for second and Austin Greatorex rounding off the podium in third. Carl Sharkey crossed the line in fourth, while Paul Riga and James Cummings battled it out to the very end for fifth and six places, crossing the line almost side by side. 
Race Two had drama before the lights even turned Green. Dan Bathie and Luke Holroyd were penalised for retiring their cars and both were demoted from a front row start to the rear of the grid. Mark Phillips took advantage from the start and led the pack, which all appeared to start with no incidents. All eyes were on Carl Sharkey who only needed to finish 15th to claim second in the championship. It looked like the impossible had happened when Sharkey was hit from behind by an incident caused by Carl Hazleton. With Sharkey off the circuit, Hazleton looked to have handed Austin Greatorex the second step in the championship. Greatorex was now in a commanding position, gaining eighteen places up to fourth place, with Sharkey now many places down the order.
As the faster drivers battled their way through the pack, champion Ryan Parkins was now into tenth, but a determined James Cummings made the move on Parkins, something many have struggled to do throughout the season. At the front Mark Phillips was still leading the pack, followed by Mark Baxter-Jones and Amreek Sachdev in third. Sachdev, who has not had the best of luck all season, was clipped from behind, promoting Austin Greatorex into third followed by Paul Riga.
Riga had to fight hard to keep Ryan Parkins at bay, who by now was up into fifth place, allowing the top three to pull away. Parkins was pushing hard to find a way past Riga but in doing so lost the back end and spun out, allowing Gavin Halls to move up and take fifth place. Halls next target was Riga and they were soon trading paint with each other, with an unfortunate Riga spinning after the contest between them intensified. 
All eyes were on a recovering Carl Sharkey, who still only needed a 15th place or better to take second in the championship, despite Austin Greatorex now into third on the grid. It came close with only five minutes remaining but thanks to some fantastic recovery driving and help from a few spinning cars mid pack, Sharkey managed to bring the car home and ultimately claim the second championship spot.
Mark Phillips went on to take the win with Mark Baxter-Jones in second and Austin Greatorex taking third, James Cummings put in a strong performance to come home in fourth place, while Parkins crossed the line in fifth place, despite mistakes throughout the race. 
Ryan Parkins: "It was so much fun today even in race one I could not slow down. I had Gavin (Halls) behind me pushing so hard, so you still had to be on it. The second race it was great, everyone was door banging and spinning it was really good fun, the lap times were not that far off, I could not get past Paul Riga and was struggling to find a position. I was waiting for them to make a mistake that’s why I spun because I was pushing in the last sector so hard I over-heated the tyres and yeah, that’s why I lost it. The series has been brilliant and because of the set-up, you have to learn the car and the set-up. It’s a driver's car and a driver's championship I would recommend anyone to take part." 
Mark Phillips: "It seems like years ago since the test race at Lime Rock Park and it's been a fantastic journey. I must admit I'm surprised I have got a race win - it’s only taken fifteen races to get here and I'm not good at handling pressure. I kept looking behind me and seeing Austin and (Mark) Baxter-Jones, I was expecting to have a very sweaty end to the race but I managed to find my Brands groove. " 

Photos and race report by 

Watch the replay here.