RE: PH Competes: Restoracing Brands Hatch Indy

RE: PH Competes: Restoracing Brands Hatch Indy

Monday 8th July

PH Competes: Restoracing Brands Hatch Indy

Heard the one about taking the lead in the gravel? Read on...



Any kind of motorsport is nerve-wracking. Any kind of competition is tense, really, because it involves plundering your reserves of skill and expertise (however shallow they might be) and pitting them against the clock, an opponent, or a whole team of rivals. There's nothing quite like competing, whatever the discipline, to get you fired up.

Sunday's Brands Hatch Indy round of Restoracing felt even more pressured than the Donington season opener. Not only did I want to atone for the mistake that had arguably cost me, the car and Premier Panel Skills a second podium then, but Brands Hatch is a bit of a bogie circuit for me - the last race there I didn't finish. Plus the fact that some Restoracing drivers had tested on Friday, while others had raced in a separate Porsche championship on Saturday. On a drizzly Sunday morning I had to get in the car having not driven it since April, and having last been around the track in a Ka. Super.


Handily the circuit had pretty much dried for qualifying, but most of it was spent as a test session, trying to work out braking points, turn-ins and so on. To be honest, it still felt like more was in the car - that's in chapter three of the racing driver cliché book - a combination of mistakes and traffic making the job trickier. Still, my two quickest times (the grid for race two decided by your second fastest quali lap) of 55.946 and 56.003 put the #35 car fourth and third on the grid respectively.

Sadly, race one was marred by a lot of time under the safety car, Ollie Coles' start line drama and a separate Paddock Hill incident - one of many during the day, more of which in a bit - meaning nine of 21 laps were spent in a yellow flagged procession.

The last five minutes, though, were brilliant; Ben McLoughlin in the Bournemouth car was making a break for the victory, Will Heslop (Wolverhampton) had got past Josh Morris (Bolton) and was in hot pursuit, and there I was in fourth desperately trying everything for a podium. Sadly it wasn't to be, Josh's dogged defence ensuring that third remained his, despite running so close that number plates touched... But fourth was better than nothing, and a fastest lap of 55.627 was good for confidence going into race two.


Race two will go down as one of the best 30 minutes I've ever had. Don't tell my girlfriend. Having retained third from the start, Morris finally left enough of a gap to squeeze through at Clearways. Well, enough of a gap, and some fantastic brakes in 'my' Boxster; the fluid has been uprated since Donington and the pads were fresh, meaning more confidence than ever and what felt like the ability to brake a bit later. So it was the car as much as anything. Then the mission to chase down Ben was on. Carrying 60kg of success ballast against our 15, I did have a weight advantage; Ben was probably quicker at the end of the lap, my speed maybe just superior at the beginning. The gap fluctuated, closed a little, then disaster...

What seems to have happened is that in their battling over third, Will Heslop and Josh Morris had made contact, puncturing the radiator of Will's Pink Pig tribute and dropping water on the track at Paddock Hill. For whatever reason, Ben and I were first on the scene; apparently there was a slippery surface flag, but neither of us saw it. Ben braked and went straight on; I braked and went straight on despite desperately trying not to, careering into the gravel on corner exit. In the frantic dust cloud skirmish to exit our cars touched - sorry Ben - and I emerged first, Josh in third bearing down on the way to Druids. Mercifully, a safety car was called, giving some chance to clear gravel and work out what the heck was going to happen now the Premier Panel Skills Boxster was in the lead of the race.


The safety car ran from lap seven to 11, or about six miles. It might well have been five laps of Le Mans for the time it felt to have taken, tidying up the oil and water from Will's car. Having never thought about a restart before, let alone having executed one, I was petrified; a feeling only added to by having never actually seen what we went off on in the first place. The plan was to go not long after the safety car had vanished and see what happened, the hope was for Josh to keep Ben occupied for a little while to aid my escape, which he did - for all of the pit straight. Then Ben was past at Paddock Hill, the gap established at the restart looking nowhere big enough. A mistake braking into Clearways only heightened the pressure, that yellow and red Bournemouth car looming not far behind.

