New signing Lewis Plato stated his intent on the championship challenge with a convincing performance on the 1.2mile Indy circuit layout, collecting two second-placed podium finishes for the Wrotham-based squad at its home circuit.
Plato topped the times in both free practice runs, with team-mate Dan Vaughan setting P2 and P5 lap times, and the duo looked set for a front-row start. Damp conditions, however, made for a tricky qualifying run, and after initially leading the way with a Motorbase 1-2, the grid switched to slicks as times tumbled, leaving Vaughan and Plato in fifth and sixth places respectively.
Severe fog delayed Sunday’s race proceedings. After a two-hour wait, the season opener got underway in wet conditions. Vaughan made an excellent start off the line, moving up into P2 on the opening lap, before settling into 3rd place position. Unfortunately, his hopes of a podium to kick-start his Pro campaign was dashed after contact dropped the 22-year-old down the order, and he eventually crossed the line in 7th.
Plato, meanwhile, had been making his way steadily up through the pack. Taking the third spot on lap 19, the Essex-man took advantage of a mistake by Perez at Druids to steal into 2nd, bringing the #11 Porsche home for a maiden Motorbase podium.
A stellar drive from Plato in the second race of the day rewarded the Motorbase Performance team with a return to the rostrum. Starting from the second row, the 26-year-old charged off the line to take P2 from Perez, where he remained, holding off a challenge from Harper over the remaining laps, and picking up an additional point for setting the fastest lap.
Vaughan’s end to the weekend sadly failed to live up to expectations once more. Struggling with a puncture in the early laps, his race came to abrupt end with 10 laps still to run when the #55 911 left the circuit at Paddock Hill bend, causing race-ending damage.
The weekend’s results leave Plato sitting 2nd in the Pro category Drivers’ championship, just two points of the leader. Motorbase currently lies third in the Teams’ standings heading into rounds 3 and 4 at Donington Park on April 27/28.
Team Principal David Bartrum:
“It was really nice to get the Carrera Cup season underway at our home circuit. It was a good start to the season for Lewis, getting two podiums under his belt. Dan has a bit of work to do. It feels great to be back to running two cars once again.
“A fantastic job by the team at the weekend, and we’re looking forward to banking some more points at Donington.”
#11 Lewis Plato:
“Really happy with the way the weekend went. For the past six seasons, I’ve had something happen on the first weekend that has massively impacted on my championship. To come away with two podiums and the fastest lap is great.
“Realistically, after being P1 in free practice, without the weather in qualifying, we would have been challenging for pole position. It’s still early days with the team. We’re still learning, but so far things are looking positive for the rest of the season.
“Donington is one of the tracks were I won last year. I’ve qualified on the front row the last couple of times I’ve raced there. Hopefully, we can do the same again.”
#55 Dan Vaughan:
“Not the start to the new season that I was hoping for, sadly. It started well in free practice and qualifying, but the weather just tipped the grid upside down. We were really unlucky not to start on the front row. Race 1 was going well until I got hit by a back-marker, and then it all went downhill from there.
“I’m just looking ahead to Donington Park now, and ready to get my season off the ground there. We took a Pro-Am class win there last year, and we’ve been testing there a few weeks ago. We know the pace is in the car. Hopefully, we’ll have a turn of luck and get our challenge back on track.”
#11 Lewis Plato:
Round 1: P2
Round 2: P2
#55 Dan Vaughan:
Round 1: P7
Round 2: DNF
Pro Driver Category
1 Dan Harper JTR 21 points
2 Lewis Plato Motorbase Performance 19 points
6 Dan Vaughan Motorbase Performance 4 points
1 Amigos Redline Racing 64 points
2 JTR 53 points
3 Motorbase Performance 45 points
Source. Motorbase Performance/Photo. Porsche