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McAleer and Morris Win at Dramatic Silverstone

Silverstone hosted two hectic Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli races on Saturday June 2nd, Mark McAleer and Pete Morris taking the outright wins as in both races two cars went off while running in the top three. In the other classes Jonathan Evans, Ben McLaughlin and Stuart Ings kept up their winning ways, Will Heslop and Robert Dorling first points scoring drivers home in class three in each race.
A bumper field of 37-cars headed out for qualifying, with Sumpter setting the early overall pace. Eight minutes into the session Price showed that the 997s were well-suited to Silverstone, and that was underlined seconds later when Pete Morris went quicker again – and ultimately quick enough to take the first pole position for the 997, which made its series debut at the start of the season.
Times were tight at the top, the first five cars all within a second of pole around the 3.69-mile lap, McAleer second ahead of Sumpter, Price finally fourth just ahead of series returnee Tom Bradshaw in the new Hartech Boxster.
“We’ve done a lot of work on the suspension of the 997,” said Morris, “we tested yesterday and stiffened the car up, and my next door neighbour races in the BTCC and he came back from Spain to try the car for me and we felt it was good enough to go. Our times were similar, so that has given us a lot of confidence for the races.”
Jonathan Evans continued his domination of class two, his Boxster S well clear of the rest before Andrew Muggeridge improved late in the session to go second quickest ahead of Paul Seagrave.
McLaughlin in turn continued to be the class three pace-setter, with Will Heslop first of those eligible for points in the Restoracing Boxters. Stephen Brown, Robert Dorling and Wayne Minogue were next up in the class, with Brands Hatch front-runner Josh Morris sixth on his first visit to Silverstone.
Race One
Morris and McAleer both made good starts and sat it out side-by-side through the first corner, McAleer finally edging ahead as they reached the Becketts sequence of corners. At the end of the opening lap it was a train of five cars the front, McAleer heading Morris, Price, Kevin Harrison and Sumpter, with Bradshaw in sixth.
The top three eased away from a frantic battle for fourth, Harrison heading a line of six cars, Bradshaw working his way up the order to fourth. In class two, Evans dropped to third in class in the early running, Paul Seagrave heading Andrew Muggeridge for the lead
At the front it all changed on lap six, the front runners arriving at Becketts to find fluid down from Andy Toon’s radiator, McAleer going straight on to rejoin, but Morris and Price both spinning off and out the race. The slippery surface caught out others down the order, and at the end of the lap it was McAleer from Bradshaw and Sumpter, Harrison fourth from Chris Dyer.
As the leaders lanced through the backmarkers the gaps altered, but late on McAleer got past a gaggle of slower cars at Luffield leaving Bradshaw caught in the pack, and went onto to take the win, Sumpter third.
“I was side-by side with Pete Morris for a lot of the first lap,” said McAleer. “It was interesting to see the difference between the two cars, in the early laps I had to get onto the straights really well as he was quick down them. I arrived at the fluid and went straight on, but was able to get back on the track.”
“Brilliant race!” said Bradshaw. “My pace wasn’t amazing but I gained places and got lucky when the two cars ahead came off.  We all half-spun but carried on and I’m pleased to take second.”
“When the fluid went down on the circuit that took out two of the cars in front,” said Sumpter, “we all went sideways, and from then on I was running fourth and eventually got past Kevin Harrison for third.”
Evans found his pace as the race progressed and moved to the front of class two and opened a large lead, Muggeridge second with Seagrave taking third.
“I was struggling with rear grip at the start,” said Evans, “and after three laps or so it came back and we were able to push. I had to work to get past Paul Seagrave, but it was a challenging race and we came good at the end.”
In class three McLaughlin was never headed, ultimately lapping the entire class on his way to this third win. Behind, the action was for second place, Robert Dorling running in that slot early on. He was another to lose ground on lap six, Josh Morris coming through from sixth on the grid to take second at the flag from Stephen Brown.
“I got with the class two cars early on,” said McLoughlin, “and that let me relax and stay clear of the rest. I wasn’t quite as quick as the guys in front, but quicker than all of those behind. I went off as well at Becketts, but was able to continue.”
