Race report by PorscheSport.com
The Porsche Club Great Britain Sim Racing Club Championship made a welcome return to screens on Wednesday evening for the opening rounds at the Circuit De Barcelona-Catalunya (National Layout). It was Ryan Parkins who continued his winning form from last season, putting his 911 Cup Car on pole and taking the victory in the first race. The reverse grid race, which always provides drama, gave a well-deserved first victory for Johnny Elia.
Over thirty drivers are set to compete this season, featuring some of the well-known names from last season in the Porsche 911 Cup Car. The two 20-minute heats provided all the action last season, with race two of each round featuring a reverse grid. Whilst the format remains the same, the calendar now sees a fortnightly race meeting on Wednesday evenings, moving away from the original Sunday afternoons in season one.
Season one champion, Ryan Parkins, returns to defend his title and will face stiff opposition from the returning Gavin Halls & Matt Dorrington, plus many many more. New faces to the grid include Gary Tall, Bryon Crawford and Andrew Soper to name a few, which will certainly provide extra challenges for the season ahead. The 16 race calendar features many famous circuits such as Nurburgring and Spa, although many will feature the smaller national layouts, a decision welcomed by the digital paddock.
The 25-minute qualifying session had similarities to season one, with nine out of the top ten all drivers returning to the series. The fight for first place however, looked closer than ever. Ryan Parkins took the pole lap by only 0.046 seconds from Gavin Halls and Matt Dorrington only 0.100 seconds behind. An impressive lap by Dan Bathie gave him a fourth place grid position followed by season newcomer, Gary Tall.
As the lights turned green, it was Gavin Halls who benefited as Ryan Parkins struggled to get off the line clean. By turn one, PorscheSport Driver Gavin Halls had already gained a few car lengths, with Dan Bathie also capitalising on the poor start from Parkins. Meanwhile, further back most of the field navigated turn one with no issues, but Paul Stout unfortunately spun on the exit, putting him to the back of the grid.
The clean getaway for most of the field was short lived however as season newcomer, Andrew Shepherd, cut across the straight and hit Marc Bow. Mark Johnson was also collected in the incident and ultimately the race was ruined for the returning season one drivers. The end of lap one saw incidents occur further up the field; Matt Dorrington battling James Cummings made the slightest of touches, resulting in a big incident for Cummings.
The drama didn't end there, a fantastic battle in the opening stages between Johnny Elia, Luke Holroyd and Mark Baxter-Jones was very close, with all three almost side by side going onto the front straight, something had to give. It was Baxter-Jones who got the drive onto the start finish line and as Johnny Elia tried to tuck in behind, the gap closed almost instantly and left no room for Holroyd, resulting in Elia making contact with the barrier.
Meanwhile, at the front Gavin Halls still leading but unable to gain a further gap to Dan Bathie and Ryan Parkins. Parkins constant pressure on the back of Bathie, resulted in a clean move for second place. The now top two of Gavin Halls and Ryan Parkins, who run as teammates in the PorscheSport Cup, provided fans with fantastic action with door to door racing.
The result looked set in stone with such consistent lap times and driving by the top five, although with so many new drivers to the series there was still time for incidents to occur. Not many could have expected the bad luck Gavin Halls had last season would follow him into season two, but what can only be described as an almost replica incident at Zandvoort last season, resulted in Halls losing out along with championship contender Matt Dorrington.
As the leading pack approached the last few turns of the Catalunya circuit, the back markers played a part in the final race result. Newcomer Jamie Ward, was unaware of the passing Gavin Halls and whilst Ryan Parkins managed to make his way past, Ward squeezed Halls onto the grass, ending Halls & Matt Dorrington’s chance of podium finishes.
For the reverse grid it was Carl Hazelton on the front row joined by Johnny Elia. fans were used to drama on the opening laps of the reverse grid and season two was no different. Hazleton choosing not to take to the grid, ensured Elia had a clean start and ultimately led from lights out to chequered flag, avoiding the chaos that followed behind.
There was huge contact between many of the front row as the lights went green. Notable culprits were Marc Bow, Carl Sharkey Paul Stout and Paul Riga all involved in incidents in the opening stages. PorscheSport Driver Luke Holroyd, was taken out of contention as Andrew Shepherd re-joined the circuit and drove into the racing line. Holroyd choosing to continue the race with significant damage, ultimately the wrong choice, as his PorscheSport teammates managed catch him by the end of the race, after they chose to pit and receive repairs.
Avoiding most of the carnage, it was no surprise to see Ryan Parkins and Matt Dorrington climb through the field and take the final podium positions, with Dorrington only 0.709 seconds behind race two winner Johnny Ellia. Bryon Crawford in his first race in the Porsche Club GB Sim Racing Championship claimed an impressive fourth place.
Championship Points TBC
Watch the race replay here
Next Round: Wednesday 30 September – Silverstone International