Tom Sharp endured a luckless outing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park, with a best finish of eighth coming in the second race of the weekend following a heroic effort from the IDL Racing to get him back on track following first race contact.
Sharp saw a heavy hit early in the opener lead to a disappointing 23rd place finish and an extensive repair job overnight for the small family outfit, which allowed him to battle for some valuable championship points in the second race.
Returning to the scene of a breakthrough fourth place finish twelve months ago, his then career-best Porsche result, Sharp was hopeful of putting himself in podium contention around the Cheshire circuit as the Carrera Cup returned to action following a lengthy seven week break.
The weekend would start in frustrating fashion for the Camberley-based ace however, as after making some positive steps forward during Friday practice, Sharp was unable to maximise some promising pace in qualifying as traffic on circuit left him unable to get in a clean lap.
That put the reigning Rookie Class champion sixth on the grid for both encounters, and a positive start to race one saw Sharp briefly rise to fifth place, before slipping back a position later in the opening lap as the field battled their way around the tight 2.2 mile circuit.
The main problem would hit, quite literally, on the next lap for Sharp as he received substantial contact in the rear from Lewis Plato under braking for the Island hairpin. With warning lights immediately flashing up on the dashboard, Sharp had no other option but to nurse the car back to the pitlane.
After a quick check over from the team Sharp returned to the action, albeit a lap down from the rest of the field. With no chance of gaining any positions, Sharp focused on showcasing his raw pace, setting the third fastest lap of the race en-route to the chequered flag.
Investigations by the team after the race however found serious damage to both the front and rear of the car, including a cracked rear chassis, requiring a large strip down and rebuild job throughout the night and the lead up to race two.
A heroic effort from the small family team ensured Sharp was back on track for Sunday’s race, which took place in front of a huge crowd in Cheshire and the live ITV4 television cameras, but it would be another case of front-running pace not being fulfilled for the 24 year old.
A positive start to the race saw Sharp pick up a spot into Old Hall corner for the first time, with the Surrey racer then consolidating his fifth place position over the first half of the encounter – his impressive speed highlighted by him setting the second fastest lap of the race.
Some battling in front of Sharp meant the field bunched up heading into the closing stages though, with the Mardix Group, IDL and Dome Group-backed racer being the unfortunate one to lose out as he was shuffled back to eighth in the final two laps.
Tom Sharp: “It’s been a frustrating weekend overall. We had the pace to be pushing for podium results, but things just didn’t go our way. We couldn’t get a clean lap in qualifying, which unfortunately put us in the position to suffer the contact in race one.
“From a fairly innocuous hit, the damage was far worse than we first imagined and the car wasn’t in good shape, so a massive thank you to the team for putting in a really late night to get it back together for race two.
“That race was a bit of a battle really. Our one lap pace was strong, but I couldn’t really push myself forwards in the pack and then lost out at the end. We’ll come back stronger at Croft though and are hoping for a positive weekend.”
Tom currently lies sixth in the championship standings ahead of the trip to Croft in North Yorkshire in a fortnights time (18/19 July) for Rounds Seven and Eight of the 2016 season.
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. James Lipman/Porsche