The Tractive Suspension 911 Challenge roared into life at Donington Park on Sunday 11th of April and the field of an exciting variety air-cooled Porsches put on a superb race that announced the arrival of the new series in style. Tim Bates was the early leader in his 911 SC, but later in the one-hour race a charging drive from Piers Maseratis in the 911 Turbo he shared with brother Miles saw him reel in the leader and take a memorable win.
It was Bates who made the best start, Neil Harvey slotting his 964 into second as a number of the field used the early laps to get their tyres up to temperature in the cold conditions. Having dropped to sixth on the first lap, Miles Maserati was the driver on the move, starting to work his way back up the order and slotting into second by lap five.
With Bates well clear and Maserati second, it closed up behind and Harvey, Reiner Becker and Nathan Luckey started to dispute third and ran together for many laps, Luckey getting past Becker’s RSR on 13. Two laps later he looked to take his 964 into third and went inside Harvey at Redgate, only to go wide and lose the slot immediately at the exit of the corner.
The pitstop window opened after 20-minutes of racing and it was Harvey who headed into the pitlane first to hand the 964 over to James Neal, while Bates pitted from the lead at the end of lap 19 and was held stationery in the pitlane for 35-seconds as he was driving solo, then a lap later Miles Maserati brought in the 911 Turbo to hand over to older brother Piers.
Becker was the last of the field to pit, bringing the RSR in from third place, and once the window closed it was Bates clear at the front, but Piers Maserati was on a charge and determined to close the gap of well over 20-seconds to the long-time leader. Behind, Becker was a secure third, ahead of Neal and David Harrison, now in the 964 RS N/GT he took over from Luckey.
The highlight of the latter part of the race was Piers Maserati’s relentless pursuit of Bates in his 911 SC, his pace hiding the fact that the brakes pedal on the 911 had gone long and he was having to pump it before every braking zone. Together by lap 38, Maserati powered by on the long straight down to the chicane only to have his car get slightly out of shape as he braked, allowing Bates to retake the lead.
The next lap the pair were side-by-side through Schwantz Curve, and it was Maserati ahead as they exited Coppice onto the straight, taking the lead and easing away over the final laps for a memorable win. Bates took second with those two a lap clear of the rest, Becker taking third place, his well-timed pitstop having moved him well clear of Neal and Harrison.
“I got in and it felt like it had no brakes,” said Piers Maserati. “that’s never happened to us in this car before. I knew I had a big chase on, and I finally caught Tim but I hadn’t pumped the brake pedal enough going into the chicane and went straight on. I waited to the straight and went past earlier next time, but Tim was driving really well and his car looks superb on the track. We will be doing more of these races, it’s nice to race on a grid full of Porches!”
“I knew I had to push hard early on and get as big a gap as I could,” said Bates. “It turned out to be not quite enough, but the car went really well and was on song. I really enjoyed the race, Piers got past me and we were both leaving our braking to the last minute, and he seemed to overrun the corner and I was able to nip back past – but he was always going to get me!”
“I had a fantastic time!” said Becker, “there was a good battle in the first part of the race but all very fair. I hadn’t raced for a while so was being careful early on, great to be on the podium.”
Tractive 911 Challenge:
1 Miles Maserati/Piers Maserati (911 Turbo) 45 Laps
2 Tim Bates (911 SC) +5.221s;
3 Reiner Becker (911 RSR);
4 Neil Harvey/James Neal (964 Carrera 2);
5 Nathan Lucky/David Harrison (964 RS N/GT);
6 Sanjay Talwar (911 SC).
7 Morgan Sparrow/Roger Sparrow (911 2.7)
Fastest Lap: Piers Maserati 1m15.009s (94.98mph).
Next Race: Snetterton, Norfolk, June 5th