Andy Toon was declared provisional winner of the Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli at Oulton Park on Saturday September 3rd– third in class in the final race of the season enough to give him the overall title by three points from class one leader Mark McAleer as well as sealing the class two crown. His Strasse-tended Boxster S was sealed for power-testing after the race – as is usual with the champion – and once it passes testing the title is his.
“We got there!” said Toon right after the final race. “There has been a lot of hard work from everyone, team and family, and the car was brilliant, I only had one issue all season. I would never have thought when I started in Porsche racing that I would have been champion, the Boxster was new for 2016 and I was just aiming to hold my head up in the class – I had no aspirations of winning. I can’t wait to have the number one on my car next year!”
Mike Johnson took both overall race wins, with Steve Cheetham recording a class two double, but the day was all about the title battle.
On a dry track Pete Morris was quickest in qualifying, almost four-tenths ahead of Michael Price who finished his debut race season with a front-row start. Class one points leader Mark McAleer was third quickest, with Hyper team-mates Mike Johnson and Richard Ellis next up.
“I was thinking it would be wet for qualifying,’ said Morris, “but it tuned out dry and I went for new tyres. Now that is raining it will be wets for the rest of the day, but there are a lot of quick guys in the wet here today.”
In class two Jake McAleer was on pole in his RVR Racing Boxster until a few minutes to go in the session, when he was leap-frogged by the similar cars of Steve Cheetham and then Toon – taking class pole on his final lap plus the vital points that go with it. Just minutes after the session the rain started, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
On a streaming wet track Morris was away carefully, Price alongside getting too much wheelspin and falling down the order, but the man to watch was Johnson, who drove round the outside of the front-row starters at the first corner to emerge in the lead. From sixth on the grid Chris Dyer had a great start following Johnson through and emerging third as they exited Old Hall.
The front three finished lap one just clear of Mark McAleer, who in the following laps had Ellis closing in and looking to challenge for fourth. Morris and Johnson traded fastest race laps in the first half of the race, the leader not giving Morris any sort of opportunity to challenge for the lead.
At the end Johnson took his third win of 2016 with Morris forced to be content with second, Dyer having fallen away from the lead battle but still third and taking his – and the Cayman’s – first podium of 2016. McAleer held off Ellis to hold onto fourth, with Price sixth.
“I got a good start,” said Johnson, “I got to the outside and found some grip there and went for it. It was great racing, I couldn’t relax as Pete Morris was keeping me honest and quicker than me through the chicanes. I had a car spin in front of me near the end, but managed to hold on.”
“I was careful getting away but they went past me,” said Morris. “I was going to see if I could get back ahead but he had the same pace as me and I wasn’t going to take any risks. The grip was changing lap by lap which made things hard, and in the slow corners it was really slippery – and different every time.”
“I went round the outside of the first corner,” said Dyer, “I got the car away well and next thing I realised it was Pete Morris ahead and I was third. It was so slippery in the chicanes, but a good race and nice to be on the podium.”
In class two Toon led the early laps, but was having issues with his vison as his Boxster started to mist up inside. Cheetham – his heated windscreen working fine – took the lead by getting alongside Toon on lap five and sitting it out to take the lead into Cascades. From then on Cheetham eased away, despite his Boxster stuttering out of some corners, to take the win.
“The side windows misted up on my car,” said Cheetham, “but the windscreen was fine and that is all you need. Once I was in the lead the car started spluttering out of the corners so I had to keep pushing hard to keep my advantage.”
Toon was a secure second, with Jake McAleer taking third in class, a hard-driving Ross Morris - coming through after a poor race start – just failing to catch him at the end. That left Toon with a small advantage once dropped scores were taking into account going into the final round.
Morris got away well in race two, on a drier track but not one that could tempt any of the runners to risk slicks. Johnson slid into second and took the lead up Clay Hill on lap two, Mark McAleer third and these three clear of the rest.
Johnson was pushing hard and set a series of fastest race laps, while McAleer, knowing his championship hopes rested on scoring as many points as possible, was looking for a way past Morris. He was into second by lap five, but by this time Johnson had a three second advantage, and McAleer was having to watch his mirrors for the remainder of the race as Morris sought a way past.
The top three finished in that order, while the battle for fourth was a thriller, Dyer holding off Ellis and Price race-long.
“It’s nice to finish on a high,” said Johnson, “again I started well but I settled in behind Pete Morris and the car was better on turn in this race and I got past. Halfway through the tyres were getting hot and the grip was going, then I saw Mark McAleer was second and I knew one lapse of concentration and they would be with me.”
“It took me a while to get past Pete Morris and by then Mike Johnson had gone,” said McAleer, “and I opened a bit of a gap but the tyres went off massively. We missed the title but it’s been a great season, the class has been so competitive and I have had to fight for everything, never a quiet race!”
“The tyres went off really quick,’ said Morris. “If you could have got slicks hot they may have been a better bet. I went wide at the top corner and onto the grass and Mark McAleer got past. This has been so close – the championship should be cracking next season!”
Toon led class two away but was passed by Cheetham at the start of the second lap. He then came under pressure from the charging Ross Morris, who was with him by lap four and past a lap later at Old Hall. For a while it looked like Toon’s third place would be under threat from the closing Jake McAleer, but he stayed well clear and third was enough to seal his title.
“We’ve had a great end to the season and it shows what we could have done if we hadn’t had all the bad luck and had to rebuild the car,” said Cheetham. “We just did the maximum we could today and we are going into next season on a high. I knew Andy Toon was thinking of the bigger picture and I went past early and just went for it.”
Sylatech Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Race One: 1 Mike Johnson (996 C2) 13 Laps; 2 Pete Morris (996 C2) +0.476s; 3 Chris Dyer (Cayman S); 4 Mark McAleer (996 C2); 5 Richard Ellis (996 C2); 6 Michael Price (996 C2); 7 Kevin Harrison (996 C2); 8 Steve Cheetham (Boxster S); 9 Andy Toon (Boxster S); 10 Jake McAleer (Boxster S). Class Winners: Johnson; Cheetham. Fastest Lap: Johnson 2m01.508s (79.75mph).
Race Two: 1 Johnson 12 Laps; 2 Mark McAleer +5.999s; 3 Pete Morris; 4 Dyer; 5 Ellis; 6 Price; 7 Cheetham; 8 Ross Morris (968 CS); 9 Toon; 10 Jake McAleer. Class Winners: Johnson; Cheetham. Fastest Lap: Johnson 2m02.017s (79.41mph).
2016 Sylatech Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli drivers' Championship Final Points (provisional subject to winning car passing technical inspection, best 11 scores from 13 races):
1 Mark McAleer 368
2 Pete Morris 351
3 Mike Johnson 345
4 Kevin Harrison 291
1 Andy Toon 371
2 Steve Cheetham 291
3 Jake McAleer 286
4 Paul Seagrave 266