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Boxster Boys

By Scott Bradley

  VIEW RACE GALLERY

We are now at the halfway point having completed three of the six Pirelli Porsche Series 2021 races, so I thought I would give everyone an update on how the newly created Porsche Boxster Class F was fairing, and the lessons I did not expect to learn when I signed up. In short, it's close, very very close. The top four drivers are within 18 points of each other and the lead in the class has changed every race which means that it is anyone’s championship. This is exactly the racing we all signed up for, exciting, competitive and where winning comes down to the skill of the driver, not the person with the biggest cheque book.

What I didn’t realise when I signed up was how much more there is to learn about driving a car and driving it fast. After the first round at Taupo I quickly realised that I needed some help and called on Cam McCormack. Cam owns NZ Driver Training in Waikato, has raced a GT3 and is the technical adviser to the Pirelli Porsche Series. We spent a day at Taupo working on a number of fundamentals – I had a lot to learn!

The first lesson was to trust the car. I demonstrated my ‘skills’ to Cam where I was at the extreme limit of the cars braking and cornering capability. Cam then put my skills to shame showing me where the true limits of the car were, a full three seconds faster than my best times (a lifetime in car racing terms). Knowing how far I could actually push the car and overcoming my fear of losing control was a lesson in how our mind has the ability to limit our potential.

The second lesson was driving in the rain, not my natural comfort zone! The rain started to fall and as my anxiety took holdCam was delighted. A few spins on the grass taught me that I needed to drive the car smoothly and with practice my confidence grew. Pushing myself to learn in a challenging environment has by comparison made driving in the dry weather so much easier. 

Finally, although it was slower than my GT3RS, I grew to appreciate the Boxster. As a mid-engine car with significantly less horsepower, you need to drive the Boxster using a different race line in order to get the most out of the car. I now find gaining that all important 1/10th of second on each corner in the Boxster is more rewarding than a fast lap in the RS. The driver training paid off at Hampton Downs for meet two. I could not believe it, but I had the fastest qualifying time and the competition was steeper with Guy Heasman’s car now on the track and another driver, Noel Simpson, joining the series in the LM Automotive Boxster. 

Class F now has six Boxtsers on the grid! I started at the front and was leading the Boxster pack until a miscalculated gear change, also known as driver error, sent me into a spin on the ‘double b’, and just like that, I was last. The reverse grid for Race two and three relegated me to the back of the grid for the final two races because of my earlier fast times. Although I managed to gain a few places I learnt another hard lesson, consistency is more important than winning an individual race.

The third meeting of the series was at Manfeild. During the practice laps I had a mechanical issue with the gear box and was unable to get into third gear. I was ready to pack up and head home but the LM Automotive team diagnosed and fixed the issue so fast they had me back out for qualifying. I now came to learn the importance of a good race start. Losing three or four places against other cars with equal horsepower is catastrophic. I needed to hold or better my start position in the first lap rather than trying to pass and make up those places later on. My first two starts were terrible, and I came in with a third and fourth place.

I had one more race that day and as it was a reverse grid start found myself on the last row of the grid with Tony Houston (the master of the ‘fast start’). Nervous I was, but I took a moment to have a stern talk to myself and pull myself together, reflecting on what Cam had taught me, thinking about each driver's favourite lines and where I had the opportunity to out-brake them. Well, the talk helped and I went from last on the grid, passed four Boxsters and won the last race.

This was my final lesson for the day. With each car equally competitive the difference was my confidence and my mind being in the right place. I thought that I was a relatively good driver, but my Boxster and the people I have meet throughout the Pirelli Porsche Series have challenged and pushed me outside a comfort zone I did not realise existed. One thing is for certain, among the Class F Boxsters no one can be sure who will win, and at the halfway mark it really is anyone’s game. The Manfeild races are available to view on Spark Sport if you are interested in seeing the Boxsters running in the Porsche Pirelli series. 

 


01.08.2021

 

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