PDA Celebrates 25 Years in Style

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PDA Celebrates 25 Years in Style

At Donington on Saturday, slotted in to a 750 Motor Club race weekend, a special event was run specifically to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the longest-running Porsche championship in the UK. Started as 924s-only it became the largest one-make series in Europe, featuring grids of up to 60 cars. When their numbers dropped off, the grid was expanded again to include Boxsters in 2010. Organiser Philip Waters said "back in those days there were so many entries, they had to split the grid. We expect some really close action throughout the field."

For our two sprint races the rules were relaxed, to a degree, over the current PDA specs to allow in some cars that now, or have recently, raced in different series. The races were hosted by the 750 Motor Club who kindly fitted us into spare slots in their timetable. West Midlands-based Porsche parts and panels specialists Club Autosport were headline sponsors and their static display included their 1000hp 928, together with Andy Prill's car that won the Porsche GB 924 Championship which was the forerunner of the PDA. This car is the only 924 to win world Championship points as it ran in the Brands Hatch 1000km race in 1979.

With two drivers having to pull out with car issues and another called away to race at Spa, the 18 cars that lined up for qualifying on Saturday morning included five past PDA champions: Linda Warren (2016) and Alastair Kirkham (2012 & 13), Steve Potts (Class B in 2012), Jayson Flegg (Class B, 2014, borrowing Darren House's car) and triple Class A winner Rick Styrin. Other drivers coming back for more included multi Taekwondo world champion Richard Jones, Rick Matthews and Geoff Hanson who now races in the US.

Guests from other series included Lotus Cortina veteran Brian Jarvis and Ginetta driver Chris "Jonah" Jones (in Pete Smith's car). And drivers new to 924s this season included Andy Pritchard (chairman of the 924 Owners' Club), Chris Valentine and in Gavin Johnson's car, from 750MC Stock Hatch was Jason Wood.

The entire event was set up to be not-for-profit. Once additional contributions from some of our Boxster drivers had been added, through surplus entry fees and raffle ticket sales, another £1100 was raised for our "Doing It For Dawn" charity - former York Hospital A&E nurse Dawn Watts who herself has raised over £32500 for cancer sufferers but who is now needing treatment heself for an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Qualifying was held on a damp but drying track. Rick Styrin showed he meant business posting a pole time of 1:28.51. Ryan Lowry, who made his PDA debut here in heavy rain last year takes 2nd with Geoff Hanson third.

Race 1 Unable to race while he continues to repair damage sustained in the final race at Rockingham, Pip Hammond was present to assist in commentating while his PDC team mate Gavin Johnson, also unable to race himself with work commitments, had lent his car to Jason Wood.

As the red lights went out, Stryin charged away from pole with Lowry in hot persuit, Geoff Hanson held on to third but his battle with Waters resulted in the latter going wide to land stranded in the gravel just short of the Armco at Coppice. Flegg assumed third with Kirkham third while Callender pitted with a missfire and retired. Potts grabbed third from Kirkham, with Jarvis in 6th.

Into Lap 3 and Styrin had already taken the existing lap record - no doubt assisted by the newer version of the Toyo R888 the PDA cars normally wear - and pulling ahead of Lowry. The 'badge panel' of Kirkham's car comes adrift on the start/finish straight but as the cars start the fifth lap there's contact between Potts and Kirkham at the exit of Redgate, both cars continuing to lap but carrying damage. Jarvis has moved up to 4th showing considerable pace in his heavy Roadsports 1080kg reg weight car - considerably above PDA's regulations minimum weight.

After Rick Matthews had taken Andy Pritchard at the chicane, the latter span at Redgate losing three places and gifting a place to chasing PDA rival Chris Valentine. Hanson tailed Jarvis in 4th but Rossin was close. Rossin then took Hanson at Redgate.

Kirkham was a final lap retirement after his earlier accident and while ascending the hill through Schwantz Curves, a big puff of smoke signalled the demise of Steve Potts' car, whose engine was later shown to have gained an inspection port and lost a con rod.

So Rick Styrin in typical fashion took the win, nearly 13 seconds ahead of Ryan Lowry, with Jayson Flegg clearly delighted with third.

Race 2 After a vote, the drivers decided that the second race, for added entertainment, would run a reverse grid, including any still-running DNFs from Race 1 at the front, meaning Philip Waters and Jamie Callendar were on pole with Alastair Kirkham third. Both Chris Valentine and Linda Warren were immediate retirements from the start, Valentine with brake failure and Warren's famous #42 red car suffering a failed alternator.

Waters kept his lead from the lights with Kirkham jumping Callendar for 2nd; meanwhile Styrin had amazingly moved from last to 4th by the time he had reached Old Hairpin. with conditions giving an almost total lack of grip, Waters span off into the gravel and recovered to end up 15th.

After his earlier misfortune, Callender was now third with Jayson Flegg having moved up to 4th; Lowry was also making moves up through the grid.

While lap records might have tumbled in Race 1, even Styrin's fastest lap was well adrift of the previous wet race best, yet demonstrated his skill in these challenging conditions by lapping around 9 seconds quicker than anyone else.

Callender sadly lost his third with an excursion at Old Hairpin. Hanson grabbed 2nd from Kirkham, but Waters ws regaining the places he lost earlier; at this point, none of the top three are championship regulars.

Rossin closed right up with Kirkham while Waters approached the rear of Jarvis as the last lap board went out; both gained a place before the flag.

So it was yet another win for Rick Styrin with Geoff Hanson second and Jayson Flegg taking home his second 3rd place trophy from the weekend. Andy Pritchard later said of the conditions that "there was no grip anywhere - you didn't use the brakes anywhere other than a straight line".

Everyone expressed how they had enjoyed the event; Chris Jones later commented "You are all total gents and true peddlers - its rare to find such a welcoming bunch. 'Great' is the word for the weekend - I feel like Tony The tiger". Our thanks go to Club Autosport, Toyo Tyres UK, AJK TV, BRSCC Clerk Andy Holley and coordinator John Broadley, plus the staff, officials and marshals of the 750MC.

The PDA race again, their last outing of the 2017 season, at Brands Hatch on 21st/22nd October, which as part of the BRSCC Formula Ford Festival is bound to attract the biggest crowds of the season.

Words: Chris Valentine; Photo: Joshua Barrett Photography

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