Anglesey Sees Johnson take 924 Lead

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Anglesey Sees Johnson take 924 Lead

Qualifying took place in bright and sunny conditions, Alastair Kirkham being the only no-show. Toby Smales in the PIE Performance new-build 986 - and very smart it looked too. This was to be Pete Smith's first outing since 2017 and Ian Gribben returned for only his second ever race in the 924s.

Southgate qualified 0.6 seconds ahead of Coleman on his only second visit here, to put the pair on the front row of Class A - we believe posting a new Boxster lap record in the process. Nick Hull, his 986 looking pristine after extensive repair work by ex-Class A racer Richard Avery, but he carried forward a grid penalty from the Castle Combe round which pushed him back to last in the Boxsters. Kevin Molyneaux was third with his yellow Boxster, also repaired after shunts at Castle Combe, albeit with a fuel starvation issue appearing at the end. Hugh Peart was uncharacterisitically the slowest Class C with Gavin Johnson taking P1 in the 924s, a full second quicker than the standing lap record, with part-timer Smith second, despite having a faulty brake caliper causing lack of straight line speed. Leigh Bowden rounded off the grid in the sole Class B Boxster.

The session was incident free except for demise of Toby Smales' engine at the end due to a jumped timing chain. His team vowed to fetch and fit a replacement overnight with the aim of getting the unluckiest driver in the PDA out racing on Sunday.

Race 1
Started slightly early. From lights out, Southgate maintained the lead with Coleman close behind. Then a gap before Larewnce with Hull and Molyneaux grouped together. Johnson held the 924 lead over Smith, but Peart appeared to be struggling for pace, several seconds off Johnson's lap times.

Lap 4 and Coleman is closing on Southgate with a new fastest lap. Class B graduates Baker and Harris are close, vying with each other for 6th with Baker slightly faster. Smith closes on Johnson in the 924s.

Into Lap 5 and Hull got past Lawrence for P3 but the three 986s were still neck-and-neck; Smith getting ever closer to Johnson's tail in the 924s.

Lap 6 and Lawrence was dropping back, leaving Molyneaux to chase Hull for the third Class A podium slot. Coleman was now around a second back from Southgate as the cars reached the half-way point, 7 laps completed. Peart was now circulating 5 seconds a lap slower than Johnson, so his issues with the car are obviously continuing.

Hull was hanging on to P3 but only just, with Molyneaux less than 0.3 second behind, Lawrence hot on his heels. Peart had finally found some pace, now a couple of seconds quicker with Gribben on his tail.

With less than six minutes left, into lap 10, Molyneaux got the jump on Hull for third. Harris got past Baker while Smith's 924 had closed up to just a quarter of a second behind Johnson. Coleman had dropped back from Southgate, but still lead the chasing group by nearly half a lap.

Southgate took the flag but Coleman's fastest lap remained unbeaten, Molyneaux finished third. Bowden brought his solo Class B car home P10 overall to take the win in his class, and Johnson kept Smith at bay for an important P1 in the 924s.

Race 2
Sunday was a damp and drizzly day with a greasy track, although it dried towards the end of our two races.

All 13 cars made the start after Toby Smales's team had got his replacement engine fitted overnight and he started at the back of Boxster grid.

Adam Southgate leads from the start, but is overtaken by James Coleman on Lap 2. Nick Hull in strong P3, only short way behind leaders and ahead of Lawrence and Molyneaux.

Smales making progress and gets past first Andy Baker, and then Matt Harris.

The 924s running order was Johnson/Peart/Smith, but Smith soon passed Hugh into P2. Ian Gribben was close behind going well in only his second ever race here.

After 8 minutes there was a red flag as the track was blocked by Nick Hull's recently repaired Boxster going sideways into the pitwall after getting out of shape off a slippery kerb. Nick was fine, but the car was extensively damaged.

The race was then restarted for remaining 8 minutes. Southgate again lead, but Coleman was past by the 3rd corner and was never bettered.

On the second lap Garry Lawrence span in the same place as Nick Hull, but got away with just brushing the pitwall and continued. Molyneaux was again in P3, but Toby Smales was now up to P4 where he finished - finally - his first ever PDA race.

Further back Andy Baker had a quick spin, and the recovering Lawrence got past, overtaking Matt Harris shortly afterwards. Leigh Bowden looked very comfortable in the sole Class B car, finishing ahead of all the 924s and one Class A Boxster in an impressive 7th overall.

The 924s finish in the order Johnson/Smith/Peart/Gribben, with Johnson dominant.

Race 3
Our third and final race of the weekend featured a reverse grid and compulsory pitstop and conditions were wet throughout. 12 cars made the start in the absence of Nick Hull, whose freshly-repaired 986 has suffered significant damage.

Despite it being a reverse grid, the first few places were already filled by cars from the back by the end of the first lap, with a very racy-looking Adam Southgate leading from James Coleman, Kevin Molyneaux and Garry Lawrence.

Southgate dominated and finished 38 seconds ahead of Coleman in P2 - the two leaders were so fast, in fact, that every other car was lapped. Molyneaux finished ahead of Lawrence in P3/4, with Toby Smales next up despite stalling at his pit stop and needing a push to get going again. Leigh Bowden was an impressive 6th, having run as high as 5th with 3 laps to go.

The 924s once again took the chequered flag in the order Johnson/Smith/Peart, although Peart had to fight hard for his P3, only getting past the impressive Ian Gribben a few laps from the end.

Johnson's hat trick of wins, combined with Peart unable to finish second in any of them, means he now leads the Class C table with Gribben seemingly coming from nowhere to take third behind Hugh Peart. Meanwhile Toby Smales put in two respecable finishes at last to put smiles back on the faces of PIE Performance. And the fight between Garry Lawrence, Kevin Molyneaux and James Coleman for 2nd/3rd overall in Class A looks set to continue into the final rounds, Adam Southgate's lead now pretty unassailable.

The BRSCC Porches race next for their penultimate round on the Indy circuit at Brands Hatch on 8/9th September.

Text: John Broadley and Chris Valentine; photos: Jon Elsey.

Race Results

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Brands Hatch (Indy) - 23rd March 2019

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