Redline Racing were able to salvage a pair of podium finishes from a challenging weekend in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Croft this past weekend (15/16 June), with Seb Perez and Jack McCarthy heading home from North Yorkshire with silverware.
With the Teeside squad based just 15 miles down the road in Stockton-on-Tees, the Carrera Cup GB’s first visit to Croft since 2016 brought back the team’s home event and they headed into the meeting with an enviable track record of four wins in the last six races at the circuit.
They got the third meeting of the 2019 season off to a fantastic start in free practice on Friday as George Gamble, McCarthy and John Ferguson ended the day at the top of the timesheets in the Pro, Pro Am and Am classes respectively.
Qualifying the next day took place in wet conditions and Gamble led the team’s quartet of drivers in third overall, with McCarthy a seasons best fifth as he secured a maiden Pro Am class pole. Perez finished up seventh, while Ferguson ended up third quickest of the Am contenders.
Both the races took place on Sunday afternoon, televised live on ITV4. The opener started in nightmare fashion for the ten-time Carrera Cup GB champions, with unfortunate incidents at the complex on lap one ending the races of Gamble, McCarthy and Ferguson.
Perez would therefore fly the flag for the team as the race progressed and the reigning Pro Am champion put in a great display. A slick move into the final hairpin at mid-distance moved him up to third in the Pro class, which he held to the flag for his second podium finish of the season so far.
Post-race it was found that Gamble’s car had suffered a cracked shell, which ruled him out of race two later that afternoon. McCarthy’s car was heavily damaged as well, however a heroic effort from the Redline Racing mechanics ensured it was ready to go with just ten minutes to spare.
As the drivers sat in the assembly area the heavens opened above them, meaning they were greeted with torrential rain as they headed out on track on slick tyres. At the end of the green flag lap the drivers were left with the decision of whether to pit for wet tyres or not.
While Perez went on to line-up on the reverse grid pole position, only two other cars joined him as the remainder of the field piled into the pitlane, including his team-mates. A lightning fast tyre change from the Redline team meant that McCarthy was crucially the first to exit.
Perez led the opening two laps of the race but it immediately became apparent that staying out was the wrong decision and the three slick-shod drivers eventually pitted. This opened the door for McCarthy to assume the race lead for the first time in his maiden Porsche campaign.
A tremendous drive from the Kent racer saw him build a nine second lead at the front of the field, however the introduction of the safety car wiped that out. By the time the action had restarted the standing water on track had increased, with McCarthy unfortunately getting caught out.
Aquaplaning on a puddle exiting the chicane, the 18 year old ran wide and slipped to third. On the penultimate lap he fought back to second though, which secured him his first overall top three finish and a fifth Pro Am class podium result in the opening six races of the season.
Aided by the safety car bunching up the field, Perez was able to fight back from the rear of the field to sixth in the Pro Class at the finish for another good points haul. Ferguson meanwhile posted the fastest lap of the race in the Am class, however the Irishman sadly suffered another retirement.
A dramatic day of racing ended with the Amigos Tequila Beer supported pair of Gamble and Perez lying fourth and fifth in the Pro points standings, while McCarthy and Ferguson sit second and third in Pro Am and Am classes respectively.
Redline Racing lie third in the Entrants Championship meanwhile heading into the next rounds of the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season at Oulton Park in Cheshire in two weeks’ time (29/30 June).
Simon Leonard – Team Boss: “This is our 17th season competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB and we can’t remember many race meetings with such dramatic weather changes as this one, from glorious sunshine for race one to torrential rain for race two just hours later.
“All four of our drivers showed some great pace on Friday and we headed into the weekend in confident mood. The changing track conditions in qualifying meant timing the laps was crucial and while it didn’t all go perfectly, they all had strong starting positions for race one.
“Unfortunately the opening race couldn’t have started much worse than it did. To lose three cars on the opening lap was disastrous and we were gutted that George’s car was unrepairable. Seb meanwhile put in a great drive and richly deserved his podium finish.
“The start of race two was pretty interesting and I’m proud of the team that we produced the quickest pitstops of anyone on the grid. Jack came out in a fantastic position and were it not for the safety car, I’m confident he’d have gone on and won that race.
“Seb made a brave call to stay on slicks and while it didn’t pay off, he still got some good points. John drove well across the weekend but just got caught out by the conditions, but we’re sure that both he and George will bounce back in style next time out at Oulton Park.”
Image from Dan Bathie/Porsche GB.