Tom Sharp suffered a race to forget during his home meeting in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup as he found himself the innocent victim of contact during the opening lap of the fifth race of the season at Silverstone (15/16 July).
Competing in the British round of the Supercup for a third successive season in front of a big, passionate home crowd, Sharp and his family IDL Racing team were determined to replicate their top ten exploits from their previous two guest appearances at Silverstone.
Following an impressive drive from 23rd to thirteenth at the Red Bull Ring in Austria just one week prior, the Camberley racer was ready to build on his best race finish of the season so far as he embarked upon Friday’s single practice session around the iconic 3.19 mile Silverstone circuit.
After finishing that session in eighteenth overall, Sharp would improve his pace during qualifying the following morning and finish the session just nine tenths of a second shy of pole, despite missing out on the best of the track conditions in changing weather.
That initially placed Sharp fourteenth on the grid in his IDL, Dome Group, Mardix Group, Lloret, GBE and Fireclad Limited backed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, however post-session some drivers would get lap times reinstated, pushing him down to seventeenth.
The race would serve as the final track action prior to the F1 British Grand Prix, meaning a huge crowd was watching on around the circuit, whilst many more tuned in to live television coverage for which Sharp was selected to carry an on-board camera.
That would show the 25 year old producing a sensational launch off the line as he gained at least three positions on the run through Abbey for the first time, however his progress would be suddenly halted as luck deserted him a few corners later.
In front of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, for which Sharp is a proud member, two drivers making contact heading into Luffield would send them spinning across the circuit into Sharp, who received heavy contact to the rear and was sent into the gravel trap.
Whilst he would fortunately recover back to the circuit, bodywork rubbing on his rear tyre led to smoke filling the cockpit and meant he had no choice but to head to the pitlane for quick repairs, leaving him a distant last when he re-joined the action.
With no subsequent safety car period presenting him the opportunity to close onto the back of the field and make progress up the order, Sharp was resigned to take the chequered flag in 30th overall, though his lap times had shown he could have comfortably run within the top fifteen.
Sharp will be eager to bounce back from the weekend’s disappointment as the second half of his maiden Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup season kicks off in a fortnights’ time (29/30 July) at another new circuit to the Surrey racer, the Hungaroring near Budapest, Hungary.
Tom Sharp: “It was a difficult weekend from the off. We started on the wrong foot as we had to use really worn tyres in practice, and then in qualifying we were caught out by the track conditions improving late on and we’d already used the best of our tyres.
“The race was then unfortunately just far too short-lived. I made a really good start and it felt like there was potential to make up a few places, but there was an accident inside me resulting in two cars spinning across track and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.
“After having enjoyed strong weekends during my two previous guest appearances in this championship at Silverstone, it’s disappointing not to have been able to come back during my first full season and enjoy a good meeting again, but we’re ready to bounce back in Hungary.”
Source. Simon Paice Media/Photo. Porsche AG/Hoch Zwei