Stephen Jelley drove a superb race at Brands Hatch today which saw him take his first Porsche Carrera Cup GB win after dominating the race from pole position. Tim Harvey was gifted his second PCCGB title after main rival Michael Caine spun coming out of Graham Hill bend.
At the start of the race the trio of Jelley, Harvey and Caine got strong starts with Caine challenging second placed Harvey as the field headed in to Paddock Hill bend for the first time.
The next few laps would see fastest laps traded between the three before Lap 5 saw Michael Caine take the fastest lap of the day along with the lap record.
Lap twelve saw a coming together between Paul Mace and Tautvydas Barstys, resulting in a broken rim on the Lituanian’s car leading to a pit stop to change the wheel.
The three lead drivers would stick together as Caine put pressure on Harvey to make a mistake. Unfortunately for the Newmarket based driver it would be himself and not Harvey that made the mistake as on lap 13 he rounded Graham Hill bend and spun on the exit, dropping him from a promising third to thirteenth in one swift move.
Following the race it was revealed that Jelley had almost lost it in the same place as the trio drove over dropped engine coolant. “I saw Stephen hit the fluid; Tim missed it but I touched the brakes and it just went,” explained Caine after the race.
It would take a few laps for Caine to recover, but once he did he set about carving his way back up the field. By lap 18 Caine had gained a place before gaining another when Euan Hankey was forced to pit with a puncture after a fierce battle with Glynn Geddie.
Three laps later Caine would take advantage of backmarkers, as Tony Gilham and Ahmad Al Harthy tried to avoid Barstys, Caine would take the opportunity to leapfrog both drivers in a daring move that would take him to ninth place.
As the laps counted down Caine continued his recovery drive taking a further two positions as Ollie Jackson and Jonas Gelzinis had their own class battle. Two laps later Caine would overtake Tom Bradshaw through McLaren. This would be the last time in the race that Caine would overtake and despite the extra point for fastest lap his heroic recovery drive wasn’t enough to keep his title hopes alive and would have to settle for sixth place.
While Caine was cutting through the field Jelley continued to march on at the front to take his first Porsche victory in what has been a very testing year for the ex-BTCC driver.
Harvey said after the race that he didn’t realise that his close-rival had suffered problems and thought that Caine had finished third and in doing so with the added point from fastest lap would have carried the championship battle over to tomorrow. But with Caine in sixth Harvey had done enough to secure his second Carrera Cup GB Championship. “This has been my best ever year of racing, but it doesn’t get any easier,” admitted Harvey after the race.
The finish at the front of the race was a tense one as Harvey closed the gap on Jelley as the two entered the final lap. “I just planted it on the inside at Clearways and dragged it to the line,” said Jelley as Harvey finished a tenth of a second behind. “It was a little bit tense on the last lap,” Jelley would later claim.
Glynn Geddie would take to the final podium step with Michael Meadows and Charlie Bateman taking fourth and fifth respectively.
Ollie Jackson would wrap up the Pro-am1 title as he held off the advances of Jonas Gelzinis, Ahmad Al Harthy and Tony Gilham. “I had plenty of pace, but it wasn’t easy,” said Jackson. Gelzinis would do enough to secure the Pro-Am1 runner up spot.
The Pro-Am2 battle raged on as George Richardson led the class from the start on his favourite track. “It’s a special moment for me to win at Brands Hatch,” he said. Glenn McMenamin would drive a solid but sensible race to keep his title bid on track and stay ahead of Mark Hazell. George Brewster would take fourth in class following his grid penalty.