A dramatic day’s racing at Oulton Park (Saturday May 13th) saw overall Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli race wins for Mark McAleer and Mark Sumpter, while in class two Steve Cheetham cruised to both wins.
It was a damp track at the start of qualifying and the field were split on tyre choice, but within minutes it was obvious that slicks were the tyre to have. Craig Wilkins was quickest early on but time falling by the lap the order was continually shuffling.
At session’s end it was Sumpter quickest, Mark McAleer second, a late quick lap seeing him close on Sumpter but not improve his grid slot. Mike Price was an impressive third quickest at a circuit he has gone well on before, with Wilkins fourth head of Pete Morris.
In class two Steve Cheetham was quickest, despite having to change tyres during the session and having missed Friday testing. Jake McAleer was second, but pulled off before the end when his Boxster S started smoking.
Sumpter led the field away at the start, McAleer and Price sitting it out side-by-side in the exit of the first corner, the former coming out ahead. McAleer was right with the leader at the end of lap two, but they were met by the safety car which was out after Jake McAleer and Chris Whittle tangled.
After a lengthy delay racing resumed with ten of the original 25-minutes left, Sumpter heading McAleer and Craig Wilkins, who had got past Price. The lead pair traded fastest laps at the front with Wilkins and Price in close attendance, but the pressure told at the start of lap ten and Sumpter got out of shape exiting Old Hall and McAleer was past.
McAleer stayed clear as the clock ran down over the next two laps to take his third win on 2017, with Sumpter second ahead of Wilkins, Price and Chris Dyer.
“I’m over the moon to win that, especially after winning twice at Brands Hatch last time out,” said McAleer. “Mark was very quick and I was really close to him, then the safety car came out. When we got going again I was trying to get on the back of him and he made a mistake coming out the first corner.”
‘I just made a mistake coming out of Old Hall,” said Sumpter, “I knew my car was good in the first half of the lap but I just got it a bit wrong!”
In class two Cheetham had a clear run to the win, finishing well clear of Paul Seagrave and Ross Morris after Jake McAleer’s demise.
“That was one of the easiest races I have been in,” said Cheetham. “I looked in my mirrors early on and there was no-one there! I was able to save my tyres throughout the race.”
Another strong start saw Sumpter again lead in the first corner, McAleer this time having to hold off Wilkins to stay second. The lad three were immediately lapping quickly and n close formation, Dyer in fourth and closing with Pete Morris and Price just behind.
Morris got past Dyer to run fourth, but on lap seven his engine let go forcing Morris out, and forcing Price to pit to have Morris’ oil cleaned off his windscreen. Dyer was also doused in lubricant and straggling to see, but elected to stay out and had Gary Duckman’s similar Cayman closing fast.
The top three were all close heading into lap ten, but McAleer clipped the rumble strip at the edge of Old Hall corner and the vibration flipped off the car’s master switch, leaving him coasting down the hill to pull off. Wilkins dodged the slowing 996 but lost ground to Sumpter, who reeled off the final laps to take his first win of 2017, Wilkins safe in second.
Duckman got past the visually hobbled Dyer to claim his first podium of the season and his first Porsche Club Championship podium in a Cayman.
“I had to work hard,” said Sumpter,” it seems like for most of the day I have had another car within inches of me. Mark McAleer was pressing hard so when he suddenly slowed that gave me an advantage, it’s nice to take out fist tin on our return to the series.”
“I was right with Mark McAleer when he slowed and did well not to hit him,” said Wilkins. “It’s been good today, twice on the podium and we didn’t manage that at all last season.”
“I got oil on the windscreen as well but it was a good battle with Chris Dyer,” said Duckman, “I was pleased to get past him.
Cheetham was never threatened on his way to his second class two win of the day. Behind, the attention was on the battle for second, Seagrave holding on under pressure from Ross Morris with Trevor Lewis right there.
I was expecting to be on the pace but didn’t think we would have such an easy day,” said Cheetham. “I just got a good start and pushed hard early on and then I was well clear – it’s been one of the most boring races I have ever done but we have got maximum points.”
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Race One: 1 Mark McAleer (996 C2) 11 Laps; 2 Mark Sumpter (996 C2) +0.992s; 3 Craig Wilkins (996 C2); 4 Mike Price (996 C2); 5 Chris Dyer (Cayman S); 6 Pete Morris (996 C2); 7 Gary Duckman (Cayman S); 8 Peter Erceg (Cayman S); 9 Richard Higgins (996 C2); 10 Steve Cheetham (Boxster S). Class Winners: McAleer; Cheetham. Fastest Lap: Sumpter 1m50.680s (87.56mph).
Race Two: 1 Sumpter 14 Laps; 2 Wilkins +2.669s; 3 Duckman; 4 Dyer; 5 Higgins; 6 Erceg; 7 Cheetham; 8 Paul Seagrave (Boxster S); 9 Ross Morris (Cayman 2.7); 10 Trevor Lewis (Boxster S). Class Winners: Sumpter; Cheetham. Fastest Lap: Pete Morris 1m51.105s (87.22mph).
Next Races: Silverstone, Northants, June 17th.