A new season of the Porsche Club Great Britain Sim Racing Championship brought new challenges on Wednesday evening. Championship organisers showcased a new format for the season ahead, featuring all new Pro and Club class categories. Now into its third season, the iRacing championship boasts a growing participation and audience.
PCGB newcomer, Jacob Tofts, claimed pole position with Matt Dorrington and Dan Bathie close behind. Following a clean start, viewers had to wait until the second lap for action to unfold. Dan Bathie, sporting a brand-new livery showcasing XVR-Sim Racing and the Sacred Coffee Brand, was the first of the front runners to hit trouble. With drivers still battling to build tyre temperature, more casualties came with Mark Johnson, Chris Byrom and Colin Wynn all finding themselves compromised in the opening stages.
Battles raged throughout the field. Ryan Parkins, Gary Tall and newcomer Christian Szaruta put on a show in the mid pack. At the front, Dorrington waited until lap 12 to pounce on Tofts for the lead, starting a snowball of moves by the two front runners. Eventually, Tofts claimed victory on his PCGB and PorscheSport debut. Dorrington settled for second, followed by Austin Greatorex in third. Newcomer, Simon Povey, shadowed the podium finishers in fourth.
Defending champion Ryan Parkins and Jacob Tofts battled in the opening stages of the reverse grid race, who incidentally run as teammates for PorscheSport outside of the Championship. Unfortunately, when Parkins dipped a wheel onto the grass on the blindingly fast exit of Riches, the defending champion’s 911 snapped sideways and into the path of the luckless Tofts. Both Parkins and Tofts incurred damage from the tangle and were forced to retire.
Back at the front, Chris Byrom held first place with Bryon Crawford hot on his heels. However, Christian Szaruta was closing in. Crawford made an impressive move to take the lead but it was short lived. A poor exit from Murray’s gave the position back to Byrom. An opportunist Christian Szaruta also sneaked by. Matt Dorrington charged from the back of the grid to third and sat poised to capitalise on any mistakes in the closing stages. As the chequered flag came out, Christian Szaruta took victory on his PCGB debut. Blinds2go.co.uk ace, Byron Crawford, held off Dorrington for second position.
"Wow, that was really intense. It's my first race in the championship, qualifying didn't really go to plan and the first heat race I was just getting to grips. Going into the second heat I had a bit more confidence and gave it a good go and got the victory. You really have to capitalise when the fast guys start near the back on the reverse grid."
The newly formed Club Class exhibited the spirit of the Porsche Club Sim Racing Championship. Less experienced drivers on the iRacing platform can now race for glory under the same conditions as the Pro Class. Fast photographer, Luke Holroyd, claimed pole position and took to the grid ahead of Angus Archer and Danny Jones. Struggling with cold tyres, the polesitter dropped to fifth early on and fell down the order after further incidents. Danny Jones capitalised and took the lead from Angus Archer. Jones drove flawlessly and took home his first PCGB Sim Racing Championship victory. Andrew Shepherd and Oliver Carwadine came home second and third, respectively.
Drama was almost guaranteed for the Club class’ first reverse grid race. Jamie Ward started on pole ahead of season newcomer, Kat Impey. Impey burst into the lead but cold tyres caught her out at Brundles and scuppered her chances of a win. Jamie Ward and Spencer Ayres capitalised on the battling behind to build a gap on third place. However, the spectacle of the battle for the win involved a new cast of characters. Amreek Sachdev stormed passed Jared Coleman for the lead and Luke Holroyd also capitalised, following behind Sachdev. Sachdev exhibited cunning defensive skills around the Snetterton 200 circuit, making it almost impossible for the PorscheSport driver to pass. Charing into the final sector side by side, Holroyd pinched victory from Sachdev in the dying moments of a thrilling encounter.
I'm very happy with the victory in heat one, finally I have a race win in the championship. It's fantastic that we have two categories now and to see how far it's grown from season one, it's a credit to all the organisers and broadcasters. It's so competitive in both classes now and even the newcomers are really up to speed, I'm really looking forward to the season ahead.
I really enjoyed the first races of the season. I was delighted to get the first pole position of the season in qualifying, it was a shame I couldn't capitalise, I had a great start to heat one but a mistake myself put me down the pack and a few incidents with other drivers meant I finished lower than I personally would have liked. A great credit to Danny Jones on the heat one victory, I can see him, Oliver Carwadine and a few others having great battles throughout the season.