Porsche Carrera Cup GB – the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK – moved to Oulton Park in Cheshire for Rounds Five and Six of the rapid-fire 2020 season. Mixed weather conditions resulted in a wet first Practice session topped by Porsche GB 2020 / 2021 Junior Harry King (Team Parker Racing) and teammate Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing). The pair resumed their intense battle for supremacy in the afternoon’s dry second Practice, ending the session in the same order. Teammates Ryan Ratcliffe (Team Parker) and Esmee Hawkey (Team Parker) topped a session each in Pro-Am, while Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) stamped his authority on the weekend as Friday’s quickest Am.
Saturday morning’s 30-minute qualifying session began immediately following a short rain shower, this prompted some drivers to explore the track on grooved wet weather tyres while others opted for slick Michelin rubber. Conditions were damp but the track was drying quickly with a distinct dry line forming – it soon became apparent that slick tyres were the fastest way to go. By the session’s midpoint Porsche GB 2020 / 2021 Junior Harry King (Team Parker Racing) and teammate Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) were trading fastest overall times with their rivals in a lively session. Ross Wylie (IN2 Racing) and Rookies Lorcan Hanafin (JTR), Sam MacLeod (JTR) and Matthew Graham (Redline Racing) put in noteworthy challenges. However, at the flag Porsche GB Junior King emerged on top to claim the third pole position of his short Porsche career, Webster ended the session just 0.069secs behind in second with Hanafin in third. Esmee Hawkey (Team Parker) claimed category honours in Pro-Am – her third consecutive category pole position – while Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) was the highest ranking Am driver.
Due to penalties following Round Four, Hawkey and Dorian Mansilla (Team Redline Racing) each incurred seven place grid demotions at Round Five, this left Hawkey starting P16 and Mansilla P14. Following the 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekend format, Porsche GB Junior King earned two championship points with his pole position, the top qualifiers in their respective categories – Hawkey and Sherwood – also received two points each.
The first of the weekend’s two races took place on Saturday afternoon in dry conditions. When the lights went out Porsche GB Junior King got away well to lead into Old Hall Corner, just behind him Hanafin got alongside Webster but the 2014 champion was able to successfully defend his position from the Rookie. Also on the opening lap, Wylie slipped down two places to eighth, in Pro-Am Aaron Mason (Brookspeed Connect IT) made the biggest gains – moving up three places to tenth spot snatching the category lead from Ratcliffe while Hawkey made up ground from her eighth row start. In Am, Sherwood maintained his category advantage with Lee Frost (Simon Green Motorsport) and John Ferguson (Redline Racing) giving chase.
At the front of the race Porsche GB Junior King began pulling out an impressive gap to teammate Webster in second spot. In the battle for eighth place Wylie and Will Martin (Richardson Racing) swapped positions on two occasions, Wylie failing to make a brave pass through Old Hall Corner stick on lap six. Having gained a place on Mason to lead Pro-Am, Ratcliffe soon found himself leading a train of cars from P10 overall back to P14 – Mason was directly behind Ratcliffe, Dorian Mansilla (Redline Racing) and Hawkey were in close pursuit. As Mansilla mounted an unsuccessful attack alongside Mason through Old Hall Corner, Hawkey in turn closed on the Argentinian driver – as they crossed the line on lap 12 the gap was just 0.132secs.
On lap 14 Mason made contact with Ratcliffe, wrenching the steering wheel from his hands, he subsequently pitted to retire from the race due a pain in his arm – this promoted Hawkey to P2 in Pro-Am. Mason would later be cleared following medical checks. On the same lap Am runner Ferguson was handed a five-second penalty for track limits, with this applied the category order was now adjusted with Sherwood leading Frost from Lucky Khera (Simon Green Motorsport). Locked into a close fight for a number of laps, on lap 16 Graham finally found a route by MacLeod for P4 overall, shortly afterwards Wylie resolved his race-long battle with Martin, slipping by for P7. At the flag Porsche GB Junior King had established a lead of over six-seconds back to Webster, securing his fourth consecutive victory from five races. Webster’s result marked his fifth visit to the podium in as many races, Hanafin took the second podium finish of his Porsche career. Ratcliffe registered his maiden Pro-Am win, Hawkey finished second while Mason was classified third in category despite not completing the full race distance. Sherwood’s Am win marked his third category win of the season so far, he was joined on the Am podium by Frost and Khera.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Porsche GB Junior King – Pro, Hawkey – Pro-Am and Sherwood – Am each received one additional championship point. As part of the 2020 podium procedure, winner King selected at random the number six ball, which reversed the grid positions of the top six overall race finishers from Round Five. This made the front row for Round Six McKenna and MacLeod, with Graham and Hanafin on row two, Webster and Porsche GB Junior King would share row three.
