Charlie Eastwood claimed a lights to flag victory in round eleven of the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB. However, that statement is one of the most misleading you could read.
Redline Racing man Eastwood made a tremendous start, and survived an early safety car period to extend his advantage at the head of the order, with stable-mate Dan Cammish in second.
The intervention of the safety car was required after Ross Wylie (Slidesports) was squeezed onto the grass at the start of the race and span across the track, into the path of a helpless John McCullagh (Redline Racing).
After a five lap clean up, the race resumed with Eastwood at the head of the order. JTR front runner Dino Zamparelli had leapt to third from the start, outpacing Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) as the lights flickered out.
The main story of the race developed as a three car dice between the championship protagonists, with Eastwood struggling from mid-distance with traffic. This allowed Cammish to close, taking Zamparelli with him.
Bristol Sport supported Zamparelli attempted a move on Cammish at the exit of Taylors but found himself losing traction on the grass and subsequently under intense scrutiny from Oliphant.
Freed to attack Eastwood, on the penultimate lap Cammish capitalised on an error by the race leader to nose his Nationwide backed car alongside at the exit of Clarks. Eastwood then appeared to sweep from the left to the right hand side of the circuit, running his championship rival out of space. A helpless Cammish lost traction on the grass and found himself heading at unabated speed towards the tyre barriers and out of contention in both the race and potentially the championship.
With only a lap remaining Eastwood valiantly held off Zamparelli and Oliphant to claim a hard fought victory. The stewards deemed he fought too hard, deducting him three championship points and giving him a ten place grid penalty for the next meeting at Silverstone.
The remaining Pro contingent fought equally as hard. A four car dice split between Redline Racing contenders Euan McKay and Dan McKay, and JTR men Lewis Plato and Tio Ellinas, would provide some frenetic action.
First to exit was Dan McKay, who only just kept control after a wild moment at the exit of Taylors attempting to usurp Plato. Ellinas would capitalise to overtake both his team-mate and the lurid McKay, with Tom Wrigley making similar progress past the pair for In2Racing.
Plato would recover past Wrigley, and gained further when Ellinas attempted to go through Euan McKay at Taylors and unsubtly shoved the Redline machine into the gravel. As Euan recovered, both Plato and Wrigley progressed and would also benefit from a subsequent fifteen second time penalty handed to Ellinas, who was also a victim of a three championship point deduction.
In Pro-Am1, with McCullagh’s early exit, it was exclusively a Team Parker Racing affair. This time Justin Sherwood would claim the spoils, Alex Martin losing out at the start of the race and then ending his own victory chances leaving the road at Clarks. He recovered but Sherwood was free to claim the win.
Peter Kyle-Henney (In2Racing) benefitted from Ian Dockerill’s (Asset Advantage Racing) enforced caution after Wylie and McCullagh’s start line tangle to claim a Pro-Am2 lead he would never relinquish. Thomas Jennings was also able to steal second from Dockerill for G-Cat Racing, with David Fairbrother taking fourth for Slidesports. Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing) and Matt Telling (Welch Motorsport) rounded out the order.
Eastwood may hold an eight point advantage over Zamparelli, but the impact of his ten place grid penalty is yet to tell. What Eastwood’s robust defence proved is that he is utterly determined to win this championship. Whether his rivals will be more wary, or potentially respond in kind to the Irish contender’s new found ruthlessness will be a fascinating talking point at Silverstone. Cammish now finds himself twenty eight points off the lead and seemingly out of contention. Whilst the reigning double champion will understandably feel aggrieved, four races remain and the sense that he could deliver some devastating pace across the final four contests means he is down but by no means out. Sherwood leads Martin by a paltry three points in Pro-Am1, with a slender nine separating Jennings, Kyle-Henney and Dockerill in Pro-Am2. Four races remain, and the knowledge that a truly epic championship showdown is about to unfold should keep all eyes on Carrera Cup GB in the coming weeks.
Full results for all of the TOCA categories competing at Knockhill this weekend can be found here.