This entry to our blog contains all the race reports, written by Peter Scherer, for the 2011 Production Touring Car Trophy, round by round, race by race…….
Churchill wins the ‘war!’
With Gary Duckman suffering a disastrous weekend at Croft with his Seat Leon, Adrian Churchill sealed the Production Touring Car Trophy with third place in the second of the weekends races before going on to win the third and final race.
It all started so well for Duckman, lining up on pole for the first race, with Tom Carnaby’s Astra VXR alongside and Josh Cook’s Renault Megane heading the second row from Rob Smith’s BMW 330D. But it was Smith that made the best start to head Duckman into Clervaux, from Cook and the Astra’s of Carnaby, Churchill and Joe Girling.
Duckman was alongside into Tower but Smith held him off, before the top four went into Sunny for the first time nose to tail. Cook managed get past Duckman on the exit and gave Smith a helping little nudge as they arrived at the Complex.
Cook made his winning move into Tower on lap three and emerged with the lead as Duckman once against managed get alongside Smith, but not ahead. Duckman’s challenge came unstuck at Sunny though, “I had a great start but Rob’s was even better and he was so wide. I got a run on him into Sunny but braked too late and then I hit Tom at the Hairpin and broke a front wheel a lap later,” he explained.
Cook’s lead was growing, but Churchill was up to third after Carnaby was delayed, which let Girling through too. Within a lap Churchill was piling the pressure on Smith, but both Girling and Carnaby were still in touch too. Behind them Dan Malone’s Seat was reeling in Ryan Bensley’s Astra and the Astra’s of Steve Johnson and Kevin George had their own duel. After Malone had ousted Bensley on lap eight he latched on to Carnaby and it became five car train for second. But Churchill kept getting alongside Smith, only to lose out again on the straights.
Churchill managed to get fully alongside at Tower on lap nine and had the edge as they exited. Carnaby also got the better of Girling into Sunny on the same lap and again at the Hairpin, but it was another lap before he got by for good. “I think I got the wrong gear and it gave Tom a run on me,” said Girling.
Cook cruised through the remaining laps with ease, “I got a good start and did what I could, but with Adrian second it didn’t help my championship hopes,” he said. “I had to work for that but it was enjoyable. Even when I got Rob I wasn’t entirely sure I was clear enough to turn in,” said second placed Churchill.
Smith had set out to secure any podium finish, but on the final lap he lost out to Carnaby at Tower. “I didn’t like letting people through, but just braked too late at Tower and Tom went through. I was holding them up I know, but it was like a rocket ship at the start,” said Smith, after he took the flag with Girling and Malone inches behind. “I kept out of trouble and nearly got Joe at the end,” added Malone.
George claimed a lap seventh after Bensley pitted, “I broke another driveshaft, same side as qualifying,” said Bensley. “Well we stayed on the track this time,” added George. Joe McMillan’s Seat chased down Johnson to take eighth, “it’s all good experience,” he reckoned. “I think I lost grip after Kevin got me, but the first few laps were great,” Johnson added. Phil Boland’s class B Skoda Fabia completed the finishers.
RESULT: 1 Josh Cook (Renault Megane) 13 laps in 20m37.939s (80.33mph); 2 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR) +5.48s; 3 Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 4 Rob Smith (BMW 330D); 5 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 6 Dan Malone (Seat Leon); 7 Kevin George (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 8 Joe McMillan (Seat Leon); 9 Steve Johnson (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 10 Phil Boland (Skoda Fabia). Fastest lap: Cook 1m33.548s (81.77mph).
Cook made the most of his pole position again to hold the lead into Clervaux, but Smith was quick off the blocks again too, with second place from Churchill, Girling, Malone, Johnson and Carnaby. But Girling fell down the order after getting a waggle on exiting the chicane.
As they completed the opening lap Cook was already building a decisive lead over Smith, who had Churchill on the attack, while Malone was up to fourth, as Carnaby and Johnson shared a couple of exchanges for fifth. Duckman had started at the back but by lap three he was sixth into Clervaux and closed in on Carnaby before going by at Tower a lap later. But with Duckman then pulling off they all moved up again. “I just changed down and it snapped the driveshaft,” Duckman explained.
Girling and McMillan also had a few swaps and changes after Johnson fell off. “I was flying but got out of shape at the Jim Clark Esses then on the grass and spun at Sunny. I think it was the tyres,” said Johnson.
Back at the front Malone was on the move, taking Churchill into Tower on lap five and second from Smith at Clervaux a couple of laps later. But his glory was soon over, “I lost gear selection again and only had first and third,” he explained.
Cook therefore cruised home for his second win of the weekend, “I was just waiting for the flag, there was something rubbing though, but it all held together,” he said.
Smith finally got his podium with a fine second place, having been shadowed by Churchill for most of the race. “We got it at last, this is what we have been aiming for. It got a bit loose near the end though, but we managed to hold it together,” he said.
But it was celebrations all round for Churchill and the Courtenay Sport team, as third was all that was needed to secure the title. “I just did what I had to. I could have probably got Josh, but just sat behind Rob and he drove so well. I need those points,” he said.
As Malone tumbled down to eighth at the flag, Carnaby also came unstuck and vacated fourth at Tower on the last lap, after a huge lock up sent him into the field. “The rear brakes locked up,” he said after touring home 10th. Girling, McMillan and George therefore completed the top six, with Bensley in seventh. “It was just awful,” reckoned the former Stock Hatch Champion. Johnson split the recovering Malone and Carnaby for ninth and Boland completed the finishers again.
RESULT: 13 laps in 20m43.022s (80.00mph); 2 Smith +3.930s; 3 Churchill +4.188s; 4 Girling; 5 McMillan; 6 George; 7 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 8 Malone; 9 Johnson; 10 Carnaby. FL: Cook 1m33.760s (81.59mph).
Girling started from pole for the partially reversed grid in the final race of the season, while Cook was an absentee after finding starter motor problems on his Megane. It was Churchill that hit the front though, with Smith briefly second until he went wide at Hawthorn and let Girling and McMillan through, before recovering to head off Malone, Johnson, Carnaby, George, Bensley and Duckman for fourth.
The lead duo soon made a telling break, leaving McMillan, Smith and Malone to contest third. Carnaby was on his own in sixth, but after Duckman made it up to seventh on lap two, Johnson had Bensley and George all over him.
Malone made it past Smith into Tower on lap five, but the BMW driver surged back ahead into Sunny which allowed McMillan to consolidate third. Three laps later Malone tried again at Tower, but Smith’s defence continued to hold. He finally made it through into Tower on lap 11, by which time McMillan was long gone. But Smith took him back again, before it was finally settled in Malone’s favour exiting Tower with a lap to go. “Mega, we had a few touches though,” Malone admitted. “I am still happy with that though,” Smith added.
