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Foster announces Porsche Sprint Challenge GB championship bid with two wins at Thruxton

Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB arrived at Thruxton – the fastest circuit in the UK – to form part of the TOCA package running in support of the British Touring Car Championship. Drivers reached top speeds of 154 mph as they battled for supremacy on the challenging 2.3-mile circuit. Harry Foster (Team Parker Racing) took a maiden win in the first race of the weekend and repeated the result on Sunday to announce his bid for overall championship glory. Carl Cavers (Valluga) and Rupert Laslett (Raceway Motorsport) shared wins in the Am category.

Saturday’s qualifying session saw Foster take his first pole position with former race winners Matthew Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) and Charles Clark (Team Parker) just behind. The weekend’s guest driver – Ben McLoughlin (Redline Racing) – would start sixth following his very first taste of the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in qualifying. In Am, Laslett headed rival Cavers to top the category qualifying battle.

At the start of round four, Foster maintained his lead into the first corner to resist pressure from Armstrong, going on to secure a maiden championship win at his home circuit. Having lost a spot at the start, Clark recovered to third only to suffer a high-speed off which relegated him to the back of the pack. Steve Roberts (Redline Racing) defended hard from McLoughlin to take his first podium result. Cavers drove to a confident victory in Am after overtaking category rival Laslett.

The second race of the weekend took place on Sunday afternoon and was partly a repeat of the first with Foster securing his second victory. Roberts finished a close second with Clark charging through the pack to take third. Cavers was ahead in Am until a spin relegated him to second and promoted rival Laslett to the top step of the category podium.

Saturday morning’s 30-minute qualifying session took place in dry weather conditions. Clark set the pace in the first half of the session with a benchmark time of 1:16.980. Roberts gave chase 0.449 seconds adrift with Armstrong 0.777 off the championship leader’s pace. In Am, Laslett had the measure of Cavers who spent a large chunk of time in the pit lane.

At the halfway point of the session Foster emerged on top with a time of 1:16.395. Armstrong lapped just 0.198 seconds slower with Clark sitting third overall. Foster soon improved – this time lapping in a time of 1:16.276. In his efforts to get on terms with Foster, Clark was one of a few drivers to have a lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. In the final few moments of qualifying, McLoughlin improved his best time to sit sixth overall as he acclimatised to driving the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

At the flag Foster had done enough to secure the maiden pole position of his Porsche racing career, joined on the front row for Round 4 by former race winner Armstrong with Clark third. McLoughlin would start sixth. Laslett finished the session just ahead of an improving Cavers. Jason Pelosi (Redline Racing) would not take part in qualifying or the first of the weekend’s races but via special dispensation the Am driver would compete in round five on Sunday.

Race one
The first of the weekend’s two races took place in dry weather conditions late on Saturday afternoon. When the lights went out Armstrong got away well, but Foster hooked up a clean launch to maintain his lead into the first corner. From the back of the pack Greenwood looked racey as he moved around behind Cavers and Laslett, but could not find a way past the leading Am pair. Further into the opening lap Roberts was the driver on the move, passing Clark for third overall. Meanwhile, McLoughlin moved up a spot to fifth while Cavers overtook category rival Laslett to lead in Am.

With the top four cars running in close formation, Clark began gaining on Roberts as he sought to regain third position – over the line, just 0.150 seconds split the pair on the third lap of the race. Clark soon mounted a successful challenge to retake the place. Next, Clark closed on leader Foster and Armstrong in second, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap four only for Foster to respond with a quicker time just one lap later. Just behind the lead fight, McLoughlin increased the pressure on Roberts, growing in confidence with every passing lap.

Drama arrived on lap 11 when Clark left the circuit at Church, making contact with the barrier before continuing to the pit lane with damage to his car. He would rejoin the race one lap down on the rest of the field. Having followed closely for a number of laps, Greenwood finally found a way by Laslett for seventh overall on lap 13, though just two laps later the positions would be reversed – Laslett getting back ahead.

In the final two laps of the race Armstrong pushed to catch leader Foster, but on the penultimate lap he ran wide at Club chicane handing Foster valuable breathing space. Foster took the chequered flag to secure the maiden win of his Porsche racing career, joined on the podium by Armstrong and Roberts – the latter making his first podium appearance. Cavers triumphed in Am with Laslett coming home second in category.

For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Cavers (Am) each received one additional championship point.

Race two
The weekend’s second race took place in dry and overcast conditions on Sunday afternoon. Foster made a clean start to maintain his lead into the first corner but Armstrong was slow off the line from second, passed by Roberts then McLoughlin. Further into the opening lap Armstrong found himself battling with Trice, the latter staying ahead despite contact between the two out of Seagrave. In Am, Cavers stayed ahead of Laslett with Pelosi running third in category.

Early into the race Roberts heaped pressure on leader Foster while Armstrong stayed close to Trice. Just behind Clark grabbed sixth as he worked his way his way up from the back of the grid – keen to make up for his disappointing result in round four. On the third lap Armstrong mounted a challenge on Trice, but there was contact causing Trice to spin at the Club chicane before continuing at the back of the pack. Armstrong continued his race in fifth. Just one lap later Trice made a pit stop to change a wheel damaged during his earlier incident before rejoining.

With a clear track ahead, Clark pushed to catch Armstrong. On lap eight Armstrong dipped two wheels onto the grass at Church losing momentum which allowed Clark a run on him up Woodham Hill, Clark ahead by the time they reached the chicane. Clark’s next target was McLoughlin and within a handful of laps he would arrive on the back of the guest driver. On lap 10 Am leader Cavers spun which allowed Laslett to get into the category lead with Cavers relegated to second, Pelosi still third.

On lap 13 Clark finally found a route by McLoughlin for third overall in a brave pass set up at Village and completed at the ultra-fast Church corner. McLoughlin then found himself under pressure from Armstrong, but attentions turned to the race lead as Roberts closed to within half a second of Foster in the final few laps. Despite this, there would be no further changes in the running order leaving Foster to take his second win of the season, joined on the overall podium by Roberts and Clark. Laslett topped Am with Cavers second, Pelosi completing the category podium.

For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Cavers (Am) each received one additional championship point.

Following the Thruxton weekend, Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB continues as part of the TOCA package at Croft on the weekend of 24 to 26 June. Clark maintains his championship lead while Foster and Armstrong will arrive in North Yorkshire just four championship points adrift – tied on 39 points. Matt Greenwood (Race Lab) will want to put a difficult weekend at Thruxton behind him as he heads to his local circuit. Meanwhile, Cavers and Laslett look set to continue their close fight in the Am category, the advantage currently lying with the experienced Cavers.

Championship positions*

Charles Clark – Team Parker – 43
Harry Foster – Team Parker Racing – 39
Matthew Armstrong – Team Parker Racing – 39

Carl Cavers – Valluga – 52
Rupert Laslett – Raceway Motorsport – 45
Jason Pelosi – Redline Racing – 21

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche


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