Sunday’s race was run to a reduced number of laps due to a scheduling delay earlier in the day’s running – now 15 laps or 25 minutes, whichever came first. In wet but drying conditions everyone with the exception of Ferguson (Redline Racing) – starting in last position – opted for grooved wet weather tyres. At the start of the race Graham and Webster both made good starts from the second row of the grid, but McKenna led the pack initially followed by Graham, and Webster. As the cars filed through Old Hall, Hawkey found herself off the circuit making contact with the barriers – she would rejoin the track but retire to the pits. On lap 2 Webster made a confident move on Graham for second spot, then took the lead by passing McKenna as they crossed the line to start lap 3.
Having also made progress up the order in the early laps by passing Hanafin, MacLeod, and finally Graham, Porsche GB Junior King occupied third as early as lap 3, on lap 5 he overtook McKenna at Lodge Corner for P2. The gap ahead to Webster was now 1.9-seconds. An exciting battle for P5 between MacLeod, Hanafin, Wylie and Martin was ended when Wylie tapped the rear of Hanafin’s car under braking into Island Bend, Hanafin consequently slid into MacLeod pushing him off the circuit. In Pro-Am Ratcliffe maintained his position ahead of Mason, in Am Frost led Sherwood from Armstrong. By lap 8 Porsche GB Junior King had closed up to the rear bumper of Webster’s car, attempting a move on his teammate which did not come off – King taking to the escape road at Hislops. The pair would repeat the same sequence of events on the following lap. The car of MacLeod, now stranded in the gravel, resulted in the Safety Car being deployed to allow for its safe recovery.
At the restart on lap 12 Porsche GB Junior King tried a move around the outside of Webster though Old Hall but it was unsuccessful. The slick shod car of Ferguson, which had been gaining approximately two-seconds per lap prior to the Safety Car neutralising the race, would soon pass Armstrong for P3 in Am – Ferguson’s slick tyres now providing optimum grip on the increasingly dry track. On lap 14 Porsche GB Junior King finally muscled his way by Webster at Cascades, the pair making contact as they switched positions, Porsche GB Junior King this time successfully took the lead of the race. On the final lap, a charging Ferguson found himself challenging for the Am category lead, successfully passing Frost in the dying moments of the race to secure the top step of the category podium.
Porsche GB Junior King’s victory is his fifth consecutive win, and it marks the first time that any driver has won a Porsche Carrera Cup GB race at Oulton Park from lower than fourth place on the starting grid. Webster’s second place maintains his unbroken record of podium appearances. McKenna’s second visit to the overall podium this season puts him in close contact with Graham and Hanafin in the Pro category points tally. Ratcliffe’s second Pro-Am victory of the weekend moved him closer to teammate Hawkey at the top of the category points battle.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, King – Pro, Ratcliffe – Pro-Am and Ferguson – Am each received one additional championship point. For his performance, Ratcliffe earned the Driver of the Weekend accolade, Brookspeed Connect IT were awarded Team of the Weekend.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB travels directly to Knockhill in Scotland for Rounds Seven and Eight of the 2020 championship on 29-30 August – the championship last visited the circuit in 2018. Porsche GB Junior King has tasted success at Knockhill in his junior career, championship rival Webster took two podium finishes there in 2014 – he last raced at the track in 2015 where his highest finishing position was second. Scottish drivers Wylie and MacLeod will be keen to impress on home turf – Wylie last raced at the circuit in Porsche Carrera Cup GB during his Rookie season of 2017.
Harry King Team Parker Racing 74
Josh Webster Team Parker Racing 55
Matthew Graham Redline Racing 32
Esmee Hawkey Team Parker 56
Ryan Ratcliffe Team Parker 51
Aaron Mason Brookspeed Connect IT 34
Justin Sherwood Team Parker Racing 59
Lee Frost Simon Green Motorsport 44
John Ferguson Redline Racing 28
*results remain provisional