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Donington Park on Saturday April 14th hosted the opening rounds of the 2018 Porsche Club Championship, with Mark Sumpter and the Paragon Porsche team as they left the East Midlands circuit with a win and a second-place finish to their name. Both races were hard, Mark chasing home the leader in the first race of the day before leading all the way late in the afternoon to score the team’s first win of 2018.
The day started well as Mark put the Baylis & Harding-backed 996 C2 on pole for both races in the morning’s qualifying session.
“It took a few laps but a fantastic start,” said Mark. “There was some mud on the circuit which made it tricky early on but I knew I could go quicker so I’m really pleased. It is very noticeable that we have more cars out in the series this year – you had to work to get a clear run, and when you go for one you have to make it count.”
In the opening race of the day Mark was headed into the first corner, and then part of a four-car battle for the lead. Having briefly slipped down to third, Mark was second across the line, the race stopped a few laps early due a car stranded on the outside of a corner.
“I was enjoying the race and would have liked it to have run full distance,” said Mark. “Craig was starting to slide a little, he had been defending hard for a long time, but it’s good to get a podium and bank the points early on. We are only doing this to have a good race, and that was really fun.”
The second race was the final one of Donington’s Saturday action, this time Mark nailing the start and heading the large field away. Having pulled a gap a safety car period from lap three put his rivals right back with him, but when racing restarted Mark again eased around a second clear, increasing his pace in the later laps to come home over four seconds clear.
“I was looking after the brakes as the race went on, then got caught out by a couple of backmarkers and I realized the margin I had wasn’t enough,” said Mark. “I didn’t want the them too close so I decided to get my head down for two laps and break away.
“I think this year with other cars being so quick we are going to have to treat the championships seriously, and maybe accept there will be days where we don’t have the pace, and the other models will come into play. To win championships, even if you don’t have the fastest car you have to keep scoring points. I’ll settle for this for a start to the season.”
Next Races: May 5th, Brands Hatch, Kent.
14 April - Donington Park Club
5 / 6 May - Brands Hatch GP +
2 June - Silverstone Arena GP +
30 June - Snetterton 300
29 July - Donington Park Club
11 August - Silverstone International
2 September - Brands Hatch Indy Festival of Porsche
At the Motorsport Award Dinner on November 11th, Mark picked up his trophy for second place in Class 1 of the Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli.
A hard-fought but good-humoured season was won overall by Mark McAleer, with Mark Sumpter in his Paragon-liveried 996 challenging his early dominance through some exciting on-track battles.
With the points standing tied at 428 points each, the victory went to Mark McAleer via his 12 best scores.
"It's been a brilliant season and a really fun championship - we've had some fantastic battles with our competitors. Congratulations to Mark McAleer and his team, they dominated early on and fully deserve to be Champions this year".
"We ran a new car this year and early in the season we didn't manage to get the absolute best out of it. During the second half however we were the fastest car so we're looking forward to 2018!".
It promises to be an exciting battle next year - and we'll keep you updated here.
April 29th Brands Hatch Indy
May 13th Oulton Park
June 17th Silverstone GP
Aug. 19th Croft
Sept 3rd Oulton Park
Sept 10th Brands Hatch GP
Oct. 14th Castle Combe
Paragon’s Mark Sumpter went into the final two rounds of the Porsche Club Championship at Castle Combe with a chance of taking the title in his comeback season in the series, almost pulling it off but having to settle for a close second overall after an exciting day’s racing.
It was a day when every point that was up for grabs became vital, and it started well when Mark set a blistering pace in qualifying in his Baylis & Harding-backed 996 C2, taking pole for both the 25-minute races, and the welcome point that came for each.
“I can’t do those lap times for a whole race,” said Sumpter. “I have tested here and we did a lot of work on damper settings, but this was our first run on new rubber and I’m pleased with the time.”
From pole in race one Mark led the field away and was never headed on his way to the win, but was under pressure almost the whole way with two cars right with him including championship Mark McAleer in third. It was only when they reached backmarkers late in the race that Mark was able to open a gap, taking the win but missing out on the extra point for fastest lap by a fraction.
