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McAleer Family Take Porsche Titles !

The 2017 Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli season came to a dramatic end at Castle Combe on Saturday, October 14th, with uniquely Mark McAleer taking the overall and class one titles and son Jake winning class two and taking third place overall.
Going into the final race of the season both classes were delicately poised, Mark McAleer just one point ahead of long-time rival Mark Sumpter, and Jake McAleer two points behind class two leader Steve Cheetham. Sumpter spun in the race while leading and chasing the valuable point for fastest lap, meaning second was more than enough to give Mark McAleer the title, while Jake McAleer battled with Cheetham for much of the race, coming home ahead at the end to make it a double for the two Yorkshire racers.
“It has been a great team effort,” said Mark McAleer, who was also champion in 2007. “We have worked so hard and for both of us to win our classes has been fantastic. The second half of the season has been tough, there are so many quick cars here and it is just a very competitive championship.
“It is much better to race against really tough opposition than just to cruise round at the front, I think after the first meeting of the year I have had cars with me all season and we have had to battle. For Jake to win his class as well…that’s a proper dream come true.”
“It’s unbelievable,” said Jake McAleer. “I am not sure you would have got great odds on dad I both doing it at the start of the year but somehow we have managed to see it through. It’s a good feeling, most of the races this year we have been fighting for position, but when the car has been in one piece we have been the quickest. A great season, it doesn’t get much better – plus I have more race wins than my dad!”
Early in the session it was Mark Sumpter and Richard Higgins trading times at the top of the standings, the drivers feeling their way into the session after fluid had been left on the entry to the quick Camp corner by previous runners. A flying lap from Sumpter midway through saw him claim pole, his second quickest lap good enough to make it a pole double for the championship contender.
Higgins held onto second, with Craig Wilkins third ahead of Sumpter’s class rival in the points Mark McAleer. Mike Price was fifth with Peter Erceg’s Cayman S next up, first non-996 C2.
“To get a quick lap her you have to push hard, I can’t do that time for a whole race,” said Sumpter. “I have tested here and we did a lot of work on damper settings, but this was our first run on new rubber and I’m pleased with the time.”
In class two Steve Cheetham set the pace early on but was pipped in the final times by Jake McAleer. Late in the session third-quickest Ross Morris went into the barriers exiting the first chicane, to be followed a few seconds later by Cheetham, bringing qualifying to an early halt. A broken steering rack put Ross Morris out for the day, while the Lodge Sports Racing team just managed to get Cheetham’s Boxster out for race one.
Race One
Sumpter made a good getaway as the red lights went out, but alongside Higgins was swamped by the cars behind and at the end of the lap it was Wilkins in second with Michael Price third. Mark McAleer was right with Price and was past and into third on lap two, the lead three then starting to pull away as Price fought off the recovering Higgins.
As Price held off Higgins the lead three eased away, each setting the race’s fastest lap at different times as they lapped at pace. Heading into the final laps they started to close up, Wilkins less than half a second from Sumpter before the leader’s canny timing passing backmarkers saw him stretch the gap out again, Sumpter taking the win he needed to keep championship pressure on Mark McAleer, who came home third behind Wilkins who took the point for fastest lap.
“I was under pressure all the way,” said Sumpter, “It was only in the last three minutes or so when I was able to make better use of the backmarkers that I had a gap. There were only minutes to go and I was able to stroke it home, but I am disappointed to miss out on the point for fastest lap, we all have to go and check on the points now and see what we need to do in the next race.”
“Round this circuit one small error in a corner hurts you for the next part of the track,” said Wilkins, “so the gaps between us were changing but that was good fast racing. I got fastest lap by grabbing the car by the scruff of the neck, we still need to find the final little bits of set-up for this car.”
“I felt I had a quick car at the end, but I lost ground with a backmarker at the chicane,” said Mark McAleer. “The car got a bit warm at the end so I hope we haven’t got an issue, but I am just out there doing what I can do.”
Behind, Higgins was fourth home ahead of Pete Morris after Price spun, but this group were hit with a raft of time penalties for exceeding circuit limits and once they were applied the official result saw Price fourth ahead of Erceg, with Higgins sixth and Morris seventh.
In class two Jake McAleer was ahead by lap two after Paul Seagrave had taken an early lead, Cheetham’s battered Boxster in third and obviously not handling as precisely as at the start of the day. Mid-race Cheetham had slipped to third behind Trevor Lewis, and gained a place as Seagrave slowed, then passed Lewis at Tower on lap 18.
