The Porsche Restoracing Boxsters of both Porsche Centre Swindon and Porsche Centre Cardiff returned to the track on Sunday for the final two rounds of the Porsche Classic Resto Racing Competition. To celebrate 20 years of the Boxster, Porsche challenged Centres around the UK to restore a 986 Boxster S and get it ready to race standards to compete in a three round championship.
The authentic-liveried cars returned to the fantastic Brands Hatch to race as part of The Festival of Porsche, which was organised in connection with Porsche GB and the Porsche Owners club. Some 6,000 Porsche enthusiasts were able to witness a tremendous day’s racing, entertainment and Porsche hospitality, as well, as plenty of historic Porsche cars and famous drivers including Derek Bell and Nick Tandy.
Each Boxster had its own garage space with bespoke backdrops depicting some amazing images of each car’s story over the past few months, as well as some details on the inspiration behind our unique liveries and our two drivers.
Our first car was raced by Ollie Coles for Swindon and was designed in Coca-Cola livery to mimic the car of Dick Lovett's chairman who raced a Porsche in the late seventies. Our Cardiff car was raced by Stephen Brown, our Porsche Classic Manager, in eye-catching Fletcher Aviation livery as used on the 1954 Porsche 550/1500 RS Spyder "Carrera Panamericana".
HIGH HOPES AFTER GOOD QUALIFYING TIMES FOR BOTH BOXSTERS
So to qualifying and a chance for both cars to stretch their legs for the first time since Silverstone in early June. In the intervening period, the Cardiff team had worked wonders to get the Fletcher Aviation-inspired car back on the road. After a positive day’s testing on Saturday confidence was high that the car was in good shape and up to the challenge of two more races. Early qualifying saw Stephen Brown high up the leaderboard, with the infamous Porsche Le Mans winner Richard Attwood deputising in the Porsche Leicester car a couple of places behind - the grid gained a lot of interest from the fanatical Porsche crowd! After his solid start, though, Stephen’s fellow drivers started to reign his lap times in and it was Ollie’s improving lap times for Swindon that started to propel him further up the starting grid for Race 1 of the day.
For the first time in this race series the Boxsters were pleased to form their own grid and not have to share the spoils and action with their fellow Porsche Club championship drivers. It certainly gave an extra incentive for each driver to excel and the Indy Circuit of the famous Kent track did not let anyone viewing from the various vantage points of this wonderful natural amphitheatre down. Ollie started in third place on the grid and Stephen in ninth. A positive start from Stephen saw him move forward but, unfortunately, Ollie in the ‘Coca Cola’ inspired car immediately fell back a place immediately whilst under pressure from Wolverhampton’s ‘Pink Pig’. A flying start by Wilmslow ‘917 Salzburg’ car saw these two cars vying for first place with the impressive ‘Wally Jeans’ car of Bolton.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF WITH A WIN FOR PORSCHE CENTRE SWINDON
As each of these cars exchanged the lead between them, our Swindon car contently sat at the back of this pack of four and Ollie calmly waited to make his move. Patience was the name of the game on this course as the opportunities for overtaking were slim and far and few between. However, with the other three cars seemingly putting themselves under pressure Ollie saw his opportunity a third of the way through the 25 minute race. The Druids Curve seemed to be the bend of choice for the majority of the action and overtaking and it was here that Ollie made his moves and made up the most ground. Stephen, meanwhile, in the Cardiff car had made ground on his starting position on the grid and was up to seventh place but. with the field stretched out. and each of the teams level with their 260 BHP cars it proved to be a tricky task to make up ground and increase his placing.
A steely determination and some smooth driving saw Ollie and the Swindon car move to the front with eight or nine laps and minutes to go and then the job in-hand was to fend off the late pressure and attempts of his challengers. Having worked so hard to gain his position he was not going to let it go and both sets of Dick Lovett teams were thrilled to celebrate our first overall victory of the series.
With both cars finishing safe and sound the teams then worked hard to ensure they were in fine fettle for the closing race of the series a couple of hours later. Once again Swindon found themselves starting in third place on the grid and Cardiff in tenth. This time the ‘Wally Jeans’ car hit the front early on and, with Josh Morris driving, was aiming to cement his place at the top of the championship leader board with a victory. As in Race 1 he came under pressure from the unrelenting ‘Pink Pig’ and once again the now confident and inspired Ollie Coles bided his time. After some more good work through Druids his opportunity came through Surtees and into Clearways and he was able to hit the front spot again, this time, though, we were not even halfway through the allotted 20 minutes race time and there was much work to be done if he was going to retain his position.
OLLIE MAKES IT A DOUBLE TO TAKE THE CHEQUERED FLAG AGAIN.
Once again the Cardiff car with Stephen Brown at the helm was making steady progress and his smooth driving style was reigning in the middle order and he was then able to make some progress up on the cars in front. As the race went on though it was clear in his mind that the gaining of more places was going to be a fruitless task and another seventh spot beckoned. The Cardiff team, managed through the stewardship of Martin Wright their Aftersales Manager, turned up in a great number once again to enthusiastically see their silver chariot do them proud and support Stephen’s efforts, although, by now, everyone was rooting for the Swindon car.
So it was left to Ollie to once again lead the cars home and after some nail biting moments when his two challengers seemed to make ground on him and push him harder and harder it was amazing to witness him take the chequered flag for the second time in the day to the plaudits of the grandstands. If you are going to win an official dedicated Porsche race or two then I can think of no better time to do it than in front of 6,000 Porsche owners!
Overall, it was a fantastic day and the Festival of Porsche truly lived up to its name. The Restoracing series has been a huge success and it has brought together teams in Porsche workshops across the country and given us a platform to showcase the wealth of knowledge within them, especially those within Dick Lovett.
What might 2019 bring? Watch this space!