“I was under pressure all the way,” said Mark after race one, “more pressure than I had thought. It was only in the last three minutes or so when I was able to make better use of the backmarkers that I had a gap. There were only minutes to go and I was able to stroke it home, but up until then the pace was amazing we were all doing 1m11s laps even 20-minutes into that race.
“I’m disappointed to miss out on the point for fastest lap, but I have to be pleased and it was better to have Craig Wilkins on my rear bumper than Mark McAleer – we all have to go and check on the points now and see what we need to do in the next race.”
Race two later in the afternoon followed a very similar script, the same three cars easing clear of the field and lapping at speed, trading fastest race laps. Mark knew that point for setting the quickest time in the race could be crucial, and when informed by his crew one of his rivals had taken it he went into lap seven pushing hard.
Alas, the tricky Quarry corner proved his undoing and the Paragon Porsche had a rare spin, Mark having to let several cars before past before he was able to rejoin. Finally coming home fifth after regaining places, Mark had to settle for second in the championship – still a fine result up against drivers and teams with much more experience of running the 996 in the series.
“Despite leading the race I wasn’t in a position where I had the championship and I knew I had to get the point for fastest lap,” explained Mark. “As I was the lead car I didn’t have any chance of a tow so I had to try to make some time, I’d had a good start to the lap, my brain said the car wouldn’t take full throttle there but I had to go for it...and the car didn’t take full throttle and round we went.
“It just shows how close to the limit we all are, I wasn’t that much quicker than the lap before and by the time I got sideways and realised it wasn’t coming back I was spinning, and had to wait for a group of cars to go past.
“The pace of the car is good now and we have pushed everyone hard, I think we have a great car to work on through the winter and see what happens for next year. I have really enjoyed this year, we have done a good job to push Mark McAleer this hard, and we will be back next year!”
It was a perfect day for Mark Sumpter and the Paragon Porsche team as the Porsche Club Championship made its second visit of 2017 to Brands Hatch on Sunday September 10th, Mark recording two pole positions starts, two fastest race laps and two race wins. Racing on the full Grand Prix layout of the Kent circuit, conditions were often tricky as rain hit the circuit during the day, but Mark used his pace and experience to take two commanding victories.
Qualifying on Sunday morning saw the circuit still damp in places from overnight rain, but Mark was quickest at the end of the 20-minutes, just a tenth clear of the field which promised a close first race later in the day.
“First couple of laps it was damp under the trees but that was a good session,” said Mark after qualifying. “I really like the full GP circuit, the back part of it hasn’t changed in years other than Dingle Dell. – you need to take a brave pill to be quick. It’s close at the front and should be a good race.”
At the start of race one a flying getaway from second row starter Kevin Harrison saw him alongside Mark’s Baylis & Harding-backed 996 C2 into the first corner, but Mark had the inside line and led at the end of lap one. The lead pulled away, and when Harrison slowed on lap six that put Mark well ahead, the only worry over the remaining laps some light rain that threatened at one point.
“Kevin Harrison did really well at the start,” said Mark, “and it was a bit close for a moment but he has been racing long enough to know once you get to the apex of the corner going round the outside is not going to work. Once I was out of Druids in the lead I knew it was mine to lose.
“It was matter of making sure I didn’t slip on a wet patch and being the lead car you find out how much grip there is first and you look really stupid if you spin! I knew I had time in hand with three laps to go so I backed it off to save the tyres.’
Heavy rain shortly before race two saw the whole Porsche field opt for wet-weather tyres, and gain Mark got away well and into the lead, before again easing away for the battling field as the race progressed. The quickest car on the track for much of the race, the only issue on the way to win number two was the drying track which was seeing the heavily grooved wet tyres losing grip as they began to overheat.
“The last few minutes were hard as the tyres were overheating and every time you turned into a corner you almost had to turn back out again and have another go,” said Sumpter. “It was good I had built up that lead and it has been a good day today, it’s our local circuit, we have lots of guests here and we have scored plenty of points.”