Churchill signed off his 2011 campaign with a victory and the last for his trusty Astra, which is now for sale and will be replaced by his Ford Focus for next season. But Girling came back strongly and was only 0.318s secs adrift at the flag. “That seemed a long race with Joe right there behind me,” he said. “I didn’t realise time was running out. I think Adrian was pumping his brakes, so I waited for a mistake, which didn’t come,” Girling replied.
McMillan completed the podium from Malone and Smith, with Duckman ending his weekend with sixth, after Carnaby pulled off. “I lost power as I started to catch Tom I think it was the boost,” said Duckman.
George came out on top of his battle with Johnson and Bensley, while Boland completed the top 10.”That was an enjoyable weekend, I clipped the tyres at the chicane but that was all,” said George. “I ran out of brakes, I think it’s the master cylinder,” Johnson added.
RESULT: 1 Churchill 13 laps in 20m39.902s (80.20mph); 2 Girling +0.318s; 3 McMillan; 4 Malone; 5 Smith; 6 Duckman; 7 George; 8 Johnson; 9 Bensley; 10 Boland. FL: Churchill 1m34.078s (81.31mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for the BARC Production Touring Car Trophy, September 26th, 2011
Cook’s car can’t take the heat…at least not all the time!
Josh Cook came within a whisker of taking a hat-trick of victories at Brands Hatch in the BARC Production Touring Car Trophy last weekend. His Renault Megane came out on top in the first and last races of the weekend, but had to surrender the advantage in the second race when a temperature sensor caused an intermittent power loss.
Gary Duckman’s Seat Leon secured pole for the first race, “not sure if I could 20 laps at that pace. I knew it was pole and doubted I could match it again,” he said. Cook was alongside with a new diff in his Renault Megane. Dan Malone’s Seat headed the second row from championship leader Adrian Churchill’s Astra VXR, but only 0.872s covered the top nine.
The dark clouds were gathering as the grid formed up, but as the lights went out it was Duckman that led the charge into Paddock, from Churchill, Cook and Liam McMillan’s Seat. But Duckman was on the grass through McLaren and handed the lead to Churchill, before coming under pressure from Cook through Clearways.
Churchill made a slight break on the third lap, but a lap later it was nose to tail between the lead trio, before Duckman regained the advantage into Paddock. It was all in vain however as the rain turned heavier and the race was red flagged to enable the change to wets.
All 13 cars lined up for the restart as the rain had virtually stopped. Into Paddock Hill for the first time it was side by side between Churchill and Duckman for the lead, but both ran wide on the exit and Cook managed to split the duo. Cook’s attack continued and he snatched the lead out of Graham Hill Bend, with McMillan following into second on the Cooper Straight. As they flashed past the pits Churchill was still in third, from Duckman, Maurice Hayden’s Megane and Tom Carnaby’s Astra, but missing was Rob Smith’s BMW 330D, buried in the gravel at Druids.
Joseph Girling’s Astra had just edged out Carnaby on the second lap, when a lurid slide through McLaren handed the place back. But at the front Cook had started to stretch his advantage and McMillan had pulled a gap too, as Churchill, Duckman, Hayden and Carnaby ran line astern behind.
Hayden had been harassing Duckman but then found himself losing out to Carnaby into Druids on the fifth lap, but immediately reclaimed sixth into Graham Hill Bend and recommenced his challenge on Duckman. While the lead duo continued to make good their escape, Hayden finally sneaked inside Duckman at Paddock a lap later and was straight onto Churchill’s tail in his quest for third.
Further back Kevin George’s Astra ousted Dan Malone’s Seat from ninth into Paddock, before both he and Ryan Bensley both profited when Girling slid off at Surtees, as he chased hard to challenge Carnaby. Although Hayden had managed to take Churchill into McLaren on lap seven, he put two wheels in the gravel rounding Paddock and handed the place
back. It was another two laps before he finally claimed third, taking the outside line through Graham Hill Bend.
It was a dominant win for Cook though, with well over eight seconds in hand over McMillan. “The new diff made a hell of a difference in the wet. I didn’t think I would hold the lead at the start, but once I got temperature in the tyres I just pushed on and concentrated,” he explained. “I wasn’t sure how the car would react from the restart, but still went for it. We broke away and as it got drier it got greasier and slowed me a bit and I could see Maurice closing,” McMillan explained. Hayden
managed to consolidate his hold on third by over three seconds at the flag, “it was really good in the wet. I lost out to Liam at the start but then had a really good race with Gary and Adrian, before I was too hot into Paddock and had to pass Adrian again,” he said.
Churchill was relatively happy with fourth place, “we put the wets on but didn’t change anything. I was driving for the finish and the championship, whether I was in front or behind Maurice,” he said. Title rival Duckman had to settle for fifth, “I couldn’t get away at the restart and was pushed wide at Paddock. I had terrible understeer and had to keep it really tight through Clearways,” said the Seat driver. Carnaby retained sixth, “I had a fogged screen and was looking for grip
and a dry line. But I came close to Gary at the end,” he said. Bensley’s Astra was seventh, “I just kept it on and the handling was a bit better than in qualifying,” he reckoned. George just held off the recovering Girling for eighth. “I enjoyed it, especially watching the panic in the pitlane before the restart,” he said.
Malone completed the top ten, “something felt wrong in the gearbox so I stayed in third until the last few laps then tried another gear,” he said. Ex Formula Vee Champion Martin Galpin recovered from an early grassy moment at Graham Hill Bend to bring the Dutch bio methanol fuelled Nissan 370 home 11th, “I hadn’t even sat in the car until qualifying and never raced a saloon before,” he explained. Steve Johnson’s Astra was 12th. “It’s my first ever time here, I had never even spectated,” he concluded.
RESULT: 1 Josh Cook (Renault Megane) 16 laps in 15m50.31s (73.21mph); 2 Liam McMillan Seat Leon) +8.829s; 3 Maurice Hayden (Renault Megane); 4 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 5 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon) +0.567s; 6
Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 7 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 8 Kevin George (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 9 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 10 Dan Malone (Seat Leon). Fastest lap: Cook 58.412s (74.44mph).
Cook made the most of his pole position for Sunday morning’s race and was straight into the lead, with Churchill, McMillan and Duckman joining a four car break on the second lap.
Bensley headed the second group, from Girling, Smith, Malone, Galpin and Johnson, with George bringing up the rear after Hayden pitted after the opening lap, with the cambelt off.
Cook started to establish a bigger lead as McMillan harried Churchill for second. Bensley was also given respite as Girling had Smith and Malone in his wheeltracks.
Girling survived another tankslapper at McLaren to retain sixth, but ahead of him it was any one from three in the fight for second. McMillan made it through on the outside of Graham Hill bend on lap nine, only to take to the grass at Surtees and drop back to fourth behind Duckman.
But passing the pits a lap later Cook suddenly slowed, “it was the cooling sensor I think. It was up and down but we didn’t lose any coolant and it went into cold start, which cut my power. It was great until then after Maurice had the gearbox out on the floor over night,” he explained.
