Donington Park 2003

Preview & News

Media release: 6 September 2003

The Porsche Carrera Cup GB would move to Donington Park in the Midlands for the penultimate weekend of the season. It would be a tense time for the championship, with a remote chance that the title could be settled. With four races still to go Barry Horne’s lead stood at just 27 points over Richard Westbrook, but a good set of results could settle the score. Time would tell.

The Scotsman was bullish. "We're optimistic for Donington," he said, despite Westbrook’s domination of both races at Brands last time out. Donington is home ground for Horne’s Nuneaton-based Team Parker Racing and they want to win races as well as the title, but those two wins at Brands had given Westbrook a real boost, especially after missing the season opener at Mondello Park. "I absolutely love Donington," declared Westbrook That brace of victories had also placed him ahead of Jason Templeman in the points table, but no one could discount Jason from the Donington contest. He’d been consistent all season and the title was still within reach.

However, the championship is not just about the three leading contenders. An impressive fourth in the table on the run up to Donington was Jonathon Cocker, fresh from his seventeenth birthday celebrations, while David Pinkney endured a torrid weekend at Brands and would be keen to make amends.

David Cuff was set to miss Donington, leaving Andy and Gary Britnell hoping to move up the standings, while good points chances were on offer to the likes of Jeremy Smith, Jonathan Rowland, Colin Broster, Jason Young and series newcomer Simon Moulton.

Jeremy Smith would be racing alongside Cup stalwart and titleholder Mark Cole at Donington, the two drivers confirmed as entrants under the Pegasus Motorsport banner – a new venture for the Tewkesbury-based squad but a foretaste of their 2004 aspirations. Both showed strongly in a test at Oulton Park.

* VIP Return for Harvey *

The Cup regulars would find that the twin-car Porsche Cars GB entry, managed by Parr Motorsport, would be offering some serious competition at Donington. Tim Harvey, who was denied the chance of a podium finish in the second meeting of the season at Brands Hatch in May by a less than typical start, would be determined to make good this time. The former British Touring Car Champion has a long association with Parr and works well with the team, so a good start in qualifying might set him on course for a better result than fourth – his best at Brands.

 Tim would drive the white and blue car again, while the red-striped 911 would be home to Autocar test driver Chris Harris. No slouch, Harris demonstrated some skill when he piloted the Porsche GB/Parr guest entry at Spa Francorchamps in 2002 (see last season’s race report here) and, as a Haymarket journalist, would certainly feel he had a case to prove.

* Horne and Harvey share the spoils *

Barry Horne and Tim Harvey took a win each in the ninth round of the Porsche Carrera Cup at Donington Park over the weekend of 6th/7th September, but with Richard Westbrook scoring exactly the same number of points Horne’s lead remained unaltered at 27-points with two races remaining.

Ill Westbrook takes pole

Media release: 6 September 2003

Despite feeling unwell, Westbrook headed the field in qualifying, taking just five laps to establish himself at the head of the times. It was an impeccable performance. Having taken pole, Westbrook was able to sit in the pit lane and wait to see if his rivals could offer a challenge. Barry Horne came closest, but eventually ended the 20-minute session two-tenths adrift of his rival. "I wanted to do it as quickly as possible and save the tyres for the race," proclaimed Westbrook. "I love it here and the car felt really good."

Tim Harvey qualified the Porsche Cars GB VIP car third fastest, ahead of Jonathon Cocker and last year’s champion Mark Cole. "I didn’t seem to get the best out of the new tyres," reckoned Harvey, "but I’ve now got a grandstand view of the top guys!"

Chris Harris qualified eighth, plum in the middle of the sixteen-car field and 1.7 seconds adrift of Westbrook’s pole of 1:11.932.

Horne wins from Westbrook and Harvey

Media release: 6 September 2003

After earlier rain the track was dry as the cars lined up on the grid, with Westbrook and Horne on the front row. The opening seconds were to prove critical, with Horne making one of his better starts to power away from the mark, move cleanly across in front of Westbrook, and claim the line into Redgate. Matters grew worse for Westbrook when Tim Harvey eased him back into third as they argued over the first corner, although Westbrook soon reclaimed the place with a clean pass under braking for the chicane at the end of the lap.