But then a strange thing happened: there weren't any more stoppages, a rhythm emerged and the gap back, slowly but surely, began to grow. The wonderful little Boxster just kept on giving, feeling better and better, and faster and faster, as the time passed - a best lap of 54.865, more than a second quicker than qualifying, was recorded on lap 19. We were going to win this.


I stopped looking at the clock with a few minutes to go, terrified of screwing up. Having known only too well what one mistimed brake can do at Brands Hatch, and indeed what it can do in this Boxster, I desperately tried to just keep circulating quickly but safely. Ben was still in the mirrors, and wouldn't need a second invitation to get back through.

But there it was - the chequered flag. We'd only gone and bloody won! While I'm gutted there isn't a video to re-watch a crazy race unfold, that nobody beyond the marshals will ever see my delirious celebrations is most certainly a positive. Let's just call them enthusiastic. As in any sort of competition, on four wheels, two wheels, two feet or something entirely different, the feeling of success when you've given everything is like nothing else, and worth all the angst, fear and apprehension in the world. That post-race scrutineering revealed the Premier Panel Skills car to be 20kg heavier than it needed to be has to be a good sign, too.

All well and good, you're probably thinking, but what's the point? Well, more and more rumours are now circulating that the Restoracing series will be opened up to the public next year, which would naturally make the series far more appealing. Making a race car is never going to be truly cheap, but then Boxsters are never going to be more affordable, and it won't surprise you to learn they make fantastic motorsport tools: lithe, responsive, loud and tremendous fun, you couldn't want for much more from an entry level Porsche racer. All the guys did between qualifying and races was check fuel levels and tyre pressures, so it's not some high maintenance sports car. And while reliability issues will continue to surround the 986 Boxsters, there's not been a single retirement thus far owing to mechanical breakdown. Should it become a championship with more open entry criteria, it could hardly be recommended more highly - because we all dream of being Richard Attwood, Marc Lieb or Nick Tandy in our Porsche sports car at some point, don't we? Just leave that fastest lap alone, please; I'm quite proud of that.


Huge thanks to Ian, Jamie, Justin, Costa and Lee from Premier Panel Skills for your help over the weekend - you're all superstars.






 








 



[Photos: Adam Pigott/Dan Bathie Creative]

Author
Discussion

BFleming

Original Poster:

1,173 posts

86 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
As a 986 owner these articles are always a good read.
Question though - presumable having a hardtop fitted makes topside engine access an even more cumbersome affair than normal? Or is this a non-issue on raceday?

clubsport

7,064 posts

201 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
I was impressed with a sub 55 secs for a 986, which tyres is this series running?

Sandpit Steve

208 posts

17 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
Congratulations on the win, and a great writeup. Hope they do open it up next year, the more cheap grassroots motorsport around, the better!

IMI A

6,656 posts

144 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
Amazing. Well done!

Motorsport3

299 posts

135 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
Stripping an early boxster or Cayman for racing, how much can realistically reduce the weight?


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Maldini35

2,050 posts

131 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
clubsport said:
I was impressed with a sub 55 secs for a 986, which tyres is this series running?
I was at Brands myself at the weekend and thought exactly the same.
Sub 55 moves it into the quicker stuff.
I watched the first race which was very entertaining and the cars sounded great too.
If they open up entries I could be severely tempted.


Ahonen

4,340 posts

222 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
Wow, Ben must've had a disaster because he normally destroys everyone.

NelsonM3

1,264 posts

114 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
Motorsport3 said:
Stripping an early boxster or Cayman for racing, how much can realistically reduce the weight?
Nearly everyone was having to put weight back in once they’d finished the rebuilds on their cars last year. So there is plenty to lose.

Porsche Colchester will be supporting our Jardine car at Snetterton towards the end of the month. It’s a fantastic series and definitely has legs.

NelsonM3

1,264 posts

114 months

Monday 8th July
quotequote all
Ahonen said:
Wow, Ben must've had a disaster because he normally destroys everyone.
He has a 60kg weight disadvantage this year but on the flip side I believe he gets driver points.