It became nose to tail for the lead with Churchill ahead, but under terrific pressure from Duckman, with McMillan still a close third and Cook had still managed to stay at the back of the lead quartet.
McMillan made his move at Clearways and was second as they flashed past the pits, keeping the momentum going he edged out Churchill too into Paddock. Duckman followed through and was almost pushing McMillan through Clearways a lap later, but not to be outdone, Churchill was almost inside Duckman when they arrived at McLaren on the next tour.
The top four held station over the remaining laps, despite the intervention of the safety car. “I was oversteering at the start, but we had made a drastic set up change and it worked this time. They hassled each other so much it gave me space,” said McMillan after celebrating his maiden victory in the championship.
‘I couldn’t quite get him and needed too. A lot of sideways again, as I prefer it loose, it worked to my advantage at times though,” said second placed Duckman. Churchill was fairly reflective over his third place. “I was cautious on the oil that was down as I couldn’t afford to throw anything away,” he said. Although he dropped back, Cook still retained a fairly safe fourth.
Bensley had been comfortable in fifth too until the final lap. “It just died on me, it might be fuel and I was struggling a bit,” he admitted. Both Smith and Malone made it by before the ex Stock Hatch Champion made the flag, both having also gained earlier when Girling pitted to retire. “I got hit by Rob and it pushed the wing onto the tyre and then as I
slowed for the pits Dan hit me too,” Girling explained. “It was a great battle with Joseph and Rob, I just wasn’t fast enough to get Rob though,” Malone added. “I just kept the car in right place, its working better but still lots more to come,” Smith replied.
George came home eighth after a first lap excursion.”I tried rallying at McLaren and went off towards the medical centre. I was so far off I could have stopped for tea. With so much ground lost I couldn’t catch up again,” he explained.
Johnson completed the finishers after Galpin retired on his ninth lap, ”we had a diff oil leak,” he explained.
RESULT: 1 McMillan 22 laps in 20m18.176s (76.53mph); 2 Duckman +0.797s; 3 Churchill +0.754s; 4 Cook; 5 Rob Smith (BMW 330D); 6 Malone; 7 Bensley;8 George; 9 Johnson; no other finishers. FL: Duckman 52.492s (82.84mph).
Just as at Donington Park George was handed pole position in the reverse grid. Smith made a terrific start to hold the early lead, but George had a huge spin exiting Paddock and settled firmly in the gravel. “It was scary facing the wrong way. I had lifted to avoid Rob and it just broke away from me,” he explained.
Churchill had managed dive ahead through Surtees as the safety car was readied, followed by Smith, McMillan, Cook, Duckman and Girling. Malone also managed two spins and came round at the tail of the field, behind Johnson and Galpin, after Bensley had pitted to check on some body damage.
After four laps the green flag was out and McMillan was straight on the attack for second place, but also having to watch his rear as Cook had similar plans. Duckman and Girling remained close too, but McMillan’s forceful approach put him wide at Paddock a lap later and gave Cook third place, before scything past Smith for second into Surtees.
As Cook began to chase down Churchill, a queue began to form behind the defensive Smith, with McMillan still unable find his way through. But into Druids on eight he finally made it by, Duckman almost followed immediately but had to way until Surtees. Back at the front Cook had been patient but finally made the decisive move on Churchill as they arrived at Surtees. The lead grew fairly rapidly as McMillan started to close on Churchill too, leaving Duckman in a solitary fourth.
Smith was down to fifth and now had both Girling and Malone piling on the pressure. Going into Paddock for the 20th time Girling lost it and spun, taking out Smith too as they both piled into the barriers and brought the race to a premature end.
For Cook it was a second win to celebrate, “the car felt so much better without the ballast and I was able to capitalise on Liam being stuck behind Rob. But I was very close too when Kevin spun on the first lap,” he said.
Churchill also had his share of luck in retaining second, “a driveshaft had gone and I probably wouldn’t have finished the race. But I had pushed it hard though,” he explained. McMillan was still fairly happy to be on the podium again, “Yes from eighth on the grid, I really tried hard to get past Rob, but he defended so well. I tried both sides but when I went the wrong way Josh got me,” he explained.
Duckman saw his title hopes take a hit finishing two places behind his rival. “I was a bit bored, once I saw a car I tried to reel them in, but the red flag ended any chance of catching Liam,” he reckoned.
With Smith and Girling out, Malone was fifth, “I missed a gear at the start but think something must have been on the track to make me spin twice on the first lap,” he said. Bensley was next home, “I missed third gear and got a bad start, but pitted as my rear bumper was hanging off,” he explained.
Johnson was happier after coming in seventh, “I now know how much bhp I was losing to the others, so I am pleased its not me,” he said. Galpin completed the finishers.
RESULT: 1 Cook 18 laps in 17m12.221s (75.83mph); 2 Churchill +3.706s; 3 McMillan; 4 Duckman; 5 Malone; 6 Bensley; 7 Johnson; 8 Martin Galpin (Nissan 370).; no other finishers. FL: Cook 52.138s (83.40mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for the BARC Production Touring Car Trophy, August 30th,
Duckmans Donington double
Having taken his maiden victory at Rockingham, Gary Duckman’s Seat Leon was the car to beat at a wet Donington. He just lost out to championship leader Adrian Churchill in the first race, but was unbeatable during the rest of the weekend.
Duckman started from pole and led into Redgate, but had Churchill’s Astra VXR in his wheeltracks as they plunged down the Craner Curves. Playstation Scholarship winner Jann Mardenborough was into third in his Nissan 370Z, with Josh Cook’s Renault Megane, Joseph Girling’s Astra and Dan Malone’s Seat Leon following line astern.
The lead duo made an early break with Duckman just holding on until the Old Hairpin on lap three. “I Just went wide and Adrian was through, “he explained.
Cook began to lose ground on the third placed Nissan too. “He was cutting corners and bringing mud onto the track and I was first to find it. I wasn’t happy at all,” he said.
Although Girling had started well, he vacated fifth on the second lap, “I went Rallycrossing at the Old Hairpin, but no damage,” he explained. Malone and the Astra’s of Tom Carnaby and Kevin George had gone by before he rejoined. But Carnaby was struggling with brakes and a power loss. “I waved Kevin through on the third lap, as I had no brakes. Having no power wasn’t a problem until it stopped raining, but it was no good having power without brakes,” he explained. “I pitted after two more laps, foot to the floor,” he added.
Cook had continued to chase Mardenborough for third until lap eight, “I had been using kerb at McLeans, but the Nissan had covered it in mud and I lost the front end and was on the grass. I just skirted the gravel but kept going slowly to rejoin,” he explained. But Malone, George, Girling and Bensley had all gone by before he rejoined.
