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Edgerton, Bartholomew and Humphris conquer Brands Hatch

Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB arrived at the challenging Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit to assume its position as part of the British GT package – the UK’s premier GT racing championship. Broadcast to a wide audience online and to a limited number of spectators in attendance at the circuit, the championship delivered two action-packed races with plenty of thrilling overtakes. 

Qualifying on Saturday saw a perfect split of Pro category drivers leading Am category competitors. Two exciting races on Sunday provided close racing, another victory for 17-year old championship leader Theo Edgerton (TCR), and a maiden win for newcomer Jack Bartholomew (Redline Racing). Ian Humphris (Valluga) chalked up two further Am category wins to remain unbeaten in 2021 while the battle around him raged between a mix of established names and thrilling rookie drivers.

Qualifying
Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session took place in dry conditions though the threat of rain was present in the air. Ethan Hawkey (Team Parker Racing) was the early pacesetter with championship leader Edgerton and Charles Clark (IN2 Racing) close behind. In Am Ambriogio Perfetti (IN2 Racing) made a confident start to lead category returnee Mike Price (Forelle Estates Racing) from Alex Malykhin (IN2 Racing). Following his impressive start to the season at Thruxton, Pro category newcomer Bartholomew soon jumped to the top of the timesheets to sit on the provisional front row. 

The second half of the session saw improvements for Hawkey and Clark, the latter sitting ahead of local driver Hawkey, though neither could beat Edgerton’s earlier lap time. In Am Perfetti stayed ahead of rival Humphris and Price, but as the qualifying session drew to a close Malykhin improved to move ahead of Humphris. On his final tour Bartholomew grabbed second overall with a time just 0.050 seconds adrift of pole sitter Edgerton – only four-tenths of a second covered Edgerton, Bartholomew, Clark and Hawkey. 

For recording the fastest times in their respective categories, Edgerton – Pro and Perfetti – Am each received one championship point.

Race one
The first of the weekend’s two races took place on Sunday morning and got underway in dry conditions. When the lights went out Hawkey made an excellent start from the second row to draw alongside Bartholomew, challenging for second through Paddock Hill and up to Druids. As Edgerton maintained his lead Bartholomew managed to stay ahead of Hawkey at the exit of Druids, Clark dropped down the order behind Malykhin who emerged from the early phase of the race leading Am from Humphris and Perfetti. 

On lap four Clark found a way by Malykhin, this put category rival Humphris directly onto Malykhin’s rear bumper. Wasting little time, Humphris attacked Malykhin with a successful move up the inside at Surtees, Perfetti immediately looked to follow him through but couldn’t quite make it work. With 15 minutes of racing remaining on the clock light rain began to fall. A now charging Clark overtook Matthew Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) for fourth but further up the road Bartholomew soon ended his race in the gravel trap at Hawthorns – this resulted in the Safety Car being scrambled. 

At the restart – on a now damp but drying track – seven minutes of racing remained on the clock. With his comfortable lead now eroded by the Safety Car period, Edgerton set off at the front of the race to build himself a new cushion back to the chasing Hawkey and Clark. Drama arrived when Carl Carvers (Valluga) ran wide on the grass causing him to spin back onto the track and make contact with an innocent Price, both drivers retired from the race. In his continuing bid to pass Malykhin, Perfetti looked to the inside on the approach to Surtees, he then dived to the outside where he found himself on the grass and spinning out of contention. Perfetti drove to the pits via a shortcut before rejoining the race.

As the race drew to a close rookie Charles March (Team Parker Racing) was engaged in a close fight with Peter Chambers (Redline Racing), as March looked for a way by he slid into the barriers at Surtees before continuing his race. On the final lap Perfetti was shown the black flag on account of his shortcut to the pit lane, he would become the race’s fourth non-finisher. Edgerton’s victory was his third in as many races, he was joined on the Pro category podium by Hawkey and Clark. Humphris took another Am category win from Malykhin and Nigel Rice (Redline Racing).

For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Edgerton – Pro, and Perfetti – Am each received one additional championship point. The starting grid for race two would be determined by the finishing positions in race one, that made the front row for Sunday’s second race Edgerton from Hawkey.

Race two
The weekend’s second race took place on Sunday afternoon in dry conditions. Edgerton was very slow away from the lights at the start of the race slipping to fifth, Hawkey stormed ahead while Clark and Bartholomew battled for third, the latter grabbing the position with a move up the inside at Druids. In Am Humphris maintained the advantage from Rice and Malykhin. Making up for his slow getaway Edgerton was soon on a charge, on lap two he overtook Clark for fourth at Druids and quickly found a way by Armstrong for third. 

As Bartholomew closed on Hawkey, Edgerton drew closer to him. With less than 20-minutes remaining on the clock Bartholomew made a pass on Hawkey for the race lead at Surtees. Edgerton tried to follow him through but he would have to wait before successfully completing the move later in the lap to take second, he then set after Bartholomew ahead. With 13-minutes to go Edgerton snuck by Bartholomew at Surtees to take the lead completing his come-back drive. All eyes now turned to an exhilarating Am battle between Rice, Malykhin and Perfetti who were running absolutely nose-to-tail, Malykhin attacking Rice and defending from Perfetti in equal measure. 

With 10-minutes to go Malykhin made contact with Rice at Stirlings, Rice would end his race in the gravel trap as a result, Malykhin retired to the pit lane. That incident left the Am order as Humphris from Perfetti and Chambers. With seven-minutes left on the clock the order at the front changed again as an off for Edgerton resulted in Bartholomew getting back ahead. The championship leader was now struggling with damage and unable to get back on terms with Bartholomew, but he had enough pace to fend off Hawkey behind. In the final few minutes of the race Perfetti retired his car to the pit lane, that finalised the order in Am as Humphris from Chambers and March.

For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Edgerton – Pro, and Perfetti – Am each received one additional championship point. Following the race Perfetti was docked two championship points for contact, for his incident with Rice, Malykhin was also docked two championship points. Bartholomew’s maiden victory in the weekend’s second race has broken Edgerton’s run of wins and establishes an interesting battle for supremacy between the pair as the championship heads to Silverstone in June.

Championship positions*

Pro:
Theo Edgerton TCR 43
Ethan Hawkey Team Parker Racing 29
Jack Bartholomew Redline Racing 23

Am:
Ian Humphris  Valluga 42
Nigel Rice Redline Racing 23
Peter Chambers Redline Racing 22

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche

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