Restored to second place Westbrook now began a serious chase after Horne. He closed the gap right down, but Westbrook’s transmission gremlins were about to strike again. Plagued by intermittent clutch and gearbox issues all season, he was to suffer once again when he hit selection problems on the fourth lap. "The first three laps were great, then I was having trouble going down the gears," explained Westbrook, who was never able to threaten Horne again.

Harris lost a couple of places at the start to Gary Britnell and Paul Mace. His recovery began on lap five, when he reclaimed the first of those from Mace. On the next lap he got back ahead of Gary Britnell, before denying brother Andy Britnell of another slot on the following lap. He soon consolidated his claim on seventh, although a fast-moving Jeremy Smith started to exert serious pressure over the final two laps. Having started last Smith had done well to progress through half the field, but his time ran out and Harris crossed the line three-tenths clear.

Horne, meanwhile, drove a faultless stint, stretching his lead lap by lap to win by more than four seconds at the flag. Importantly, even though Westbrook took the additional points for pole position and fastest lap, they both took 20 points from the race. That result maintained Horne’s 27-point championship lead. "I managed to get ahead at the start and get my head down. That’s a good result, and it’s good to be back in the swing of things," said Horne. Harvey, in only his third race of the season, claimed the last podium step, finishing right on Westbrook’s tail. "Hat’s off to the first two, they beat me fair and square," said gentleman Tim, although he’d been closing steadily on the stricken Westbrook in those closing stages. “I was having to change up so carefully,” admitted Westbrook.

Jason Templeman (TCR) pulled off a strong opening lap to move up to fourth from sixth on the grid and held station to the flag as Cocker and David Pinkney completed the top six.

Harvey shows his class

Media release: 7 September 2003

With the race starting where the previous day’s had finished off there was a tinderbox atmosphere for the Feature’s rolling start. Once again Horne made the first-lap running, but Westbrook made up for his poor start for the Sprint race by forging ahead at Redgate on lap two, followed a lap later by Harvey. "We were side by side at the top of the Craner Curves and I didn’t want to take any risks," said Horne, who was squeezed back into third with championship points uppermost in his mind.

Now it was Westbrook with Harvey supplying the entertainment. For the next twenty laps they proved to be remarkably evenly matched, with Harvey a constant shadow on Westbrook’s tail. Then, down to the Old Hairpin, Harvey saw his chance and dived through into the lead. "He did a good move on me," accepted Westbrook. "I wanted to fight with him, but he was catching me everywhere on brakes."

Once out in front Harvey eased away to what looked an easy four-second victory, but his win didn’t deny Westbrook the satisfaction of maximum championship points. However, with Horne taking a secure third the Scot still retained a useful points advantage as minds moved ahead to the final weekend of the season at Oulton Park. "To come away from Donington with a first and a second place is really what we wanted," said Horne

A poor run to the line had seen Harris drop to tenth at the start, falling back to eleventh on lap three when Mark Cole found a gap. A couple of tours later saw Harris back on Gary Britnell’s rear wing – a familiar view for Harris after his experiences of the previous day - and he took little time in easing ahead on lap five. Harris looked set to stay in tenth for the duration, but was offered ninth on a plate when Paul Mace retired on lap 14, and then eighth courtesy of Mark Cole’s demise five laps later. Unfortunately, luck was not smiling on Harris this day, and he performed an inexplicable pitlane drive-through at the end of the penultimate lap that cost him the best part of twenty seconds. He was very fortunate that this only lost him one position, allowing the Autocar tester to take ninth at the flag, still two seconds ahead of his sparring partner Gary Britnell.

There was some great battling in the pack just ahead, however, although fourth and fifth-placed Templeman and Pinkney were always secure. Behind them, Jeremy Smith worked through to sixth after an intense duel with Cocker.

Westbrook’s maximum score secured the £8000 team award for Team BCR. The team, run by occasional racer Paul Mace, also prepares cars for David Cuff, Colin Broster, Simon Moulton and Mace himself.