There were no such problems at the front though, “I had the pace and managed pull a gap on Gary for a breather before my brakes and tyres went off,” said Churchill. The gap had grown to 2.8secs before Duckman came charging back.
At the flag the winning margin was reduced to 0.754secs, “I ran out of laps, but happy with second,” said Duckman. “That was hard work with the extra ballast, at the end I was going into corners, not knowing if I had any brakes,” Churchill added.
Mardenborough retained third and Malone consolidated his hold on fourth over George. “I can’t be disappointed with that,” said Malone. “It was good and I finished higher than I started,” George added.
Girling held onto sixth, with Cook regaining seventh from the brakeless Bensley on lap nine. Steve Johnson’s Astra also pipped Bensley on the final lap, “the brakes were the wrong way round and the boost had gone, but we sorted the suspension,” Bensley explained. “I had a bit of contact, then caught Ryan and overtook him at Coppice, but went through the gravel and tried again more successfully on the next lap,” said Johnson.
Josh Wakefield had the edge in the Fiat Abarth duel, over Robert Gilmore and Phil Boland completed the finishers in the Myerscough College Skoda Fabia on its race debut.
Joe McMillan retired the family Seat on his debut and Maurice Hayden was also a casualty, “changed from fifth to fourth but got second, dipped the clutch and finished in the gravel at McLeans chasing Girling, driver error,” Hayden concluded.
RESULT: 1 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR) 12 laps in 21m15.027s (135.45kph); 2 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon) +0.567s; 3 Jann Mardenborough (Nissan 370Z); 4 Dan Malone (Seat Leon); 5 Kevin George (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 6 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 7 Josh Cook (Renault Megane); 8 Steve Johnson (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 9 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 10 Josh Wakefield (Fiat Abarth). Fastest lap: Churchill 1m44.978s (137.978kph). Class winner: Josh Wakefield.
Churchill had the legs of Duckman into Redgate, but Cook made a flying start from seventh on the grid to slot into third, from Girling, Malone and Carnaby.
Duckman was soon onto Churchill’s tail and pounced when the championship leader went wide at the Old Hairpin. “The tyres were still cold,” Churchill explained.
Having just gained the lead Duckman found himself delayed by the entry of the safety car for two laps, while Mardenborough and Gilmore had their cars recovered.
From the green flag the top three all began to consolidate their positions, but having built a cushion of 1.7 secs quite quickly, Duckman couldn’t afford to relax as Churchill kept the pressure on right to the flag. “It’s such a hard circuit for brakes, but pleased with it and everything ExcelR8 have done for me,” said Duckman.
Churchill had also pulled out over five seconds on Cook by the flag to consolidate his championship lead. “I had no brakes left at the end though,” he commented. “I would have preferred it to rain again as it evens out the power,” reckoned third placed Cook.
Malone and Carnaby both charged after Girling following the safety car and both got by within a couple of laps, with Malone then pulling clear to secure fourth, before a late charge brought him within in a whisker of catching Cook at the flag.
Bensley also demoted Girling a lap later, before they all moved up when Carnaby retired. “The brakes were getting hot, no fluid so I pulled off at Redgate as it was foot to the floor again,” Carnaby explained.
Bensley finally settled in fifth with George just having the edge over Girling for sixth, having shared a couple of exchanges in the closing laps. “I had a good start but then ran out of brakes too,” said Girling. “I had a rubbish start, to get off the line with no one getting past would be nice,” George added.
US Playstation Scholar Bryan Heitkotter brought his Nissan home eighth, with Hayden and Johnson completing the top ten. “The set up wasn’t right and couldn’t make any progress,” said Hayden.
With Gilmore out on the first lap, Wakefield was the only Fiat Abarth survivor, followed by Boland’s class B Skoda.
RESULT: 1 Duckman 11 laps in 20m58.992s (125.73kph); 2 Churchill +0.754s; 3 Cook; 4 Malone; 5 Bensley; 6 George; 7 Girling; 8 Bryan Heitkotter (Nissan 370Z); 9 Maurice Hayden (Renault Megane); 10 Johnson. FL: Duckman 1m44.484s (85.70mph). CW: Wakefield.
The reverse grid handed George pole, but it was Churchill that emerged from a chaotic first corner, heading Cook, Duckman and Heitkotter. George had run wide and made contact with Bensley, who also clipped Churchill’s rear corner. Both George and Bensley then retired to the pits. “I got squeezed and the contact broke the trackrod end,” said Bensley.
Heitkotter was into fourth, with Malone being pursued by the duelling Carnaby and Girling for fifth.
Although Duckman made it past Cook for second on lap two, initially he made no impression on Churchill’s lead. But Malone’s chase was over on the second lap, “I went off on the Craner Curves, lifted but found the gravel at the Old Hairpin,” he explained.
As the rain began to fall again the lead gap began to close and having run nose to tail out of the Melbourne Hairpin on lap six, Duckman made his move into Redgate. But Churchill was back ahead down the Craner Curves, before Duckman was ahead again through Schwantz Curve.
It stayed fairly close to the end, with Churchill right on Duckman’s tail through the Esses with a lap to go. They were side by side from McLeans to Coppice for the final time, but Churchill slipped onto the kerbs at the Esses which proved decisive for Duckman. “It was a great battle with Gary, but my steering had gone at the end,” said Churchill. “Awesome, my best ever race, slippery, enjoyable but dangerous too and I could see Adrian sliding all over the place,” added the victorious Duckman.
Cook was a fairly solitary third, “It was quite boring, but had no warmth in the tyres at the start with only one green flag lap,” he said.
Heitkotter consolidated his hold on fourth, but behind the Carnaby and Girling duel continued until lap seven, when Carnaby slid off at McLeans, but still managed to rejoin in sixth.
Mardenborough piled the pressure on the recovering Carnaby and finally got the better of him with a lap to go. Johnson was eighth, followed by the Fiat Abarth’s, which had a number of exchanges before Wakefield finally broke the tow and pulled out over two seconds on Gilmore in the final laps, for his third class win of the weekend.
Boland made it home one lap down, with Hayden the final finisher. “I punctured at the start and had to pit, it had been fine on the warm up lap,” said Hayden.
RESULT: 1 Duckman 11 laps in 20m26.452s (129.07kph); 2 Churchill +1.420s; 3 Cook; 4 Heitkotter; 5 Girling; 6 Mardenborough; 7 Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 8 Johnson; 9 Wakefield; 10 Gilmore. FL: Mardenborough 1m45.298s (85.03mph). CW: Gilmore.
Published by Peter Scherer, with assistance from Lynda & Emily Scherer for the BARC Production Touring Car Trophy, July 19th, 2011
Duckman and Churchill share the spoils
With the rained-off event from Thruxton added to the scheduled trio of races on Rockingham’s challenging infield circuit, the Production
Touring Car Trophy field enjoyed a bumper weekend. Despite winning two of the four races, Adrian Churchill saw his championship momentum pegged back as Gary Duckman picked up his first two wins and emerged as a serious title contender.
