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PERFECT WEEKEND FOR FOSTER SENDS PORSCHE SPRINT CHALLENGE GB CHAMPIONSHIP DOWN TO THE WIRE

Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB returned following a summer break, rejoining the British GT package for its second triple header weekend of the season at Brands Hatch in Kent. Harry Foster (Team Parker Racing) took pole position and a hat trick of wins, his perfect weekend propelling him into the lead of the championship for the first time this season with just three races remaining.

In Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session on the full Grand Prix circuit, Steve Roberts (Redline Racing), Foster and championship leader Charles Clark (Team Parker Racing) fought it out for pole position. Initially Roberts was ahead but later into the session Foster set two fast lap times, enough to secure pole position for the weekend’s first two races. Less than a tenth of a second separated Roberts and Clark just behind. In Am, returnee Mike Price (Apex Motorsport) was on the pace from the outset and remained ahead, fending off the advances of championship rivals Rupert Laslett (Raceway Motorsport) and Carl Cavers (Valluga) who ended the session split by just 0.001 seconds.

In the weekend’s first race Foster made a good start to maintain his lead into Paddock Hill Bend. Behind, Roberts was passed by Clark with Matthew Armstrong (Team Parker Racing) giving chase in fourth. The race between the top four ebbed and flowed but the order would remain the same to the flag – Foster taking victory. In Am, Price got off the line well but later came under pressure from Laslett and Cavers, Laslett emerging ahead to take category victory while championship hopeful Cavers retired following contact with Price at Druids.

Foster got away well from pole position at the start of round 11, going on to take his second lights-to-flag victory of the weekend. Roberts kept the leader honest throughout the race, chasing him home to finish second. Meanwhile, Armstrong fended off the advances of Clark for almost the entire distance to finish third. Price stayed ahead in Am to take his maiden category win, although as a guest entry he would score no points. Laslett made an error on the opening lap which resulted in retirement and kept the championship hopes of Cavers alive – he finished second but would score maximum points with newcomer Callum Davis (Valluga) completing the podium in only his second race.

The final encounter of the weekend saw Foster complete his perfect weekend, his trio of wins finalised with another lights-to-flag performance at the front. Roberts, Armstrong and Clark battled once more, though the order between them remained the same. Price initially led in Am before he left the circuit, promoting Cavers to the top step of the category podium. Despite starting at the back of the grid and taking a trip across the grass, Laslett impressed with a storming recovery drive which saw him finish on the Am podium.

Qualifying
Saturday’s 20 minute qualifying session took place in dry weather conditions. Roberts was the early pacesetter with a lap time of 1:32.755, soon improving with a 1:32.049 – equal to the circuit lap record set in 2021. In Am, returnee Price was immediately on the pace, initially heading championship regulars Cavers and Jason Pelosi (Redline Racing).

At the halfway point of the session Foster leapt to the top of the timing screen posting a 1:31.678, Clark was second with Roberts now relegated to third. Price remained the Am to beat with championship rivals Cavers and Laslett coming next in that order. In the final minute of the session Roberts improved to usurp Clark, making the top three at the flag Foster from Roberts and Clark. In Am, Price finished the session ahead of Laslett and Cavers.

On triple-header weekends a driver’s fastest and second fastest laps are used to form the grid for races one and two, the grid for race three determined by the finishing positions of race two. Following qualifying Foster had done enough to take overall pole position for the weekend’s first two races with Price the fastest Am.

Race one
The first of the weekend’s three races took place in dry conditions late on Saturday afternoon. Foster maintained his lead into Paddock Hill at the start, but Roberts was slow off the line and allowed Clark to leap into second. Cavers bogged down when the lights went out, slipping backwards as category rivals Price, Laslett and Pelosi accelerated away in Am. As the pack approached Druids for the first time Armstrong went to the outside of Roberts as he attempted a challenge for third, however the move did not materialise.

On the second lap of the race Cavers began a recovery drive, soon getting ahead of Pelosi for third in Am with an impressive overtake up the inside at Paddock Hill before setting off after Laslett ahead. At the front of the race, Roberts began to pressure Clark while Foster pulled away, increasing his lead to almost one full second. Foster continued his charge over the next couple of laps pulling out around half a second per lap over the chasing Clark. Soon Cavers had caught Price and Laslett, making the battle for Am glory a three-car affair.

On lap six Laslett mounted a pass on Price for the category lead, driving to the outside at Hawthorns Bend. Cavers then began to pressure Price for second, looking to the inside at Paddock Hill then, as they arrived at Druids, he attempted a move up the inside which resulted in contact. Suffering damage as a result, Cavers then ran wide at Surtees, sliding on his own fluid and falling to the back of the field as a result – he would later retire from the race.

On lap eight Roberts put Clark under further pressure, Clark responding by closing the gap to leader Foster. In the latter stages of the race the top three were nose-to-tail once more, but the order remained unchanged. Foster took the flag to claim his fourth win of the season, joined on the podium by Clark then Roberts. In Am, Laslett’s fourth category win gave his championship hopes a boost, Price and Pelosi completing the category podium. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Foster (Pro) and Laslett (Am) each received one additional championship point.

