Blue skies greeted a race that saw thrilling racing throughout the 22 car Porsche Carrera Cup GB grid, fulfilling the promise of a dramatic qualifying session. Porsche GB 2016 / 2017 Scholar Charlie Eastwood led from lights to flag to take his second championship victory, and first of the season. Behind Eastwood, the most remarkable effort of many belonged to reigning champion Dan Cammish (Redline Racing). Despite a compromised qualifying that left him 10th on the grid, Cammish gave what he described as one of the best performances of his career to achieve the seemingly impossible – a podium finish.
Drama struck in qualifying within five minutes of the lights going green. As double Brands Hatch pole sitter Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) caught Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing) on his first lap, the two made contact coming into Schwantz which caused the session to be stopped and put both drivers out for the remainder. A pragmatic Cammish was left starting round three in 10th place and round four in 20th.
The remainder of the session became a blur of fastest times as the field, most of which had changed onto fresh tyres during the stoppage, looked to capitalise on the reigning champion’s misfortune. Making the best of the remaining time was Porsche GB 2016 / 2017 Scholar Charlie Eastwood, who took up the Redline Racing mantle and finished with double pole positions for rounds three and four. However, that was not before impressive Rookies Ross Wylie (Slidesports) and Tom Wrigley (IN2 Racing) had taken a turn on the top spot. Both showed a growing confidence and ended eighth and fifth respectively.
Right behind Eastwood and the only other driver to break the 1:07 barrier was Lewis Plato, the JTR driver once again underlining his pace and lining up on the front row for both races. Team mate Dino Zamparelli felt the balance of his car could be improved, but still claimed two third-placed grid slots. Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) once again looked rapid, but traffic on the final corner of his fastest lap saw him end the session fourth for both races.
Euan McKay (Redline Racing) spent much of the second part of the session moving himself up the timesheets into third, but eventually had to settle for two sixth places. Meanwhile, Jamie Orton (Redline Racing) scored his best result yet and starts race two from seventh.
In Pro-Am1, Peter Jennings (G-Cat Racing) set the early pace with an impressive return to the category after missing rounds one and two. However, a rapid tyre change late in the session from Team Parker Racing saw Alex Martin post the fastest time on his last lap to earn two category pole positions, with Jennings second and Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) third.
Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) always looked to have Pro-Am2 under control, and so it proved. He took two category pole positions, but a not-too-distant second was the rapidly improving Rookie David Fairbrother (Slidesports). Brands Hatch category winners Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) and Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) took one third place each.
From the moment the lights went green the race produced plenty of action and made good on the promise of qualifying. Eastwood fended off an early charge from Lewis Plato (JTR), who held position alongside the Irishman off the rolling start all the way into the Craner Curves. Plato tucked in behind and the pair succeeded in putting some welcome distance between themselves and the chasing pack, which over the opening laps was separated by less than a second.
A series of blistering laps from Eastwood saw him earn some breathing space which he managed carefully to the chequered flag, always seeming to have something in reserve to respond to the various challenges from behind. Plato slipped back into the clutches of third-placed Zamparelli, the ensuing battle allowing Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) to close up on Zamparelli and challenge once again, before being shuffled back in the close-running pack.
Meanwhile, Cammish had been steadily working his way forward after passing two cars on the opening lap, and by half distance his next target was Euan McKay (Redline Racing), the Scottish driver up to a career-best fourth and setting fastest lap on his way.
Ahead, Zamparelli was making a break to close up on Plato and after two laps of precision racing from the pair, Zamparelli made his move. The Bristolian held a brave outside line at Redgate and squeezed into second with millimetres to spare after Plato had moved to defend the inside line on the way in. Moments later, Euan McKay fell prey to Cammish who took over fourth at the chicane, while Rookie Tom Wrigley (IN2 Racing) made the best of the resulting shuffle to claim back a fine fifth with Euan McKay sixth.
Cammish wasted no time in setting after Plato, beginning his move for third at Redgate and completing it as the pair headed side-by-side into Hollywood. Not done there, traffic allowed Cammish to close to within a second of Zamparelli, but running out of laps his incredible drive ended with a hard-earned podium. Zamparelli himself had set fastest lap of the race in his pursuit of Eastwood, but could get no closer than 1.2 seconds at the flag.
In his first Pro-Am1 race of 2017, Peter Jennings (G-Cat Racing) came through a race-long contest with Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) to take his first category victory. Martin claimed the fastest lap of the race, but was unable to respond to Jennings after being wrong-footed by a battle with the Pro category runners ahead. The category podium was rounded out by Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing), the local driver not disappointing on a circuit where he took a category win at the championship’s last visit in 2014.
In Pro-Am2, Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) managed to shrug off his Brands Hatch misfortune to convert his practice and qualifying pace into a strong category win. Showing an impressive turn of speed, not just on track but also at learning the 911 GT3 Cup, was Rookie David Fairbrother (Slidesports). In just his third Porsche Carrera Cup GB race, Fairbrother picked his way through the action to claim second in category and second spot in the Pro-Am2 championship.
Returning to the category podium in the final position was Peter Parsons (The Race Car Centre). Despite only stepping onto the podium for the first time at the start of 2017, his third podium in three races puts Parsons in the lead of the category championship going into round four.
Sunday’s longer feature race will run for 33 laps and gets underway at 13.35 with a standing start.Weather looks set to be a major factor, while Cammish will be looking to better his best with a charge from 20th.