Exciting times for Porsche Carrera Cup followers as the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK roared into life at Kent’s world-famous Brands Hatch circuit on 2 and 3 April for the first race of the 2016 season.
At the unveiling of the 2016 Championship on 24 March, twelve teams running 26 cars took to the National circuit at Silverstone for the first test of the year. Times from across the three sessions suggest that the 16 round Championship is set to be one of the most hotly contested in the Cup’s history, with a host of new drivers vying wheel-to-wheel with seasoned campaigners for top honours.
There are three main categories. The ‘Pro’ category typically attracts experienced drivers gunning for the outright championship, while ‘Pro-Am1’ aims to offer newer drivers a chance to get acquainted with the ultra-competitive environment. In turn, ‘Pro-Am2’ provides those transitioning into top-line UK motorsport their own benchmark. Increased prize money across all three primary categories, including £25,000 and the use of a Porsche 911 for a year to the Pro category winner, will be further fuelling the flames of fierce competition in 2016.
An additional Rookie Class for drivers aged 17 to 24 and new to the championship offers a significant £50,000 prize for the winner. Charlie Eastwood (20), Lewis Plato (23), Alessandro Latif (19), Sean Hudspeth (22) and Euan McKay (20) will all be determined to take home the spoils of victory.
Headline teams like Redline Racing, Team Parker Racing and Parr Motorsport continue to field multi-car squads, while established Carrera Cup teams, including IN2 Racing, Juta Racing, GT Marques, G-Cat Racing and Brookspeed, are joined by new teams IDL Racing, Team Redline, Intersport, The Car Loan Centre and Asset Advantage Racing.
Competition will be tough as the field of identical – and exhilarating – 460 hp 911 GT3 Cup cars places the focus on individual driver and team performance. Testing on Silverstone’s National circuit saw the seasoned campaigners off to a flying start, although by the final session four of the top eight runners were series newcomers.
In the Pro category, Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) overcame incredibly tough competition to become Porsche’s 2016/17 Carrera Cup GB Scholar. On top of £80,000 per year towards his Porsche Carrera Cup GB campaign, he receives bespoke personal training plans with Porsche Human Performance as he takes his place in Porsche’s motorsport family.
Another newcomer looking to make an impression from the outset is 2015 Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing), who has chosen the Porsche Carrera Cup GB as the perfect catalyst for a career in international sports car racing. The Warwickshire-based driver has seemingly adapted to a rear-engined car with ease, posting a time at the Media Day test just 0.055 away from the fastest of the day. Also showing strong pre-season form were Lewis Plato (Team Redline) and Alessandro Latif (GT Marques), both of whom are newcomers adapting to the 911 GT3 Cup very quickly.
Defending Rookie Class champion Tom Sharp (IDL Racing) carries the momentum of a strong debut season, which culminated in the 24-year-old’s 2015. Back-to-back race winner in 2015, Dino Zamparelli (GT Marques) proved to be immediately on the pace at the pre-season test. Along with fellow returnees Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing) and Jonas Gelzinis Juta Racing), he will be looking to utilise the benefit of his experience in the opening rounds.
Not short of wins in his first full season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB was Dan Cammish (Redline Racing). The 2015 overall champion set the pre-season pace, and despite the slender margin shows no intention of relinquishing his crown to the newcomers in 2016 without a fight.
Pro-Am1 is set to be a three-way fight every bit as competitive as the overall contest, with pre-season pace-setter Dan McKay (IN2 Racing) fixing his sights on the title in his first full season. Challenging him will be newcomers Sean Hudspeth (Parr Motorsport) and Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing).
The Pro-Am2 field is the biggest yet, with more than 12 drivers lining up to do battle. Reigning champion John McCullagh will start as season favourite, although Peter Kyle-Henney will be seeking to make amends for 2014 when he missed the title by a single point. However, they both have competition from returnees Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing), Shamus and Peter Jennings (G-Cat Racing), Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing), Peter Parsons (The Car Loan Centre) and Tautvydas Barstys (Juta Racing). Championship new-bloods Barrie Baxter (Redline Racing) and Mark Radcliffe (Intersport) made rapid progress in the pre-season test to underline their potential, while Euan McKay (IN2 Racing) belied his years to set a blistering pace.
The 2016 season promises to be a close-fought and thrilling battle. Follow the Championship at @CarreraCupGB and @PorscheGB on Twitter, and visit www.porsche.co.uk/CarreraCupGB for more information and the full race entry list.
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