Ireland’s Karl Leonard became the first Pro-Am driver to win a Porsche Carrera Cup GB race outright when he won race two in his Naas Court Hotel Team Parker Racing at Croft circuit in Yorkshire yesterday.
Leonard, who as took the lead of the Pro-Am title chase as a result of his win, was given a 10 second penalty in the opening race for a jump start, but even so, made enough progress to cross the line 6th overall and second in Pro-Am. This put the Dubliner sixth on the grid for race two. As soon as the cars left the assembly area though, the skies darkened and spots of rain began to fall. At the end of the formation lap, most of the grid, Karl included, dived into the pits to switch to wet weather tyres. This left the unsual sight of just three cars lining up and taking the start, as the various teams rushed to change tyres in the packed pitland.
Leonard’s Team Parker Racing were the quickest, and had he not been slightly boxed in, he would have led the stream of cars back out onto the circuit in pursuit of the three slick shod contenders, who were already struggling mightily in what were now monsoon conditions. In the event, he was still the second of the cars to rejoin, behind fellow Pro-Am driver Jack McCarthy. The duo quickly closed down the three leaders and sliced by to assume first and second respectively and when McCarthy slid off the waterlogged track shortly afterwards, Leonard was perfectly placed to assume the lead. Even the intervention of a safety car didn’t affect the Irishman, who crossed the line to take a hugely popular victory, which was broadcast live on ITV4, alongside the British Touring Car Championshop, who share the same TOCA package all across the UK.
Karl Leonard: “I came in to the pits at the right time: I looked at the clouds on the warm-up lap and dived in as quick as I could. The Team Parker Racing boys got me out quickly – it was like a scene from Formula 1! I was like ‘get me out’ and they did. It was pretty much undriveable on slicks, but I called it right and rode my luck. I had a lot of moments but kept it on the island and I’m delighted with my first overall win. I had good pace and was driving away from people, so it was a genuine win. You had to learn the grip levels for a few laps and there were some ‘end of the rack’ moments on the straight at over 100mph. It was either hero or zero, you were in the barrier or on the tarmac!”
Karl Leonard returns to the Porsche Carrera Cup UK at Oulton Park in Cheshire over the weekend of June 28-30. The racing will be covered, as usual, live throughout Sunday on ITV4 and online at ITV.com.