Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB returned to the British GT package for its 2021 season finalé at Donington Park. With champions in both categories already crowned, the return of 2020 Pro category champion James Dorlin (Redline Racing) and the addition of talented new drivers, the weekend in Leicestershire was an exciting “gloves off” affair.
A dry qualifying session on Saturday afternoon saw reigning champion Dorlin take the third pole position of his Porsche racing career, Jack Bartholomew (Redline Racing) would join him on the front row of the grid for Round 11. A close Am battle saw Alex Malykhin (Redline Racing) top the category. Harry Foster (Team Parker Racing) was the leading newcomer and would start the weekend’s first race from fifth.
Tricky wet weather conditions greeted the drivers for the first of Sunday’s two races, Dorlin and Bartholomew ran side-by-side at the start but it was Dorlin who edged ahead to lead on the opening lap and he never looked back. An impressive performance from newcomer Foster saw him take a podium result in his maiden race. Malykhin took his maiden Am victory, he was joined on the category podium by rookie newcomer Matthew Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing).
In dry conditions Dorlin made a good start to the weekend’s second race to lead into the first corner, a squabble behind was resolved in favour of Bartholomew with Armstrong third. In Am Malykhin led Kurt Leimer (Team Parker Racing) from Nigel Rice (Redline Racing). The race saw a number of drivers penalised for track limits but at the flag Dorlin had done enough to take his second win of the day, Malykhin claimed the honours again in Am.
Saturday afternoon’s 30-minute qualifying session took place in dry weather conditions. Bartholomew was the early pacesetter with a lap time of 1:34.002, returnee Dorlin was 0.286secs behind with Clark 0.498secs adrift. The Am battle was led by Malykhin who sat an impressive fourth overall, while Rice headed newcomer Kyle-Henney.
With just over 10-minutes remaining on the clock Dorlin jumped to the top of the timesheet – the first driver to lap in under 1:34 – with a time of 1:33.920. The latter part of the session saw an improvement for rookie Foster – the leading newcomer, but the notable change came when Armstrong leapt Clark in the final five minutes of qualifying to sit third overall.
In the final few minutes Rice improved to second in Am but Carl Cavers (Valluga) soon lapped quicker than him, however, Kyle-Henney beat both drivers as he took the chequered flag to draw their fight to a close. Due to the fact that Dorlin does not score championship points during the weekend, Bartholomew received the Pro category championship point for the fastest lap in qualifying, in Am Malykhin received one championship point for recording the fastest time in his category.
Following the session Leimer opted to fit a new set of slick Michelin racing tyres which resulted in him being relegated to the back of the grid for the start of the weekend’s first race.
The first of the weekend’s two races took place in wet conditions on Sunday morning. At the start returnee Rob Boston (Rob Boston Racing) did not get away when the lights went out causing those behind to drive around his stricken car. From the front row Dorlin and Bartholomew ran side-by-side through Redgate and continued their battle down the Craner Curves, Dorlin edged ahead by Old Hairpin leaving Bartholomew second and Clark third.
In the run through McLeans and up to Coppice on the opening lap Armstrong found a way by Clark and Bartholomew to snatch second, Foster followed him through for third leaving Bartholomew fourth and Clark fifth. On lap two Bartholomew ran wide at Coppice which allowed Clark to overtake. In Am Malykhin led Cavers from Kyle-Henney while further back Leimer left the circuit at Schwantz Curve before rejoining the race.
Despite having never driven his car in wet conditions before, Kyle-Henney made good progress underlined with a successful challenge on Cavers for second in Am. With 15-minutes of racing remaining Armstrong began to close on Dorlin ahead, a recovering Bartholomew was now up to P7 with Boston following suit – he was now up to P11 after his slow start. At the end of lap 10 newcomer John White (IN2 Racing) made a pit stop before rejoining the race. On the final lap of the race Leimer overtook Chambers for fifth in Am.
Dorlin’s victory was the eighth of his Porsche racing career, Malykhin’s result was his maiden Am category victory. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Dorlin (Pro) and Malykhin (Am) each received one additional championship point. The starting grid for race two would be determined by the finishing positions in race one, that made the front row for Sunday’s second race Dorlin from Armstrong.
The second of the weekend’s races took place in dry conditions late on Sunday afternoon. Boston made the best start when the lights went out moving up to sixth position but it was Dorlin who maintained his lead from Armstrong into the first corner. Just behind Bartholomew went side-by-side with Foster through Redgate and down the Craner Curves, Bartholomew emerged ahead to retain third spot. In Am Malykhin led Leimer who was now up to second in category, Rice slotted into third.
On the second lap Foster ran wide allowing Clark to draw alongside him in the run through Schwantz Curve, Clark was ahead at McLeans moving up to fourth position. By the end of lap two the order at the front was Dorlin from Bartholomew and Armsrong, Clark applied pressure to his rival ahead as the pair battled for third in the Pro category championship. Meanwhile a close battle developed in Am between Leimer, Rice, and Cavers who were all nose-to-tail.
On lap 6 Foster received a 5-second penalty for track limits, it would be the first of several penalties handed out to a number of drivers for similar offences. On lap 8 both Clark and Boston received 5-second penalties, just a few laps later Foster, Clark and Boston would be handed 10-second penalties – all for track limits. On lap 10 Cavers received a 5-second penalty for track limits. In the closing stages of the race Boston put Foster under increasing pressure until an error at the Esses saw Boston run wide giving Foster breathing space.
At the flag Dorlin took his second win of the day, he was joined on the Pro category podium by Bartholomew and Armstrong. Malykhin took his second Am victory of the weekend, Leimer and Rice completed the Am category podium. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Dorlin (Pro) and Malykhin (Am) each received one additional championship point.
The final Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB weekend brings to a close an exciting second season for Porsche Motorsport GB’s newest championship. Provisional Pro category champion Theo Edgerton (TCR) and Am category champion Ian Humphris (Valluga) will be crowned at an end of season awards ceremony in November – each receive their share of a healthy prize pot and a holiday for two to the Cayman Islands.
Porsche is already looking ahead to 2022 where the championship will continue to establish itself on the national scene – expanding to 16 races over the same number of weekends as 2021 – while showcasing an important level in the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid with the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Theo Edgerton TCR 104
Jack Bartholomew Redline Racing 80
Matthew Armstrong Team Parker Racing 62
Ian Humphris Valluga 101
Alex Malykhin Redline Racing 76
Nigel Rice Redline Racing 65
*results remain provisional