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HARPER TIGHTENS PORSCHE CARRERA GB CHAMPIONSHIP GRIP AS WEBSTER SHINES

Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, delivered two action-packed races as it stepped onto the international stage at Silverstone in support of the opening race of the 2019 / 2020 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season – the 4 Hours of Silverstone. On the same weekend that the 2019 Porsche 911 RSR made its racing debut, 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) and 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) took victories at the championship’s blue riband weekend.

In front of an international audience of teams, drivers and spectators, Porsche Carrera Cup GB produced close racing and overtaking on Silverstone’s full 3.7-mile Grand Prix circuit – the first time the championship has held a round on the longer track configuration since it last supported WEC at Silverstone in 2016. Porsche GB Junior Harper converted his fifth pole position of the season into victory in Round 11, while Webster clinched a solid victory in Round 12 which propelled him into second place in the championship battle – relegating Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) to third. Porsche GB Junior Harper delivered a storming recovery drive in race two to finish P4, further extending his championship lead.

Continuing the rich Brabham family racing heritage, Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) took his maiden Pro-Am category victory in Round 11, promising Rookie Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) standing on the top step of the Pro-Am category on Sunday. John Ferguson (Redline Racing) and Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) shared Am category honours over the course of the weekend.

Qualifying
18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) claimed his fifth pole position of the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season at Silverstone in dry and sunny conditions. On his final lap, Harper responded to a significant challenge from 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster to end the qualifying session 0.273 seconds ahead of his rival in a closely contested battle. Fellow 2019 race winners Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) and George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) qualified on the second row.

Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) maintained her run of good form to qualify at the top of the Pro-Am category field, just 0.135 seconds ahead of championship rival Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing). Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) beat returnee Adam Hatfield (Valluga) to P3 in category by a slim 0.129 seconds. Another returnee for the weekend, Adam Knight (JTR), headed an equally close Am category battle. Knight’s time was 0.188 seconds quicker than that of category championship leader Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) and 0.386 seconds ahead of third placed qualifier in category – Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing).

Following the 2019 Carrera Cup GB race format, Junior Harper earned two championship points with his pole position, and the top qualifiers in their respective categories – Hawkey and Knight – also received two points each. The grid for the weekend’s second race would be decided immediately following race one.

Race one
With a few drops of rain in the air 19 cars shod with slick dry weather tyres took to the grid for the start of a 35 minute race on Saturday afternoon. 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) and Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) got away well from the front row of the grid, Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) made up ground from row two but maintained his starting position of P3. In the opening sector of the first lap Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) and Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) both suffered separate spins relegating them to the back of the pack. Further into the first lap Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) found the gravel trap at Copse where her race ended.

By the end of lap 1 Porsche GB Junior Harper had established a lead of 1.4 seconds over Webster in P2 – Plato maintaining P3. In Pro-Am Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) led Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) from Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing). In Am Adam Knight maintained his category pole position to head John Ferguson (Redline Racing) and returnee Dan Kirby (Rob Boston Racing). On lap 4 a close battle for P5 developed between Jamie Orton (JTR), Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) and Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance). When Orton ran wide through the Maggots and Beckets complex Perez and Vaughan advanced to P5 and P6 respectively.

By lap 6 Brabham had found a route by Leonard to lead the Pro-Am category competitors with Rookie Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) in close company. In their fight for P5, Vaughan and Perez switched positions, Perez and Orton soon making contact at Club resulting in Orton suffering a spin. On lap 9 a recovering Orton passed Knight, the Am driver spinning immediately afterwards which allowed Ferguson to assume the Am category lead from Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing). In a tight battle for P3 in Am, Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) and Kirby made contact on the Wellington Straight, the dramatic incident led to Kirby spinning and Kyle-Henney retiring from the race with damage to his left rear wheel. The Am category order was now Ferguson, Sherwood and Knight.

Fighting for the final Pro-Am category podium position, McCarthy put Leonard under pressure towards the latter part of the race, however the Rookie then fell back into the clutches of Pro category driver Roche – this allowed Pro-Am driver Adam Hatfield (Valluga) to join the battle for P9 overall. Wanting to keep Roche between himself and Pro-Am category rival Hatfield, McCarthy put on a staunch defence of his position but ultimately succumbed when Roche found a way by at Luffield on lap 17.

Porsche GB Junior Harper’s victory is his seventh of the season – maintaining his unbroken record of winning each weekend’s opening race. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Porsche GB Junior Harper – Pro and Knight – Am each receive one additional championship point. As part of the 2019 podium procedure, winner Harper selected at random the number 4 ball, which reverses the grid positions of the top 4 overall race finishers from round eleven. This formed the starting grid for round twelve; George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing), Plato, Webster, and Porsche GB Junior Harper.

Race two
The second of the weekend’s races – scheduled for a duration of 35 minutes – took place on Sunday morning in dry and sunny conditions. From the front row Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) made another good start to draw alongside pole-sitter George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing), from the second row 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) overtook Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) for P3. Gamble initially led Plato from Porsche GB Junior Harper and Webster – all in close formation – in the melee Junior Harper and Plato made contact, Junior Harper spinning and Plato losing a position to team mate Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance), the order now: Gamble, Webster and Vaughan.

In the Pro-Am category fight Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) led Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) from Sam Brabham (Team Connect It). John Ferguson (Redline Racing) headed the Am category drivers from championship returnees Dan Kirby (Rob Boston Racing) and Adam Knight (JTR). However, Kirby soon navigated by Ferguson to take the Am category lead, when Ferguson subsequently ran wide Knight also gained a position. On lap 3 Leonard spun enabling McCarthy to take the Pro-Am category lead, Brabham assuming P2 and Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) P3.

At the front of the race Webster made a key pass on Gamble for the lead of the race at Hanger Straight. One lap later a recovering Porsche GB Junior Harper overtook Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) for P5 overall before setting after Plato in P4, soon a nose-to-tail fight involving Porsche GB Junior Harper, Plato and Vaughan developed. Porsche GB Junior Harper wasted no time in mounting a challenge on Plato, passing his rival for P4. Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) moved up to P3 in Am, then P2 shortly afterwards with Knight following him through. Pro-Am runner Leonard came into the pits – he would rejoin the race at the bank of the pack.

On lap 8 Plato made contact with Porsche GB Junior Harper at Village, the teenager spinning for a second time, relegating him to P10. Further drama came as Ferguson attempted to pass Kirby, contact between the two resulting in Ferguson leaving the circuit, as he rejoined more contact was made – this time with Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) – who subsequently spun off, Ferguson’s race ending as a result of the incident. The Am category order was now: Sherwood, Knight and Kirby. On lap 13 returnee Adam Hatfield (Valluga) overtook Hawkey for the final Pro-Am category podium spot.

In the closing stages of the race Porsche GB Junior Harper, delivering a second recovery drive, found a way by Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) for P5 overall. On the final lap of the race Plato slowed on the Hanger Straight allowing Porsche GB Junior Harper to take P4 before he crossed line to take the chequered flag. Immediately following the race, for his part in the incident with Kyle-Henney, Ferguson was given a formal reprimand resulting in the loss of three championship points and a three place grid penalty at the next round. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Porsche GB Junior Harper – Pro and Hatfield – Pro-Am each receive one additional championship point. For his performance, Vaughan earned the Driver of the Weekend accolade, Motorbase Performance were awarded Team of the Weekend.

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche/Photo. THe Editor

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