With the grid for race one already having been set at the abandoned Thruxton meeting three weeks ago, Saturday’s qualifying session formed the grid for race two. But it had a big impact on the whole of Ryan Bensley’s weekend. Having set the fastest time in the opening minutes of the session, his Astra got loose going into the banked first turn and pitched Ryan towards the wall. “I went in as normal – easily flat, but the back end just stepped out. I managed to catch it first time but not when it went the other way” he explained.
The collision broke the engine mount and ruled the luckless Bensley out of the opening race. Although the team’s heroic efforts got him on track for races two and three (helped by bits cannibalised from a donor road car!) he wasn’t able to challenge the leaders.
In Bensley’s absence, the qualifying order gave a hint of what was to come, as Churchill’s Astra came out on top, but by less than a tenth of a second from an in-form Duckman. “Gary’s car is going quicker this weekend – I can’t take anything away from him,” Churchill confirmed.
Best of the rest was Josh Cook’s Megane, four tenths clear of series returnee Liam McMillan’ Leon, with the Astras of Joseph Girling and Thomas Carnaby giving chase. The latter gave his team some work to do before the first race after a collision bent his track-rod.
Swelling the ranks of Class B was an influx of feisty Fiat Abarths, with Formula Renault front-runner Alice Powell emerging as the quickest newcomer in tenth. “The opportunity to race came after a call with series co-ordinator Martin Phaff. This is my first time racing in a front wheel drive car and they’re really good to drive – they’ve got lots of grip which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve even been able to get the car sliding at the rear!” she enthused.
RACE ONE (POSTPONED FROM THRUXTON)
Despite starting from sixth place on the reversed grid from Thruxton, runaway points leader Churchill made light work of making his way to the front, speeding through to second off the line. But ahead of him was an equally inspired Duckman, who swept round the outside of Turn One to claim the lead, despite Churchill’s race-long efforts, was how it stayed to the finish.
For the delighted Duckman, a former Porsche 924 champion, it was a long-awaited maiden win in the championship he joined last year. “I’ve finally got the monkey off my back,” he beamed.
Like the top two, Cook had also enjoyed a rapid getaway at the lights, claiming third ahead of McMillan. “The
Megane seems to be pretty good off the line but it’s towards the later stage of the races it seems to struggle,” he noted. It proved to be true again as McMillan swept past just after they crossed the line at the end of lap eight, to claim the final podium place.
Despite having started from pole, Maurice Hayden’s Megane dropped back as far as ninth on lap two, before recovering to finish seventh. “We’re struggling to set a pace and I’m still getting used to the car,” admitted the accomplished former Stock Hatch stalwart.
Meanwhile ninth place, and victory in Class B, went the way of Powell, once she’d recovered from a moment on lap two. “It’s obviously a lot different jumping in from a single seater, but I seem to have adapted quite well”.
RESULT: 1 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon) 14 laps in 21m 27.962s (75.91mph); 2 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR) +2.684s; 3 Liam McMillan (Seat Leon); 4 Josh Cook (Renault Megane); 5 Dan Malone (Seat Leon Cupra); 6 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra); 7 Maurice Hayden; 8 Steve Johnson (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 9 Alice Powell (Fiat Abarth); 10 Keith Issatt (Fiat Abarth). Fastest Lap: Duckman 1m31.251s (76.53mph). Class winner: Alice Powell.
Unbowed by defeat in race one, Churchill took the initiative from the moment the lights turned green for the second contest. Having dropped back on the opening lap, Duckman quickly recovered to third on lap two before taking advantage of a mistake by McMillan to claim second. He pushed hard to try and unseat Churchill, but eventually had to accept defeat after over-shooting the Deene hairpin on lap 12.
A recovering McMillan made amends for his earlier slip by reclaiming third place from Cook at Deene on lap seven. Girling and Hayden closed out the top six, while Powell took another class win, having traded places early on with Steve Johnson’s class A Astra.
RESULT: Race Two: 1 Churchill 14 laps in 21m27.125s (75.96mph); 2 Duckman +5.495s; 3 McMillan; 4 Cook; 5 Girling; 6 Hayden; 7 Malone; 8 Johnson; 9 Powell; 10 Issatt. FL: Duckman. CW: Powell.
Churchill took yet another win in race three, despite losing out to Duckman off the line. “I held on to a gear too log at the start,” he
explained. But the error was quickly redeemed when Duckman tried too hard to press home his advantage and ran wide at Tarzan. “I thought I’d warmed the tyres up,” he admitted. “They were pretty good on the warm-up lap, but I left the braking too late and the back went out. If I’d have stayed ahead I think I could have held him,” he explained.
But the damage was done, and Churchill duly wrapped up his seventh win of the year. Nonetheless, second place in the race also edged Duckman up to second place in the title race, a point clear of Cook, who spent most of his race defending fourth from Girling’s Astra. Ahead of them, the impressive McMillan never looked under pressure as he made his third podium visit of the day
While Powell once more topped the Fiat clan, fellow Abarth pilot Sarah Franklin made a dramatic exit when suspected front suspension failure caused her to spear off track. Sadly it brought her meeting to an end.
RESULT: 1 Churchill 14 laps in 21m26.757s (75.98mph); 2 Duckman +2.204s; 3 McMillan; 4 Cook; 5 Girling; 6 Malone; 7 Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 8 Hayden; 9 Johnson; 10 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR). FL: Churchill 1m30.535s (77.14mph). CW: Powell.
When Alice Powell drew four as the number of cars to be reversed to form the final grid of the day, it looked like she’d done Churchill a favour as it meant he would still start from the second row of the grid – the best outcome for him. “Well done Alice – thank you – that will do!” he joked. Sadly that auspicious start didn’t transfer itself to the race, where he dropped back to sixth behind Carnaby. The pair tussled in the opening laps, colliding as they crossed the finish line at the end of lap five. Churchill headed into the pits with a broken front bumper, eventually rejoining at the back, while Carnaby carried on to take the flag sixth. But a post-race review resulted in both being disqualified.
While that drama was unfolding behind him, Cook had converted pole on the reverse grid to the lead ahead of Duckman. The pair ran
nose-to-tail early on before a mistake at Deene gave Cook some welcome breathing space. But it wasn’t to last, as Duckman reeled him in again and finally made it through for his second win of the day, after Cook ran wide onto the grass at Brook, allowing his rival to a good run on him through turn one and sweep decisively ahead into Deene.
“When he went too deep into the hairpin I thought I had that one in the bag,” said Cook afterwards. “I was pushing quite hard and towards the end the brakes just really died off”, he added.
By contrast, Duckman was understandably ecstatic. “That’s probably the best victory I’ve ever had! I knew Josh was struggling under the brakes and I reeled him in most after I made a mistake at the hairpin. I thought I’m going to have to leave it late and see what happens and he went a little but wide and sure enough I made it through”.
