Porsche Club Race Report Castle Combe 2nd October 2004
Car - 924 Carrera GT
Testing took place on the Thursday and had presented a set of varied conditions. Initially damp it then became dry allowing me to get a decent wet setup and be comfortable with the dry setup. More importantly the car did seem to be performing better and I was able to beat last years time by some two seconds. A good improvement, but still a second off the pace I really needed to be at.
The field for Castle Combe was also compromised by other drivers desires to make sure they didn't have a problem for Spa which was taking place the following weekend. The result of this was that even with an amalgamated grid there were only 13 Club & Open cars on the track.
Qualifying took place in damp conditions and took what is now a predictable pattern, from my perspective at least. The routine is that we go out on circuit, I'm immediately up to pace and quick on track, then as the track dries out a little the 911 drivers get better feeling for the limits the conditions are providing and start to post quicker times, just as my car gets warm and starts to go off. It was to be that way today too. Even so, I did qualify in 6th overall. With Richard Chamberlains 935 on pole and Rupert Lewins GT2 in second that left me 4th on the club grid and had it been a mixed grid ahead of all the other Porsche Open cars. Richard Lambert had club pole, with Adam Egar next and Tony Brown on row two next to me.
Steve Kevlin had got the approval to have two grids, with a delayed start for the Club cars. I had qualified in 4th place overall and it was nice to be once again back at the front of the grid. Once the Open cars had disappeared we got underway from the dropping on the Union flag. I thought I had got a good start based on reaction times and had dreams of getting in between Adam Egar and Richard Lambert. That's all they amounted to as my car simply did not get off the line, not because of wheelspin but apparently due to a straightforward lack of power. After initially staying with them, and watching Tony Brown storm ahead in his 2.7RS, I became swamped by the 3.2 carrera's of Andy Purdie and Marcus Holden, followed by the 2.7RS of Ragdan. Things were not going according to plan.
We arrived at Quarry, a corner much frequented by spectators who like to see contact and mistakes. As we went over Folly I kept towards the right hand part of the track as I watched Andy Purdie take the exact same line that Ian White took there in 2003. I knew what was going to happen as he missed his line, took tg the grass under clouds of tyre smoke, and prepared to come back on across the exit of the corner, likely to take one or more cars out. I braked hard, hard enough to frighten Ragdan at least and allowed Purdie to finish his spin alone on the track while Ragdan tucked in behind.
This at least gave me a clear track to chase the four leading cars which were only 30 yards down the road. I started to close up and by the time we were round at Bobbies raindrops started to show on the screen. At the end of the first lap I passed the yellow banana (Paul Herbert in his 914) who was the first of the open cars to be caught. The rain started to come down heavier as Marcus fell into my grasp and I passed him under braking at Tower. That put me back up into 4th place as more of the open cars came into sight. The first of these was Paul Hogan in his 996who I passed at Tower. Wayne Jackson let me through at Camp who was clearly struggling with issues after his spin in practice. (no rear wing meant no rear grip apparently).
With so few cars on the track the next portion of the race was quite lonely, and I dropped my pace a little too much with the result that the leaders got away from me. This wasn't going to matter because on lap nine the pace car came out just as the rain stopped. I thought someone had gone off but the safety car came out purely because of the slick tyred open cars. I took my place behind Tony Brown and Henry Firman in his GT3 who obviously had been finding the conditions a struggle.
After 5 laps (almost 10 minutes) the safety car pulled in and with an almost dry track it was a sprint to the race finish. I slightly misjudged the restart and went back ward almost 30 yards again. This was enough for Marcus Holden to get a run on me out of Quarry and take the place. I chased him but I could again feel some reluctance from the engine to pull and was now getting some pressure from Andy Purdie in his 3.2. This really told when I came across the Yellow Banana again just after Camp. He went across the track right in front of me, but with such a big differential in exit speeds from Camp I was forced to brake. That was enough for Purdie to close right up and get past me on the exit of Quarry. I gave chase, in the process setting my fastest lap of the race, but no matter what I did on the bends he had a straightline speed advantage.
The race ended with me just over one second behind Andy, third in class, sixth in Club and ninth overall. Some more points in the bag, a pot for the cabinet, but with the lack of entries very possibly a dropped round anyway.
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