Dean Stoneman won the first race of the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season at Brands Hatch in extremely difficult conditions.
A light snow flurry minutes before the race was due to get underway left everyone unsure of the best tyres to choose but in the end despite a damp track surface the entire field opted to start on slick tyres.
As the lights went out Stoneman made a decent getaway from pole position to lead the pack into Paddock Hill Bend but alongside him Michael Meadows did not make the best of starts and was passed by Dan Lloyd and Rory Butcher to be fourth as the cars approached Druids for the first time.
As Stoneman edged clear Butcher found a way past Lloyd to move into second and the pair began a terrific scrap while Meadows sat patiently behind to see if he could benefit in any way. After some wonderfully clean side by side action it finally all ended in tears on lap six as Lloyd tried a move into Paddock Hill Bend which Butcher closed the door on. Contact ensued and the pair spun into the gravel, Lloyd was instantly eliminated but Butcher showed excellent car control to get back on to the track. As a result of the incident Meadows was promoted to second and Gelzinis, who had made a fairly quiet start was up to third. The safety car was deployed while the marshals moved Lloyd’s stricken car and Butcher limped back to the pits for a tyre change after picking up a puncture from the clash. Butcher exited the pits just ahead of the safety car to crucially remain on the lead lap but made a mistake on cold tyres and had a second trip through the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trap which he again managed not to get stuck in. This did not deter him though as he caught the back of the pack while the race was still under safety car conditions.
When the safety car returned to the pits, Stoneman again made a small break from Meadows but Gelzinis was able to hang on to the pair of them. As the top three edged away Richard Kent held a rather solitary fourth with Victor Jiminez the leader of the Pro-Am1 category fifth ahead of Dan De Zille in sixth. Further back Butcher made short work of Peter Smallwood and Kyle Barnes to be ninth just two corners into the restart and set about a charge back through the field.
Back at the front the leading trio began to catch some of the tail end drivers to lap them. While some of the drivers moved cleanly out of the way there was drama for Stoneman as he made contact with Yucel Ozbek at Paddock Hill Bend but managed to escape serious damage and just maintain his lead to Meadows who as a result was able to close up. The big loser was Gelzinis who was held up so badly that he dropped away from the lead two and lost any chance of improving his position.
In the closing stages Meadows was faster than Stoneman but could not force the Redline Racing driver into a mistake or find a way through and as the pair crossed the line they were separated by just 0.694 seconds. Stoneman’s victory made him only the second driver contesting a full campaign to win their first Carrera Cup race, the other being Richard Westbrook who achieved the feat at Thruxton back in 2003.
Of winning on his competitive return to motorsport after two years out due to serious illness a delighted Stoneman said: “It’s definitely hard to take in as such, two years ago I was in a hospital bed just trying to survive and to be here now and to go out and actually win my first race after coming back is great.”
Second place man Meadows said: “I struggled really badly off the line initially. Then I took my time after the restart to get my tyres warm and then once I did I really pushed and the pace was really good you know we caught him really quickly. I can’t complain, if someone said before the race in those conditions you’d get second and fastest lap I’d have taken that I think.”
Jonas Gelzinis finished a rather lonely third, of this he said: “It’s ok, it was very difficult conditions. I was in the beginning just wanted [sic] to stay on the road. After, I find some pace and catch up Meadows but after that we catch other slow cars and they didn’t let me past.”
Butcher battled back through the field to end up fourth overall just ahead of Victor Jiminez who by finishing fifth won the Pro-Am1 category. He said: “I am very happy (to win) in this condition today, it is horrible, it is very slippery the track.”
Richard Kent was sixth, just holding off Dan De Zille in the closing stages forcing him to settle for seventh.
George Brewster was eighth and second in Pro-Am1 with Yucel Ozbek ninth and third in the category. Kyle Barnes completed the top ten as the three drivers enjoyed a close battle for the majority of the race.
In Pro-Am2 Peter Smallwood was victorious but in the early stages he looked set to claim one or two scalps from the Pro-Am1 category as he mixed it in the midfield but as the race went on he fell back and ran alone during the latter stages of the race.
For the full race classification, see here.