It was similarly close behind them, as Liam McMillan defended stalwartly from the pursuing Girling to clinch his fourth top three spot of the day.
RESULT: 1 Duckman 13 laps in 20m01.552s (75.56mph); 2 Cook +0.669s; 3 McMillan; 4 Girling; 5 Malone; 6 Hayden; 7 Johnson; 8 Powell; 9 John Jerstice (Fiat Abarth); no other finishers. FL: Duckman 1m31.001s (76.74mph). CW: Powell.
Published by Peter Scherer for the BARC Production Touring Car Trophy, July 5th, 2011
Churchill can’t stop the Carnaby
Adrian Churchill extended his advantage at the top of the points table with a win and a third place finish at Thruxton, but the Courtenay Sport Vauxhall Astra VXR driver was denied a third chance as the meeting was abandoned mid-afternoon on Sunday due to ever worsening conditions.
There was a surprise in qualifying with Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR) taking pole, but it wasn’t a trouble free run for him as shortly after bumping Churchill from the top of the timing screen, the nearside front tyre burst pitching him into the barrier at the infamous chicane.
“As I went on the brakes, there was a pop and I felt the car juddering. I knew what it was straight away but was only a passenger as the car hit the tyre wall” said Bensley. “I’m disappointed as I’ve just spent a lot of money on new suspension and the car felt good until then. I’m going to have to spend more now on repairs” he added.
Churchill was alongside on the front row, just 0.050s away and content to sit out a chunk of the session, rather than wear out his car and tyres. Thomas Carnaby made it three Astra’ in the first three slots, while a stunned Rob Smith was fourth fastest in the BMW 330 Diesel which was built up from a former police car!
“We’ve re-mapped the ECU since Snetterton, but are still about 50bhp down on the others, so I’m delighted” said Smith. Gary Duckman and Kevin George were on row three, George openly confessing that he wasn’t at ease with his new car on this very fast circuit. Sadly, his fears were founded in race one.
A brace of BTCC stars graced the pit garages – Paul O’Neill playing his usual driver coach role to Dan Malone; while Matt Neal was acting as a driver coach to Joseph Girling for the first time. They lined up sixth and seventh respectively.
Earlier there had been a general practice session which helped compensate for lack of testing at Thruxton. That had kept race engineers busy with the VXRs of Carnaby and Steve Johnson both pulling out CV joints. Carnaby adding to his team’s repair list by also breaking a damper.
Other casualties were Josh Cook whose Renault Megane suffered an electrical glitch which forced him to miss qualifying. The sister car of Maurice Hayden had lengthier problems, with its clutch forcing him to miss qualifying and the race on Saturday.
An overnight change had the former Stock Hatch Champion back in action on Sunday morning.
He may not have started from pole, but Churchill burst into an immediate lead as the lights went out and he steadily opened up an advantage over Bensley and Carnaby, who enjoyed their own scrap, while Duckman sat in fourth ahead of Smith.
Cook’s opening lap charge carried him through to sixth, which became fifth a lap later as Smith began a tumble down the order. “We changed settings after qualifying and it made the car undriveable. I’ve gone from an all-time high to a real low” reflected the reigning Production BMW Champion.
Carnaby ousted Bensley from second place at Allard on the start of lap five, but race leader Churchill was by now comfortably clear. Bensley later came under pressure from Duckman and Cook, but edged away again to leave them battling for fourth place. They in turn were clear of Malone.
Spots of rain on lap 10 led to a changing picture as Churchill slackened his pace allowing Carnaby to draw ever closer. The now well detached Bensley was safe in third but, having failed to find a way past the defensive Duckman for several laps, Cook finally managed it by driving all around the outside at Church on lap 11.
But sadly it was to no avail as two laps later he slipped down to seventh, his engine having gone into ‘limp home’ mode. Checks later
revealed that fuel surge had caused the problem.
Up front and with the rain now steadily increasing, Churchill allowed Carnaby to get within half a second at the flag. Bensley was third while Malone relieved Duckman of fourth spot on the final lap. Girling, Cook and the totally frustrated Smith completed the finishers.
“I backed off as much as I dare. I didn’t want to throw it off in the wet” reflected race winner Churchill who added “the nearside front tyre
was scrap by the end”.
Carnaby said “We’re happy to just get this far. The car really came to me in the later stages”. Having surveyed his crunched car after
qualifying, Bensley was even more delighted to have finished third. “The fact that we got into the race is something. We were still working on the car just minutes before”.
George and Johnson were both retirements, Johnson down to “the engine cut out” but George’s stop was rather more terminal. “The back end stepped out on the fast left hander (Noble) and I thought I’d caught it, but then it came back on me and I went into the barrier” revealed George. Damage to the front end was such that the team packed the car away for the weekend.
RESULT: 1 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR) 14 laps in 20m 02.016s (98.78mph); 2 Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR) +0.484s; 3 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 4 Dan Malone (Seat Leon Cupra); 5 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon); 6 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra); 7 Josh Cook (Renault Megane); 8 Rob Smith (BMW 330D E90); no other finishers. Fastest Lap: Carnaby 1m24.826s (99.98mph).
Sunday morning dawned damp and it got progressively wetter. Just as the previous afternoon, there was a dominant leade,r but it wasn’t Churchill this time. Instead it was Carnaby whose opening two laps were eye catching.
Lapping a quite staggering 2.5s quicker than his nearest rival, he soon had more than five seconds in hand over the chasing Churchill, who had Bensley, Duckman and the charging Cook behind.
Completing what ultimately became a wretched weekend for him, Smith was an early pit visitor. “It misted up and I couldn’t see a thing” he opined. He was back in two laps later for another quick wipe around, before being classified tenth, two laps down on the leaders.
Having opened up a comfortable lead, Carnaby was content to sit on it while Churchill resigned himself to a points finish. The Championship leader ultimately ended up third, but the man on the move was Cook.
Cook passed Duckman at Allard on lap four, Bensley at the complex on lap six and then two tours later he snatched second spot from Churchill at Goodwood. Churchill continued to pressure Cook over the remainder of the race, but Churchill wasn’t about to risk all for the sake of one place. “I’m happy with third spot. I was playing the long game. Championships are won over the course of the season and putting points in the bag was far more important than getting back one place today” he said..
Cook and Churchill gradually moved ever closer to Carnaby, but the race leader was in control (well almost) of the situation. “The car was misting up and so I lifted off” said Carnaby. Even so, it was noticeable that as conditions improved slightly in the latter stages, the top three all set their best times on either the final or penultimate lap of the race.
Bensley finished fourth, clear of Duckman, Malone and Hayden who was the final unlapped runner. Dramas on the parade lap forced Johnson to start from the pit lane and he was classified eighth ahead of Girling while Smith completed the order.
