Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB returned to Thruxton and its position as part of the TOCA package in support of the British Touring Car Championship for its penultimate weekend of 2021. In addition to provisionally resolving two championship category battles the weekend was notable for the addition of the most successful driver in Porsche Carrera Cup GB history, 1992 British Touring Car Champion Tim Harvey, as guest driver. Harvey made his return to Porsche one-make racing after a decade away, racing in the Pro category with Team Parker Racing .
A dry qualifying session on Saturday afternoon resulted in Jack Bartholomew (Redline Racing) securing his third pole position of the season, championship rival Theo Edgerton (TCR) would join him on the front row of the grid for Round 9. Ian Humphris (Valluga) started his weekend by qualifying as the fastest Am in an impressive fourth place overall. Guest driver Tim Harvey (Team Parker Racing) made a single qualifying run which was good enough to put him on the fourth row of the grid.
Two races on Sunday provided plenty of drama. Edgerton and Bartholomew ran side-by-side at the start of the first race, Edgerton got ahead and fended off his rival’s advances until a spin ended Bartholomew’s race a lap early. Edgerton took his seventh win of the season and closed to within 3 points of championship glory. Am championship leader Humphris secured his fifth category win and with it the provisional 2021 Am category championship.
Edgerton got away well in the weekend’s second race which was interrupted by a Safety Car period, at the restart he controlled the pace beautifully to take victory – provisionally securing the Pro category championship title. Guest driver Harvey continued to adapt to the championship with every lap, an opportunistic move towards the end of the race saw him take third place overall – much to the delight of the Thruxton crowd. In Am Malykhin ran as high as second overall before an incident with Clark allowed Humphris to take the Am category lead.
Following two dry Practice sessions on Friday, Saturday afternoon’s 30-minute qualifying session also took place in dry weather conditions. Championship leader Edgerton was the early pacesetter while his Pro category championship rival Bartholomew initially waited in the pit lane. In Am Alex Malykhin (Redline Racing) continued his good form from Friday’s practice sessions to lap quicker than category opponents Nigel Rice (Redline Racing) and Kurt Leimer (Team Parker Racing).
During the second half of the session Bartholomew, Humphris and Carl Cavers (Valluga) all took to the track for the first time, Bartholomew moved to third overall and Humphris to fourth – the latter now topping the Am category runners. Guest driver Harvey elected to make one run in qualifying as he continued to adapt to the ‘Type 982’ Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
In the final two minutes of the qualifying session Bartholomew became the first driver to lap the 2.3-mile circuit in under 1 minute 16 seconds – his time of 1:15.881 would not be beaten securing the third pole position of his Porsche racing career. The final Pro category order at the flag was Bartholomew from Edgerton and Clark. Humphris ended the day as the fastest Am, he qualifying ahead of Malykhin and Rice. Guest driver Harvey would start the first of the weekend’s two races on the fourth row of the grid.
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 in dry and sunny conditions. At the start Edgerton drew alongside pole-sitter Bartholomew, the pair ran side-by-side through Allard and into the Campbell and Cobb sequence of corners, Edgerton emerged ahead by Seagrave to take the race lead. In Am Humphris led Rice from Pete Chambers (Redline Racing) while guest driver Tim Harvey slipped back to tenth position.
On lap 2 Chambers overtook Rice for second spot in Am and the pair continued their battle into the third lap, Rice then came under attack from Malykhin who now led a tightly packed train of cars consisting of Rice, Cavers and Harvey. Now getting into his rhythm, Harvey mounted a successful challenge on Cavers through Noble and Goodwood on lap 5, Malykhin soon continued his forward progress by gaining a further spot with a move on Chambers.
As Edgerton came under increasing pressure from Bartholomew at the front of the race, Clark occupied a comfortable third place. In Am Humphris maintained his lead, followed by Malykhin and Rice. Leimer soon closed on Chambers for P4 in Am but a spin at the exit of Cobb led to his early retirement. Attentions quickly turned to Harvey as he searched for a route by Malykhin for P6 overall, on the penultimate lap Harvey ducked left and right through Village and Brooklands as he looked to challenge but there was no way through.
At the end of the penultimate lap Bartholomew spun at the exit of the Club chicane making contact with the pit wall and ending his race, his exit gave Edgerton a clear run to the flag where he took his seventh win of the season. Clark moved up to second and Matt Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) to third completing the Pro category podium. Harvey crossed the line in an impressive P6. In taking his fifth Am win of the season, Humphris provisionally secured the Am championship, he was joined on the category podium by Malykhin and Rice.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Edgerton (Pro) and Humphris (Am) each received one additional championship point. For an incident with Malykhin, Rice was docked two championship points. 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 Clark. With Bartholomew out of the weekend’s running Edgerton needed just three championship points to take Pro category championship honours.
The second of the weekend’s races took place in dry and sunny conditions. Edgerton got away well to lead a fast-starting Malykhin – up to second position overall. Armstrong got ahead of Clark as the latter dropped down the order to fourth. Behind Malykhin in Am was Humphris, next came Rice who quickly became engaged in a battle with Harvey – the two former Porsche Carrera Cup GB sparing partners reignited their rivalry as Rice overtook the guest driver.
At the end of lap 2 Harvey mounted a successful challenge on Rice for P6, he was ahead into the chicane in a clean move, just behind came Leimer who slid into the barriers at Club – this called the Safety Car into action. At the restart on lap 7 Armstrong immediately got by Malykhin for second spot, Harvey also gained a place passing Humphris for fifth. Malykhin soon came under pressure from Clark who tried to pass on the outside at Club but to no avail. As the pair fought guest driver Harvey was able to make gains and was soon within striking distance.
On lap 12 Malykhin and Clark made contact at Club, Malykhin spun and rejoined the race though not before an opportunistic Harvey dodged the pair to assume third overall. At the flag Edgerton took his eighth win of the season and provisionally secured the 2021 Pro category championship. He was joined on the Pro category podium by Armstrong and an emotional Harvey . As a result of Malykhin’s spin Humphris recorded his seventh category victory of the season, Malykhin and Rice completed the Am category podium.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Malykhin (Am) each received one additional championship point. After the race Clark was handed a 2 point penalty for his incident with Malykhin.
Tim Harvey: “I wanted to compete in Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB for fun last year, but then Covid hit and it wasn’t possible for me. It is such a great championship – the cars are fantastic for both Pros and Ams – and all this weekend has done is reignite the fire in me to race again.
“It’s been a fabulous weekend and great to get back behind the wheel of a Porsche GT product in a competitive racing environment. It’s lovely to be back in the paddock, so many of the Porsche guys are old friends from my years racing in Porsche Carrera Cup GB, and the public reception has been lovely as well.”
The final weekend of the 2021 championship takes place at Donington Park in October as Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB rejoins the British GT package.
Theo Edgerton TCR 104
Jack Bartholomew Redline Racing 62
Ethan Hawkey Team Parker Racing 52
Ian Humphris Valluga 101
Alex Malykhin Redline Racing 53
Nigel Rice Redline Racing 51
*results remain provisional
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