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Double Victory for Porsche GB Junior Harper at Thrilling Thruxton

The Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, commenced the second half of its 2019 season with a pair of gripping races at Thruxton. A rain-affected Round Nine delivered a race of two halves as drivers chose opposing tyre strategies on a drying track. Round Ten saw 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) become the first driver to take two victories in a weekend since the introduction of a reverse grid Race Two at the start of 2018.

Porsche GB Junior Harper’s clean sweep of pole position, two wins and two fastest laps marked him out as the class of the field over the course of the weekend. By mastering the season’s fastest circuit in style, Porsche GB Junior Harper further extends his championship lead to challenger Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance). Plato secured an impressive podium finish in Round Ten, while fellow title hopeful 2014 Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) took a pair of second place finishes snatching third in the overall championship standings from George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing).

A successful weekend of racing for Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) saw the Kent-based driver take two category victories – moving her into the lead of the Pro-Am category championship. Just two points now separate Hawkey from experienced driver Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) at the top of the table. The Pro-Am category was further bolstered by the welcome return of Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) – continuing the rich Brabham family racing heritage. Following the Thruxton weekend Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) maintains his lead of the Am category championship, however, two Am category wins for Rookie John Ferguson (Redline Racing) moves the newcomer to within striking distance of Sherwood’s points tally.

Race one
Rain on Sunday morning resulted in a drying track for the start of the weekend’s first race – scheduled for a duration of 20 laps. All 15 cars embarked on the first of two formation laps shod with slick dry weather tyres, the first half of the 2.4 mile circuit was dry, the second half wet. At the end of the first lap Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance), Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) and Rookie Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) dived into the pit lane to switch to grooved wet weather tyres, the trio then lined up at the end of the pit lane to make their race starts – Roche heading Vaughan from Plato in the queue.

When the lights went out 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) and fellow front row starter Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) got away well. On the opening lap George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) found a way by Webster for P2, however, Roche, Vaughan and Plato were making huge gains – using the grip afforded by their wet weather tyres all three quickly began making up places. In the Pro-Am category Rookie Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) led Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) and Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques). In Am John Ferguson (Redline Racing) headed Peter Kyle-Henney (In2 Racing) from Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing).

By lap three Roche was up to P2 and closing fast on Porsche GB Junior Harper, Vaughan had progressed to P3 – one position ahead of team mate Plato in P4. On lap 5 Roche swept by to take the lead of the race, Vaughan and Plato quickly following through to leave Porsche GB Junior Harper in P4. When McCarthy pitted, a shuffle in the Pro-Am order saw Hawkey take the category lead, Leonard running second in category with returnee Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) occupying third. With the circuit drying rapidly those running slick tyres began to outpace the drivers on grooved rubber. On lap 8 Porsche GB Junior Harper began to mount a come-back, passing Vaughan before the Club chicane and, one lap later, replicating the move exactly on his championship rival Plato to secure P2 – Webster quickly followed him through to grab P3.

At half distance on a drying track the three drivers on wet weather tyres – Roche, Vaughan and Plato – were struggling for pace and began to slip down the order. On lap 10 Porsche GB Junior Harper passed Roche to retake the lead of the race, on lap 11 Webster also overtook Roche, and one lap later Gamble passed the Rookie for P3. Roche was now running P4, Plato P8 and Vaughan P9. At the front, Porsche GB Junior Harper began to push, building a gap of over five seconds to the chasing Webster. The Pro-Am order remained unchanged to the flag; Hawkey, Leonard and Brabham. In Am Ferguson maintained his lead to the flag while Sherwood found a way by Kyle-Henney to snatch second in category.

Porsche GB Junior Harper’s victory is his fifth of the season – maintaining his unbroken record of winning each weekend’s opening race. As part of the 2019 podium procedure, winner Harper selected at random the number 6 ball, which reverses the grid positions of the top 6 overall race finishers from Round Nine. This formed the starting grid for Round Ten; Orton, Hawkey, Perez, Gamble, Webster, and Harper.

Race two
The second of the weekend’s races – scheduled to last 20 laps – saw Jame Orton (JTR) and Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) get away cleanly from the front row in dry conditions. From the second row of the grid Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) and George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) both gained ground on Orton and Hawkey making it a four car battle into Campbell. In the braking zone Perez made contact with Orton forcing the JTR driver into Gamble, Orton and Gamble left the circuit at Cobb. Damage to his car resulted in Gamble’s immediate retirement, Orton – also with damage – limped back to the pits and would later continue his race. Emerging from Seagrave in the lead was Webster followed by Perez and 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR).

On lap 2 Porsche GB Junior Harper found a way by Perez for P2, Hawkey maintained her Pro-Am category lead while the chasing Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) spun on the exit of Cobb. Leonard’s error allowed returnee Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) to move up to P2 in category and Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) to assume P3. However, the pair would soon swap positions – McCarthy passing Brabham for P2 in category. In Am Race One winner John Ferguson (Redline Racing) headed Peter Kyle-Henney (In2 Racing) and Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing).

On lap 8 Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) made a move on Perez, finding his way by to assume the final podium position. On lap 11, having mounted several attempts to take the lead, Porsche GB Junior Harper launched a skilful pass. The Porsche GB Junior first drove to the outside of Webster in the run down through Brooklands, then into the braking zone for Club, he repositioned his car to the inside – successfully selling Webster a dummy move – passing the 2014 champion cleanly as they arrived at the chicane.

In the closing laps, Pro-Am category runner Brabham got alongside Am category leader Ferguson, Brabham taking to the grass through Brooklands and spinning into retirement. The Pro-Am category order now being: Hawkey, McCarthy and Leonard. In Am Kyle-Henney closed onto the rear bumper of category leader Ferguson, but despite several attempts he could not find a route around his rival before the flag fell.

Immediately following the race, for his part in the incident at the start, Perez was given a formal reprimand resulting in the loss of two championship points. For his performance, Ferguson earned the Driver of the Weekend accolade, Amigos Redline Racing were awarded Team of the Weekend.

Championship positions*

Overall:
Dan Harper JTR
102
Lewis Plato Motorbase Performance
67
Josh Webster Team Parker Racing
58

Pro-Am:
Esmee Hawkey GT Marques
78
Karl Leonard Team Parker Racing
76
Jack McCarthy Redline Racing
64

Am:
Justin Sherwood Team Parker Racing
90
John Ferguson Redline Racing
69
Peter Kyle-Henney IN2 Racing
68

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche

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