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McAleer and Sumpter and Share Oulton Spoils

Class one rivals Mark McAleer and Mark Sumpter shared the outright race wins as the 2017 Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli made its second visit of the season to Oulton Park, Mark McAleer leaving with a win and a second-place finish to bolster his title challenge. In class two, points leader Steve Cheetham matched Mark McAleer’s results to keep his championship challenge alive, Jake McAleer denying him the win in the second of the two 25-minute races.
Sumpter set the pace in qualifying, both his best laps quicker than anyone else and giving him pole for both the day’s races. Championship leader Mark McAleer was second quickest in his similar 996 C2, with the Cayman S of Peter Erceg a fine third, his highest grid position of the season on his return to the series.
The 996s round out the rest of the top six, Mike Price completing the second row with Pete Morris and Craig Wilkins on row three.
An under-the-weather Jake McAleer was a second quicker than the rest of the class two runners despite having to cut his session short, class points leader Cheetham second ahead of Ross Morris and Trevor Lewis.
Race One
Sumpter was slightly slow away which allowed Mark McAleer to get alongside on the run down to the first  corner, but Sumpter had the inside line and McAleer had to tuck in on the exit rather than lose ground as he was held wide. Erceg was third with Price right behind him, Morris fifth with Wilkins close behind.
A fastest lap from Sumpter on lap two saw him ease away, Mark McAleer in turn opening the gap to Erceg. A lap later and a message flashed up on the time screens that Price had a ten second startline penalty, sending him tumbling down the order.
With the top three spread out on the track the action was further down the order, Wilkins going past Morris for what was effectively fourth at Old Hall at the start of lap five, and going past Price on the track on lap seven. One lap later he was into third as Erceg overshot the chicane on the run from Island bend to Knickerbrook, with the lead two now well clear.
Everything changed on lap ten as Sumpter suddenly found himself without gears, finally getting his 996 into third gear but only after Mark McAleer had gone past to take the lead. Wilkins was soon on the back of the former leader and was aheadon lap 12 into Knickerbrook.
Mark McAleer stayed clear to take his fifth win in a row ahead of Wilkins, while despite being in third gear for the whole lap Sumpter just held off the penalised Price and Erceg to claim third.
“I’ll take that, we have had some bad luck so this time we were the lucky ones,” said Mark McAleer. “He was able to open a gap early in the race, then I was able to hold him but he was too far ahead and I couldn’t close it in. Pleased to have more points in our pocket!”
“I never had a chance of the win so I am happy with second,” said Wilkins. “I was able to get past people as they made mistakes, I was happy sat in P3, but quite a way back. Then next thing I know Mark Sumpter is right in front of me and I thought I had better wake up! I thought he had a suspension issue as his car was sliding, but he was a gentleman and was very fair when I got past. I am really enjoying the driving at the front – everyone here is fair and enjoys their racing.”
“That was in the bag,’ said Sumpter, “I was just looking after the car, I had a three second gap, and I came out of the chicane, went for a gear and had no gears. Mark got past me and I just managed to hook a gear which luckily was third which is mid-range for here but I knew there was only five minutes to go and I might be able to still get some points.”
Jake McAleer took the lead of class two from Trevor Lewis on lap two, but like Price was adjudged to have made a fractionally too good a start and was also given a ten-second penalty. That meant that as the race progressed he was pulling away from the now second-placed Cheetham on the track but closing in on him on the timing screens which reflected the situation with the time penalty.
Cheetham took the win by less than a second after the 14-laps, with Ross Morris taking third after a lengthy battle with Lewis. In another entertaining battle Paul Seagrave passed David Botterill near the end to take fifth in class
“I was aware that Jake had a penalty as my team put a board out,” said Cheetham. “I was trying to work out what the gap was and I thought he was over ten seconds clear even though I was pushing hard. The handling got a bit scrappy towards the end so I was surprised to take the win.”
