Dan Cammish. There. Said it. The 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup GB summed up in two words. Statistically, this season was a white wash. Twelve victories from sixteen races, a hit rate of 75% is impressive enough… Sound familiar?
Those were the exact words used at the start of The Checkered Flag’s 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup GB season-review, with the statistics altered slightly to account of Cammish’s additional victory this season. A record breaking season.
However, statistics never really do anyone justice and often the picture they paint is mis-leading in the extreme. So is the case here. Whilst the Nationwide backed and Redline Racing operated driver claimed more victories this year, he was arguably less dominant. His worst weekend of Porsche racing came at Croft in June, blighted by technical issues for the duration of the event.
The question was even posed after the event as to whether GT Marques man Dino Zamparelli could carry his momentum forward into the second half of the season, having claimed victory in the first race of the year at Brands Hatch Indy (Cammish’s controversial track-limits penalty a sticking point) and then a double at Croft, and mount a serious title assault.
In the end this prospective charge came to nought. Cammish took seven victories from the final eight races, only his teammate and the 2016/2017 Porsche Scholar Charlie Eastwood able to halt a DanCam whitewash. Zamparelli would finish the season second in the points, but having been three points behind Cammish post-Croft, he left the Brands Hatch GP circuit fifty-six points adrift.
The first four rounds of the season painted a rather different picture. Across the first two meetings at Brands Hatch and the Silverstone World Endurance Championship support meeting, Cammish claimed three victories and was tailed home by Zamparelli on each occasion. The aforementioned first race of the year was the only time this pattern was reversed.
At Oulton Park it was Zamparelli who found himself off the rostrum for the first time in the opening race, and only third in the second encounter as Cammish took two wins. The trip to Cheshire would prove to be the highlight of an at times miserable season for the sole Team Parker Racing Pro category entry of Stephen Jelley. Infact the Saturday race acted as a microcosm for a season blighted by bad-luck. Jelley was driving a brilliant defensive race to hold-off Cammish, only to be forced off the road when trying to lap his Pro-Am2 teammate Rupert Martin. A pair of second positions was a very decent haul but this would be the best weekend Jelley enjoyed for the entire season.
The low-point for him came at Snetterton, where a spectacular tangle with Zamparelli pitched Jelley’s Parker machine heavily into the pit-wall at high-speed. After dominating at Croft, Zamparelli came back down to earth with a bump. A sixth in the first race and a third in the second encounter all but undid the ground he had made up to Cammish. Ground he would never regain.
As one challenger fell, another emerged. Charlie Eastwood (Redline) had a lot of pressure on his shoulders coming into his first ever season of GT racing. First there was the already heavy expectation that isn’t optional when you become a Porsche Scholar. Then there were the footsteps of Josh Webster, who had claimed the title in his first season in 2014, in which Eastwood had to follow.
He delivered. Ten podiums across sixteen races is a mightily impressive score card. This was spread across five third position results (Silverstone GP R1 and R2, Oulton Park R1, Silverstone Nat R1 and Brands GP R2), four seconds across the mid-season Snetterton and Knockhill weekends, and then the crowning glory that was a victory on Finals Day in the first race.
This showed clear progression across the season and, along with the Rookie title he claimed in relatively serene fashion, marks Eastwood as a dangerous man for 2017.
For several Pro drivers, 2016 didn’t deliver as they might have hoped. Tom Oliphant’s transition from Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion to Porsche front-runner was tricky but began to show signs of progression come the season’s end. A much valued first category podium duly followed in the opening race at Silverstone at the September meeting and fourth (ahead of Jelley) in the points table was a more than respectable achievement for a rookie, whose race-craft was a particular highlight including a stirring drive during the WEC support meeting after a first lap spin to climb from the back of the order to fifth.
Tom Sharp finished on the rostrum five times for IDL Racing but never higher than third and two non-scores in the Oulton Park and Silverstone National openers, on neither occasion due to driver error, prevented him climbing higher up the order. Juta Racing driver Jonas Gelzinis was largely missing in action for most of the season but towards the end of the year team and driver seemed to have found their grounding once more. A best result of second at Croft was never replicated however.
Lewis Plato (Redline) was the most besieged of the Simon Leonard operated entries and found himself in more than the occasional scrape. Again zero-scores played a significant role in his championship positioning with dramas in the first race during the penultimate and Finals Day meetings not the best way for a consistent year to conclude. Potential is there and Plato could be a man to watch if he returns in 2017.
Alessandro Latif showed flashes of speed but that was about it for the second GT Marques entry. As the season progressed, so did he, but at times it was too difficult to distinguish the gap that should have existed between him and the Pro-Am1 entries. His year ended with a DNF and will need winter testing to bridge the gap before returning next season. That is in no way intended as as a slight against Latif, more a reflection of the incredibly tough competition in Carrera Cup GB this year.
Pro-Am1: The McKays And Friends
Pro-Am1 became about one team and two drivers by the culmination of the 2016 contest. In2Racing may not have had an official Pro class entry (aside from Dan Lloyd’s very fruitful cameo in the final two meetings, netting a podium at Brands Hatch GP) but in Euan and Dan McKay they had two drivers who delighted in hassling the Pro contingent. Unlike in previous years, the Pro-Am1 entries were able to do so without being roughed up by the Pros.