Calvert

29 posts

125 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
I was there supporting Josh as part of the Bolton team but it was nice to see a new face on that top step!

Brilliant driving Matt, it was a pleasure to watch and I agree it was an exciting 25 minutes.

See you at the next meeting (Snetterton)

Adam

Sandpit Steve

208 posts

17 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
Motorsport3 said:
Stripping an early boxster or Cayman for racing, how much can realistically reduce the weight?
There’s always plenty of weight to come out of any road car for racing, interiors are heavy, even for lightweight sports cars like the Boxster - seats, carpets, door cards, stereo, dashboard, a/c and several kilos of Dynamat for a start - using a hard top you can probably junk the fabric hood and mechanism too. With a roll cage, fire extinguisher and fixed race seat put back in, it’s probably a couple of hundred kilos lighter than when you started.

Depending on the competition you might also change the fuel tank, brakes, wheels, suspension components, battery, glass etc. for lighter motorsport items, saving more weight, much of it unsprung.

If you do it well you can be under the weight limit for the competition, and get to put the difference back in lead weights wherever you like on the car, which can make a positive difference to the handling by adjusting CofG and F/R balance to optimum values for the circuit.

Taking weight out of the car is by far the easiest way to make it faster around a track, and anything with numberplates has a lot of weight to give up.

Motorsport3

299 posts

135 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
Sandpit Steve said:
There’s always plenty of weight to come out of any road car for racing, interiors are heavy, even for lightweight sports cars like the Boxster - seats, carpets, door cards, stereo, dashboard, a/c and several kilos of Dynamat for a start - using a hard top you can probably junk the fabric hood and mechanism too. With a roll cage, fire extinguisher and fixed race seat put back in, it’s probably a couple of hundred kilos lighter than when you started.

Depending on the competition you might also change the fuel tank, brakes, wheels, suspension components, battery, glass etc. for lighter motorsport items, saving more weight, much of it unsprung.

If you do it well you can be under the weight limit for the competition, and get to put the difference back in lead weights wherever you like on the car, which can make a positive difference to the handling by adjusting CofG and F/R balance to optimum values for the circuit.

Taking weight out of the car is by far the easiest way to make it faster around a track, and anything with numberplates has a lot of weight to give up.
Thanks, would it still be road legal after these mods ?
It would be great to driver there, race, drive back home in it.

Motorsport3

299 posts

135 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
NelsonM3 said:
Nearly everyone was having to put weight back in once they’d finished the rebuilds on their cars last year. So there is plenty to lose.

Porsche Colchester will be supporting our Jardine car at Snetterton towards the end of the month. It’s a fantastic series and definitely has legs.
Is your car road legal and do you have any pictures of building it?

LeebeeMac

1 posts

90 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
Shame, there was no mention of Paul Blakesley - Complete novice (Pain Sprayer), no track days, no previous racing- Finished 5th in 1st race & 4th in second.
Top driving & well worth a mention in my book!

Sandpit Steve

208 posts

17 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
Motorsport3 said:
Sandpit Steve said:
There’s always plenty of weight to come out of any road car for racing, interiors are heavy, even for lightweight sports cars like the Boxster - seats, carpets, door cards, stereo, dashboard, a/c and several kilos of Dynamat for a start - using a hard top you can probably junk the fabric hood and mechanism too. With a roll cage, fire extinguisher and fixed race seat put back in, it’s probably a couple of hundred kilos lighter than when you started.

Depending on the competition you might also change the fuel tank, brakes, wheels, suspension components, battery, glass etc. for lighter motorsport items, saving more weight, much of it unsprung.

If you do it well you can be under the weight limit for the competition, and get to put the difference back in lead weights wherever you like on the car, which can make a positive difference to the handling by adjusting CofG and F/R balance to optimum values for the circuit.

