Silverstone 2003

Preview & News 

Media release: 7 June 2003

Silverstone would be the fourth stop for the Porsche Carrera Cup in 2003, with two races to be run over the weekend of June 7/8. Following the Thruxton meeting at the end of May Barry Horne had extended his championship lead out to 22 points, but the events of the Thruxton weekend prove just how easily fortunes can change!

Victory in the Thruxton feature race capped an excellent weekend for Horne, while Barry's major rivals hit dramas. The man with the most to smile about had been David Pinkney, who won the Sprint race and then fought back to fourth in the Feature after a 130mph spin, taking him into second in the points ahead of Jason Templeman. Templeman had it tough, losing pole to a technical infringement and proving, by a gritty drive through to fourth, that greater glory should have been his. By spinning out with Richard Westbrook in the Feature race Templeman had handed Horne a significant advantage in the title race and would arrive at Silverstone keen to make amends.

Westbrook’s sufferings at Thruxton had cost him certain victory in the sprint race and, recognising his form and talent, possibly a weekend double. Failing to finish the feature race must have been a complete nightmare. Seemingly in the background and without much fuss, the Britnells, Andy and Gary, had been making steady progress. After their time in the TVR Tuscan Challenge they may have been finding Porsche racing a little tame, but they’d racked up enough points to stand fourth and sixth respectively, split by the sensational Jonathon Cocker. The teenager had made a fabulous start to his Porsche season and second at Thruxton was an impressive achievement

Rejoining the fray at Silverstone after his Brands Hatch shunt, and with a completely rebuilt car, would be Richard Marsh, but wiser eyes would have been looking out for the experienced Porsche racer Piers Masarati, who would step across the sill of the white and red VIP car for the Silverstone weekend. His team-mate would be Stuart Gallagher, editor of GT Purely Porsche magazine (www.gtpurelyporsche.com) and author of The Ultimate History of Porsche – an owner’s bible.

* Masarati my name, Porsche by nature *

Ignore first impressions, for Piers Masarati is a Porsche man through and through. It’s in his blood. He comes from a family with a long motorsport association and, despite being just 26 years old, he can be justifiably described as a Porsche “veteran”. He’s been a regular in the British GT Championship and Porsche Cup since he started out, driving a 924, in 1995.

In recent years Piers has been a full time member of Mike Pickup’s PK Sport outfit, racing Porsches in America, across Europe and, for the past three seasons, in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The relationship started with the Pirelli Porsche Championship, the forerunner to today’s Carrera Cup, and six wins in 1999 made him the youngest ever winner of the Class 2 title. He finished third in the European Le Mans Series in 2001 and has other international successes to his name, including in the ALMS and Sebring 12 Hours. Piers made his Le Mans debut in 2002.

Westbrook leads wet weekend

Media release: 8 June 2003  

Richard Westbrook claimed pole position on Saturday. On a wet and slippery track, Westbrook lapped six-tenths of a second faster than championship leader Barry Horne. "I can’t do much more than that," said Westbrook after taking pole by a good margin. "I lost the splitter from the front of the car mid-session and it was just a case of staying out and getting some laps in." Piers Masarati had not enjoyed qualifying at all. “I spun on my flying lap,” he shrugs. “I was on for pole as I came through Luffield, but the track was wet and . . . .” His account fades away, but rest assured, his challenge wouldn’t.

Westbrook followed his qualifying with a blistering start, thrusting himself into an immediate lead ahead of Horne, who had a dismal run off the line and dropped to third behind Jason Templeman after a knock into Copse. "That was terrible," admitted Horne. Westbrook eased clear on the opening lap but soon had a problem of his own to contend with. A missed gear had blown the clutch and Richard was forced to complete the race without it, making for some tricky changes and careful throttle control. Behind these three Piers Masarati had slotted into fourth. “I hadn’t done a standing start in years,” explained Piers. “I got away well enough, and the guy right in front of me spun, so that gave me one position straight away. I started from sixth, and quickly made it through to fourth, but by the time I got there the first three were well clear.” Much of this was thanks to David Pinkney, who spun into the gravel at Priory as they came through for the first time. The Thruxton winner only rejoined many laps later after the car had been dragged clear.

