SEASON REVIEW: PRODUCTION GTi


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Nick Porter was one of the leading lights in the Production GTi Series. Photo: www.snappyracers.com

Production GTi’s inaugural season opened at Castle Combe on Easter Monday to glorious sunshine. With 11 cars for the first ever round, qualifying was always going to be a close affair. The drivers didn’t disappoint with 1/1000thof a second separating local men James Colbourne and Andy Knowlton for Pole Position. Nick Porter took the third spot by 6/10ths from the experienced FWD Racer, Simon Hill.

Race 1 saw Nick Porter take the chequered flag followed by Simon Hill and James Colbourne with Andy Knowlton in 4thplace. Race 2 saw Simon Hill take the win from a struggling Nick Porter who was struck-down with mechanical gremlins just 2 laps from the finish. James Colbourne took second only 3/10ths behind Simon Hill, while Nick Porter managed to fend of Andy Knowlton for 3rdplace. Driver of the day was ‘Rookie’ Chris Webb, who in his first ever race managed a very respectable 6thplace.

The very fast Hampshire circuit of Thruxton was the venue for races 3 & 4. Local man Andy Knowlton took pole position for qualifying with Simon Hill taking second and Nick Porter taking third. The very experienced Golf racer John Mawdsely joined the series for the first time and qualified 5thbehind Patrick Buss. Race 1 was a thriller to watch with positions changing almost on a lap-by-lap basis. Simon Hill’s lead was unfortunately short-lived on lap 9 when his clutch seized upon entry into Club corner, resulting in a spectacular spin.

Andy Knowlton held on to take his maiden win followed by Nick Porter and ‘Rookie’ driver Dave Parris for 3rd. Experienced Rally driver Duncan Holder took a very respectable 4thplace on his first ever circuit race. John Mawdsely and Patrick Buss were both unfortunately DNF due to mechanical issues. Dawn Boyd showed her experience with a stonking class win. She managed to pull nearly a whole minute gap between herself and second place man Peter Haynes. Haynes brought his 8V home in a well-deserved 7thplace and second in class for the 8V.

Race 2 was a completely different story. With weather conditions that could only be described as monsoon like, drivers were searching for inflatable dinghy’s to take them around. Andy Knowlton started from pole with Nick Porter and Dave Parris occupying the other two front slots. The front three got away well in the river like conditions; however it was Simon Hill who was the man on the move. Starting from stone cold last, Hill scythed his way through the pack and by the end of the first lap was up to second position! Hill managed to dislodge Andy Knowlton for first on lap 4 and held onto the race win from a hard chasing Knowlton. Nick Porter took 3rdand again Duncan Holder took 4th. In the 8V class Dawn Boyd managed to fend of the faster 16V cars of Chris Webb and David Parris to take 6thoverall and a class win. Peter Haynes was the runner up in 8V coming home in 9thoverall in front of Rick Siffleet and Simon Arthrell in 16V cars.

With a last minute change to the calendar Production GTi’s Donington round was moved to Rockingham. A circuit that nobody was familiar with so qualifying was going to be anyone’s! James Colbourne returned to join the PGTi gang and put in a blistering pole time of 1:41.4 over 6/10ths quicker than the nearest car of Andy Knowlton. Nick Porter took 3rdspot with John Mawdsely 4thand Dave Parris 5th. Dawn Boyd headed the 8V class with Peter Haynes and new recruit Andy Golding 2ndand 3rdrespectively.

Race 1 saw James Colbourne blast away from the start line and show the entire grid a clean set of heels. James definitely had had his 3 Weetabix! Colbourne took a ‘lights to flag’ victory with Nick Porter defending hard from Andy Knowlton for second. Porter managed to hold Knowlton to take 2nd spot with Knowlton 3rdand John Mawdsley 4th. Chris Webb took another respectable 5thplace but only just. The fast charging Verity Young swapped positions with Webb throughout the 12 lap race, with Webb finally coming out on top. Dawn Boyd again won the 8V class, despite Mark Christopher’s best efforts. Peter Haynes took 3rdin class with Andy Golding sadly suffering gearbox issues that prevented him from starting the race. David Parris managed to do an entire lap of the oval on lap 1 after suffering a gear linkage failure. Rumour has it that there was no problem with his gear linkage, just an excuse to wear his “Days of Thunder” pants and quote lines from the film!

For Race 2 the tables turned and it was Nick Porter who got the best start and held onto first spot for the whole race. The battle for second was a fraught affair with Knowlton, Mawdsley and Colbourne all fighting it out bumper to bumper. Eventually it was the experience of John Mawdsley that shone through and he took second from Knowlton on a door handle to door handle manoeuvre into the chicane. Knowlton’s car sadly decided enough was enough 4 laps from home and retired with gearbox issues. The fourth separate gearbox issue of the weekend! James Colbourne took 3rdand Dave “Cole Trickle” took 4thon the line from Chris Webb.

Just 3 seconds split the 8V cars with Dawn Boyd taking the win from a very close chasing Mark Christopher. Peter Haynes was driving the wheels of his immaculate red 8V and took the fastest lap for race 2 with a 1:47.51. The canny Dawn Boyd made her car the widest Golf GTi on track and defended well from Christopher and Haynes to take her 3rdclass win of the season so far.