Next Rounds: Castle Combe, Wiltshire, October 14th
The second visit of the year for the Porsche Club Championship to the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire on Saturday September 2nd saw two podium finishes for Mark Sumpter and the Paragon Porsche team, a third-place in the opening race after leading for much of it being followed up by a fine win in the second race of the day.
The hard work done to develop the Paragon 996 C2 over the previous few weeks paid off in qualifying as Mark lapped half a second clear of the rest of the field, with his second-best lap also quicker than the rest giving him pole position for both the 25-minute races.
“We were here testing yesterday, worked out a plan, and it came together for once!” joked Mark. “We have been working on fine-tuning the suspension and we have found a second per lap since we were last here. If I can get off the line well we will have a good race car”
Slightly slower off the line than he wanted, Mark had close rival Mark McAleer alongside, but he was forced to tuck behind and the Baylis & Harding-backed Paragon Porsche led the field. Over the next few laps Mark eased away, with the race win already looking likely.
Into lap ten Mark was over three seconds clear, when accelerating away from the Island hairpin he suddenly found it impossible to select a gear. He finally got the Porsche into third gear, but not before McAleer had gone past to take the lead, and the third –placed car was now right with him.
Mark slipped back to third but despite just having the one usable gear was able to hold off two rivals to cross the line in that position at the end of lap 14.
“That was in the bag,’ said Mark. “I was just looking after the car, I had a three second gap, and I came out of the chicane, went for a gear and had no gears. Mark McAleer got past me and I just managed to hook a gear which luckily was third which is mid-range for here, but I knew there was only five minutes to go and I might be able to still get some points.
“I didn’t expect to be on the podium but third gear worked round here. It was just frustrating, we had a good day testing here yesterday and thought about the race and what to do, and everything was going to plan until then, but that’s racing.”
The gear issue resolved, race two saw Mark again lose places off the line, dropping to third but immediately setting about moving the Paragon Porsche back up the order. Into second on lap five, a series of fastest race laps put Mark right with leader McAleer, and on lap eight he got alongside the other Porsche into the first corner, braving it out as they went side-by-side through the corner down the hill on the exit, going ahead into the next corner.
From then on he began to ease away, only to lose ground with three laps to go with a brief trip across the grass at Knickerbrook due to oil down on the circuit. He was able to hold onto the lead and finished three seconds clear of the field for the second Paragon win of the season.
“I didn’t quite nail the start, I tried to do it at lower revs but we still got wheelspin,” said Mark. “Then Pete Morris had the widest car ever but I once I was past he fell back, and I wasn’t aiming for a move on Mark McAleer into Old Hall but he was on the inside and braked early so I had a go.
“At this stage of the championship I can be a bit cheeky with him as he is looking for points but he was very fair and won’t be upset with second! I needed to win that race to be happy on the six-hour drive home.
“The car was good, though there was lots of oil down later in the race which made it hard. I had the car flick sideways on the oil late in the race and had to be more careful from then on, looking forwards to Brands Hatch now!”
The long trip north to the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire on Saturday, August 19th proved frustrating for the Baylis & Harding-backed Paragon Porsche team and driver Mark Sumpter, a fine second place in race one of two Porsche Club Championship races sadly being followed by a non-finish in the second race after a touch from another car left him in the gravel trap at the first corner.
A lot of work on the Paragon Porsche 996 C2 since the previous round at Silverstone paid off in the morning qualifying with Mark second quickest, just hundredths of a second off pole.
“We’re happy,” said Mark, “we have done a lot of work on the car over the break since the last races, including 140-laps of Brands Hatch, and tried things with the set-up to try to keep the handling more consistent. We were focussing more on race runs than outright one-lap pace, but it’s good to be so quick round here and hopefully we will have two good races.”
The first of the two 25-minute races was red—flagged after the start, and restarted after a short shower while the cars were on the grid. Mark slotted into second behind championship leader Mark McAleer and was soon part of a high-speed train of cars contesting the lead positions.
