Porsche "4 Pot" Race Report Brands Hatch 28/29th August 2005

Car - 944 Turbo

Practice

Fresh from a Croft test day and previous experience with the 924GT at Brands hatch I was pretty clued up about what suspension settings were likely to work. So it was proven in practice when after a few sighting laps I came in for a minor tweak from Chris and Dave from Strasse who were here supporting me for the weekend. Getting a clean lap was quite difficult, particularly as the session went on and for most of it I was in pursuit of Wayne Jackson in his 944 turbo. I did seem to be quicker, but with severe brake vibration affecting me at Paddock and Druids it looked like the lap times were to be close.

Indeed they were, and I was not on pole, but by just 0.008 second. I jokingly suggested to Wayne that the difference was equivalent to the size of a particular piece of his anatomy. Subsequent maths proved that the difference was just slightly over one inch. I'm making no further comment !

Behind us on the grid was Paul Livesy in his 944 turbo, by the enormous margin of 0.05 second. Things were going to be close.

Race 1

Wayne and I took our places on the starting grid side by side. I knew that being on the outside was not necessarily a disadvantage, and that a good start would mean I could grab the lead. After the poor start in the NSSCC race at Croft on Saturday I kept the revs high and prepared for a balance between clutch slip and tyre spin.

The red lights were extinguished and almost immediately I felt the knock and scraping of a car working its way along the side of my car. Paul Livesy had got off flyer and after giving Wayne a tap on the left hand side was powering through the half gap that was now created. I turned the steering wheel to keep my car straight and avoid the risk of being speared off to the side. That worked but we were still exchanging paint until I lifted to regain full control of the car. By Paddock Hill I was down to fourth and Mark Lillington was in the lead in his 968CS.

Mark retained his lead for a few laps, and I was being held up by Wayne Jackson who didn't seem to be making an impression on Livesy in second. I switched my headlights on to say "let me have a go", but Wayne wasn't playing to any team orders so I had to stay behind, but made no attempt to pass so that the two lead cars would not get away. It wa Livesy that made the first pass into the lead on lap 3. On lap 5 both Wayne and I passed Mark Lillington and there was a two second gap between each of the top three cars. Soon we were starting to lap the slower 924 cars and Livesy extended his lead by a couple of seconds as he pushed through. Meanwhile I narrowed the gap to Wayne but the brake vibration was getting worse and this was compromising my braking effect.

The rest of the race consisted of lapping cars, all the while keeping the gap to Wayne down to less than one second and I crossed the line just 0.9 second behind Wayne in third place on the road. That was not the end of matters however. Post race scrutineering showed that Livesy was not running on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres and so he was excluded. This meant Wayne had the race win, I was second, but had also taken fastest lap.

What would happen in 24 hours time ?

Race 2

Bank holiday Monday saw even hotter weather and I took the time to fit my new Willans harnesses in preparation for next years rule changes. On the green flag lap I heard a sound coming from the footwell and looked down to find a 6 inch screwdriver that I had used to remove the old harnesses. What do you do with a spare screwdriver on a green flag lap ?. Throw it out of the window ? - no I wasn't on the pitwall side. Put it in the glovebox ? - no the car doesn't have one. No choice then but to pick it up and neatly slide it between my legs, ever conscious of the damage that I could do to myself if I went off in the race. Ouch !

Wayne positioned his car on the line, then moved forward a few feet, then another couple to the point where his body was almost on the startline. Never mind, the race would not be won on the first corner and I didn't want to risk getting a penalty too. The lights changed and we both got a good start, but he retained the benefit of the inside line.

What unfolded over the next 20 minutes was what the commentator said was the most exciting race of the weekend. I pursued Wayne relentlessly, never more than yards from his bumper. I tried going round the outside into paddock, he defended on the inside into Druids. Graham Hill bend was always going to be close and at the Esses before Clearways I had to take off more speed than I wanted to avoid giving him a little kiss. Around Clearways I tried both sides taking to the grass before the pit wall on one occasion to get that inside line I needed to have the advantage into Paddock Hill.

The driving of the other competitors was exemplary, not one of the interfered in the ongoing tussle between us. On lap 12 after being just inches from the rear bumper of Waynes car I couldn't get any gears as I negotiated Druids. That gave him a 1.5 second advantage over me but over the next three laps I eliminated that difference crossing the line just 0.094 behind him. Out of the whole 22 lap race there was just two other laps where I was more than 0.3 second behind Wayne at the finish line. Like the previous day Wayne placed his car in just the right place to deny me an easy passing manoeuvre.

I saw the last lap board and closed even further, being careful not to make any mistakes which would prevent me taking advantage of any opportunities. I almost pushed Wayne round Druids and got excellent drive down the hill to Graham Hill bend. Here was my opportunity, Wayne ran a little wide, I kept it tight and got the power down smoothly and early. This gave me the ability to take the inside line for the run up to the Esses, especially when I held third gear to press the advantage home and avoid having to brake for the left hand kink. That was it. I was past Wayne who had to take the longer, slippier line through to Clearways. From that point it was simply a matter of repaying the car placement on track favour to win the drag to the line. Wayne got a little exuberant ant applied the power too early resulting in a massive rear wheel slide and a 2.5 second gap to the line.

That was it, my first Porsche Club outright victory, with another fastest lap to top it off. All the Strasse crew and partners were ecstatic when we returned to the paddock, with comments that they had been on their feet from the very start of the race, completely ignoring the comfortable seats they had taken with them to the trackside.

Here's some pictures from the day. Firstly the prizegiving

Steve Kevlin awarding First Place cup to David Botterill

and below both the cars after their terrifically tight race, with drivers.


Both Strasse 944 turbos, with David Botterill and Wayne Jackson, post race

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