Motorsport News - Sportscar
Sumpter and Morris Battle at Oulton Park
13th August 2012
Pete Morris won the first of the two Porsche Club Championship races at Oulton Park on Saturday August 11th, but it was the second race that left spectators buzzing – a twelve lap battle between Mark Sumpter and Morris that saw the pair never more than feet apart all race as Sumpter ultimately once more showed his love of the Cheshire venue with another win, his third at Oulton Park this season. Alex Eacock took the opening Class Two win, but Paul Follett claimed the second to continue as overall championship leader.
Mark Sumpter was quickest halfway through the 20-minute session early on Saturday morning and improved again to head the session in his newly-lightened 964 C2, one of a number of Class One cars benefitting from changes in the class weight structure for this meeting. Croft double-winner Pete Morris, his 996 the only Class One model not to lose weight before the race, was second quickest, while Mark Proctor finally found some space on his final lap to go third.
“We did a lot of playing around with the car testing here yesterday,” said Sumpter. “Overnight we seem to have found some pace though, so really pleased with that session.”
“It should be a good race,“ said Morris, “luck wasn’t on my side last time we were here but the car is good today.”
The Hartech Boxsters of Ben Demetriou and Marcus Carniel were fourth and fifth, ahead of John McCullagh, quickest of the front-engined runners in his 968 CS, who headed Mark McAleer and series debutant Ian Loggie. Championship leader Paul Follett headed the Class Two runners ahead of Mark Koeberle and Alex Eacock, Follett ninth overall.
“Testing yesterday really benefited us,” said Follett. “I have been trying to replicate our times from last year even though the car is heavier as it is now in Class Two, and we were able to be right there this morning – the car is going well.”
Sumpter made a good start to lead Morris and the field into the first corner, Demetriou looking to gain places round the outside but Proctor’s inside line paid off and he slotted into third. That was the order at the end of lap one, with McAleer up to fifth from seventh on the grid.
Morris moved to the front on the second lap, with Proctor closing right up on Sumpter and McAleer in turn closing in fourth. The lead seven cars had opened a gap on the rest, Demetriou and Carniel heading McCullagh, with the Class Two battle leading the rest Koeberle having got past Follett.
Lap three saw McAleer take third from Proctor before setting the fastest race lap to that point as he set off after Sumpter. Behind, Carniel was fending off McCullagh, while Eacock was closing on the pair disputing the Class Two lead.
At the front Morris was able to react to Sumpter’s attempts to get closer than half a second, staying just far enough clear to dissuade his pursuer from mounting a move. A flicker of opportunity for Sumpter came on lap 11 when they caught backmarkers at the Knickerbrook chicane, Morris turning the situation to his advantage as he dived past before the corner, McAleer being the one to lose ground
Morris held on for the win – his third in a row in the EMC Motorsport 996, while a storming final lap from McAleer saw him almost catch Sumpter on the line, failing by a tenth of a second to take the position. Proctor had to settle for fourth after being in the top three early on, with Demetriou fifth ahead of Carniel and McCullagh.
“That was a very hard race,” said Morris. “I tucked in behind Mark at the start, but he seemed to be struggling on cold tyres and was holding me up. I wanted to keep out the way of the Boxsters so I had to dive past him down the hill into Cascades. We have done a lot of development work on the car and it is really getting there now.”
“I got a good start, and I’m pleased with the pace of the car, though I’d still like more,” said Sumpter, “even though we are not far off it. Pete made a couple of mistakes at times and I was able to close a little, and one lap he seemed to get sideways coming out the chicane just before the end. He had the race under control, then Mark McAleer was right with us, but I was able to get out the slower corners better than he was.”
“A good fun race, but qualifying here is always a nightmare for me,” said McAleer. “The car is good on the brakes but I am losing out a bit in some of the corners, we need to do more set-up work and see what we can change before the next race, there is certainly more to come.”
In Class Two, the charging Eacock caught Koeberle and Follett, into second in class by lap 10 and taking the lead with two laps to go to record his third class win of the season and an EMC double victory in the opening race.
