A familiar sight at Zandvoort last weekend – Rick Styrin taking the chequered flag. Photo: Drew Furlong

Twenty-one drivers in the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship made their way to the famous Zandvoort circuit last weekend, for the Championship's first ever race at a track outside the UK. Given that the majority of the drivers had never been to the circuit, let alone driven it, it was always going to be an exciting adventure!

Initial unfamiliarity with the circuit took an early toll, especially among the Boxster drivers, where the tight early turns resulted in trouble in both Friday's free practice and the qualifying and again during Saturday’s first race. On Friday, dropped fluid led to Class B leader Bernie Printy losing control on a corner, followed quickly by a bad collision with the Armco and a visit to the nearby hospital for the Plymouth-based driver.

In Saturday's race, Cliff Graham skipped across a gravel trap but on re-joining collected Will Sharpe and Steven Boyles. Sharpe did very well to recover to finish 3rd. Marc Mackenzie made a 4th to 2nd gear change on a high-speed bend and hit Adam Croft but both cars managed to finish. At the business end, Rick Styrin carried all before him to win by 5 seconds from an impressive JM Littman, who recorded his best result of the season to date.

Julian Brown, in the excitement of seeing the last-lap board whilst ahead of rival Rebecca Jackson, managed to prang his car unaided. After a disappointing qualifying session, Rebecca won the Class B battle – her second win in only three races this year – ahead of Brown and Bernie Printy, whose car had been repaired overnight by the Taylors Foundry crew – even though Bernie is not part of their team. This kind of friendly support is typical of the championship.

In the 924s, the experienced drivers Simon Hawksley and Alastair Kirkham both benefited from the absence of Class B leader Hen Sharpe, with Simon taking one win and Alastair two over the weekend.

Race 2 on the Sunday morning saw four cars emerge from the Taylors Foundry garage carry varying amounts of Gaffer tape after a second very late night for the Cambridge team. Class A saw a repeat of Saturday's result with another win from Styrin with JM Littman and Will Sharpe in 2nd and 3rd – just 1/100th second separated the pair at the end of the race. The Class B results also echoed those of Race 1 – Jackson, Brown and Printy all finishing without further incident. Tony Mekwinski took a welcome and well-deserved 3rd behind Kirkham and Hawksley in the 924s.

After the dramas that had already occurred, the drivers must have lined up for Race 3 with some trepidation given it was to be run as a reverse grid – although sensibly the three classes remained separate. This still meant that the quickest drivers would have to find their way through the pack but in the event, Race 3 went mostly without incident. Will Sharpe and JM Littman traded places for Class A honours in the 2nd and 3rd slots behind Rick Styrin, who duly completed a hat-trick of race wins. Julian Brown beat Rebecca Jackson to take the Class B win, while Alastair Kirkham and Simon Hawksley again dominated in the 924 class with Clive Morison taking third.

The entire Championship would like to expresses their gratitude to Stena Line for supporting the trip to Zandvoort by way of reduced ferry rates and for the help they kindly extended in getting many of the teams, drivers and their families there and back.

The next round for the championship sees a visit to the comparatively safe Norfolk circuit of Snetterton for another two races over 13th and 14th July. For more information about the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship visit PORSCHE CHAMPIONSHIP

Chris Valentine


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