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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Faye Noble-Evans on the podium, Sarah Thomson and Sarah Wood begin their season at Donington Park

Porsche Boxster Cup began its season at Donington Park and, leading a trio of talented female drivers, Faye Noble-Evans secured her first podium finish with an excellent third place result in race one.

Faye Noble-Evans
Photo credits: United Racing Team

The highly competitive Porsche Boxster Cup began its season at Donington Park with Faye Noble-Evans leading a trio of talented female drivers. Noble-Evans secured her first podium finish with an excellent third place result in race one, followed by a fourth-place finish in race two. Sarah Thomson and Sarah Wood also returned to the series, with Thomson achieving a best result of sixth in race one, with Wood narrowly missing out on a top-10 with an 11th place finish to her name.

The Porsche Boxster Cup has attracted a healthy entry of female drivers in recent years, with this season no exception. Three of the five regular competitors from last season have returned to the grid, with Sarah Thomson, Faye Noble-Evans and Sarah Wood all looking to improve on their 2023 positions.

Noble-Evans was the highest placed returning driver arriving at Donington after finishing third in the standings last year. After missing out on an overall podium finish in 2023, Faye’s target was to challenge for a top-3 position from the outset.

Sarah Thomson was also targeting a podium finish on her return, with Thomson ending the 2023 season just one place behind Noble-Evans. Qualifying was Sarah’s strength and replicating this strong single-lap pace would give her the best opportunity to fight towards the front of the field.

The third returning driver was Sarah Wood, a racing rookie who took her first steps into motorsport during the 2023 season. Wood displayed fantastic improvement during her debut campaign, making significant strides towards the midfield runners. She was aiming to build upon these performances and develop her racecraft during her sophomore season.

A healthy grid of 21 cars took to the track for qualifying on Sunday morning, with the Porsche Boxster Cup season opening event taking place over one day. Throughout the twenty-minute session, the trio of drivers worked hard to reacclimatise themselves with the car and improve on their lap times.

Qualifying was also disrupted by a lengthy red flag, but all three drivers delivered fast lap times to begin their season positively. Noble-Evans was the highest placed female driver, finishing the session seventh fastest and less than one second away from pole position. Thomson was directly behind in eighth and she was looking ahead to two closely-contested races to come. Likewise, Wood was set to be in the thick of the action after qualifying 18th in a tight pack of drivers.

All three drivers were promoted on the starting grid ahead of the first race of the day, with both penalties and withdrawals impacting the classification. It was a clean start for the trio of racers, with Noble-Evans completing the first lap in sixth, Thomson in eighth and Wood in 14th position. At the head of the field, Noble-Evans set the fastest middle sector of the race on lap two and remained in close proximity to the race leaders. Thomson was looking to join her and moved into seventh with a pass on Eric Bridges.

Sarah Wood, meanwhile, was already lapping faster than her best time from qualifying and this allowed her to put pressure onto Craig Horvath. As the twenty-five-minute race settled into a rhythm, close battles continued throughout the field, with Thomson coming under pressure from Graham Heard. On lap nine, her rival made his way past, but Sarah quickly tucked in behind him and set a series of personal best sectors.

As the second half of the race unfolded, Noble-Evans continued her impressive form and despite remaining in sixth, she was less than four seconds behind the race leader. Overtaking Ben Grewcock on lap 15, she was targeting a late charge for the podium and this target grew closer as Wayne Gregory pitted from fourth. Taking the checkered flag in fourth position, Faye missed out on the podium by just three tenths of a second but was later promoted to third following a disqualification for her rival, claiming a brilliant result to open her campaign.

Thomson ended the opening race with a series of consistent times, crossing the line in seventh position following the late retirement of Gregory, before being promoted to sixth post-race. This banked her valuable championship points and got her season off to a positive start. Sarah Wood enjoyed brilliant battle with Horvath and although failing to overtake her rival, she finished race one in 13th, later promoted to 11th, while making five seconds worth of lap time improvements from her qualifying benchmark.

The grid for the second race of the weekend was set by the second fastest times set by the drivers in qualifying, with Noble-Evans lining up sixth, Thomson seventh and Wood in 13th position. Faye made the best start out of the trio, gaining four positions to move into second place behind race leader Wayne Gregory. Both Thomson and Wood had also made solid starts, holding their position while looking to make moves in the opening stages.

By lap three, Noble-Evans was plotting her route to the lead and was just one second behind Gregory while building up a healthy cushion behind. Sarah Wood also continued to be in the thick of the action, battling with both William Curtler and Craig Horvath which saw her run as high as 12th. Although Thomson’s race was quieter at this stage, a personal best time on lap six had brought her closer to the drivers ahead.

Misfortune then struck Wood on lap nine as she was forced into the pits to retire with a technical issue, putting pay to a potential top-10 result. Returning to the battle out front, Noble-Evans was now coming under pressure from both Perry Darling and Ryan Charters, with the latter moving into second on lap ten. Continuing to hold off Darling, Faye was also negotiating lapped traffic which added to the challenge of securing back-to-back podium finishes.

Setting the fastest third sector of any driver on lap 15, Noble-Evans was doing her best to hold onto a position spot, but her resistance was finally broken as Darling took over third position. Finishing the race less than one second behind her rival, Faye took the checkered flag in fourth and this result means she sits second in the championship standings. Thomson continued her consistent start to the campaign with an eighth-place result, ensuring she leaves Donington Park in the top-6 in points.

All three drivers displayed excellent speed in the opening round of the Porsche Boxster Cup and will be looking ahead to a competitive season of action. Noble-Evans was the star of the meeting as she secured her first podium finish, while Thomson’s consistency ensured she began the year on the front foot.

Sarah Wood was unfortunate to retire in race two, however her race one result coupled with her lap time improvements and close battles will encourage her to contend for top-10 positions as the season progresses. The next round of the championship will take place on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on May 18th.



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