Race two
The weekend’s second race took place in dry and sunny conditions on Sunday morning. Foster made his second clean getaway of the weekend to lead into the first corner. Just behind Trice engaged in a battle with Clark, the two switching places at Paddock Hill and again at Graham Hill, leaving the order as Foster from Roberts with Trice third – up from fifth on the grid. In Am there was drama straight away as Laslett left the circuit in the run up to Druids, ending his race in the gravel trap. As Price maintained his category lead, Laslett’s exit promoted Cavers to second in category, newcomer Davis to third.

Further into the opening lap Armstrong got ahead of Clark, then managing a run on Trice just as the cars completed their first tour. Trice was slower through Clearways and Clark Curve which allowed Armstrong to get ahead as they reached Paddock Hill for the second time. Trice was left defending from an attacking Clark who soon found a route through. With Trice slipping backwards in fifth, Clark closed on Armstrong in their battle for the final podium place. Now the top four cars were line astern in a repeat of the weekend’s opening race.

By lap six Clark was tucked up behind Armstrong, their dice for third allowing Foster and Roberts to pull a slight gap ahead. Clark took a look down the inside of Armstrong on several occasions, getting especially close on lap nine as the pair approached Hawthorns Bend, but he could not gain an overlap. In Am, the non-scoring Price still had the measure of his rivals. Cavers remained second and, with rival Laslett’s retirement, his championship chances looked in good shape. Newcomer Davis was not far behind his team-mate as he successfully adapted to racing.

As the drivers started their final lap the closest battle on track was still the one between Clark and Armstrong. The former went slightly wide at Surtees which gave Clark his best opportunity yet, however the championship leader could not muster a pass. At the flag Foster took his second win of the weekend with Roberts second, Armstrong hanging on for third. Price took Am victory, joined on the category podium by Cavers and Davis. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Foster (Pro) and Cavers (Am) each received one additional championship point. The finishing positions from the weekend’s second race formed the grid for the final later in the day.

Race three
The last race of the weekend took place on Sunday afternoon in dry conditions. Foster made his third good start of the weekend to lead into the first corner, followed by Roberts and Armstrong in that order with Trice and Clark running side-by-side out of Druids and down to Graham Hill – Clark moving ahead before the Cooper Straight. In Am, Price led Cavers from Davis, but Laslett was the driver on the move – he overtook White on the opening lap for tenth place overall.

On the second lap of the race Roberts came under pressure from Armstrong for second, while Pelosi attacked Davis for third in Am. However, Pelosi soon switched from attached to defence, passed by a charging Laslett who then set after his next target – Davis. On lap four Laslett got a run on Davis as they approached Hawthorns. Davis stayed right as Laslett drove to the outside line, but Laslett ran out of road and took a trip across the grass before rejoining at the back of the pack.

As the race settled down, Foster built himself gap of 1.7 seconds back to Roberts. Clark was forced to begin defending from Armstrong – keen to make the pass that eluded him in the day’s earlier encounter. A recovering Laslett, lapping at the same pace as the leaders, was soon past White at Druids before pushing to catch Pelosi in his bid to snatch fourth in Am. Drama came on lap seven as Price left the circuit at Surtees, handing the lead of Am to Cavers. On the same lap Laslett overtook Pelosi, still lapping as quickly as the leaders as he pushed to catch Davis for the second time.

On lap 10 Roberts, Armstrong and Clark were as close as they had ever been in their battle for second overall. The focus quickly turned from Pro to Am as Laslett caught Davis. When Davis spun at the exit of Sheene Curve it allowed Laslett through for the final category podium spot. Davis rejoined directly alongside Pelosi, instigating a side-by-side scrap for tenth – the novice emerging ahead. Clark’s final opportunity to pass Armstrong came on Hawthorn Hill when the pair ran side-by-side, however the order stayed the same.

Foster’s result completed his perfect weekend; three pole positions, a trio of wins and three fastest laps. He was joined on the overall podium for round 12 by Roberts and Armstrong. The Am podium was led by winner Cavers with Price second and, following his impressive recovery drive, Laslett third in category. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Foster (Pro) and Laslett (Am) each received one additional championship point.

On 15 / 16 October the championship travels to Donington Park for its season finalé. Following the Brands Hatch weekend, Foster has become the third different championship leader this season, taking a seven point advantage to Leicestershire for the third triple header weekend of 2022. However, previous points leaders Clark and Armstrong remain firmly in contention, making it a winner-takes-all affair. Meanwhile, Am title hopefuls Cavers and Laslett will arrive for the final three races separated by just two championship points, ensuring both category battles will go down to the wire.

Championship positions*

Pro:
Harry Foster – Team Parker Racing – 96
Charles Clark – Team Parker – 89
Matthew Armstrong – Team Parker Racing – 86

Am:
Carl Cavers – Valluga – 103
Rupert Laslett – Raceway Motorsport – 101
Jason Pelosi – Redline Racing – 65

*results remain provisional

Source. Porsche

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