“That sort of race really focuses you,” said Eacock, “coming from so far back you have nothing to lose ad can really push on. We put on new rear tyres after qualifying and that transformed the car. There were a lot of people changing positions and no one let off all race, it makes it so much more satisfying to fight through the pack and win.”
“I thought I had that,” said Koeberle, “but I could see Alex coming through the field and my car was getting hotter and hotter. Then I let a car though and that broke my rhythm a bit and he was just faster. It’s a pleasure to race with people like Alex and Paul, they give you space and are so safe to be with."
Sumpter once more made a good getaway at the start of race two, which had been shortened to 20-minutes after delays in the afternoon’s race programme, Morris claiming second and just holding off Demetriou through the first corner. The lead pair were a second clear at the end of lap one, with Carniel ahead of team-mate Demetriou in third, but Demetriou was charging and a fastest race lap to that point on lap two saw him back in third.
Next time round Morris was right with Sumpter’s Paragon 964 C2, and had a look at snatching the lead down the inside at Knickerbrook but Sumpter closed the door. Morris was looking for any opportunity to take the lead, the pair together through Cascades, and that set the tone for subsequent laps, the duo never split by more than half a second across the line for the rest of the race.
Behind, Proctor went past Carniel for fourth into Old Hall on lap five, McAleer also demoting Carniel a lap later before the trio ran together for the next few laps. Demetriou was already out of reach of Proctor, but in turn slipping away from the pulsating lead battle – though he had a grandstand seat view of the lead pair’s battle.
At the start of lap ten Morris had a dive down the inside of Sumpter into Old Hall, but the leader just held on at the exit. Into the final lap they were together, Sumpter finally claiming a hard-fought win by just over a tenth of a second as the duelling pair crossed the line.
“I was having to run more and more curb as Pete was really strong at Knickerbrook and that was hurting my brakes,” said Sumpter, “I had a big slide at one point and had to kill Pete’s momentum, I think I spent more time looking backwards in that race then looking forwards. I knew where his car was strong and I could breakaway out of some of the slower corners – but I don’t think I could have done another five minutes of that! A good day, I love this circuit.”
“We both have a lot of respect for each other and he was really on it today, what a race!” said Morris. “He was blocking me fairly and I almost got inside him a couple of times but he knew where I was strong and where to block – but that’s racing. We both pushed each other hard, we had a break and got away from the others.”
Demetriou took third, well clear of Proctor in fourth who headed home McAleer and Carniel.
“I’m really pleased,” said Demetriou, “we have progressed with the car since we got here on Friday and it’s good to give the Hartech guys something to cheer about. I was hanging onto Mark and Pete early on, they were driving well and I had a great view of it. A third and a fourth is a good day for us.”
In Class Two Follett held off Koeberle early on before managing to put Class One cars between himself and his class rivals to take another win and hold onto the overall championship lead
“I had the class contenders queuing up behind me and I was determined not to let them past,” said Follett. “I had clear air and was able to get away, the car was going well and I’m looking forward to Castle Combe now.”
Porsche Club Championship Round 9: 1 Pete Morris (996 C2) 13 laps; 2 Mark Sumpter (964 C2) +1.642s; 3 Mark McAleer (996 C2); 4 Mark Proctor (993 C2); 5 Ben Demetriou (Boxster S); 6 Marcus Carniel (Boxster S); 7 John McCullagh (968 CS); 8 Richard Ellis (993 C2); 9 Paul Livesey (968 CS); 10 Cliff Graham (Boxster S). Class Winners: Morris; Alex Eacock (968 CS). Fastest Lap: Morris 1m55.659s (83.79mph).
Porsche Club Championship Round 10: 1 Sumpter 11 Laps; 2 Morris +0.134s; 3 Demetriou; 4 Proctor; 5 McAleer; 6 Carniel; 7 Ellis; 8 McCullagh; 9 Chris Dyer (968 CS); 10 Paul Follett (968 CS). Class Winners: Sumpter; Follett. Fastest Lap: Sumpter 1m56.465s (83.21mph).
Next Rounds: Castle Combe, Wiltshire, August 27th.
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