Taking weight out of the car is by far the easiest way to make it faster around a track, and anything with numberplates has a lot of weight to give up.
Thanks, would it still be road legal after these mods ?
It would be great to driver there, race, drive back home in it.
It’s definitely possible to keep a race car road legal, you need to make sure that you don’t take out anything that’s compulsory (lights, glass, switchgear) and anything you put in (seat, fuel tank, exhaust) is road approved. There’s also regs about things like height and position of lights which can be failed if you drop the car too much, and you’ll have to pass emissions for an MoT so no lairy engine tuning.

Series like this one and the Ka series seem designed to use pretty much standard cars with only necessary safety mods, should be possible to keep them street legal.

Maldini35

2,050 posts

131 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
Sandpit Steve said:
Motorsport3 said:
Sandpit Steve said:
There’s always plenty of weight to come out of any road car for racing, interiors are heavy, even for lightweight sports cars like the Boxster - seats, carpets, door cards, stereo, dashboard, a/c and several kilos of Dynamat for a start - using a hard top you can probably junk the fabric hood and mechanism too. With a roll cage, fire extinguisher and fixed race seat put back in, it’s probably a couple of hundred kilos lighter than when you started.

Depending on the competition you might also change the fuel tank, brakes, wheels, suspension components, battery, glass etc. for lighter motorsport items, saving more weight, much of it unsprung.

If you do it well you can be under the weight limit for the competition, and get to put the difference back in lead weights wherever you like on the car, which can make a positive difference to the handling by adjusting CofG and F/R balance to optimum values for the circuit.

Taking weight out of the car is by far the easiest way to make it faster around a track, and anything with numberplates has a lot of weight to give up.
Thanks, would it still be road legal after these mods ?
It would be great to driver there, race, drive back home in it.
It’s definitely possible to keep a race car road legal, you need to make sure that you don’t take out anything that’s compulsory (lights, glass, switchgear) and anything you put in (seat, fuel tank, exhaust) is road approved. There’s also regs about things like height and position of lights which can be failed if you drop the car too much, and you’ll have to pass emissions for an MoT so no lairy engine tuning.

Series like this one and the Ka series seem designed to use pretty much standard cars with only necessary safety mods, should be possible to keep them street legal.
I drove my Clio race car to Brands and then back home at the weekend.
It can be done no problem but it does mean you really need to avoid crashing during the race...

Dblue

2,978 posts

143 months

Tuesday 9th July
quotequote all
LeebeeMac said:
Shame, there was no mention of Paul Blakesley - Complete novice (Pain Sprayer), no track days, no previous racing- Finished 5th in 1st race & 4th in second.
Top driving & well worth a mention in my book!
And of course a Porsche employee which is kind of the point of the series I thought.

Fishy Dave

552 posts

188 months

Wednesday 10th July
quotequote all
Sandpit Steve said:
It’s definitely possible to keep a race car road legal, you need to make sure that you don’t take out anything that’s compulsory (lights, glass, switchgear) and anything you put in (seat, fuel tank, exhaust) is road approved. There’s also regs about things like height and position of lights which can be failed if you drop the car too much, and you’ll have to pass emissions for an MoT so no lairy engine tuning.

Series like this one and the Ka series seem designed to use pretty much standard cars with only necessary safety mods, should be possible to keep them street legal.
The CSCC RX-8 Trophy class has cars which must have an MOT, they are in road trim, so comfortable if heavy. I drive mine to work most weeks, good practice. My last four race cars have all been road legal (RX-8, BMW E30, Elise and Caterham), although not all have been comfortable doing so.

Matt Bird

1,078 posts

148 months

PH Reportery Lad

Wednesday 10th July
quotequote all
BFleming said:
As a 986 owner these articles are always a good read.
Question though - presumable having a hardtop fitted makes topside engine access an even more cumbersome affair than normal? Or is this a non-issue on raceday?
Does make it tricky! But thus far it's required nothing on a race day, apart from if scrutineers want to have a look, and the PPS boys are very good at getting it off in no time at all.

Matt Bird

1,078 posts

148 months

PH Reportery Lad

Wednesday 10th July
quotequote all
clubsport said:
I was impressed with a sub 55 secs for a 986, which tyres is this series running?
Pirelli Trofeo R - they contribute quite a lot to that time I reckon!