Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB entered the second half of its 2021 season with a maiden visit to Oulton Park – taking up a position in support of the Porsche Club GB Motorsport package. Tackling the challenging Cheshire circuit for the very first time, the championship delivered an action-packed weekend with qualifying and two races taking place in a single day.
A wet qualifying on Saturday morning tested driver skill to the limit. Jack Bartholomew (Redline Racing) set the fastest time in the final moments of the session to take the second pole position of his Porsche racing career, he was joined on the front row of the grid for Round 7 by championship rival Theo Edgerton (TCR). Ian Humphris (Valluga) made his intentions clear by topping the Am category drivers – his impressive lap time was good enough to put him on the second row of the grid for the weekend’s first race.
Two races on Saturday afternoon delivered plenty of close racing on the undulating Oulton Park International circuit. In the day’s first race Bartholomew led convincingly early on but in the second half of the race he came under huge pressure from Edgerton, the 17-year old made a decisive pass on his rival to take his fifth win of the season. Am championship leader Humphris converted his excellent starting position into his fifth category victory of 2021 maintaining his unbroken record of Am podium appearances this season.
The second race was almost a replay of the first, Bartholomew got ahead of Edgerton but the championship leader soon regained the race lead and never looked back, taking a comfortable victory. Ethan Hawkey (Team Parker Racing) competed the Pro category podium. In Am Perfetti emerged ahead following a dice with Alex Malykhin (Redline Racing), Humphris took third meaning he is yet to finish off the category podium this season.
For the second time since the championship made its debut, government guidelines allowed hospitality to be provided in the dedicated hospitality unit. Over the course of the day, over 50 people were catered for in line with strict protocols. A limited number of spectators were allowed to attend the event to spectate in person.
Following a dry Practice session the day before, Saturday morning’s 20-minute qualifying session took place in wet weather conditions meaning the drivers would have to adapt to a completely new slippery track surface. Charles Clark (IN2 Racing) was the early pacesetter with Ian Humphris (Valluga) the fastest Am. However, championship leader Theo Edgerton (TCR) soon appeared at the top of the timesheet by recording a fastest time of 1:52.222 around the 2.69-mile International circuit.
Following the usual break in the action as drivers pitted for fresh grooved wet weather Michelin tyres, the second half of the session got underway. With most drivers in the pits, Matthew Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) improved to move into third overall with Jack Bartholomew (Redline Racing) rising to sit second. In Am Humphris was chased by Alex Malykhin (Redline Racing) and Ambrogio Perfetti (IN2 Racing). With seven minutes left on the clock all the cars hit the track to attempt their final runs.
In the dying minutes of qualifying Ethan Hawkey (Team Parker Racing) moved into third overall, and an improving Carl Cavers (Valluga) leaped Perfetti for third in Am. An impressive lap from Humphris secured his category advantage as he went third fastest overall, but it was Bartholomew who triumphed – just as the flag fell he posted a 1:51.987 securing his second pole position of 2021. Bartholomew would be joined on the front row of the grid by Edgerton. Humphris took category pole position in Am and would start on the second row with reigning 2020 Am category champion Perfetti behind on row four.
For recording the fastest times in their respective categories, Bartholomew (Pro) and Humphris (Am) each received one championship point.
The first of the weekend’s two races took place on an overcast but dry circuit, following a short delay while barrier repairs were undertaken the cars lined-up for the start of the race shod with slick Michelin tyres. When the lights went out Clark made the best start to get alongside Bartholomew and Edgerton as they approached the first corner, though the order between the trio would stay the same. Further back Nigel Rice (Redline Racing) made a jump start for which he would receive a 10-second time penalty.
Having set an impressive lap time during qualifying, Humphris lost a place to Hawkey on the opening lap, though he retained the Am category race lead. As Hawkey advanced on Clark to challenge for third, Humphris came under increasing attack from Armstrong for fifth overall, Armstrong soon made a move stick leaving the race order as the perfect split of Am drivers following Pro category drivers. With Humphris comfortably leading the Am fight, Perfetti closed in on Malykhin – soon there was little to separate the pair.
An interesting dice for tenth place developed between Pete Chambers (Redline Racing), Rice and Charles March (Team Parker Racing) – March closing in on the battle between Chambers and Rice over a handful of laps. By lap 7 Bartholomew had stretched the gap back to Edgerton to 1.1-seconds, but in the next few laps Edgerton pushed to reduce that lead to a little over half a second. On lap 12 Edgerton was close enough to make a run on Bartholomew out of Druids and passed him through Lodge Corner to snatch the race lead.
Edgerton pulled a gap to Bartholomew in the final few laps of the race, he crossed the line to take his fifth win of 2021 with Bartholomew second, Clark recorded his third podium of the season. In Am Humphris took his fourth victory to continue his unbroken run of category podium finishes this season. Humphris was joined on the podium by Malykhin and Perfetti. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Bartholomew (Pro) and Humphris (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 Saturday’s second race Edgerton from Bartholomew.
The second of the weekend’s races took place in overcast but dry conditions. From the front row Edgerton and Bartholomew made good starts to enter the first corner side-by-side, Bartholomew went to the outside of his rival but won the corner to lead the race. Malykhin got the best start of the Am category drivers launching himself into the category lead from Perfetti and Humphris. Hawkey was another driver to make gains on the opening lap, moving ahead of Clark to third place overall. At the end of the second lap March came into the pits to retire.
Keen not to repeat the day’s opening race by sitting behind Bartholomew for a lengthy period of time, Edgerton made a successful pass on lap 3 to take the race lead, he then immediately began to pull a gap over Bartholomew. On lap 4 Perfetti and Malykhin made side-to-side contact, Perfetti emerged with the Am category lead while Malykhin slipped back behind Humphris. In the Pro category Hawkey began gaining on Bartholomew, closing to within half a second of his rear wing.
At half race distance leader Edgerton had pulled more than 2.5-seconds clear of Bartholomew in second, a gap he would maintain during the second half of the race. In Am Perfetti continued to lead Humphris with a comfortable gap from Malykhin, Malykhin came under pressure from Cavers and Rice, though Rice would soon spin onto the grass at Shell Oils Corner before continuing his race. Edgerton took the flag to secure his sixth win of the season with Bartholomew second and Hawkey third. Perfetti’s Am category win was his third of the season.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Edgerton (Pro) and Perfetti (Am) each received one additional championship point. The championship enters its penultimate weekend in August as it rejoins the TOCA package in support of the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton – the UK’s fastest circuit.
Theo Edgerton TCR 83
Jack Bartholomew Redline Racing 61
Ethan Hawkey Team Parker Racing 52
Ian Humphris Valluga 79
Ambrogio Perfetti IN2 Racing 46
Nigel Rice Redline Racing 41
*results remain provisional