RESULT: 1 Carnaby 14 laps in 21m 24.530s (92.43mph); 2 Cook +1.415s; 3 Churchill; 4 Bensley; 5 Duckman; 6 Malone; 7 Maurice Hayden (Renault Megane); 8 Steve Johnson (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 9 Girling; 10 Smith. FL: Churchill 1m 29.278s (95.00mph).
The reverse grid draw for race three placed Carnaby on the fourth row while Johnson and Hayden would start at the sharp end. But it all became academic when organisers were forced to abandon the remainder of the meeting due to conditions.
Published by Peter Scherer for BARC Dunlop Production Touring Car Trophy, June 13th, 2011
Churchill Still in Charge
Adrian Churchill was in championship winning form again at Snetterton, with his Courtenay Sport Vauxhall Astra VXR taking victory in all three Dunlop Production Car Trophy races.
Churchill comfortably took pole for the first race, but alongside was Kevin George, his first time out in an Astra VXR. “We had a few testing problems, but qualifying was amazing and I can’t wait for the race,” he said.
Liam McMillan headed the second row, his Seat Leon had only been finished at 1am on the eve of the meeting. “I haven’t raced for 18 months since I did the BTCC. We managed to get eight laps in testing, and are still changing things,” he explained.
Ryan Bensley’s Astra was alongside, while on row four Production BMW Champion Rob Smith debuted his BMW 330D. “We are only on standard power for reliability, but the car is also to promote diesels for a greener environment,” he said.
While Churchill rocketed away to lead from pole, it was four abreast into Riches for second, but George had the line on the exit, from
Bensley, McMillan and Josh Cook’s Megane.
There was already one casualty on the opening lap, when Joseph Girling’s Astra expired. “I got a good start and then I think the gear linkage broke,” he explained.
While the lead pair started to open a gap, Bensley came under pressure from McMillan for third, which had started to become an eight car train. On lap four McMillan was all over Bensley through Coram, and Cook was only inches away too.
A lap later McMillan made his move around the outside of Riches, before Bensley lost out further to the Megane’s of Cook and Maurice Hayden into Murray’s. Gary Duckman’s Seat was also on the move, ousting Tom Carnaby’s Astra for seventh.
McMillan soon consolidated third, but the gap to the lead pair looked out of reach, Bensley managed to retake Hayden, but Cook had broken away in fourth too.
Churchill cruised to victory with almost seven seconds in hand, “I got a good start, kept my eye in and just kept on it,” he said. Although George retained second, McMillan had closed the gap to a respectable 1.2 secs. “I was reasonably happy with that, we have a mapping problem which is restricting our progress at the moment,” McMillan added. “I was worried at the start, the plan was to stick in behind Adrian. It worked a bit, but I got vibration after six laps and the front left wheel bolts had almost gone,” George concluded.
Cook was a fairly solitary fourth, “I had a good race with Ryan for a while. It was where the action was, “Cook reckoned. But although fifth Bensley had been struggling, “no power, Josh had got past me when I went off line,” he said.
There was little between Duckman and Hayden at the flag, “I had been boxed in at the start with nowhere to go, so had to catch up again. I finally got Maurice on the back straight, he went wide but my brakes had almost gone, “said Duckman. “It was a blinding start for me, but yes Gary got me when I went wide but I got back to him and we both suffered with brakes,” Hayden replied.
Carnaby was just pleased to see the finish in eighth, after a catalogue of problems in testing and qualifying. “We did the whole race with a broken bolt at the end of the shocker and effectively one wheel drive,” he said. A delighted Steve Johnson completed the finishers in his Astra. “I learned so much just staying closer to the pack,” he said.
Smith’s BMW retired with a rear puncture after running as high as eighth, while Dan Malone’s Seat went out with the transmission broken.
RESULT: 1 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR) 15 laps in 20m44.344s (86.11mph); 2 Kevin George 9Vauxhall Astra VXR) +6.995s; 3 Liam McMillan (Seat Leon: 4 Josh Cook (Renault Megane); 5 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 6 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon); 7 Maurice Hayden (Renault Megane); 8 Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 9 Steve Johnson (Vauxhall Astra VXR); no other finishers, Fastest lap: Churchill 1m21.870s (87.25mph).
It was Churchill into an immediate lead from pole again, as Cook, George and McMillan slotted in behind. George was quick to pile the pressure on and having snatched second on lap two, his possession was brief, as a mistake at the Bombhole handed it back to Cook.
The lead began to grow as George’s efforts to recover second, succeeded again a lap later. McMillan was comfortable in fifth, but Hayden had Duckman pressing for sixth, as Bensley started to close in too.
Churchill was on his own but the gap between George and Cook continued to open and close, but McMillan started to edge closer too. Duckman ousted Hayden and Bensley tried to follow as they surged past the pits for the seventh time. Hayden held on through Riches, but as Bensley made his move into Montreal, there was contact. “I hit Maurice, we were side by side, he shut the door and my brake pedal went hard and I hit him,” Bensley explained. “I tried to shut the door, but Ryan couldn’t stop, he hit me and sent me swinging one way and then the other, then onto the escape road as I forgot to pump the brakes,” Hayden replied.
Duckman was left clear in fifth from Girling and Carnaby running nose to tail and Smith. Bensley pitted at the end of the lap and Hayden recovered well down.
But on lap nine Cook missed a gear and his hold on third was over as McMillan surged ahead and drastically reduced George hold on second as they took the flag. “It’s never easy,” said Churchill.
“It was a good battle with Josh, he was all over me in the tight stuff, but I had him in a straight line,” said George. “I had the wrong
suspension settings, it was hurting the tyre and I didn’t get up to pace until too late,” added third placed McMillan.
Cook, Duckman and Carnaby completed the top six, Carnaby having shared a couple of late exchanges with Smith. “That was better, I got the BMW twice into Brundle,” said Carnaby. “We are making progress and I had a great race with Tom, “added Smith.
Girling, Hayden, Bensley and Malone completed the finishers, with Johnson unclassified after starting late having lost drive in the
pitlane prior to the race.
RESULT: 1 Churchill 15 laps in 20m44.523s (86.09mph); 2 George +4.702s; 3 McMillan; 4 Cook; 5 Duckman; 6 Carnaby; 7 Rob Smith (BMW 330D); 8 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 9 Hayden; 10 Bensley. Fastest lap: Churchill 1m21.950s (87.16mph).
It was all to play for in the final race of the weekend, with the front of the grid in reverse. Duckman was on pole with Churchill back in fifth.
It was Cook that made the best of the start though, from McMillan and Duckman. But his lead was shortlived when McMillan dived ahead into Brundle on the second lap.
Churchill had sat patiently during the initial sort out, but having run in fourth, he picked off Duckman and Cook into Riches on consecutive laps to hold second. Girling held fifth from Smith, while George started to carve his way through the order after losing out at the start. “I went wide at the first corner onto the grass and had to play catch up,” he said.
