Thursday, 25 March 2010
2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Preview
2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain Preview
Having firmly established itself as the UK’s premier one make racing series, the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain roars back into action for its eighth season at Thruxton on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th of April.
At the launch event for the new season on March 17th at Silverstone, Porsche UK were delighted to be able to confirm, for the first time since the series’ inception, a capacity 28 strong entry list, and the existence of a reserve list. This should ensure that the series record grid of 27 cars, set at the 2009 season finale at Brands Hatch in October, is surpassed.
Anticipation levels this pre-season are surpassing anything seen before in the series with Bartrum saying recently that “… a year ago the Carrera Cup was buzzing and it's now off the scale, it proves that the work of Porsche Cars GB and the Carrera Cup team has really paid dividends. It's really good to see a sell-out grid in the current climate.” This sentiment is echoed by Porsche Cars GB Managing Director, Andy Goss, “This is an incredible situation, the entries for the 2010 season are impressive. The drivers and teams have worked very hard to get to this stage and we are set for the best season ever. I'm particularly pleased that the field is a great mix of established competitors and an influx of newcomers.”
The attraction of the series is there for all to see, 420bhp rear wheel drive cars, from a world leading sports car manufacturer, the opportunity for competitors of varying skill levels to compete on the TOCA bill, the country’s highest profile motorsport package, with all the exposure that comes with it. The fact that there are very few permissible modifications allowed also means that driver skill is the real limiting factor of success. The result of this is some very close racing and plenty of paint swapping in front of bumper crowds and a TV audience that runs into millions. An increased prize fund of over £160,000 spread throughout the categories, along with the use of a road going 911 for a year for the outright champion, Pro-Am 1 champion and the principal of the triumphant team, adds to the lure of the Cup.
Last year the championship came down to the final weekend, at Brands Hatch, where all three titles were still to be decided. In the main Pro category, the top three drivers were covered by just 8 points with 44 still to play for over the double header. Red Line Racing team mates Tim Harvey and James Sutton, along with Team Parker Racing’s Tim Bridgman were the main protagonists, with Motorbase Performance driver Michael Caine still in with a mathematical but unrealistic chance of taking the crown. It was Bridgman who prevailed, repeating his remarkable feat from the Brands series opener of two poles, two fastest laps and two wins.
Bridgman, who also achieved an inspired run of taking the first ten pole positions of the season, will not be defending his title this season, having secured a drive with Stuart Parker’s squad to run in the Formula 1 supporting Mobil 1 Porsche Supercup this term. Sutton will be another notable absentee this season, although series veterans 2008 champion Harvey and the popular Caine will be attempting to go the distance in 2010. Joining them in the top class will be ex-GP2 driver Stephen Jelley, who after taking wins in British F3 and more recently last season’s BTCC as team-mate to champion Colin Turkington, will provide a stern test to the established order. Last year’s Pro-Am 1 champion Glynn Geddie makes the step up to the Pro ranks, which has seen its entry swollen from last years 6 to 8 for this year, including the two Carrera Cup GB Scholarship drivers, Michael Meadows and Euan Hankey, who have each received £50,000 towards the cost of participation in this year’s championship.
Pro-Am 1 offers, less experienced, non professional drivers the opportunity to compete at the cutting edge of British motorsport, and with the champion having moved up a class for 2010, the competition for the title is likely to be just as fierce as for the senior honours. 2009 front runners, Oliver Jackson and Tony Gilham will be among the early favourites, as will Irishman Michael Leonard, who impressed in a part season last year. The category will have an international feel this year as the series welcomes Lithuanian duo Jonas Gelzinis and Tautvydas Barstys and their Juta Racing outfit, while Red Line will run ex-British Formula Renault driver Ahmad Al Harthy of Oman, in one of its six entries. The other six car squad is Dave Bartrum’s Motorbase Performance, who will run, along with Jackson, last seasons VW Cup front-runner Liam Griffin in this group.
The Pro-Am 2 category offers non-professional drivers the chance to sample the championship on a restricted budget by allowing the use of 2006 and 2007 specification cars. Champion Glenn McMenamin will be defending his title in against a ten car entry in the class, comprising both series veterans and exciting newcomers.
By the time the series reaches its finale this time round at Brands Hatch, the drivers will have taken in races at the country’s most iconic race venues, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Rockingham and, hopefully, Donington Park. Old rivalries will have re-emerged, new ones will have invariably begun, at this stage it would be a fool who attempted to predict race winners, let alone champions, the only predictable thing is that it will go down to the wire once again. Stephen Jelley commented after testing the Carrera GT3 Cup that “the cars are amazing, they make British touring cars feel like hair dryers.” Bearing that in mind, if the Cup has a year as memorable as 2009, we may need to reassess who tops the bill on the TOCA weekends.