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Armstrong takes Porsche Sprint Challenge GB championship lead with two wins at Croft

Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB traveled to Croft in North Yorkshire to once again run in support of the British Touring Car Championship. Matt Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) returned to his winning ways with two overall victories, catapulting the 23-year-old into the lead of the championship at the season midpoint. Meanwhile, Jason Pelosi (Deranged Motorsport) was a new winner in Am, recording two category victories.

Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session saw Steve Roberts (Redline Racing) follow up on his good form in Friday’s practice sessions to secure a maiden pole position. He was joined on the front row by race winner Armstrong while Harry Foster (Team Parker Racing) and Charles Clark (Team Parker Racing) formed the second row. Newcomer Sam Smelt (Redline Racing) continued to adapt to driving the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in his first weekend with the championship. Carl Cavers (Valluga) emerged from a close Am category fight to ahead of rivals Pelosi and Rupert Laslett (Raceway Motorsport).

Roberts led into the first corner at the start of the weekend’s opening race but an incident with Foster at the hairpin on lap 10 handed the lead to Armstrong. Roberts was forced to follow Armstrong home while Toby Trice (SVG Motorsport) took his maiden podium result. The battle in Am was equally dramatic, contact between Cavers and Laslett early on left both recovering from a compromised opening few laps which allowed Pelosi to secure his first category win.

The second race of the weekend was largely a repeat of the first, conducted over a reduced 11 lap distance. Armstrong led into the first corner and successfully defended throughout the race from an attacking Roberts to take his second win of the weekend. Trice also ran a partly defensive race to take his second podium result. Pelosi once again had the measure of his Am category rivals finishing ahead of Cavers and Laslett.

Saturday afternoon’s 30-minute qualifying session took place in dry and warm weather conditions. Foster was the early pacesetter in the first half of the session with Clark and Armstrong keeping him honest. As Roberts, Smelt, Pelosi and Cavers initially stayed in the pit lane, Laslett and John White (Team Parker Racing) led the charge on the track in Am. At the top of the timing screen Armstrong lapped within 0.002 seconds of provisional polesitter Foster before Roberts went fastest of all with a time of 1:22.701.

Half way through the session a close battle developed in Am between Cavers and Pelosi, first Cavers set the category pace only for Pelosi to immediately usurp him. However, Cavers soon went quicker still while Roberts improved with a time of 1:22.681. Next, with eight minutes remaining on the clock, Armstrong delivered the fastest lap of the session with a 1:22.574 – 0.107 seconds quicker than Roberts.

With two minutes of the session remaining Roberts took to the track again, this time he set the fastest time of all in the first sector which contributed to a new lap time of 1:22.372 – enough to secure the maiden pole position of his Porsche racing career. Roberts would be joined on the front row of the starting grid for round six by Armstrong with Foster just behind. Cavers topped the Am category drivers from Pelosi and Laslett.

Race one
The first of the weekend’s two races took place in dry weather conditions on Sunday afternoon. Roberts made a clean getaway when the lights went out to retain his lead into the first corner, Armstrong tucking in behind him with Foster running third. In Am, White was slow away while Pelosi moved up two places to take the category lead from Cavers with Laslett behind. Further into the opening lap, Clark made an error and slipped down to tenth position overall.

On lap three Foster made a successful move up the inside of Armstrong to snatch second spot into the hairpin, Laslett passing Cavers on the same lap at Tower Bend to secure second place in Am. Keen to regain the position, at the end of lap four Cavers drove to the inside of Laslett at the hairpin. At the exit Cavers was sandwiched between Laslett and a recovering Clark resulting in contact between both. The incident allowed White through to second in Am, Cavers now relegated to third in category. However, a recovering Laslett was quickly on the tail of Cavers, passing his category rival for third across the start line on lap six.

At the front of the race, Foster soon began to close on Roberts, closing to within striking distance by lap 10. As the pair entered the hairpin, Foster dived to the inside where there was contact. Roberts was pitched sideways while Foster was immediately forced to pit with damage which led to his retirement from the race. Having kept watch of the unfolding battle ahead, Armstrong was in the right place to assume the lead of the race, a recovering Roberts now second with Trice moving up to third.

Over the final few laps of the race Roberts pushed hard to close the gap to leader Armstrong – setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. On the penultimate lap Roberts was directly behind Armstrong, looking to the inside at the hairpin but no move came. His final chance would come at the last corner of the last lap, but Armstrong defended once more meaning he took the chequered flag to secure his second win of the season. Roberts finished second with Trice taking his maiden podium result. Pelosi took a maiden Am victory, joined on the category podium by White and Laslett.

For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Roberts (Pro) and Pelosi (Am) each received one additional championship point. Following the race Foster was handed a penalty of two championship points and two category points for his incident with Roberts at the hairpin.

Race two
The weekend’s second race took place in dry and overcast conditions on Sunday afternoon, run to a reduced distance of 11 laps due to earlier delays in the racing schedule. Armstrong and Roberts got away evenly from the front row at the start of the race with Trice slotting into third at the first corner. In Am, Pelosi retained his category lead with Laslett second and Cavers third. An out of position Clark was immediately looking racy, on the second lap he overtook Matt Greenwood (Race Lab) for sixth. On the same lap Laslett ran wide which allowed White to get by him for third in Am, making the new Am order Pelosi from Cavers and White.

As Roberts closed in on race leader Armstrong, Smelt drove up to the rear bumper of Trice in their battle for the final podium spot. Foster soon began to push hard too, setting the fastest lap of the race on the fifth lap. By the sixth lap he had found a route by Clark at Tower Bend, snatching fifth position overall. A four-way battle for third soon developed between Trice, Smelt, Foster and Clark – all four cars running in close formation. On lap seven Foster looked up the inside of Smelt at Tower Bend but he ran wide leaving the order unchanged.

As Foster closed back up to a defending Smelt he began to come under attack himself from Clark, the three-car fight giving Trice ahead some much needed breathing space. Foster repeatedly looked to pass Smelt at Tower Bend and then again into the final hairpin, but the newcomer positioned his car perfectly to deny Foster any opportunity. On the final lap White found himself in a half-spin, the moment allowing Laslett to pass him for the final Am category podium place.

At the flag Armstrong took his second win of the day, Roberts finished second and Trice third in a repeat of the podium from the first race. Likewise, Pelosi took his second Am victory, joined on the Am category podium by Cavers and Laslett. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Foster (Pro) and Pelosi (Am) each received one additional championship point.

At the season midpoint Armstrong now assumes the Pro category championship lead from Clark and, following his excellent weekend at Croft, Roberts moves ahead of Foster into third as he searches for a breakthrough victory. Despite seeing his run of category wins brought to a halt in North Yorkshire, Cavers retains the championship advantage in Am. The next stop is Oulton Park on 9 July where the championship joins the Porsche Club GB Motorsport package.

Championship positions*

Matthew Armstrong – Team Parker Racing – 59
Charles Clark – Team Parker – 51
Steve Roberts – Redline Racing – 47

Carl Cavers – Valluga – 66
Rupert Laslett – Raceway Motorsport – 57
Jason Pelosi – Redline Racing – 43

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche


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