For lap after lap the lead group circulated just fractions of a second apart, Mark getting alongside the leader through the hairpin at the end of the lap on lap nine but having to slot back into second on the exit. After briefly losing ground another attempt at the same place on lap fifteen saw Mark get inside McAleer’s similar 996 but a back-marker was in front of them and again he had to slide back into second, crossing the line in that position after 17-laps of intense racing.
“There was oil down and I caught it which lost me a couple of seconds with about seven minutes to go,” explained Mark. “I’m pleased we have proved we have the pace back in the car, but its tight round here and Mark lives just down the road and has done a lap or two round here!
“Now we just have to go one better later on in race two.”
Race two though proved to be a short one for Mark, as a clash with another car in the first corner saw the Paragon 996 C2 beached in the gravel on the outside of the first corner with damaged suspension and out the race.
“I really wanted a good start,” said Mark. “I wanted to get in front of McAleer as I had spent too much time behind him in race one but I missed a gear as I went from second to third. That put me alongside Craig Wilkins instead of in front of him, and I think it is fair to say he squeezed me wide a little and we touched.
“Normally it wouldn’t have been a problem but it must have just caught my rear wheel at a bad angle and broke the toe-link and I was spat off into the gravel. It was a disappointment as one fluff of a gear-change at a critical time was all it took – but that is racing! It is high pressure at the front of this series.”
It was a testing day of action for Mark Sumpter and his Paragon Porsche 996 C2 at Silverstone on Saturday June 17th, with a 3rd and 4th position after two hectic races in the summer sun on the circuit’s full Grand Prix layout.
Qualifying went well, with Mark’s Baylis & Harding-backed car second of the Porsche Club Championship runners on the grid despite briefly leaving the circuit at the end of the session.
“I had a short trip through the gravel – they have changed the circuit layout slightly since yesterday and that’s my excuse!” said Mark. “Seriously, I have raced on this layout loads of times and was on a good lap and pushing hard. By then I felt I had the best of the tyres and thought I had done enough as we were a second quicker than pole here last year, but Mark McAleer was even quicker, the pace keeps moving on. The car feels good, I’m looking forward to the race.”
A great start in race one saw Mark head the field into the first corner, but it was to prove a troubled race, a damper issue causing Mark’s car to handle poorly. Unable to match his qualifying pace, he was in second by the end of lap one and despite defending lap after lap had slipped to fourth at the end of the 25-minute race.
“We had a problem with a damper and that was causing a handling imbalance,” explained Mark. “It was strange we lost two seconds of pace between qualifying and the race and I had to drive defensively the entire race.”
Race two saw another superb start by Mark and in a display of aggressive yet controlled driving Mark sat it out side-by-side with the car on pole round the first half of the Silverstone lap, finally having to slip into second at the end of the long Hanger Straight. He was in second for much of the race despite heavy pressure from behind, but the whole shape of the race changed on the final lap.
“We didn’t change the car other than set it back to how it was yesterday,” said Mark after another hot race, “and maybe we should have softened it as the heat was so much more today, but I wanted to know what had happened earlier so we ran with that. As the race progressed it was getting harder and harder to defend but I am disappointed to get hit like that.
“I was defending into the slower corners, I had my car on the right-hand side of the track into a slow right-hander and he was on the grass, didn’t stop and hit me in the side and knocked me back to sixth. I was lucky to be able to pull places back and came back to third in the last half a lap.
“It wasn’t the weekend we wanted, I think we need to test the car some more!”
Next Races: Croft, North Yorkshire, August 19th.
A win and a second place from the latest two rounds of the Porsche Club Championship at Oulton Park left Mark Sumpter and the Paragon Porsche team in a good mood as they set off on the long drive back to East Sussex from the Cheshire circuit. Mark led much of the opening race of the day before having to settle for second, but from pole position in race two made no mistake to lead the field all the way for his maiden win on the team’s return to the series.
