Tim Harvey swept to a commanding double victory in the opening rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatch over the weekend (31 March/1 April). While his rivals battled mightily for the other podium places, Harvey (Oxford) dominated the races to twice lead from start to finish and take the early advantage in the championship.
Harvey got the lead off the line, defended through the first few corners and was then able to pull steadily away as the battling for second place held his rivals up. But such was Harvey’s pace that he would have gone clear anyway, and he built his lead to 10 seconds over the first half of the race. “It was straightforward,” said Tim. “I did some good laps early on to build a lead and then just kept concentration over the second half of the race.” However, he was fortunate to finish as a rear tyre picked up a puncture right at the end and the tyre went flat as the car stood in parc ferme after the race.
All the action in an absorbing race was behind Harvey. A brilliant start catapulted James Pickford (Macclesfield) into second place from sixth on the grid. Out of Clearways on the opening lap he got a run on Steven Kane (Brixworth, Northants) and squeezed through to second. “James came up the inside of me and I didn’t see him,” admitted Kane after the cars touched briefly.
However, the result of that contact was that Pickford had damage to his front suspension and though he fought hard to hold on to second place, it was soon clear that he was struggling for pace. Behind him ran James Sutton (Barnet), who had followed through at the expense of Kane as well as Kane and Michael Caine (Newmarket). Caine had been forced wide at Graham Hill Bend on the opening lap and was now fighting to recover lost ground.
This quartet ran nose to tail for lap after lap, with Pickford using all his experience to hold on. But with a flat-spotted front tyre, he eventually could keep them back no longer and on lap 28 Sutton dived ahead at Paddock, quickly followed by Caine, who had passed Kane a lap earlier. Over the closing laps, while Pickford plummeted down the order, Sutton had to work hard to fend off Caine and make it a one-two for Red Line Racing. “I haven’t driven so hard for so long,” said Sutton after a fine result. “It was very demanding, but I couldn’t have asked for a better result.” Caine was a slightly frustrated third; believing that being edged out on the first lap cost him a chance of second.
Kane took fourth under pressure from Jon Barnes (Southampton). “My car was good at the end of the race and I’m happy with the result,” said Kane. Barnes, meanwhile, drove an impressive race to battle up the order into fifth. A typically determined drive from Nigel Rice (Beverley) netted sixth overall and best of the pro-am category. For many laps he had Barnes and Rob Collard (Fleet) as constant challengers. “I was thinking points, points, points all the time,” said Rice. Pickford dropped to ninth behind Sam Hancock (Clapham), while Andy Britnell (Kent) and Charles Bateman (Boston) completed the podium in the pro-am category.
Having dominated the opening round on Saturday, Harvey won again on Sunday with another faultless performance. However, the pack was far closer this time and after 34 laps, Harvey’s winning margin was less than two and a half seconds. “They were a lot closer than yesterday and I kept up a better pace,” said Harvey. “This is a perfect start to the championship and Red Line Racing has done a fantastic job with the car.” For their weekend’s success, the Red Line squad was confirmed as RAC ‘team of the weekend’.
Behind Harvey, four cars ran the whole race in very close formation, with excellent starts from Caine and Barnes catapulting them ahead of Sutton on the rush to the first corner. With Kane going with them, this quartet was never more than a few yards apart and after 34 laps they were covered by less than a second. “We came here knowing we’d got a little bit to find,” said Caine. “So two podiums is okay, but Tim has been in a class of his own round here and we’ve got to catch him.”
Barnes was elated to clinch third, having chased Caine every inch of the race. “I got an absolute rocket start and I’m ecstatic to finish third. You have to concentrate so hard at every corner.” Sutton was left to rue losing two places at the start, but ran right with Caine and Barnes. “It’s been a good way to start in Carrera Cup,” said Sutton. Kane chased them throughout and in the early laps Hancock went after the quartet, before dropping back a little in sixth.
Seventh place and the lead of the pro-am category provided plenty of interest as Pickford headed pro-am contenders Rice and Britnell. Rice was soon attacking Pickford and launched a bold attack around the outside at Paddock Hill Bend. The cars ran side-by-side all the way to Druids, but Rice ran wide on the exit of Druids and Britnell dived through. A couple of laps later Britnell worked ahead of the struggling Pickford into Paddock and Rice quickly followed through.
Now it was Britnell against Rice to the flag and Britnell hung on tenaciously, despite constant challenges from Rice. “That was good fun,” said Britnell. “Nigel put up a good fight and it’s nice to win on home ground with a lot of guests here.” Rice completed a fine weekend with second in pro-am. “Pickford cost me the win, but I can’t really hold that against him.” Rice was also named RAC ‘driver of the weekend’ for his efforts as Bateman again completed the pro-am podium.Published 3 April 2007