Southgate Extends Boxsters Lead while Peart Lands First Win

Southgate Extends Boxsters Lead while Peart Lands First Win

The third meeting of the season brought 17 Porsches to Cadwell Park, including new drivers Jesse Chamberlain in a Class A Boxster and Leigh Bowden in a Class B Production Boxster and making his race debut at this, his local circuit. Reigning Class A champion Ed Hayes chose this meeting to start his 2018 season, whilst the two protagonists from last season's Boxster Production class, Andy Baker and Matt Harris, both appeared, their cars uprated to Class A specification. Other newcomers were former 924 champion Alastair Kirkham and returnee Jason Wood, both in Class C 924s.

Several drivers took part in pre-race testing, including Garry Lawrence who made heavy contact with the scenery in his 987 Boxster which put him on the back foot for the rest of the weekend.

Qualifying took place on a very slippery track after heavy overnight rain, but was incident free except for a couple of spins by Andy Baker as he got to grips with his upgraded car. The front of the grid had a familiar feel with Adam Southgate on pole followed by Ed Hayes and the pacey Nick Hull. Newcomer Leigh Bowden revelled in the conditions, qualifying an impressive 9th overall, and ahead of four Class A cars. In the 924s, Hugh Peart drove well to claim pole fractionally clear of Gavin Johnson and Alastair Kirkham.

Race 1
A stunning start by Adam Southgate saw him well clear in the lead after one lap and by lap 2 he had set a new best lap to put him 3 seconds ahead of Coleman with Hull close behind, fending off Hayes. Johnson had grabbed the 924s lead from Kirkham with Peart in third.

Southgate was getting quicker still, extending his lead from Coleman but the rapid Hayes then got the better of Hull to take third. In Class B Bowden was gaining places from the slower Class A cars, passing Harris to take 11th overall; the 924s stayed the same.

Hull was slipping back down the ranks, and was now down to 8th, with Chamberlain slowing too. Meanwhile Molyneaux stared to close on Lawrence for 5th. By lap 6, Hull was recovering his pace and was up to 4th in pursuit of Hayes. In the 924s it was still Johnson, Kirkham and Peart with Wood 4th.

On the seventh lap Southgate's lead over Coleman was now just shy of 9 seconds but Hayes was right on Coleman's tail. Peart had overtaken Kirkham to grab 2nd in Class C. There's was then red flag and the race was halted on lap 8 with just under two thirds of the 20 minute period complete. It was Andrew Porter, who had gone off at Mansfield, and was helped from his car by Ed Hayes – driver confirmed as OK, but his white 986 is extensively damaged.

Results were therefore Southgate from Coleman and Hayes in Class A; Leigh Bowden landed his first finish and Class B win; and in the 924s it was Johnson from Peart and Kirkham.

Race 2
It was only Porter's badly damaged Boxster that was a no-show for the first of Sunday's races, the driver having been kept in hospital overnight for observation. He is later seen cheerfully making plans for his racing comeback. The race distance was shortened to 18 minutes due to earlier incidents, but the day was dry and warm presenting ideal for racing.

Adam Southgate made another storming start from pole and disappeared into a comfortable lead from Coleman and Hull - with Ed Hayes down in an unaccustomed 6th - part of an impressive train of 7 Boxsters nose to tail round the picturesque circuit. In the 924s, Gavin Johnson took an early lead from Peart and Kirkham but he was later forced to retire with what turned out to be a broken throttle cable.

Southgate continued to lead the Class A Boxsters, with his times approaching 10 seconds ahead of Coleman. Hull was close behind, hanging on to the third podium spot that Molyneaux was desperate to take from him; then Hayes closely followed by Chamberlain.

There was no letup from Molyneaux as he chased Hull for third, but Lawrence had got past Chamberlain for 6th. With less than 2 minutes left on the clock, suddenly Molyneaux made a dive for the inside and Hull went off track to avoid, thus allowing Chamberlain to storm past both him and Lawrence to take 5th. As the clock ticked down, the frustrated Hull put on a charge to recover but there was not enough time to re-gain his podium spot.

At the flag, it was Southgate with a comfortable win over Coleman, and Molyneaux happy to grab third.

Baker and Harris showed better pace than in Race 1, staying ahead of the solo Class B car of Bowden who drove energetically to hang onto their tails and circulated at class record pace. In Class C, Hugh Peart benefitted from Johnson's retirement to take his maiden win after a close fought battle, with Alastair Kirkham and Jason Wood close behind.

Race 3
As if the twisty Cadwell Park circuit wasn't challenging enough, the final race of the weekend was by tradition run as reverse grid. With the schedule running slightly late, 20 minutes were cut to 15.

As the lights went out it was Garry Lawrence first away with Nick Hull briefly in second place before Ed Hayes took the place on lap 2. Kirkham lead the 924s from Peart and Johnson. Hull jumped Hayes for 2nd but they'd swapped back for the third lap; Chamberlain was 4th. Peart lead and Johnson took Kirkham for 2nd in the 924s, determined to grab as many points as possible after his DNF earlier in the day.

For the first four laps the Class A field was bunched up behind Lawrence's wide 987, resolved after an incident that saw Lawrence headed for retirement and Kevin Molyneaux leading from Adam Southgate. Ed Hayes was down the field with Southgate stuck in 6th in traffic but on a charge with Coleman close behind posting a fastest lap. Chamberlain then passed Hull for third and quicker for a lap than the two cars in front.

Coleman was then forced to pit and Southgate edged closer to the front, now 5th with four laps complete; Hull was also dropping down the order. Lawrence held on to the Class A lead but Hayes, Chamberlain and Molyneaux were all close behind. The 924s stay as Peart, Johnson and Kirkham.

Lawrence was ultimately a DNF and Coleman never returned to the circuit after pitting on lap 4. Ex Class B driver Harris got up to 6th having taken Ludford in the final lap but at the front it was yet another with for Southgate, Hayes having just jumped past Chamberlain for 2nd. Ludford later added "I'd taken Andy [Baker] and Matt [Harris] on the 2nd and third laps but lost 6th place on the penultimate lap due to a big moment coming into Gooseneck, managed to correct it, and took 6th back again from Matt on the last lap. And they say you can't overtake at Cadwell!".

Johnson took the 924 win having overtaken class leader Peart with two laps to go after Hugh made a small mistake, with Peart 2nd and Kirkham 3rd. Bowden made it three finishes from three in Class B and posted his fastest lap of the weekend.

The Toyo Tires Porsches make their next appearance in just three weeks at Rockingham.

Text: Chris Valentine and John Broadley; photos courtesy of James Roberts.


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