Race report by PorscheSport.com
Rounds seven and eight of the Porsche Club Great Britain Sim Racing Championship were nothing short of eventful. Gavin Halls claimed his first victory of the season and some well deserved points, after technical issues robbed him during the opening rounds. The virtual version of the Nürburgring certainly entertained the fans, as the reverse grid race showcased a fantastic battle. Marc Bow and Gary Tall both challenged for the win, with Bow holding off immense pressure to take his first victory.
The championship, now in its second season on the iRacing simulation platform, already appeared to have two runaway contenders heading into rounds seven and eight. Matthew Dorrington and Ryan Parkins could have cemented their leads at the top of the order, but it wasn't to be at the Nürburgring. Dorrington was unable to attend the race meeting and Parkins had a poor first round qualifying session with lower points than he's used to in the race. It was PorscheSport driver Halls who took the fastest lap in qualifying, with a 0.579 second gap to Dan Bathie in second.
When the lights went out for the first race, the notorious turn one created a catalogue of incidents. Although mainly confined to the rear of the field, there were a number of accidents creating scenes of chaos on the opening lap. Championship leader Parkins somehow managed to find his way through and gain thirteen places by the first two corners! PorscheSport driver Luke Holroyd was also dealt a blow, when he was hit from behind by Marc Bow, with Bow then having to serve a drive-through penalty for the incident. Holroyd's misfortune didn't end there, as he locked up the brakes trying to make his way through the field making contact with Paul Stout in the process.
Meanwhile at the front of the field, Halls looked set to complete a lights to flag victory, with Patrick Charlton, Mark Baxter-Jones, Paul Riga and Dan Bathie all battling behind. It was Bathie who made the first mistake, with the car sliding as he drove through the Schumacher-S. With Halls almost guaranteed the victory and Patrick Charlton in second, there were still more positions to be decided. Paul Riga and Mark Baxter-Jones demonstrated a fantastic battle for the final podium spot, both challenging each other with some impressive manoeuvres, whilst still managing to keep the racing clean.
It was Riga who finally got the better of Baxter-Jones to claim the last podium spot and some valuable points. The action continued right into the final lap, with Parkins working his way through a packed field, there was a worrying moment with Mark Phillips. Whilst defending the charging Parkins, Phillips took a dubious line, braking early and catching Parkins out. Contact ensued. A sporting gesture by Parkins saw him give the place back to Phillips, although they ultimately both lost places.
Halls took the victory in the first race, with Patrick Charlton in second and Paul Riga in third. Mark Baxter Jones, Johnny Elia, James Cummings and Carl Sharkey rounded out the top seven.
The reverse grid saw season newcomer Julien Noizet line up at the head of the field, with fellow new-to-season-2 driver Gilles Gardner behind. Holroyd, Bow and Tall were handed a promising grid position near the front after incidents for all three in the first race. It was these three who dashed off the line leaving Noizet and Gardner behind, in what was another turn one disaster. As they pulled away, most of the rest of the field were involved in incidents in the tricky first sector, with the fastest drivers at the rear of the field having to navigate a whole host of spinning Porsches.
Mark Johnson was collected by race one podium driver Riga, resulting in a huge incident for both. The winner from race one, Halls, was charging through the field adeptly avoiding much of the carnage that was unfolding before him. The PorscheSport driver tapped Oliver Carwardine as a larger incident unfolded in front of them, but came away relatively unscathed. It looked like Halls had the pace to catch the top three, but moments later had a side impact with Charlton as they battled for fourth position.
At the head of the race the lead trio were on a charge, with Bow leading and Tall putting the pressure on after passing Holroyd. Tall continued to stick closely to the rear bumper of Bow, but Bow defended masterfully, claiming his first Porsche Club GB Sim Racing victory. Tall who claimed second with Holroyd claiming another podium spot for PorscheSport. Patrick Charlton came home in fourth, followed by Gavin Halls, Stuart Clark and Mark Phillips.
With Matthew Dorrington unable to participate and Ryan Parkins missing the second race, the championship standings have become a little closer. Parkins still has a healthy lead with 138 points, followed by Dorrington with 118 and Johnny Elia with 106. At the halfway point of the season, the championships is far from over.
Marc Bow: That was terrifying! I think I was a victim of my own failures in the first race if I'm honest. I ended up with a good position for the second race (reverse grid) so it was all up to me to throw away. I'm still shaking, the first two or three laps I just couldn't find my braking points or hit the apex. I could just see him [Gary Tall] getting closer and closer the whole race, I knew he was quicker than me and there was no way I would out drive him. I was trying to make myself as wide as possible, initially I was sticking to the racing line and being quick out of the corners. I quickly realised that if I continued with the racing line he was going to overtake me so I switched to going in slower and being as wide as possible.
Two weeks ago we all started practicing on this track and last week we had the fantastic track walk that Gavin Halls and Matthew Dorrington run and before that I thought there was no way I could get the 911 Cup car around this track. I only started sim racing back in February and the Porsche 911 Cup car was one of the cars I tried. After a few laps I thought I would never go near it again, then this championship came about in the Cup car. I remember Mark Phillips very clearly saying to us all, "just take your time and get to know the car". They gave us a couple of tips on how to drive it and now it's one of the first cars I look for to drive on the iRacing platform.
Gavin Halls: That was a weird night of racing, it seems like I've had a turn in luck. It was a real shame Matthew Dorrington wasn't involved for the races and Ryan Parkins not having much luck and unable to run in the second race. It was a pretty easy race one; race two, well, could have been better than the result I had. The opening lap you just sit back and let it go on, don't try to make positions, just let the carnage unfold. I made plenty of positions with everyone spinning and crashing out of the race, after the second lap I'm confident the tyres are warm and then I could start picking them off. It's a good group of guys, most of the field will give you room and you know they're not going to chop your nose off. It's very clean racing and it's getting better every round, the whole field is improving which is so good to see.
Next on the calendar is another legendary racetrack — On November 11th, the Porsche Club GB sim racers will compete at the virtual Road Atlanta – home of the Petit Le Mans. Porsche recently celebrated success there, winning the GTLM category in the physical world.