Out at the front Westbrook was making the best of a bad situation. "It was a nightmare getting it into gear," he said, although he was aided by the consuming battle between Templeman and Horne for second. Finally, through Copse for the tenth time, Horne got a quicker exit and was able to make a run on Templeman and dive through into Maggotts. Once ahead, Horne pushed hard to close right in on Westbrook over the concluding laps. "I could see Horne coming up behind me and I was praying for the flag. The last 15 minutes seem like an hour!" said Westbrook after fending off Horne to cross the line barely half a second clear.

Templeman dropped away a little in third, while Masarati was a solid fourth. "I couldn’t really expect any better than that," reckoned Piers, who had been disappointed by his lowly qualifying effort. “There were a lot of people there,” said Piers, “and they all know who I am now!” There was a hint in his tone that suggested he regrets the way things ended up, but there’s no doubt that his charge through the field impressed and entertained – and that’s exactly what Porsche wanted from their VIP drivers.

Having fended off a strong challenge from Andy Britnell, Jeremy Smith took a worthy fifth place. "I needed a good result after the last two weekends," he said.

Horne wins, Westbrook slides

Media release: 8 June 2003  

This was a race of incident and drama that remained unsettled right through to the final moments. Heavy rain just before the race sent all the cars to the grid on treaded tyres except that of David Pinkney. It was a brave gamble that didn’t quite pay off, although he did set fastest lap as he worked through to tenth at the flag.

From pole Westbrook led the first lap until he slid wide at Becketts onto the grass – a mistake he later attributed to some set-up changes made before the race that went “the wrong way”. This allowed Horne into the lead from Masarati and Templeman. While Westbrook set about recovering lost time, Horne established a three-second lead, but then as the track dried steadily, he had a spin at Brooklands.

Having started from fourth Masarati was doing well to be running second so soon. “I know the wet lines at Silverstone, and I set one of the quickest laps even though I spun on what would have been my fastest!” he said, finally managing a grin. “I made it through to second, and was in a good position to take the lead, but my tyres were starting to go off on the drying track. The guy in third was starting to catch us and I knew I’d have to make a move soon. I lined up the exit of Luffield to take the lead and the tyre gave way! I thought I’d been looking after them really, so I was surprised by that.” It would have been the perfect place to take the lead, right in front of the main grandstands, but Piers certainly attracted plenty of attention as he slithered wide. He was back down in fourth by the time he’d collected things. “There were two laps left,” he continues. “I caught the first three up again, but in the last lap tussle I lost out. I’ll admit, though, that it’s probably the best race I’ve ever been in that I’ve not won. Very frustrating!”

Having fought ahead of Masarati, Templeman now fronted the field, but as the race entered its final moments the top four were all bunching up. Horne, Westbrook and Masarati were all closing on Templeman and the stage was set for a thrilling climax. With two laps to go the four leaders were racing wheel to wheel and it seemed inevitable that everything would end in tears. Sure enough, as they peeled into Priory for the penultimate time Westbrook attacked Templeman and the cars touched. As Westbrook’s car reared up in the air, they both ran wide and Horne grabbed his chance to dive through into the lead. Templeman instantly growled back ahead of Westbrook, but Horne took victory by a fraction of a second after an absorbing contest.

" I thought I’d blown it when I spun," said Horne. "Luckily I was right behind them when they touched and I was able to nip through." For Templeman, second was recompense for a faultless drive that could so easily have brought victory. "I really did think I was going to win that, but Richard gave me a tap and sent me out of the way."

Stuart Gallagher may not have made any headlines but he still posted a creditable performance, finishing ninth and twelfth in the double-header. “This is about 350 bhp more than I’m used to,” acknowledged the man who’s more used to racing Citroen 2CVs. “By the end of Sunday I was fine. I’ve driven Porsche Cup cars on media days, but this was my first proper race in one.”

Just after the Silverstone round it was announced that three drivers from the Carrera Cup GB would contest the Porsche Supercup race at the German Grand Prix at the end of June. The opportunity for Barry Horne, Andy Britnell and Gary Britnell to contest the F1 support was organised by Porsche Cars GB, and would offer the drivers a chance to sample the international series in front of a capacity crowd.