Brian Chandler was fortunate to be offered a drive in a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car this weekend at the prestigious Oulton park circuit in Cheshire. Luckily with backing from Orange Racing, Mac tools and local companies Pro Alloy, We Do Signs & Labels, BC Cars and KS Autos he was able to take up the offer.
"I Really couldn't have taken this opportunity without sponsors from my local town. I appreciate their efforts so much and couldn't be here without them."
Brian (current MX5 UK champion and racing a BMW M3 with lots of success) paired up with Mike Sellar (owner of the Porsche and runs MAS Motorsport located in Sittingbourne).
They were racing in the prestigious MSVR GT Cup Championship, a championship which sees the likes of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentleys and other exotic marques split into power to weight classes all racing together... The race meet would see Brian have one 25 minute race then take the second 30 minute stint of an hour long endurance race.
Chandler turned up to the track Saturday morning ready to go out for a 10 minute practice before qualifying, this being the first time Brian had sat in the seat of the Porsche, let alone turned a wheel.
"I jumped straight into the fire really. The Porsche is on slick tyres, rear engine with 450 bhp, flappy paddle gears and left hand drive. The Mazda I won a championship in last year had 104bhp on road tyres. My BMW has slightly more at 320bhp and grippy tyres but definitely isn't a thoroughbred race car like the Porsche. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Brian took to the track for the warm up and got to grips with the car straight away, mere tenths off the lap times set by the more experienced leading class car. "I'm well happy with that. The car was awesome and quite easy to drive. It's just a case a of getting a little braver on the brakes. There is definitely more time to come within me. I am surprised I am so close to the front running time."
"The team MAS Motorsport and owner/driver Mike Sellar have been fabulous to me. He has let me have some of the qualifying session and all the sprint race (usually the more experienced or lead driver would do this) Just so I can have some more seat time in the car."
Next came a 20 min qualifying session which would decide the grid for the sprint 25 min race and the 1 hour endurance race later in the day. The duo would share this session equally with 10 minutes each (4 laps). "Bit disappointed in that session. I went quicker than this morning but I was 2 seconds slower than the leading cars. I was quicker than my team mate though, which is my target for the weekend really ... I couldn't get a clear lap. It was like doing 10 mins around the M25 in rush hour just with Lambos and Ferraris instead of Transits and Volkswagons."
Brian would start the sprint race 12th overall and 5th in class. The sprint race began with a rolling start, something Brian has zero experience in. The hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cars thundered out of the last bend and started the race at full speed, Brian already picking off a Porsche and a Lamborghini into turn one. The exit of turn one saw a big crash and everyone take avoidance as a Lamborghini and a Lotus came together at over 100mph. Brian took his Porsche onto the grass, a smart move which saved him from being involved and he rejoined in 6th overall. Unfortunately the race was stopped a lap later due to the need to remove the cars safely from the circuit.
"Bit gutted really. I picked off two cars and was really up for taking on the leading cars in my class. Glad everyone involved in the crash was OK. That's probably the most expensive accident I've witnessed." smirked Chandler.
The endurance race would see owner/drive Mike start. A good start was made and no carnage so Mike settled in for his stint. Drama evolved 12 mins in as Mike radioed in with a problem of being stuck in 4th gear ... The Porsche thundered down the pit lane popping and banging off the pit lane limiter. Coming to a stop as the MAS Motorsport mechanics fired it up on air jacks and dived underneath. Within 6 mins the fault was diagnosed and repaired and the car was let off the jacks for Mike to finish his stint, unfortunately now four laps down.
Brian took over five minutes later for the last 25 minutess ... Straight away Brian was on the pace of the leaders but being so many laps down could never challenge for a podium. He did however attract the attention of the commentry team. Being likened to Stirling Moss for being able to jump in any car and be quick out of the blocks. He was the 6th quickest car overall as he tried to claw the Porsche back up the leader board.
"That was great fun. We knew we couldn't get a podium finish so I just had the mindset to beat my team mate's time and try to match my lap time to the leading cars. I managed both which I am chuffed with considering I have only been in the car for about 45 minutes total over the day."
"My future plans? Obviously we run a big team of MX5s still. That wont ever change. I would love to be able to get out in this Porsche more. It's all down to financial backing. Believe me, I will be doing my utmost to raise funds to secure another drive!"
"The GT Cup has a massive media coverage compared to the MX5 and BMW race series I am currently involved in. Plus dedicated programmes on Sky, Virgin and Motors TV. It also has a highlight program on Channel 4 and its own Youtube channel Also being a current model Porsche 911 I am hoping I can entice a few sponsors to come and join the exciting ride."
Anybody wishing for more info on Brian and his motorsport opportunities can contact him via the website www.bccarsmotorsport.co.uk on Facebook page BC Cars, Twitter @brianchandler76 or email email@example.com.