Mark McAleer took two overall Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli wins – including his 50th in the series – to head the points at the 2021 season opener at Donington Park, while class two provided two exciting races with Matt Kyle-Henney and newcomer Richard Styrin taking the wins at the start of what could be a classic class battle.
Previous race winner Will Heslop returned to the Porsche Classic Boxster Cup in style taking both wins form Alistair Nelson and Mike Thompson.
The timesheets first thing in the morning were headed by Mark McAleer, with it tight at the top as Pete Morris, James Caley, Chris Dyer and Simon Clark all lined up within a second of the pacesetter. Matt Kyle-Henney was quickest of the the class two runners, Kevin Molyneux second ahead of Andy Muggeridge, who departed the session with a very smoky engine.
“That’s a cracking start to the season,” said Mark McAleer. “It was very challenging out there, lots of other cars, there was some oil down at certain points but I managed to get in reasonably clear laps. A race is a totally different thing so I’m hoping we can show our pace then too.”
Will Heslop set the Porsche Classic Boxster Cup pace on his return to the series, Mike Thompson and Alistair Nelson next up.
Mark McAleer got a good start in his 997 and led the field into the first corner, Pete Morris tucking into second ahead of Dyer and Caley. Clark was past Caley and into fourth on lap two, as Dyer pushed and closed on Strasse team-mate Morris in the next couple of laps.
McAleer had just enough of a lead to be able to concentrate on his lines and not have to defend as the lead quartet lapped quickly and traded fastest race laps. Dyer was with Morris by lap four, but then started to come under pressure from Clark, who dived inside Dyer at Redgate starting lap eight to move into third.
By now the lead group were deep into the backmarkers, gaps fluctuating as they encountered cars at different places on the lap. McAleer was canny in the traffic and able to ease his way out to a two second lead, Morris still second while Dyer fought back and reclaimed third on the run down the straight to the chicane. In the final laps the gap to the leader tumbled, Morris closing right in but McAleer had just enough left to lead over the line at the end of the 20 laps, Dyer holding onto third with reigning champion Clark's Cayman S fourth.
“That was almost to script,” joked McAleer. “I backed off in the final laps, maybe a bit too much, and we did one more lap than I expected which meant they got closer than I had intended. The guys behind were squabbling behind me which helped and the backmarkers seemed to work in my favour.”
“Glad to get a good result in the first race,” said Morris. “Every time I seemed to close on him we would catch backmarkers just at the wrong places, then he seemed to back off on the last lap, I thought he had missed a gear. There were a lot of cars out there but everyone behaved and held their lines, which was good.”
In class two Kyle-Henney tumbled down the order at the start as Molyneux and Stryrin powered past and pulled away. Styrin was immediately putting the lead Boxster under pressure, and was ahead – on his Porsche Club Championship debut – by lap five, but as these two diced Kyle-Henney was closing in from behind.
Molyneaux went back ahead at Redgate at the start of lap 16, by which time it was a three-car duel at the front. The three were providing some superb entertainment and then the moment of the race on lap 19 as Styrin went inside Molyneux at the first corner, only for Kyle-Henny to follow him past and then seize his moment as Styrin went slightly wide to go down the Craner Curves side-by-side, Kyle-Henney turning first into the Old Hairpin to claim the class lead he held until the end.
“I made an awful start!” said Kyle-Henney. “I had to work my back and here was lots of traffic but I managed to get behind them, then an oil warning light came on. I spotted an opportunity when Richard went inside Kevin and they were both off-line so I went inside and realised I had the chance to get the pair of them.”
Heslop was the class of the Porsche Classic Boxster Cup field, running for much of the race amongst the class two Boxsters, and duly took the win, Nelson running second ahead of Thompson, who claimed the final podium slot.
“I got away well and some of the class two cars were slow at the first corner and I went round the outside of them,” said Heslop. “When their slicks warmed up they were back past me, but I was consistent and happy to stay clear and start the season well.”
Later in the afternoon Mark McAleer again led the field away from pole, Dyer second from Morris and Clark, the lead four from race one again at the front, though this time with James Caley in close attendance. Clark dived inside Morris on lap two only to run wide at the corner exit and lose the place instantly, and Dyer set a fastest race lap as he started to close on the leader.