Jake McAleer took the win, Cheetham second across the line ahead of Lewis, but those two were also given time penalties, elevating Seagrave to second, Cheetham fourth in class on the official timing.
“I had an exciting first lap,” said Jake McAleer. “Paul Seagrave overtook me coming out of the first corner as I got a bad exit, but I got back past him and from them it was head down and try to control the pace, and stay out the way of the leaders when they lapped us. I had to almost stand on the brakes to let my dad past as I thought I was about to block him!”
Race Two
The final race of the season saw a similar battle at the front, Sumpter heading Wilkins and Mark McAleer, these three lapping right on the edge and again trading fastest laps. Less than a second apart, the crucial moment came as they set off onto lap seven, Sumpter, pushing hard to get the fastest lap point, spun at Quarry corner, and couldn’t rejoin until the gaggle of cars battling for fourth went by, handing Wilkins the lead and Mark McAleer the result he needed to take the title.
For a couple of laps it looked like Mark McAleer was going to push to try to take the win, but he settled for second and eased back from Wilkins in the latter half of the race, Morris over five seconds back in third and Sumpter, who had rejoined seventh, working his way back up the order.
Wilkins stayed clear to take his first win of 2017, Mark McAleer safe in second and Morris leading home Higgins and Sumpter behind.
“The pace at the start of that race was blistering!” said Wilkins. “We were all trying so hard, and I could see Mark was pushing for fastest lap and he just overcooked it, fortunately I wasn’t that close at that point or I would have collected him. To finish the year with a win is good, but we will want more for next year.”
“That was full on for the first part of the race,” said Mark McAleer, “we were all pushing so hard and Mark Sumpter spun, which he just doesn’t do. When he went I thought I would push Craig and go for the win, then I thought ‘hang on a minute this is silly’ and I didn’t want to do anything stupid.”
“We stiffened the car for that race,” said Morris, “but the break servo was leaking and I was getting a soft pedal near the end. I was having to pump the pedal going into corners and hoping it would brake, so I’m quite chuffed to get third after that. We were all pushing so hard, when I saw Mark Sumpter spin I knew I was third and just wanted to hold on.”
Cheetham had his car much more to his liking in class two for this race, and led early on from Lewis, Jake McAleer back in third. At the end of lap two Jake McAleer was right with Lewis and ahead a lap later, and set about closing the gap to Cheetham’s Boxster. Together with two laps to go, Jake McAleer was looking for a way past as they powered through Folly and into Avon Rise at the start of the lap, the two side by side which resulted in a spin for Cheetham – who rejoined to take second but the class title was Jake McAleer’s
Behind, Lewis took third from Seagrave with Del Brett fifth in class.
“The car has been good all day,” said Jake McAleer, “ I had a really good race with Steve Cheetham.”
Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli Castle Combe, Round 13: 1 Mark Sumpter (996 C2) 21 Laps in 25m25.375s; 2 Craig Wilkins (996 C2) +2.090s; 3 Mark McAleer (996 C2); 4 Mike Price (996 C2); 5 Peter Erceg (Cayman S); 6 Richard Higgins (996 C2); 7 Pete Morris (996 C2); 8 Jake McAleer (Boxster S); 9 Paul Seagrave (Boxster S); 10 Trevor Lewis (Boxster S). Class Winners: Sumpter; Jake McAleer. Fastest Lap: Wilkins 1m11.554s (93.07mph).
Race Two: 1 Wilkins 17 Laps in 20m39.509s; 2 Mark McAleer +5.936s; 3 Morris; 4 Higgins; 5 Sumpter; 6 Price; 7 Erceg; 8 Jake McAleer; 9 Cheetham; 10 Lewis. Class Winners: Wilkins; Jake McAleer. Fastest Lap: Mark McAleer 1m11.533s (93.10mph).
Championship Points (Best 12 Scores from 14 Races):
Class One:
1 Mark McAleer   404
2 Mark Sumpter   395
3 Craig Wilkins   356
4 Chris Dyer   294
5 Peter Erceg   279
6 Michael Price   275
Class Two:
1 Jake McAleer   381
2 Steve Cheetham   364
3 Paul Seagrave   303
4 Trevor Lewis   261
5 David Botterill   236
6 Ross Morris   224
Next Event: Awards Evening, Hilton Puckrup Hall Hotel, Tewkesbury, November 11th.