The end-of-season statistics, taken from our recent interview with the Scottish duo. From sixteen races, Euan claimed nine victories and an additional five podiums. A fourth and a DNF surmising his tally. Dan suffered with four DNFs. However, when he finished, it was invariably on the podium. Eight rostrum results were accompanied by four race victories all claimed in the second-half of the year.
Whilst such dominance meant we didn’t see the thrilling Finals Day battle we witnessed between Ignas Gelzinis and Jordan Witt twelve-months previously, the class still produced some fascinating racing throughout the season.
Parr Motorsport driver Sean Hudspeth was a revelation, scoring consistent podiums and taking class victory in only his second race in the series. He came within four points of preventing a McKay double at the head of the points, but if he returns would almost certainly remain in Pro-Am1 making him a favourite for 2017 class honours.
John McCullagh (Redline) found the transition from Pro-Am2 champion to Pro-Am1 contender a challenge, despite a shock class win in the very first race of 2016. He repeated this result in the second race of the Silverstone WEC weekender but otherwise consistency as opposed to out-and-out pace was the name of his game. He openly admits that work will be needed over the winter to bridge the pace gap, but he is more than prepared to put it in to make this progression. Expect highly commendable things from McCullagh next season.
Justin Sherwood was back once more for Team Parker Racing and finished three points off of McCullagh. Whilst Sherwood’s pace was often that bit faster than the former Pro-Am2 man, two DNFs from Silverstone in April and Snetterton in August had a considerable impact on his points tally. Those results were particularly pertinent for this battle, with McCullagh the only Pro-Am1 driver to finish every race in 2016.
Peter Jennings was invariably in the mix for G-Cat Racing, but he ran a part programme as did his occasional teammate Greg Caton. Jennings (and the G-Cat Racing operation’s) season highlight came early on with a podium in the second Silverstone WEC race.
Pro-Am2: Juta’s New King
Eight drivers were the main focus of the Pro-Am2 contingent. The Gentleman’s class produced the tightest title battle and some of the most lively racing throughout the entire order.
Three drivers came into Finals Day with a shot at the title but in the end Tautvydas Barstys claimed the crown for Juta Racing after a tremendous dice for the duration of the season between Barstys, Peter Kyle-Henney (Parr Motorsport) and Mark Radcliffe’s vibrant Intersport machine.
The pivotal moment came during the anti-penultimate race at Silverstone, when a recovering Radcliffe tangled with Kyle-Henney at Luffield. The latter managed to continue and scrape two-class points compared with Barstys’ seven and Radcliffe’s zero. The Juta Racing man claimed the title by eight points, so whilst you cannot argue that said tangle was the definitive moment it was doubtless pivotal in sealing the fate of the 2016 title.
Radcliffe claimed a frankly astounding seven class wins, and an equal number of podiums as Barstys (eleven with the additional four coming from a second and three third place finishes). Barstys took ‘only’ four victories (three seconds and four thirds taking his tally to the eleven) and both suffered a non-finish. However, when Barstys wasn’t on the podium he still racked up the points and Radcliffe just lacked the last bit of consistency to secure the title. Kyle-Henney scored four wins, four seconds and a solitary third and the two less rostrum results on his score-card told come the season finale, although he still took second from Radcliffe despite this.
Thomas Jennings (G-Cat Racing) claimed the last remaining victory and stood on the podium a further six times, spread evenly between the second and third steps. Whilst out of the title fight, he only DNFd once and occupied the middle ground between the top trio and the rest. A return to the class in 2017 would make for great intrigue and a potential title challenge.
That rather poorly described ‘rest’ was headed up by Barrie Baxter (Redline) who was there-or-thereabouts but never at the very front of the Pro-Am2 pace. Here was another driver whose season highlight came very early, at the Silverstone WEC meeting in tricky conditions where he was second in the first race.
Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing) stayed out of trouble far better in 2016 but still the podium always proved elusive. Peter Parsons was an infrequent visitor to the parish of Carrera Cup GB in his The Car Loan Centre operated Type 991 GT3 Cup, and finishing the last race of the season third in class was a heartwarming tale from Finals Day.
Adrian Barwick appeared rarely, thus his podium at Oulton Park for Team Parker Racing is worthy of note here.
2017: Time for Change
Here we are again, the end of another fantastic season’s racing. Undoubtedly 2016 left a somewhat transitory feeling for any observer. Dan Cammish did what was expected of him and now looks set to move forward potentially into the British Touring Car Championship where he would almost certainly flourish. Dino Zamparelli’s exit from the series, whilst by no means confirmed, would also make a degree of sense and the former GP3 man would be an asset to any GT team.
At Finals Day you started to get the feeling that one era was fading out and a new one was fading in, as Charlie Eastwood and Dan Lloyd sparred thrillingly for the opening race victory. Factor in Tom Oliphant and his late-season podium, the potential return of Tom Sharp and the seemingly unstoppable progress of the McKays added to the unknown additions to the grid and you get the picture of a new feel to Carrera Cup GB in 2017, the second phase of the categories renaissance which began in 2015.
Whilst Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2 entries are far harder to predict, if the likes of Hudspeth and McCullagh, or Barstys and Kyle-Henney return, both classes are sure to produce some enticing action.
Momentum. The Porsche Carrera Cup GB and its star cast certainly have it looking forward to 2017…