The historic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent was the setting for races 7 & 8 with several new drivers joining for their first races and some experienced ones at that. The scenery was set for another great weekends racing. It was Simon Hill who returned from his holiday to the Italian Lakes, sun-tanned up and looking like a Hollywood film star who took pole position by 2/10thsfrom Nick Porter. Andy Knowlton took 4thwith new Guy Simon Traves securing 3rdplace on his maiden outing with Production GTi. Dawn Boyd qualified in a very respectable 6thoverall in her 8V machine putting her a whole 2 seconds quicker than second place class man Peter Haynes.

Race 1 saw Hill and Porter get flying starts with Knowlton falling in behind. Hill and Porter then spent the next 11 laps glued together. Millimetres separating Nick Porter from Simon Hills back bumper. Simon Hill drove an inch perfect race and kept Nick Porter at bay for the duration. It was the fight for 3rdthat proved to be the crowd pleaser with Knowlton and Traves exchanging positions several times. Sadly, on lap 8 Traves overcooked it into Paddock Hill and entered the gravel. The resulting speed caused him to roll the car over in the famous paddock gravel. Knowlton went on to take 3rdspot, but only just! The very experienced Ray Grimes, who started last on the grid due to sharing a car with Nick Jarvis, ploughed through the field like a farmer harvesting his crops on class A drugs. Watching “The Great Raymundo” (as he is now known) overtake around the outside of Paddock was a joy to watch! Dawn Boyd brought her 8V car home in 5thplace and took her 5thclass win of the season and placing her on the second row for race 2!

Race 2 was a repeat of race 1. Hill took ‘lights to flag’ victory with Nick Porter 2nd, Andy Knowlton 3rdand Dawn Boyd heading up the 8V class.

The Snetterton 300 circuit was home to races 9 & 10 and hosted Production GTi’s largest grid of the season so far with 22 cars. It was new guy Luke Schlewitz who stormed to pole position with a 2:23.8, just 4/10thquicker than Simon Hill. Nick Porter took 3rdspot with the “On Fire” Nick Jarvis 4thand Andy Knowlton 5th. Local lass Verity Young took 7thSpot with new guys Frank Arthur 9th, Simon Gusterson 13thand Andy Golding 20thin his rebuilt 8V.

Race 1 saw Nick Porter lead for much of the race with Hill, Schlewitz, Knowlton and Jarvis all in hot pursuit. However, disaster struck on lap 5 when Porter’s car developed a misfire resulting in him dropping down the order. Schlewitz went on to win with Hill a very close 2nd(6/10thbehind) and Knowlton and Jarvis taking 3rdand 4th. Porter finally finished 11th. Dawn Boyd again took a win in the 8V class, showing some 16V cars the way it’s done. Mark Christopher came home 2ndin class after Peter Haynes retired with a misfire. Andy Golding finished 3rdin his first race in the freshly rebuilt car.

Not happy with his Race 1 performance, Hill got the drop on Schlewtiz from the start of Race 2 and extended a 3 second lead from lap 1. Hill was in a class of his own as he pushed on quicker and quicker leaving the rest of the pack to fight out the remaining positions. Schelewtiz closed the gap towards the end of the race, which left Knowlton, Chris Hart and Jarvis fighting out the remaining podium slot. After some early exchanges, it was Knowlton who held onto 3rdfrom Chris Hart (4th) and Nick Jarvis (5th). Nick Porter managed to claw his way back to 6thfrom starting 11thon the grid. The race of the weekend had to be the fight for 8V honours. Dawn Boyd again taking class victory with Peter Haynes 2ndand Mark Christopher 3rd. Just 2/100thseparating them both as they crossed the line!

With another last minute calendar change the Production GTi Bus rolled into Rockingham for the second time this year. This time on the slightly different configuration of ‘International Long’. Nick Porter took pole position with Simon Hill just6/100thbehind in 2nd. Ray Grimes took 3rdwith Andy Knowlton 4th. Nick Jarvis, Gary Watkins, Chris Webb, Duncan Holder, Dave Parris, Paul Blackburn, Rick Siffleet and Simon Arthrell rounded out the top 12.
Porter meant business for the final weekend of the season with a dominant Race 1 win. Hill had no answer for him despite his best efforts at attempting to out brake him into turn 2.

Hill eventually clawed his way back to second. Ray Grimes finished 3rdwith Knowlton 4th, Gary Watkins 5thand Dave Parris 6th. Paul Blackburn had his best result of the season with a well-deserved 9thplace.

Porter showed his class with another victory in Race 2. Ray Grimes didn’t make it easy for him though. Ray led for some time before Porter pulled a stunning dummy to overtake at turn 3. Hill again locked up his brakes going into turn 2 and joined the grass and Marshals. His recovery drive was yet another master class in scything through the pack; however, it wasn’t enough and earned him 3rdspot from Knowlton. Porters stunning drive earned him the “Driver Of The Day” award. This was Production GTi’s final race of the season.

Thanks to all those involved and who took part in our inaugural year. 2012 promises to be another great season of fun!

Rob Sadler