The morning’s qualifying session had gone well, with Mark setting times good enough to take pole for both the day’s races in his Baylis & Harding backed 992 C2. He led the field away in race one only to be greeted by the sight of the safety car at the end of lap two. The field was set off to race again with ten minutes remaining, Mark heading a train of cars.
Trading fastest race laps with second placed Mark McAleer, Mark’s 996 got briefly out of shape as he powered out of Old Hall corner on lap 10 allowing McAleer to go by and take the win, Mark less than a second behind at the end.
“I just made a mistake coming out of Old Hall,” said Mark, “I knew my car was good in the first half of the lap and Mark was good in the second so I wanted to push and open a gap but I just got it a bit wrong!”
The final race of the day followed the same script in the early laps, Mark having to hold off the similar 996 of McAleer, the pair never more than a second apart over the first nine laps. Mark led over the line into lap ten, only for McAleer to suddenly slow exiting Old Hall, Mark coming round at the end of the lap a second clear of the field.
Over the remaining laps Mark was able to ease away to be over two and a half seconds clear at the end, the 2011 Porsche Club champion taking his first win on his return to the series this season.
“I had to work hard,” said Sumpter,” it seems like for most of the day I have had another car within inches of me. Mark McAleer was pressing hard so when he suddenly slowed that gave me an advantage, it’s nice to take our first win on our return to the series.”
Next Rounds: Silverstone, Northants., June 17th.
Mark Sumpter and the Paragon Porsche team returned to the Porsche Club Championship at Brands Hatch on Saturday April 29th, and reminded the series regulars of their pace with two podium finishes first time out in their new Porsche 996 C2. Mark overcame a brake problem in the first of the two 25-minute races to finish third, only to go one place better later in the day with a fine second place finish.
Mark’s Baylis & Harding–backed Porsche also bore allegiance with recently injured racer Billy Monger, Mark’s cousin, with a large ‘Billy Whizz’ logo on the front of the car, the rest of the Porsche racers gathering round the car after qualifying for a picture to show their support of the recovering teenager. The team’s first qualifying with the 996, which Mark went to buy over the winter initially not knowing it was a car he had raced at the end of the 1990s, went well, Mark taking fourth on the competitive grid.
Fourth in the early laps of race one, Mark went into third at the Druids hairpin on lap four and closed in the car in second, former champion Pete Morris. Close to the car ahead by mid-race, Mark was also under pressure from behind and having to be precise where he positioned the car on the track, an issue made harder as a brake problem hampered his car.
In the final laps Mark was right with the second place Morris, but couldn’t find a way past, taking third at the flag less than two-tenths of a second behind.
“I enjoyed that, pleased to be on the podium and racing Pete Morris again,” said Mark. “I have the same car as him now and we will have some good races this year. The car was good, we have to go away and improve it in certain areas and it will be a good season – though we had front brake issues in that race.”
Mark started race two fourth on the grid again, but a strong first lap saw him immediately up to third. That put him on the tail of Craig Wilkins, and Mark kept up the pressure over the next few laps before Wilkins suddenly slowed, pulling into the pits and moving Mark into second.
By that point the leader was too far ahead for Mark to challenge, but second place at the end of the 18-laps was enough for Mark to be happy with his day’s racing.
“The brakes weren’t a problem but we know now where we have to improve the car,” said Mark after race two. “It’s great to be back in the championship and it should be a good close season.”
Next Rounds: Oulton Park, Cheshire, May 13th.
At Paragon we live and breathe Porsche. Racing is an important part of our heritage, with our success on the track an endorsement of the abilities of our technical staff. The whole team at Paragon has contributed to our success including the Paragon MD Mark Sumpter, winner of numerous races and titles.
We started racing back in 1994, competing in the UK Porsche Classic Championship with a 1978 3 Litre SC. We have subsequently raced most variants of the Porsche 911, as well as the 944 and 968. We have also been fortunate enough to compete in a 962.