“The plan was to take it easy at the start as I hadn’t driven the circuit before qualifying this morning,” said Josh Morris. “We didn’t want to take any risks and just keep with people and try to push later on, and it paid off.”
Race Two
Sumpter was on pole for race two and led the field away with Bradshaw second ahead of Morris and Dyer. The lead pair were over a second clear at the end of lap one, inspiring Morris to set a sequence of fastest race laps in order to reel them back in.
On lap three Bradshaw made a move to get inside Sumpter as they reached Brooklands at the end of the Wellington straight, the pair side by side through Luffield before Sumpter prevailed and held onto the lead. Behind, Price and Toon both spun exiting Luffield.
Morris closed to within a second of Bradshaw before starting to fall back again, the leaders hitting backmarkers by lap eight. Bradshaw looked inside Sumpter at Brooklands again on lap nine, and one lap later came the moment that decided the race.
Again Bradshaw was tighter through Brooklands and inside Sumpter as they encountered a gaggle of backmarkers, the two cars touching and Sumpter spinning off onto the grass at the outside of the corner. Lancing back across the track, Sumpter’s car collected back-marker Stephen Brown and then Bradshaw was involved, all three cars retiring.
That put Morris in the lead, and with one lap to go he duly headed home team-mate Dyer to give the 997 its first win in the series. Harrison took third ahead of Craig Wilkins.
“I’d hoped for a win in race one,” said Pete Morris. “I had some misfortune in the first race and then Mark and Tom did in this one. I had settled for third and when I came round and saw them off I thought ‘that’s a bonus!’. My car wasn’t quite there after the off in race one, but the back-markers were very good when I got to them.”
“I made a great start and was alongside Michael Price,” said Dyer. “I ended up fourth behind Pete but he eased a bit of a gap, and I thought I would settle for fourth – then saw the other two off and thought that would do me!”
“I got a good start but Chris Dyer was even better,” said Harrison. “I just had to hang on in there and it was a hard race, the tyres were going off in the heat but we got a podium!”
Evans was again dominant in class two, leading all the way, Muggeridge closer this time on his way to second ahead of Seagrave.
“We were better at the start in this race,” said Evans, “the tyres were better and by the time the heat was making the tyres go off we were far enough ahead it didn’t matter. So many people were going off I was happy to bring it back on one piece.”
The class three Boxsters once again saw McLoughlin able to drive away from the rest, Heslop running second before Dorling dived past with a great move between Luffield and Woodcote to take the lead on lap seven. With McLoughlin taking the win, Dorling was second and first of those eligible for points, Heslop third with Josh Morris third.
“It was almost a carbon copy of race one,” said McLaughlin. “I got amongst the same class two cars at the start, I tried to stay with the quicker class two cars and had one spin in front of me but thankfully I had time to go past him.”
“I got past coming out of the slow corner that leads onto the pit straight,” Dorling. “I got alongside him going into the corner and I’m really pleased to win, an amazing experience.”
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Race One: 1 Mark McAleer (996 C2) 11 Laps; 2 Tom Bradshaw (Cayman S) +2.055s; 3 Mark Sumpter (Porsche 996 C2); 4 Kevin Harrison (996 C2); 5 Chris Dyer (Cayman S); 6 James Birch (Cayman S); 7 Simon Clark (Cayman S); 8 Craig Wilkins (996 C2); 10 Jonathan Evans (Boxster S), Class Winners: McAleer; Evans; Ben McLoughlin (Boxster S); Stuart Ings (944 S2). Fastest Lap: Morris 2m17.677s (95.16mph).
Race Two: 1 Pete Morris (Porsche 997 CS2) 11 Laps; 2 Dyer +1.786s; 3 Harrison; 4 Wilkins; 5 Birch; 6 Clark; 7 Andrew Toon (996 C2); 8 Evans; 9 Andrew Muggeridge (Boxster S); 10 Paul Seagrave (Boxster S). Class Winners: Pete Morris; Evans; McLaughlin; Ings. Fastest Lap: Pete Morris 2m17.084s (95.57mph).
Next Races: Snetterton, Norfolk, June 30th.