In his first race for two years, Dean Stoneman scored a famous victory in the opening round of the Carrera Cup GB as he coped with difficult track conditions, a Safety Car period and a strong challenge from reigning title-holder Michael Meadows on his way to a very impressive win.
The 200th race in the history of the Carrera Cup GB delivered a superb start to the 2013 season, with action all down the field and added excitement from snow showers sweeping across the Kent track. In Pro-Am1, Victor Jimenez (Spain) scored a well deserved victory while Peter Smallwood (Towcester) won Pro-Am2 on his Championship debut.
Despite snow in the air, the field went to the grid on slick tyres and Stoneman (Southampton) launched off the start line to lead into Paddock Hill Bend from the fast-starting Dan Lloyd (Huddersfield). While Stoneman set about establishing his lead, a furious battle raged for second as Lloyd and Rory Butcher (Kirkcaldy) traded the place several times while Meadows (Reading) sat on their tail.
On lap six, Butcher and Lloyd touched at Paddock and both spun into the gravel. Butcher managed to get going again and headed for the pits with a puncture, but Lloyd was out and the Safety Car was deployed while his car was moved. From the re-start, Stoneman took control once more, but Meadows was now second and started a dogged pursuit of the leader as Jonas Gelzinis (Lithuania) followed them in third.
For lap after lap, with more snow showers coming, Meadows chased Stoneman and into the final three laps the gap was barely half a second. Even a brush with Yucel Ozbek (Turkey) failed to unsettle Stoneman, who had it covered and kept his cool to score a brilliant victory on his return to racing after serious illness. “I didn’t expect to ever get back in a race car, and I didn’t expect weather like this,” he said. “There’s a lot more to learn and towards the end I was being a bit over cautious.”
“I had a good view of all the incidents,” said Meadows, who races for the Samsung-sponsored Smart Motorsport team. “That’s a really good start to the season: there was only one dry line and to attack him I’d have had to go off line onto the damp.” Gelzinis completed the podium, having dropped back from the leaders in traffic, while Butcher mounted a remarkable recovery drive to fourth, despite another trip through the gravel at Paddock as he rejoined after his pit stop, which peeled the front aerodynamic ‘splitter’ off his car. As the track dried, he fought increasing understeer as a consequence.
Fifth overall and Pro-Am1 victory was a great result for Jimenez, who had to work clear of Pro-Am1 rival George Brewster (Edinburgh). “That was very, very difficult: I’ve never raced in the snow before,” said the Spaniard. Brewster then had to deal with a big challenge from Ozbek as Kyle Barnes (South Africa) ran with them in a fine contest. “I let the tyres get too cold under the Safety Car,” said Brewster, who retook second from Ozbek when the Turkish racer had his moment with Stoneman.
Round one results:
Pro category: 1 Dean Stoneman; 2 Michael Meadows; 3 Jonas Gelzinis.
Pro-Am1 category: 1 Victor Jimenez; 2 George Brewster; 3 Yucel Ozbek.
Pro-Am2 category: 1 Peter Smallwood.
Stoneman completed a perfect debut weekend in the Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatch on Sunday with his second race win in less than 24 hours. In another action-packed race, Gelzinis and Lloyd claimed second and third, while Jimenez made it a double win in Pro-Am1.
The start of the race was critical and it was Stoneman who got the best start from second place on the grid to dive ahead of poleman Meadows. Things got even worse for Meadows as he was bundled down to fourth place at the opening two corners by Butcher and Gelzinis as Lloyd joined in the contest.
Butcher quickly took the battle to Stoneman as the five-car pack went clear at the head of the race. Then, into Paddock Hill Bend for the seventh time, Butcher ran fractionally wide. Gelzinis grabbed second and Meadows dived up alongside Butcher at Druids. On the exit of the corner, the cars touched and Meadows’ car spun across the track and into the barriers. He managed to continue to the pits for the team to check the car and then resumed a lap down to finish ninth.
Now it was Gelzinis chasing Stoneman with Butcher and Lloyd making it a four-car pack. Finally, on lap 23 Lloyd’s dogged pursuit was rewarded when Butcher ran wide at Druids and Lloyd nipped through to third place. Lloyd then closed the gap to Gelzinis, but that was how they stayed to the flag as Stoneman completed a remarkable return to racing with a beautifully judged victory. Stoneman was also awarded the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ prize while Redline Racing was named the Drift ‘Team of the Weekend.’
“I got a good start and I was in control all the time,” said Stoneman. “I just concentrated on bringing the car home.” Gelzinis was only six-tenths of a second adrift at the flag and was happy with his race pace. “I drove a measured race and I was thinking about the Championship,” he said. Lloyd, meanwhile, was pleased with third after a non-finish in the opening race. “It’s really difficult to pass round here, so to start P5 and finish on the podium is great,” said the 21-year old Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholar.
Behind fifth-placed Richard Kent (London) was Jimenez, who drove another excellent race to win Pro-Am1 after a race-long battle with Pro category racer Dan De Zille (Jersey). “That was a very good race: I was fighting with De Zille and he was very good,” said Jimenez.
Barnes took second in Pro-Am1 to complete a good debut weekend, while Brewster completed the Pro-Am1 podium after a couple of spins. Pro-Am2 racer Smallwood was sidelined by gearbox problems.
Round two results:
Pro category: 1 Dean Stoneman; 2 Jonas Gelzinis; 3 Dan Lloyd.
Pro-Am1 category: 1 Victor Jimenez; 2 Kyle Barnes; 3 George Brewster.
The next rounds in the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship take place at Donington Park, Leicestershire, on 20/21 April.