41 years after Giorgio Schön and Giovanni Borri raced their Porsche 3.0 RSR in the 1974 Paul Ricard 1000 Kms Mark and Lee Maxted-Page took it back there to race in the Peter Auto – Classic Endurance Series, in its debut race return to historic events.
The famous Harpers Bazzar livery, conceived by the celebrated Italian Fashion designer Mila Schön, has been meticulously restored and now fully-prepared by Maxted-Page for Peter Auto - F.I.A. series CER 1 and Le Mans Classic - 2016.
RSR chassis 911 460 9074 has a significant period racing history in the 1974-1975 World Manufacturers Championship and is one only 54 genuine examples built by the Porsche racing department and delivered during the period.
The car was co-driven by BRDC member Mark Sumpter of Paragon Porsche and Lee Maxted-Page. Several other original cars from the 1974 1000 kms were also entered at the same meeting, together with both Jürgen Barth and Gerrard Larrousse, still doing what they do best, in a magnificent Porsche 917/10 and Porsche 908 Longtail.
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is as well known for its much loved undulating layout as it is for changeable weather conditions. At the 2016 Spa Classic, the track certainly lived up to its reputation with lovely spring conditions on Friday, followed by the odd hail shower on Saturday and Sunday.
Headlining the Spa Classic were the pair of Group C races run on Sunday. The star cars in the field were the Jaguar XJR-14 of Christophe d'Ansembourg, the Peugeot 905 of Dominique Guenat and the Porsche 962 of Mark Sumpter. It was most likely the first time these were pitched against each other since the 1991 World Championship and it was certainly the first time a Peugeot 905 was ever run at Spa. Unfortunately an incident in the second qualifying prevent the Peugeot from starting in the races. The XJR-14 did survive qualifying with d'Ansembourg setting the fastest time ahead of Mark Sumpter in the ultimate development of the works Porsche 962Cs.
Christophe d'Ansembourg had a great start but then made a mistake coming onto the straight and crashed into the wall. The damage was sufficient to prompt a retirement. The lead was taken over by Sumpter, who was in a close fight with Erwin France in a another 962C. After the pit-stops, Pierre-Alain France had taken over from his son and could not keep up with Sumpter. Ultimately he was also passed by Robin Ward in his Spice SE90C.
The XJR-14 could not be repaired, so the results of the second race were virtually identical with Sumpter again winning from Ward and the Frances.
In 2000 we made the progression into GT Racing with a 'factory built' GT3-R and in our debut season we won the British GT Championship.
We continued successfully in GT Racing with a 996 RSR, including a full season of FIA GT and the Daytona 24hr.
We also competed in the Porsche Cup with a 996 Cup car, winning several races and ending up 3rd overall in the championship.
We acquired the ultimate Porsche 962 (962-011) for 2007 and set the pace in the Championship winning 7 of the 12 races.
We also won our class at the Silverstone 24hr finishing 3rd overall in our 996 GT3 Cup car.
More Group C success followed in 2008 including 2nd place at the Le Mans 24 Support Race.
We returned to the Silverstone 24hr with a Porsche 997 RSR in 2008. We won the race after 602 laps of hard driving on the famous GP circuit.
Competing in the 997 RSR Britcar GT, we fought hard all season and won Class 1.
We won both of the Pirelli GT Trophy races, the first at Brands Hatch and the second at Snetterton.
We won the 2011 Porsche Club Championship with our faithful old 3.2 Carrera - our first ever race car!
We built and ran two 964 racers and enjoyed some very close, and extremely competitive racing.
We also competed with a beautiful 1964 901 in the Spa 6hr Classic. The 901 was the very first 911.
We were back winning races in the hard-fought 2013 Porsche Club Championship.
We built our own 1965 911 2 Litre 'historic racer' and competed in the Silverstone Classic, Spa 6hr and Paul Ricard 3hr.
The 2014 Porsche Club Championship proved to be tough against the newer cars but we won races at Rockingham, Croft and Brands Hatch and finished 2nd in Class 1.
Our 2 Litre 911 was the fastest 911 and took a podium place at the 2014 Silverstone Classic.