David Burke’s 911 RSR was the car to beat in the Tractive Suspension and Porsche Club 911 Challenge races at Brands Hatch on 5 September, winning the opening race in the owner’s hands and the second race of the day with the experienced Brian Saunders on board.
The RSR had been pushed hard in qualifying by the well-sorted 911 SC of Tim Bates, less than half a second separating them at the end of the session, with James Neal third in his 964 C2 and the very original 911 RSR of Rainer Becker fourth. The 964 RS N/GT of Nathan Luckey and David Harrison had engine issues in qualifying, ending up splitting the father and son duo of Roger and Morgan Sparrow on the grid.
Unfortunate Bates was forced to withdraw after qualifying which moved Neal onto the front row of the grid for the first of the two 25-minute races, and his car was moving in its grid box just as the race started, and although Neal got away well and led, that was to haunt him later in the race. Another driver quick off the mark was Christian Ayres from fifth on the grid, slotting into third by the end of lap one ahead of Becker and Luckey, the latter’s 964 now back on song.
On the second lap the message came from Race Control that Neal had been given a ten second time penalty for a False Start, which meant the closely following Burke didn’t have to pressure for a way past but could just stay with the leader and take the win. That was what he did for much of the race but when Neal lost time passing a backmarker, he seized the opportunity to move the yellow RSR ahead.
Neal immediately retaliated and the cars were side-by-side down the hill for the first corner, Neal spinning to halt before re-joining still in second place. They finished in that order, Neal far enough clear of third place to retain second in the results.
“It’s my first ever race win,” said a delighted Burke, “and I am still amazed that I managed to get past James, I was behind him for over 20 laps. It was unfortunate that he spun but he kept on going and a win is a win!”
“I was able to hold David off for quite a few laps,” said Neal. “I was quicker down the straight but then I got baulked by a backmarker and he got past, then we were together down Paddock Hill, and I spun.
The battle for third had been an intriguing one, Luckey slowly closing on Becker lap by lap for much of the race, before finally going past in Clearways with three laps to go. Becker finished fourth ahead of Ayres, Roger Sparrow claiming family honours after Morgan retired from the race.
Race two saw a dominant display by Saunders, now in the RSR taken to the race one win by Burke, who led all the way and pulled away from the rest as the race progressed with a series of remarkably consistent lap times. He eased his pace in the latter laps and Neal was able to reduce the deficit, but he was also working to stay out of the clutches of David Harrison, now racing the 964 RS N/GT raced by Lucky in race one.
Saunders took the win, Neal ten seconds back but crucially over a second clear of Harrison, having ensured the red 964 was never close enough to mount a challenge. Becker claimed his second fourth place finish of the day with his RSR, Ayres again fifth.
“I was happy to bring the car home first, it is always a big responsibility to drive someone else’s car,” said Saunders. “I wanted to get away well at the start, get a lead, and then just preserve the car. I really enjoyed that and I have never stood on the main Brands Hatch podium before!”
“I was having to stay just clear of David, I was having fun playing with the gap,” said Neal. “He drove very well and closed in after a while but I could control how close he got and I’m happy with two second places.
Tractive Suspension and Porsche Club 911 Challenge:
1 David Burke (911 RSR) 27 Laps
2 James Neal (964 C2) +27.070s
3 Nathan Luckey (964 RS N/GT)
4 Rainer Becker (911 RSR)
5 Christian Ayres (964 C2)
Fastest Lap: Burke 54.451s (79.86mph).
Race Two: 1 Brian Saunders (911 RSR) 27 Laps
2 James Neal +10.331s
3 David Harrison (964 RS N/GT)
Fastest Lap: Saunders 54.785s (79.37mph).