Races 7 and 8 of the 2019 Porsche Boxster Restoracing season prove to be memorable and successful for the Dick Lovett teams of Cardiff and Swindon.
After the week’s scorching hot temperatures, it was with some relief that the mercury on the thermometers was lowering as the teams headed East to the Snetterton 300 Race Circuit. This circuit on the Norfolk/Suffolk border was a late addition to the season, replacing the race scheduled for June at Silverstone due to its tarmac being resurfaced before F1 rolled in to town. However, the course and venue at Snetterton did not disappoint, and the days racing was one to remember.
As the teams organised themselves for qualifying, the heavens opened! Now, this rain may well have been very much welcomed by the local farmers for their fields and crops, but for those race teams not organised enough to keep an eye on the forecast, it sent them in to a last-minute panic in order to get their cars set up for wet conditions. Thankfully, the Dick Lovett teams were not in this situation and were already organised and set.
The Boxsters were once again lining up on the grid alongside the 911s and Caymans of the Porsche Club. It was set to be a busy track with some 34 cars lining up on the grid in their respective championships. Qualifying gave everyone some quality time on the track and enabled them to try and acclimatise to the tricky conditions.
Given some of the cars were locking up, hitting the very large run-off areas and struggling to find any grip, everyone was wondering what might happen when the racing starts – given this was just qualifying! The Dick Lovett drivers of Scot Adams for Cardiff, and Ollie Coles for Swindon, did remarkably well and stayed out of trouble, managing to place themselves in 8th and 6th respectively on the grid for Race 1.
As we moved into late-morning and the start of Race 1, there was no let up from the sky; if anything, it was getting worse! As the cars lined-up, there was a feeling of nervousness amongst the teams and their fans, but a steely determination from the drivers; thankfully it’s their mood and thoughts that count most.
The crowded grid proved to be a challenging place. With a couple of cars stalling as the lights went out, Ollie in the Coca-Cola liveried Boxster S of Swindon struggled to navigate his way around them impeding his start, but for Scot in the Silver Fletcher aviation car of Cardiff’s, he managed to capitalise and got off to a flyer!
As the race settled down and the competitors spread out amongst the many bends and quick long straights that this circuit offers, the early pace was being set by the Bournemouth car of Ben McLoughlin. It was clear that nothing was going to get ahead of him in these conditions, but further down the order the teams from the West Country were having a great race of their own.
Ollie managed to make up the time he lost at the start and battled back to 9th place as he put pressure on Scot and the Blue Wally’s Jeans car of Bolton in 7th and 8th. Half-way through this 25-minute encounter, Ollie managed to get past both his fellow competitors, only to lock-up as he entered the undulating left to right bend of “Oggies” - allowing both his challengers back in front of him once again.
Scot capitalised brilliantly on that opportunity, and from that moment on, he never looked back and commanded a professional presence in these very tough conditions. So much so, that he took off and started to eat into the distance between him and the Leeds Boxster in front. With the race soon ending, Scot bore down on his prey, and as he came out of “Palmer” and hit the straight towards “Agostini”, he took to the inside and cruised past the Leeds car to take 6th position with the confidence of someone not in their first season of motorsport.
At the end of the race, the Cardiff team celebrated their best finish of the season so far, with Scot paying tribute to his team and the setup of the car for the conditions. Swindon finished in 8th position, and were happy with how Ollie and the Coca-Cola car performed following their troubles at Brands Hatch.
With only a few hours between Race 1 and 2, the teams had to make a tough decision about whether to keep the wets on their cars, or switch back to dry tyres. The sky was brightening up whilst the spectators enjoyed the Radicals and GT cars that were also racing that day.
The teams all ultimately decided to change their tyres back to dry. For Swindon, this also meant re-fitting their anti-roll bar for a firmer flatter ride, to take advantage of the improving conditions.
The drivers lined-up in the same positions on the grid as they were in Race 1, but with more confidence after having finished that race with no mishaps. Ollie this time was off to a flyer, and having not been held-up, got away to quickly take 5th position as they headed out of the first corner. Scot was sadly not having as much luck, and unfortunately lost a couple of places, but his confidence from Race 1 was beginning to show in his lap times.
Ollie was clearly enjoying the dryer conditions in Race 2, and by the end of lap one he was up to 4th. In the lead again was the Bournemouth car, but this time he had the Pink Pig of Wolverhampton on his tail who was proving to be a formidable challenger.
With the field now spread out, Ollie had a job on his hands, but he was steadily hunting down the Jardine Group car that was now some 5 seconds ahead in 3rd. With clear space in front of him, Ollie got into his rhythm and was steadily posting quicker and quicker lap times and reducing the gap to the car in front. He received the fright of his life as his rear bumper somehow became detached; as much to his surprise as the marshals trackside!
With a few minutes remaining of this intriguing race, Ollie made his move. He positioned himself brilliantly as he came out of “Williams” and as both cars hit the “Bentley straight” he had the power and grip to ease himself in front. With his first podium finish since Brands Hatch last September in his sights, all Ollie needed to do was hold onto 3rd place.
Scot meanwhile was not having as much success as earlier in the day; however, with his personal goals achieved and a season’s best finish in the bag, Scot and his fantastically supportive Cardiff colleagues were going to leave the track very happy. After the race, Scot flew back to Spain to re-join his family for their holiday. The fact he flew back to the UK for this race just goes to show his commitment to the team and what this series means to all of them.
The race came to a close with a dramatic finish as the the Pink Pig car of Wolverhampton overtook Bournemouth with only three bends to go. A sprint finish to the line ensued as they hit the final straight and it saw the car from Wolverhampton holding on for its first victory of the season, with Ben McLoughlin being very magnanimous in defeat, having led all day.
It was with much joy that the Swindon team were able to celebrate 3rd place and a position on the podium.
After a disaster at Brands Hatch only a few weeks ago, the team had worked tirelessly on the car in order to get her back to the grid, and the 3rd place finish was a strong and fitting testament to their commitment and team-ship.
As the season now draws to a close, both teams will re-group at the end of August as they visit another new track to the calendar - Oulton Park.
There is no doubt that they will both be brimming with fresh confidence following this weekend’s results, and we – much like the drivers - can’t wait to get right back to it.