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McLoughlin and Bird share spoils as Boxster racing thrills at Brands Hatch

Rounds five and six of the Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship 2019 took place on Sunday 7 July at Brands Hatch, running in support of the Deutsche Fest event – a celebration of German vehicles with a themed race programme to match. A grid of 14 mechanically identical ‘Type 986’ Boxster S race cars finished in a range of iconic Porsche racing liveries took part in a pair of entertaining races – both of which were interrupted by Safety Car periods.

Porsche Centre Bournemouth’s Ben McLoughlin continued his winning streak with a victory in race one, while Matt Bird (Premier Panel Skills) took his maiden win in race two – the PistonHeads.com journalist establishing himself as a rising star in the closely contested championship. Pacesetter McLoughlin started both of the weekend’s races from pole position, but he came under increasing pressure from Joshua Morris (Porsche Centre Bolton) and rookie Bird – who was a prominent feature in both 25 minute races around the 1.2 mile Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.

In front of large crowd of knowledgeable car enthusiasts, the grassroots championship highlighted an accessible entry-level route into the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid, a path which could lead drivers from their maiden race experience all the way to the international stage. Following six of the season’s 10 races, McLoughlin retains his lead in the driver’s championship standings, but he will need to watch his mirrors for an increasingly competitive grid of rivals.

Race one

Round five was conducted in dry conditions, 14 Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship vehicles forming a grid for a race scheduled to last for 25 minutes. Championship leader Ben McLoughlin (Porsche Centre Bournemouth) started on pole position – the experienced racer carrying 45 kgs of success ballast – he was joined on the front row by Joshua Morris (Porsche Centre Bolton). The cars of William Heslop (Porsche Centre Wolverhampton) and PistonHeads writer Matt Bird (Premier Panel Skills) formed the second row of the grid.

When the lights went out McLoughlin and Joshua Morris got away cleanly from the front row, the pair followed through Druids by Heslop’s “Pink Pig” liveried entry – just behind, Bird was passed by Paul Blakesley (Porsche Cambridge / Lancaster Bodyshop). Further back, Ollie Coles (Porsche Centre Swindon) left the circuit through the first part of the lap, contact with the barriers resulting in his retirement from the race. In order to recover the stricken car of Coles the Safety Car was summoned – neutralising the race for approximately 10 minutes.

Racing got back underway with 14 minutes of the session remaining. McLoughlin made an effective restart but Joshua Morris and Heslop kept the leader in their sights. Through Paddock Hill Mark Duncan (Porsche Centre Glasgow) took a trip through the gravel trap, his Sunoco liveried machine later visiting the pits and taking no further part in the race. Having put his rival under intense pressure for a number of laps, on lap 12 Bird finally found a way by Beckett – he then immediately set the fastest lap of the race (55.627 secs) as he pushed hard to close the gap to Heslop in P3.

On lap 13, Steven Shore (Shorade) left the circuit resulting in the Safety Car being deployed for the second time to enable his vehicle to be recovered from a dangerous position. The green flag was flown with four minutes remaining on the clock. Thanks to the second Safety Car period Heslop was now on the rear bumper of Josh Morris, however Bird was a constant threat to Heslop in P4. On lap 20 Helslop gathered enough momentum through Graham Hill to effect a successful pass on Joshua Morris for third along the Cooper Straight.

Closing the gap to within 0.065 secs, in the final two laps of the race Bird tried everything possible to pass Joshua Morris for the final podium position, however the defending Morris always had an answer. At the flag McLoughlin crossed the line to take his fifth victory of the season, Heslop and Joshua Morris joining him on the podium. Having made a strong start, Blakesley came home in fifth, followed by Simon Ruffell-Ward (Porsche Centre Leeds), Sam Beckett (Porsche Centre Wilmslow) – Julian Morris (Elite Motors) rounded out the top eight. Ashley White (Porsche Centre Nottingham), a recovering Carl Hazelton (Porsche Centre Chester) and Scot Adams (Porsche Centre Cardiff) were the final classified finishers.

Race two

Ben McLoughlin (Porsche Centre Bournemouth) started the second of the weekend’s races from pole position – now carrying 60 kgs of success ballast – 14 cars took to the grid in dry conditions ahead of a second 25 minute race. Alongside McLoughlin on the front row came Joshua Morris (Porsche Centre Bolton), Matt Bird (Premier Panel Skills) and Ollie Coles (Porsche Centre Swindon) comprising row two. William Hislop (Porsche Centre Wolverhampton) and Paul Blakesley (Porsche Cambridge / Lancaster Bodyshop) formed up on row three.

In the opening laps of the race McLoughlin maintained his lead with Bird moving up into second place ahead of Joshua Morris and Blakesley. On lap 6 contact between Joshua Morris and Hislop at Paddock Hill resulted in Hislop suffering a burst radiator. This lead to his retirement and coolant being leaked onto the track. First on the scene one lap later was the leading trio of McLoughlin, Bird and Joshua Morris – all three were caught out by the slippery surface, sliding on Hislop’s coolant and ending up in the gravel trap. Bird emerged from the gravel ahead of his two rivals, moving into the lead of the race from the rejoining Joshua Morris and McLoughlin. In order for the marshals to clean the slippery track the Safety Car was deployed.

At the restart on lap 12, just 10 minutes remained on the clock. Bird made a successful restart retaining his lead over Joshua Morris and McLoughlin. Keen to move back up the order, a charging McLoughlin immediately mounted a challenge on Joshua Morris with a dramatic pass around the outside through Paddock Hill Bend for second. Just behind at this stage was Blakesley, Julian Morris (Elite Motors), and Simon Ruffell-Ward (Porsche Centre Leeds).

Bird pushed to build a gap back to McLoughlin, clocking the fastest lap of the race on lap 14 – 55.274 – a time he immediately improved on one lap later with a 54.956, earning Bird a gap of more than two seconds between him and the chasing McLoughlin. On lap 17 a close battle for fifth was established between Julian Morris, Ruffell-Ward, Ashley White (Porsche Centre Nottingham) and Mark McCullough (Porsche Centre Hatfield) – all four covered by less than two seconds. Having been separated by just a few tenths for a number of laps, on lap 18 Sam Beckett (Porsche Centre Wilmslow) finally found a way by Steven Shore (Shorade) for tenth.

Lap 20 saw a flying Bird record yet another new fastest lap – 54.865 – increasing the gap back to McLoughlin to 4.578 secs. Come the final lap of the race Bird had increased his lead again, this time to almost five seconds before claiming his maiden Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship victory from McLoughlin and Joshua Morris. Blakesley finished in fourth, Julian Morris in the Gulf liveried car resisted intense pressure from his chasing rivals to take fifth. In sixth came Ruffell-Ward with White and McCullough staying in their established order to the flag, Carl Hazelton (Porsche Centre Chester) and Sam Beckett (Porsche Centre Wilmslow) rounded out the top 10. Steven Shore (Shorade) in 11th, Scott Adams (Porsche Centre Cardiff) in 12th and Mark Duncan (Porsche Centre Glasgow) in 13th were the final classified finishers.

Rounds seven and eight of the Porsche Classic Restoracing Championship will take place at Snetterton on 27 July where the grid will once more be combined with the Porsche Club Championship. The Norfolk track’s 2.9 mile 300 configuration is the longest circuit visited by the championship in 2019.

Source. Porsche

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