Race Two
Sumpter was the slowest away of the front-runners, Mark McAleer taking the lead with Pete Morris into second, the pole man only third exiting the first corner. After two laps the lead three had opened a gap on fourth-placed Erceg, Sumpter pushing hard to find a way past Pete Morris.
Two fastest laps put Sumpter right with the second placed car, Pete Morris having to be defensive down the pit straight going into lap five, which gave him the opportunity to briefly look inside the leader as they reached Old Hall corner. A lap later Sumpter made his move, getting alongside Pete Morris through the first corner and they were side-by-side down to Cascades, which gave Sumpter the inside line and second place.
A brace of fastest laps put Sumpter right with the leader, and into lap eight Sumpter again made a move through the first corner and was into the lead. Behind, Pete Morris had eased off due to high engine temperatures, which then became terminal allowing Erceg into third, while Wilkins, who had been running fourth early in the race, had already retired.
Lap times dropped as fluid on the circuit slowed the cars, Sumpter staying clear to take his second win of the season despite a slide across the grass at Knickerbrook on lap 10, Mark McAleer safely second. Erceg was chasing his first podium finish on his return to the series this season but was under pressure from Dyer with two laps to go before the latter also fell foul of the slippery conditions and was briefly on the grass and lost ground.
“I didn’t quite nail the start, I tried to do it at lower revs but we still got wheelpsin,” said Sumpter. “Then Pete Morris had the widest car ever but I once I was past he fell back, and I wasn’t aiming for a move on Mark McAleer into Old Hall but he was on the inside and braked early so I had a go.
“At this stage of the championship I can be a bit cheeky with him as he is looking for points but he was very fair and won’t be upset with second!”
“I’ll take second,” said Mark McAleer. “We were never really as quick as Mark Sumpter so a first and a second is good. That was the best race start I have made all season, but then I made a bit of a hash of the last corner and he got a run on me and I thought I had him blocked but he was suddenly alongside me. Once the oil was down it was just damage limitation.”
“That was the hardest race I have done, there was oil all the way round at the end,” said Erceg. “Chris Dyer was closing in and he ended up sliding off on the oil, but you had to stay on the track to take the points and that is what we did. The car has always been quick but I have been rusty but it all came together here so great to take a podium.”
Class two saw Jake McAleer match his father and take the lead at the start, with Cheetham second and in the early laps a great battle for third involving Paul Seagrave, Ross Morris and Lewis. Through the middle part of the race Jake McAleer had a healthy lead, and as times slowed later on Cheetham closed back in, but he was unable to get on terms and Jake McAleer held on.
“It was a more difficult race that the first one as I couldn’t open a gap to Steve Cheetham so easily,” said Jake McAleer. “Once the oil was down he was a bit braver at first, I think I had my scary moment before he had his! We had the same gap for ages and he caught me after I had a big slide but it’s good to take a win and a second.”
Behind, Ross Morris pulled clear in the battle for third, Lewis finally finding a way past Seagrave into Old Hall at the start of lap eight to take fourth.
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli, Round Nine: 1 Mark McAleer (996 C2) 14 Laps; 2 Craig Wilkins (996 C2) +8.625s; 3 Mark Sumpter (996 C2); 4 Peter Erceg (Cayman S); 5 Mike Price (996 C2); 6 Peter Morris (996 C2); 7 Steve Cheetham (Boxster S); 8 Jake McAleer (Boxster S); 9 Ross Morris (Boxster S); 10 Trevor Lewis (Boxster S). Class Winners: Mark McAleer; Steve Cheetham. Fastest Lap: Sumpter, 1m50.604s (87.62mph).
Race Two: 1 Sumpter 13 Laps; 2 Mark McAleer +3.049s; 3 Erceg; 4 Dyer; 5 Price; 6 Jake McAleer; 7 Cheetham; 8 Ross Morris; 9 Lewis; 10 Paul Seagrave (Boxster S). Class Winners: Sumpter; Jake McAleer. Fastest Lap: Sumpter 1m50.668s (87.57mph).
Next Races: Brands Hatch, Kent, 10th September.