Rory Butcher took his first ever overall victory in a thrilling round nine of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Croft on Saturday afternoon. The race featured sensational battles all the way down the field, with Ahmad Al Harthy and Will Goff winning Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2 respectively.
However, the race was a disaster for Michael Meadows after he was forced to retire with a puncture. After points rival Jonas Gelzinis finished second, that meant Meadows' lead in the championship was cut from thirty-four to just sixteen.
Butcher, who started on pole, didn't get away from his grid slot completely cleanly, yet he was able to fend off Gelzinis and Meadows before he got up to full speed. In fact, for Meadows, it was more a case of damage limitation from very early on after he clipped the tyres at the chicane on lap two which pulled the front splitter off of his Redline Racing car. There was a similar incident just behind Meadows when Daniel Lloyd was punted off of his line by the tyres and he weathered a scary moment on the grass which dropped him from fourth to seventh.
Meadows fought on, however, and he was forced to defend robustly from team-mate Glynn Geddie and Sam Tordoff of Team Parker Racing. Meadows' charge was brought to a halt on lap twelve after the right front tyre which he had been locking for the past few laps failed and he slid into the grass at Tower.
The two drivers who had been behind him capitalised, yet it was Tordoff who benefitted the most when he sneaked past Geddie in an opportunistic move at the hairpin. That meant the Team Parker driver took the final podium spot in Saturday's race.
Butcher, meanwhile, had driven a clean race at the front and he took the glory as he crossed the line to take his first ever maiden win in the category. It was also the first win for his team Celtic Speed. After the race he said: “It can't get much better than a lights-to-flag win. I wasn't going to let this one slip and I'm just coming to terms with it.”
Second-placed Gelzinis had backed off in his assault on the race win after watching Meadows' downfall in order to make sure of a big haul of points. He said of his afternoon: “I saw that Michael had trouble with the other guys and to go after Rory would have been a big risk.”
The battle at the front wasn't the only talking point of the race; both Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2 enjoyed equally entertaining races. In the former category, Al Harthy took the win ahead of Derek Pierce and Victor Jimenez, but the top three were only covered by one and a half seconds when the chequered flag dropped.
The Pro-Am1 victor said: “The pressure was on and it was extremely hard to keep the gap. I'm pleased to be back on the top step of the podium.” Pro-Am2 was equally thrilling as Will Goff fought off Tautvydas Barstys by just three-quarters of a second as they crossed the line. Goff said of his race: “I nearly chucked it off the road three times. I thought I was okay but then I ran wide at Sunny and [Barstys] caught me up again.”