As the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, closed out the first half of its 2019 season at Oulton Park, 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) emerged leading the overall championship standings. Two thrilling races in Cheshire saw victories for Junior Harper and George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing), Harper’s other championship rival Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) added to his impressive tally of podium finishes with two further visits.
Following the Oulton Park weekend Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) retains his lead of the Pro-Am category championship, on form rival Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) mastered the Island Circuit to record her first category race victory. As he leaves Cheshire, Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) holds onto his Am championship category lead from the chasing Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing), Sherwood took a category win in the first of the weekend’s races at Oulton Park, Kyle-Henney the second. In the Rookie standings two strong performances from Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) saw the Welshman move to within 4 points of leader Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing). In the championship for Teams JTR and Motorbase Performance head to Thruxton in August separated by just 13 points.
In warm and sunny conditions on Saturday 17 cars formed the grid for the weekend’s first race – scheduled for a duration of 18 laps. At the start, 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) maintained his lead into Old Hall Corner, just behind him Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) made a good getaway from the second row leaping George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) into the first corner. Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) and Jamie Orton (JTR) both made good starts to launch ahead of returnee Tom Wrigley (Rob Boston Racing) – the 2018 race winner losing two places.
Of the Pro-Am runners Karl Leonard jumped Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) to lead their category battle from Rookie Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing). In Am Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) slipped behind rivals Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) and John Ferguson (Redline Racing). At the start of lap 2 a dice with Leonard saw Pro category returnee Will Bratt (IN2 Racing) leave the circuit at Old Hall Corner before rejoining at the back of the pack. In the early phase of the race Junior Harper began building a notable gap to second place driver Plato – Harper, Plato and Gamble pulling steadily away from Rookie Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) in P4.
At the end of lap 9 Webster closed up to the rear bumper of Roche – the pair separated by just a few tenths of a second in their fight for P4. The battle for the Pro-Am podium saw Leonard, Hawkey and McCarthy covered by 0.765 secs as the trio fought for P10 overall. On lap 12 Webster mounted an unsuccessful challenge on Rookie Roche, the former champion coming under increasing pressure himself from Orton, Wrigley and Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance). At the start of lap 14 McCarthy engaged in a challenge on Hawkey into Old Hall Corner, contact resulting in both drivers leaving the circuit. Hawkey continued her race at the back of the order while McCarthy retired.
On the final lap of the race Webster and Roche made contact at Island Bend, Webster subsequently leaving the track before rejoining the race in P9, Roche continuing to take the flag in P4. Junior Harper’s victory is his fourth of the season – continuing his unbroken record of winning each weekend’s opening race. As part of the 2019 podium procedure, winner Harper selected at random the number 5 ball, which reverses the grid positions of the top 5 overall race finishers from Round Seven. This formed the starting grid for Round Eight; Orton, Roche, Gamble, Plato, and Harper.
For his part in the incident with Hawkey, McCarthy was handed a formal reprimand with a loss of two championship points.
Sunday’s race was conducted in dry and sunny conditions, 17 cars lined up on the grid for a 15 lap race – reduced from the scheduled 18 laps due to circuit timetable delays. Jamie Orton (JTR) and Rookie Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) formed the front row, when the lights went out Orton maintained his lead into Old Hall Corner, from the second row George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) jumped Roche for P2.
The Pro-Am runners maintained their starting order – Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) from Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) and Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing). Of the Am runners Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) made a good start to lead the category order from Rookie John Ferguson (Redline Racing) and Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing). However, Sherwood soon received a 10 second penalty for making a jump start sending him backwards in the adjusted times. At the end of lap 2 Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) found a way by Roche for P3, he was followed through immediately by 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) – Roche now demoted to P5.
At the end of lap 6 Gamble lined up an important overtake on Orton which started at Lodge Corner and ended at Old Hall Corner – successfully moving him into the lead of the race. On the same lap Leonard left the circuit and rejoined making the new Pro-Am category order; Hawkey, McCarthy and Leonard. Keen to build a large enough gap to overcome his time penalty and retain the Am category lead, Sherwood began to push hard – by lap 12 he was more than 15 seconds ahead of the battling Ferguson and Kyle-Henney negating his penalty.
As Gamble pulled away at the front of the race, Junior Harper tried everything in his power to pass Plato for P3. Filling his rival’s mirrors, Harper consistently attempted to mount passes through Old Hall Corner, into Cascades, out of Lodge Corner and through Deep Leep. On several occasions the Junior got alongside his rival but, employing good traction out of the corners, Plato drove a calm and calculated race successfully defending his position. Gamble’s win is his second of the 2019 season and moves him to third in the championship standings, Pro category rival Plato has recorded six podium finishes from eight races. Hawkey’s result marks her first Pro-Am category victory.
For her performance, Hawkey earned the Driver of the Weekend accolade, GT Marques were awarded Team of the Weekend.
Amigos Team Parker 49
Team Parker Racing 68
GT Marques 59
Redline Racing 50
Team Parker Racing 81
IN2 Racing 58
Redline Racing 47
*results remain provisional