McMillan’s lead was soon reduced by the chasing Churchill and into Coram for the sixth time they were side by side. It was another two laps before McMillan’s defence was breached. They ran side by side on the Bentley Straight, with Churchill ahead into Brundle.
The gap grew to a safe 2.8secs, securing Churchill his fourth win out five for the season. “A good clean race, I particularly enjoyed my move on Duckman. But I just waited until the time was right,” said Churchill. McMillan however hit the kerbs at Murray and took the top of his fuel pump, leaving him to retire to the pits.
Cook was a clear second, “I just need the straightline speed, the handling is there,” he said. Duckman held onto third despite tremendous pressure from George. “I struggled for exit speed, Kevin could have tapped me but he didn’t,” said Duckman. “That was enjoyable, Gary defended well but I wanted to make sure I finished the race,” George added.
Girling pitted from fifth, which promoted Hayden. “I managed my brakes better that time,” he said. Smith just held off Carnaby for seventh, with Bensley and Johnson completing the finishers, after Malone pitted.
RESULT: 1 Churchill 15 laps in 20m43.789s (86.14mph); 2 Cook +2.810s; 3 Duckman; 4 George; 5 Hayden; 6 Smith; 7 Carnaby; 8 Bensley; 9 Johnson; no other finishers. Fastest lap: George 1m21.521s (87.62mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for BARC Dunlop Production Touring Car Trophy, May 9th, 2011
Churchill’s Flying Start
Last years Dunlop Sport Maxx Cup Champion Adrian Churchill got his 2011 Production Touring Car Trophy campaign off to a flying start at Silverstone. His Courtenay Sport Vauxhall Astra VXR took a convincing win in the opening race at Silverstone, but was plagued with gearbox problems in the second. Debutant Josh Cook was the a surprise winner, after only finishing his Renault Megane the night before the race.
After morning qualifying Churchill took pole by a massive 2.663secs, “it felt fantastic. The slicks make it much better and both KW and Courtenay’s have really sorted it all for me,” he said.
Sharing the front row was former Renault Clio racer Tom Carnaby, with his JHR run Vauxhall Astra. “The car is so different on slicks. It’s much better, but we are still learning and happy with what we have done so far,” he explained.
Stock Hatch Champion Josh Cook was third quickest in his Renault Megane. “The rear brakes were locking up, I didn’t get many clean laps and had a half spin,” he said. Former stock Hatch rival Ryan Bensley was alongside in his Astra, “it was good on the straights and the engine was brilliant, but we need to adjust the handling,” he said.
Gary Duckman was fifth best with his Seat Leon now run by Mini Challenge Champions Excelr8. He had the Thorney Motorsport Astra of debutant Joseph Girling alongside, while former Stock Hatch Champion Maurice Hayden’s Renault Megane, Dan Malone’s EJM Seat Leon Cupra and ex FF1600 racer Steve Johnson’s Astra completed the line up.
It was a four car battle into Copse though at the start of the first race. Cook just emerged in front with Bensley and Churchill disputing second, as Duckman tucked in behind. Churchill managed to nose ahead of Bensley before the end of the opening lap, but it was still anyone’s as Carnaby ousted Duckman and made it a five car lead train, with only inches to spare. Bensley came back with avengeance and when Cook ran wide, Bensley became the new leader on the second lap.
Churchill soon began to have gear selection problems, “at first I thought it was just me, and then it got worse” he explained. He still managed to edge out Bensley from lap three, but he followed and stuck right to the leaders tailgate for the next few laps.
Carnaby latched onto Cook too as the top four began to break clear. The former Clio racer was all over his rival and shot into third as they charged down the Wellington Straight for the fourth time.
Gradually Churchill started to build a decisive lead, leaving Bensley to look out for the advancing Carnaby in his mirrors. Cook also had Duckman back to challenge for fourth, but tyre wear was starting to prove a decisive factor.
Down the Hanger Straight for the eighth time it was nose to tail for second, but exiting Club a lap later Bensley had to give best and Carnaby clinched second. “Brilliant, my tyres came back in at the end, but I was losing out on power still,” said Carnaby. “I had got a good start with Josh, but he got away, then I got the lead when he went wide. My tyres went at the end though,” Bensley explained.
Cook was happy with fourth. “I didn’t have the straightline speed, but we only got the car finished last night,” he said. Duckman finished strongly too, “I was clawing back but ran out time. My tyres lasted well though,” he explained.
Hayden retired from sixth after exhaust bolts came loose. “It went into limp mode,” he said. Girling therefore completed the top six with Malone closing in rapidly as he took the flag. Johnson was a distant eighth.
RESULT: 1 Adrian Churchill (Vauxhall Astra VXR) 10 laps in 24m25.161s (89.94mph); 2 Thomas Carnaby (Vauxhall Astra VXR) +13.440s; 3 Ryan Bensley (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 4 Josh Cook (Renault Megane); 5 Gary Duckman (Seat Leon); 6 Joseph Girling (Vauxhall Astra VXR); 7 Dan Malone (Seat Leon Cupra); 8 Steve Johnson (Vauxhall Astra); no other finishers. Fastest lap: Churchill 2m24.633s (91.11mph).
With the grid for the second race based on finishing positions, Churchill was even more keen to make a good getaway. But gear selection let him down again and as he was left down in fifth behind, Carnaby, Bensley, Cook and Duckman. He recovered fourth into Brooklands, but on the second lap as they approached the new pits complex there was oil down. “I saw it and moved over, but could see the others going off in my mirror,” said Carnaby, who was left with a huge lead.
Churchill still emerged in second, from Cook, Duckman. Girling and Hayden, but Bensley was left to rejoin dead last. “I just didn’t see the oil at all,” he admitted.
For the next four laps Carnaby was away and clear, but suddenly on lap seven he started to slow. “There was vibration and then it just lost drive,” he explained after coasting into the pits to retire.
Churchill was also struggling. “I lost fourth gear and the rest of the selection was all over the place,” he said. Cook became the new leader and successfully held on for a comfortable victory. “It was a nice surprise to win, so we now need to start developing the car,” he reckoned.
“I managed to get through the oil after a spin but it was terrifying, I wondered why Tom went off line and then saw why,” said second placed Duckman. Despite struggling with brakes Malone snatched third from Girling on the last lap to complete the podium.
Bensley recovered to reclaim sixth from Hayden into Copse on the last lap, while Churchill managed to nurse his ailing car home seventh, ahead of Johnson whose pace had massively improved from his first outing.
RESULT: 1 Cook 10 laps in 24m54.205s (88.19mph); 2 Duckman +2.991s; 3 Malone; 4 Girling; 5 Bensley; 6 Maurice Hayden (Renault Megane); 7 Churchill; 8 Johnson; no other finishers. Fastest lap: Churchill 2m26.131s (90.17mph).
Published by Peter Scherer for BARC Dunlop Production Touring Car Trophy, March 28th 2011
Image: Dennis Goodwin