As Morris as forced to defend by Clark that formed a four-car train from third back, James Caley and then Jake McAleer closing in. The lead two opened a cushion, McAleer replying to the sight of Dyer’s approaching Cayman by upping his pace and opening a gap of almost two seconds by the mid-point of the race.
By then Dyer was once more under pressure from Morris’ 997 C2, with Clark right there two as Caley and Jake McAleer fell away as they encountered backmarkers. On lap 17 Clark got alongside Morris on the pit straight but had to tuck in behind, then he made a move stick later in the lap and went past at the chicane, their battling allowing Caley to regain ground and he almost made it past too.
Mark McAleer stayed clear for his second win on the day, Dyer a safe second while Clark took his first podium finish of the season in third ahead of Morris.
“A fantastic day, I’m over the moon,” said McAleer. “There is a long way to go in the season so it is nice to get a good day in early. I was able to pull away and control the race and I’ve just been told that was my fiftieth win in the championship!”
“My tyres were going part way through the race,” explained Dyer, “but once I was out of traffic it seemed they came back. The car feels great, it was new for last season but we didn’t get to it race much, so to be on the podium twice is great.”
In class two Kyle-Henney again had a poor start, this time not finding second gear and falling to the back of the class as Styrin got away well to lead the class from Molyneux and run seventh overall at the end of lap one. As the race one winner worked his way back up the order, Molyneux was eager to close on Styrin and chipped away at the gap lap by lap.
From three seconds back on lap ten he was less than a second behind five laps later, but then lost over a second the next lap as they worked their way through the backmarkers and Styrin was able to bring his Boxster home for the class win on his Porsche Club Championship debut. Kyle-Henney recovered to come third, having had an entertaining battle with Paul Simpson for that position on the way.
“I learnt from race one how to get the car off the line,” said Styrin, “and got a great start and was amongst some class one cars. I rested the car in the middle of the race to make sure I had some tyres left in the final stages, and it’s great to take a win. It has been a good day, we’ve had some great battles and it is going to be very close this year.”
Heslop was once again the class of the Porsche Classic Boxster Cup field, impressing with a move into the first corner that saw him slice inside three class two cars and then run with them for much of the race. Nelson and Thompson claimed the other podium slots, and it was pleasing to see several drivers making their series, and in some cases racing, debuts – something the series was intended to do. A noteworthy performance was that of Richard Furber, fourth in his first two race starts in a car he had built up for racing with his father.
“I again made a good start and closed on the class two cars, but this time they went to the outside of the first corner and it was like there was a great big gate wide open the inside!” said Heslop. “I’m happy with the result, the car has been great and we have got a pole position and two wins.”
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Race One:
1 Mark McAleer (997 C2S) 20 laps;
2 Pete Morris +0.3642s
3 Chris Dyer (Cayman S)
4 Simon Clark (Cayman S)
5 James Caley (997 C2S)
6 Richard Bayston (996 C2)
7 Richard Ellis (996 C2)
8 Jake McAleer (Cayman S)
9 Matt Kyle-Henney (Boxster S)
10 Richard Styrin (Boxster S)
Class Winners:Mark McAleer; Matt Kyle-Henney. Fastest Lap: Mark McAleer 1m15.139s (94.81mph).
1 Mark McAleer 20 Laps
2 Dyer +1.235s
4 Peter Morris
5 James Caley
6 Jake McAleeer
10 Kevin Molyneux (Boxster S)
Class Winners: Mark McAleer; Richard Stryrin. Fastest Lap: James Caley 1m15.161s (94.79mph).
Porsche Classic Boxster Cup, Race One:
1 Will Heslop (Boxster S) 19 Laps
2 Alistair Nelson (Boxster S)
3 Mike Thompson (Boxster S)
4 Richard Forber (Boxster S)
Fastest Lap: Heslop 1m20.465s (88.54mph)
1 Heslop 19 Laps
Fastest Lap: 1m20.143s (88.89mph).
Next Rounds: Brands Hatch GP, Kent, 1 May