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Clark retakes Porsche Sprint Challenge GB championship lead following dramatic weekend

The second half of the Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB season got underway at Oulton Park in Cheshire. The championship returned to the Porsche Club GB Motorsport package with qualifying and two races taking place over a single day. Overall victories for Charles Clark (Team Parker Racing) and Harry Foster (Team Parker Racing) came alongside two category wins for Rupert Laslett (Raceway Motorsport) in Am.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session was interrupted by a lengthy red flag period. When action resumed the drivers had just a few minutes to set their fastest lap times. Clark, Foster, Steve Roberts (Redline Racing) and Matt Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) all challenged for pole – Armstrong initially emerged ahead before he was beaten by Roberts. Finally, Clark set a time good enough to secure the third pole position of his Porsche racing career. In Am, Laslett finished the session less than a tenth of a second ahead of category rival Carl Cavers (Valluga).

Clark maintained his lead into the first corner at the start of the weekend’s opening race, followed by Roberts and Foster. Matt Greenwood (Race Lab) moved up to fourth ahead of Armstrong and Toby Trice (SVG Motorsport), while Laslett stayed ahead of Cavers in Am. Clark resisted pressure from Roberts but he later fell back into the clutches of Foster who assumed second place, and Clark’s third win of the season followed. Meanwhile, Laslett stayed ahead to take his second Am win of the season.

The second race of the weekend saw Clark ahead until a dramatic final lap when Foster snatched the lead at Shell Oils Corner. Foster went on to record his third win while Clark’s result was enough to propel him back into the lead of the Pro category championship. It was an equally dramatic finish in Am when contact between John White (Team Parker Racing) and Cavers on the last lap allowed Laslett to secure his second victory of the weekend, Cavers crossed the line in second with Stuart Gibson (Redline Racing) securing a maiden Am category podium result.

Saturday morning’s 20-minute qualifying session took place in dry weather conditions. Greenwood was the early pacesetter until Roberts jumped to the top of the timing screen with a lap of 1:43.204. Jason Pelosi (Deranged Motorsport) was the driver to beat in Am before an off at the Britten’s chicane put an end to his weekend and brought out the red flag.

Following a lengthy delay for barrier repairs, qualifying got back underway with a reduced session duration of seven minutes remaining on the clock. Armstrong emerged ahead during the first set of fast laps closely followed by Clark and Roberts. With two minutes remaining on the clock, Roberts improved to go quickest by just 0.004 seconds from a charging Foster, that left Armstrong 0.130 seconds adrift in third.

In the dying moments of the session Clark became the only driver to lap the circuit in under 1:42 – his time of 1:41.844 was good enough to secure pole position leaving Roberts second, Foster third and Armstrong fourth – the top four separated by just 0.276. Laslett capitalised on the absence of Pelosi to top Am while Cavers came within 0.084 seconds of matching his category rival.

Race one
The first of the weekend’s two races took place in dry and sunny weather conditions on Saturday afternoon. Clark maintained his lead into the first corner resisting pressure from Roberts and Foster, however, it was Greenwood who made the best start moving ahead of Trice and Armstrong to assume fourth position on the opening lap. In Am, Laslett stayed ahead of Cavers with John White jumping returnee Gisbon for third in the category. On lap two, 10-second penalties were handed to Roberts and Armstrong for out-of-position starts – both to be applied after the race.

Keen to make up for ground lost at the start, Armstrong began to challenge Greenwood for fourth – first he tried into Old Hall Corner and then later to the outside over Hilltop, yet he could not find a route through. On lap three, Armstrong went to the outside of Greenwood at Cascades and through Island Bend. Their battle gave the top three of Clark, Roberts and Foster some breathing space ahead and allowed Trice to stay in touch. On lap five the fight came to a conclusion as Armstrong got ahead of Greenwood at Shell Oils Corner, but when Trice attempted to follow him through there was contact, resulting in Greenwood’s exit from the race.

At the front of the race, Clark now led Roberts by less than a second on the road, however, with the 10-second penalty pending for Roberts it was Foster who was effectively sitting second on corrected time. Also running with a penalty in mind was Armstrong – he needed to build a 10-second cushion back to Trice if he was to maintain his fourth place at the flag. Meanwhile, in their fight for third in Am, Gibson began closing on White, getting directly behind his rival in the latter stages of the race.

On lap 12 Roberts dropped back allowing Foster to snatch second on the road. With their penalties in mind, both Roberts and Armstrong created gaps of more than 10-seconds back to Trice in fifth – this ensured they would maintain their positions on adjusted time. On the final lap of the race the dice between Gibson and White was resolved when Gibson suffered a spin at the exit of Knickerbrook before continuing his race, allowing White to cement his second Am category podium of the season.

At the flag Clark took the third win of his Porsche racing career with Foster finishing second and Roberts doing enough to maintain the final podium spot. Laslett’s win in Am was his second of the season, joined on the category podium by Cavers and White. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Clark (Pro) and Laslett (Am) each received one additional championship point. Following the race for his incident with Greenwood, Trice was docked two championship points.

Race two
The weekend’s second race took place in dry conditions late on Saturday afternoon. Clark led into the first corner with Foster tucking into second place, Roberts third and Armstrong fourth, while Greenwood jumped Trice on the opening lap for fifth. In Am, Laslett retained his lead while White got ahead of category rival Cavers for second, however, Laslett received word of a 10-second penalty for a jump start to be applied to his final race time.

Three key battles soon developed, with Armstrong attacking Roberts for third overall, Trice attempting to pass Greenwood for fifth, and Cavers pressuring White for the effective lead of the Am category – Laslett’s pending penalty taken into account. On lap eight Armstrong left the circuit at Britten’s before rejoining, and although he lost ground he retained his fourth position. On lap 10, Trice began to attack Greenwood with renewed purpose, trying the outside line at Old Hall Corner where the pair ran side-by-side but Greenwood managed to stay ahead.

On lap 12 Cavers got closer than ever to White at Cascades but he could not create an opportunity. One lap later Trice tried the outside line on Greenwood once more in his search to take fifth overall, and on the next lap Greenwood would slow and make his retirement from the race at Island Bend. Entering the final lap of the race, just a single car length separated leader Clark from Foster, and as the duo navigated Shell Oils Corner for the final time Foster mustered a pass to snatch the race lead, relegating Clark to second.

As the Am drivers entered their final lap, Cavers got by White at Old Hall Corner to assume second in the category battle. However, when the pair arrived at Hislops, White came back at his rival and there was contact, slowing Cavers and ending White’s race on the spot. Foster crossed the line to take his third win of the season, with Clark second and Roberts third. Laslett took the chequered flag as the leading Am on the road but with his penalty still pending. Attentions turned to the clock to see whether the next Am driver would cross the line before 10 seconds had elapsed to deny Laslett’s win. By the narrowest of margins they did not, making Laslett the Am victor from Cavers and Gibson.

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

Following the Oulton Park weekend, Clark now reassumes the championship lead by just two points from Armstrong, with Foster and Roberts still in touch. In Am, Cavers has seen his category advantage reduced over Laslett to just two points – the closest it has been all season. In September the championship rejoins the British GT package for its penultimate weekend – the triple header at Brands Hatch in Kent will prove pivotal in deciding the outcome of the 2022 championship.

Championship positions*

Charles Clark – Team Parker – 71
Matthew Armstrong – Team Parker Racing – 69
Harry Foster – Team Parker Racing – 62

Carl Cavers – Valluga – 82
Rupert Laslett – Raceway Motorsport – 80
Jason Pelosi – Redline Racing – 43

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche


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