2013 SEASON REVIEW: TOYO TIRES PORSCHE CHAMPIONSHIP
Rick Styrin again proved to be the class of the field. Photo: www.ajbphotographic.co.uk
The season saw new drivers with a wide range of prior experience joining the championship, from novice Marc Rocca in a 924 to Will and Hen Sharpe who had had both raced MGs for 10 years. Jonathan Greensmith came in after four seasons in Mazda MX5s and Clive Morison had prior Porsche experience with the AMOC Intermarque Championship.
The record-breaking cold March gave way to sunshine for the season opener at Rockingham in early April and Rick Styrin kicked off the year with a scorching pole, displaying the form that took him to victory in 2012. Steve Boyles showed his off-season coaching had paid off with his first win and newcomer Clive Morison impressed with a 2nd and a win in the 924s. The paddock camaraderie our series is known for once again helped when Simon Hawksley's engine blew and although not racing, Sean Siddall arrived from Norfolk on the Sunday with Mark Mackenzie's 924 in tow to give Simon a chance to race again.
Silverstone saw our first wet race of the season with torrential rain testing the regulation Toyo R888s to the limit. Rebecca Jackson's Production Boxster made its first appearance alongside Julian Brown, having stepped up from two seasons in her number zero 924 and immediately she took a class win in the treacherous conditions. More drivers ended up having a spin than not in race 1 and together with a Safety Car intervention, five cars didn't make the finish line, including Nick Hull and Adam Croft who performed a perfect pirouette into the gravel at Becketts.
For the first time the championship held a round in continental Europe – at historic Zandvoort, the venue of the former Dutch F1 GP. Stena Line sponsored the round and did a fantastic service ferrying the teams and drivers, many of whom had never raced outside the UK, let alone at this particular circuit. Unfamiliarity sadly took its toll: Class B driver Bernie Printy having a bad collision with the Armco and a visit to the nearby hospital. The Taylors Foundry team patched-up his car and he managed to race on the Sunday. Alastair Kirkham and Simon Hawksley shared the 924 honours with Tony Mekwinski taking a 3rd.
The weekend at Snetterton was by far the hottest of the year with temperatures into the 30s as the Championship shared the circuit with the FIA/CIK European Kart Championship. A total of 31 drivers entered – the highest for many a season – including Sean Siddall making his Boxster debut with a shiny new-build Class A 986. Echoing the weather, Rick Styrin set a scorching pace but JM Littman, Steve Boyles and Jonathan Greensmith were all close behind. Bernie Printy missed the round giving Rebecca Jackson an opportunity to catch up in Class B, aided by the expiry of Julian Brown's engine. Popular 924 peddler Andrew Hannington made the first of his guest appearances for 2013 and took a 3rd place behind Alastair Kirkham and Hen Sharpe. Nick Hull's 987 retired with a rare mechanical problem but Steve Boyles visited the podium again.
Class B Boxster driver Julian Brown returned for the Brands Hatch triple-header but was cursed again with engine failure. Offered a drive in the spare Class A car from the Taylor's Foundry garage, he immediately impressed, leading to the highly unusual situation of a driver competing in two classes in the same season. JM Littman was lucky to escape injury in practice when a suspension failure on the approach to Paddock led him into the Armco, but his team cobbled the car together and he took a pair of podiums from the weekend. Steve Boyles was back on the podium again behind the unstoppable Styrin. Mark Rocca debuted in his 924 and Andrew Hannington was back for his second guest appearance but was very unlucky with mechanical issues. Alastair Kirkham took advantage of DNFs from both Simon Hawksley and Clive Morison in Class C.
Chris Valentine stalled his Class A Boxster on the sloping grid but had an enjoyable race from the back of the field, finishing 15th out of 28 starters. Steve Boyles was back on the podium again, sharing second and thirds with Jonathan Greensmith behind Rick Styrin, who still managed a win even with a failed brake line. Bernie Printy returned and took class wins ahead of Class B rookie Michael Goodacre but Rebecca Jackson bounced back for a P1 on the Sunday.
Oulton Park was the Championship's second outing in August. Local boy Ian Loggie, whose Logson Group company were title sponsors in 2012, returned to our grid in a break from his successes in both GT Cup and Britcar and his familiarity with the circuit landed a P2 in qualifying behind Styrin, who now looked set to take the Class A title for a second season. Alastair Kirkham stunned the Class C grid with an astonishing 2:05 best lap but Phillip Waters' 924 suffered a brake fire and heavy tyre wall collision during testing; thanks to the considerable efforts of fellow teams and drivers, he returned to race the following day. No one can describe the Championship as lacking in action: Race 1 saw a Safety Car intervention after a serious smash involving Adam Croft and Steve Brown at Lodge and a total of 7 DNFs. Nick Hull landed a season-best fifth in Class A, where Will Sharpe took a second to leave him and Steve Boyles neck and neck in the battle for the class 2nd place. Warrington-based ex-karter Michael Goodacre took his first two wins in the Production Boxsters. In the 924s, Alastair Kirkham and Simon Hawksley again delivered podiums with David Jones taking a 3rd.
The challenging, narrow, hilly circuit of Cadwell Park saw Rick Styrin finally nail the door shut on the Class A Boxsters title for the second year running, with wins and fastest laps from both races. TF Motorsport's boss Gerry Taylor returned to the circuit for a guest appearance in a new-build 987 and proceeded to post two podiums. Will Sharpe's Boxster span at the Hall Bends summit taking out the 924s of both Tony Mekwinski and Philip Waters. Alastair Kirkham again frustrated Simon Hawksley with a superb drive to take the 924 win but Hen Sharpe missed a black/orange "apparent mechanical failure" flag and was later disqualified. Rebecca Jackson took another win in the Class Bs moving her further ahead of Bernie Printy; Alastair Kirkham and Simon Hawksley once again battled for 924 honours but Simon finished the weekend with only a slim theoretical chance of beating Alastair to the Class C title.
As with 2012, the season concluded with three races at Donington but at least we missed the fog that dogged the final round at the same venue last year. The Class A title had already been put firmly to bed by Rick Styrin, taking the silverware with a record 17 wins. Rebecca Jackson also secured the Class B Championship, as her only possible rival for the title, Bernie Printy, was unable to attend. Joining us for this final round was Autosport editor Ben Anderson - a very experienced racer but his first time out in a Boxster – and he was rewarded with a podium in Race 3. Slippery conditions from overnight rain took their toll on the 924s, with no less than four drivers finding a gravel trap, but Alastair Kirkham secured himself another class win, with Clive Morison taking second, meaning it became almost impossible for Simon Hawksley to catch Alastair on overall points. A mid-race red flag and restart for race 2 led Steve Brown to his first Class A podium and in the 924s, Karl Rossin landed a season-best 2nd with the astonished rookie Mark Rocco taking a third.
Therefore, the 2013 season concludes after eight thrilling rounds and even bigger grids and the Championship looks forward to the arrival of a slew of new drivers for next year – some racing rookies and some coming to us from other series.
All drivers and teams would like to express their gratitude to Toyo Tires for our title sponsorship, Jasmine PorschaLink and Webheads for their partnerships with us, John Clark and Drew Furlong at the BRSCC for the organisation, the scrutineers, clerks and all of the marshals and officials who give their time to make our sport possible.