Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2021 Porsche Carrera Cup North America produced some tough yet vital lessons for young Multimatic racer, Sebastian Priaulx. He finished the two races in eighth and second places, starting from the outside pole and pole in those respective contests. The finishes scored him a good haul of points, though his Kelly-Moss Racing team mate, Kay van Berlo, won both races and has stolen the lead in the championship that Seb has held since the very first qualifying session at the opening round back in March.
Priaulx started second for the first of the weekend’s two 45-minute races, setting off after pole-sitter Maxwell Root, whilst being chased hard by van Berlo. But just as the race settled into a rhythm he was assessed a drive through penalty for switching lanes before crossing the start/finish line at the green flag. It was a fair call but put Priaulx all the way back to 25th place when he re-joined. The young Multimatic driver immediately put the setback behind him and showed outstanding resolve to fight his way back to eighth at the chequered flag, posting the fastest race lap in the process.
If Race 1 provided a strong rules lesson for Sebastian, then Race 2 would turn out to be a an even more brutal teacher, this time in terms of race craft. Priaulx started from the pole and got away strongly when the race went green. After an early Full Course Yellow he nailed the restart and set the pace of the race, fully in control with van Berlo chasing in second, the Dutchman initially having to fight-off a hard charging Leh Keen. As the race entered the last 15 minutes the two Kelly-Moss drivers impressively broke away from the pack and engaged in their own private contest, with van Berlo biding his time and watching young Priaulx’s every move from behind.
It all came down to the final lap when van Berlo jammed his #3 Porsche down the inside of the #15 as Priaulx opened the door under braking into the bus stop attempting to create an arc to the first apex. But when he turned-in the two cars made side to side contact sending the #15 across the grass and the #3 slipped through to take the lead, leaving Priaulx to chase him to the finish. It was a disappointing end to a dominant display of speed, but in a demonstration of true sportsmanship Seb sought out Kay in the winner’s circle and sincerely congratulated him on the hard fought win.
“That was a pretty difficult weekend,” said Priaulx. “I made a mistake in Race 1, switching lanes before the start. On the plus side my pace was good all weekend. Pace-wise I should have got both pole positions but I clipped a kerb and got a flat on one of my qualifying runs. I led Race 2 from start to finish, well almost. My team mate made a move down the inside on the final lap and I was annoyed that I couldn’t cover it off as I had that race in the bag! More lessons learnt and I won’t let that happen again.”
Larry Holt, Executive Vice President – Multimatic Special Vehicle Operations, said: “Once again Seb displayed his outstanding raw talent and speed throughout both races. The lane change before the start-finish line was a mistake, but the same one that Kevin Magnussen made back at Ohio in the DPi contest, so it can’t be classified as a rookie error, just a case of total focus taking over situational awareness. The fight back was deeply impressive as he set the fastest race lap and didn’t give any time up to Kay through the entire race despite having to make over fifteen passes; I can’t fault that. The second race was a true lesson in race craft. Kay has loads of experience in Porsche Carrera Cup, and Seb was in only his sixth race, which was harshly demonstrated on that last lap when they got to the Inner Loop. Kay had been sizing Seb up for the preceding five laps and knew that was the only move that would win him the race. Those two are both outstanding raw talents but in those cases leading into the last lap can be a disadvantage. I am confident of a different outcome the next time that Seb is in that situation again. These are the lessons that we specifically put Sebastian into Carrera Cup to learn, so kind of bizarrely I’m happy with the outcome.”
Priaulx is now ten points adrift in the championship but he and van Berlo are pulling away at the top of the table. He is already focused on the next challenge, which will take place at Road America on 6 – 8 August.