Every. Single. Year. Hyperbole is a common problem within the motor sport world. Every. Single. Year. Is going to be “the most competitive”, “the most unpredictable” etc etc in pretty much every championship’s history. So this may sound like more of the same. With a sense of sincerity perhaps lacking elsewhere, there is an argument to say that the Porsche Carrera Cup GB is indeed set for its most competitive and unpredictable season ever in 2017.
Point 1: Dominant Dan and His New Actcompliceses
Redline Racing never fail to role-out anything other than one of the most consummate and well-rounded line-ups on the Carrera Cup GB grid. In 2017 though, they may just have excelled themselves. The now double-champion Dan Cammish returns once more to take aim at a historic third title, and already more than sufficient words have been used to highlight the additional challenge he faces juggling his UK commitments with an attack on the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup. Then there is the matter of missing two races in order to complete a full global campaign.
Yet little has been said of the fact that, potentially, the man most likely to launch on attack on Cammish is his Porsche Scholar teammate Charlie Eastwood. Having got the metaphorical monkey firmly removed from his back after a stunning victory on the Brands Hatch GP circuit in 2016, Eastwood you would imagine could be Cammish’s closest challenger in 2017. His pace progressed notably over the eight meetings last season to the point where the tiniest of fractions were the difference between him and his more established teammate. That is less than a blink of an eye. Those are the margins.
The addition of the McKay double-act to Redline’s roster has passed somewhat under the radar. Give it till media day. Pro-Am1 champion Euan McKay and his sibling Dan were stand-outs of the 2016 season, hustling along at a pace that some of the Pro classification drivers were struggling to match. Both now have an opportunity that cannot be overstated. One of the most successful Carrera Cup drivers in history as teammate, alongside a charging and increasingly knowledgeable young-gun, will provide them with a tough bench-mark. It will certainly allow them to raise their game yet further. Podiums would be a surprise initially, but on form so far really shouldn’t be.
Point 2: Don’t Rule Out Dino + Plato’s Second Shot
JTR made arguably the biggest splash of the 2017 off-season, half-way through 2016, by confirming their intention to switch codes from single-seaters to Carrera Cup GB. Since then they have quietly gone about the tricky process of putting together a suitable line-up for their first foray into the category.
Two of their three seats have now been confirmed, and thus far the line-up appears well balanced. In Dino Zamparelli they have an experienced handler of the Type 991 911 GT3 Cup, a multiple race-winner and a man for whom consistency as opposed to out-and-out pace seems to have been the only thing preventing a full-season championship attack.
By switching from GT Marques Zamparelli now has a fresh start with a team who he can lead in his own direction. Yes JTR need to learn the quirks of their new machinery, but with Zamparelli leading them that process becomes all the easier. It’s a brave move for the Bristol racer but an entirely logical and clearly thought-through one. New team, new approach and fingers crossed new success for the former single-seater man.
The other occupied JTR seat belongs to Lewis Plato. Often right on the pace during the Friday practice sessions throughout 2016, it was during the weekend proper where Plato always seemed to lose a little something. Most often luck. Alongside Zamparelli he has the opportunity to learn more about the intricacies of the unique GT3 Cup and hopefully extract the extra he needs to be fighting at the front in 2017.
Point 3: From Ginetta With Love
Two former Ginetta GT4 Supercup contenders switch from front-engined mode, to rear-engined routines in 2017. In2Racing have teamed up with Tom Wrigley and Nick Dudfield’s team have every reason to be optimistic heading into the new season.
Whilst the performance of the McKay siblings in Pro-Am1 proved the potential last season, ultimately it was Dan Lloyd’s cameo at Silverstone and Brands Hatch that fully validated the undoubtable pace that In2 can extract from a Porsche. In GT4 Supercup champion Wrigley they have an experienced GT contender who over the off-season has enjoyed significant running with the squad. This should put him in a position to be right at the front come media day testing, and if driver and team can carry though the potential to Brands, then a shock result could well be on the cards.
Jamie Orton is the other-half of the 2017 Ginetta double-act but he has joined up as part of Redline Racing’s aforementioned super-team for his first foray into the category. This is an undoubted opportunity for Orton to convert his blistering Ginetta pace into race-winning Porsche potential. Depending on how quickly he and the team gel, he could be another name to add to the extensive list of potential podium finishers or even race winners.
Point 4: Pro-Am1 And Pro-Am2 Are Going to Be Fierce. Again.
Entires a tad thin on the ground thus far for the two sub-classifications within Carrera Cup GB, however the almost certain late influx will add substance. Racing in Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2 is never dull, and both categories are an integral part of the championship’s current success. G-Cat Racing will appear once more splitting their entries over both classes for Peter Jennings and Shamus Jennings (Am-1 and Am-2 respectively). The latter is joined in PA2 by Peter Parsons and his distinctive Race Car Centre directed entry and Ian Dockerill in his Asset Advantage Racing machine. All four claimed podiums in their respective classes in 2016 and will be looking to add to their collection this season. Team Parker Racing once more have a presence in both classes, with Alex Martin (Am-1) and father Rupert (Am-2) poised for the coming campaign . Alex makes the switch back to rear-wheel-drive after two tricky seasons in the British Touring Car Championship, whereas Rupert has spent the past two campaigns settling into the challenge of Britain’s fastest one-make GT series. Matt Telling concludes the line-up confirmed to date, an additional Pro-Am2 contender whose Type 991 GT3 Cup will be operated by BTCC squad Welch Motorsport.
Point 5: The Calendar. Period.
Combining some of the finest venues in UK motor racing with a trip to the Circuit de La Sarthe for the mouthwatering prospect of the Carrera Cup Le Mans. Potentially sixty Type 991 GT3 Cup machines will go toe-to-toe to support the world’s greatest endurance spectacle. The competition in the UK will take in both of Brands Hatch’s configurations, the compact Indy circuit that always provides some stunning racing in April and the Grand Prix loop that drivers adore for the season finale in October. Between Kentish escapades is a return to Donington Park, a trip to Cheshire and the picturesque Oulton Park, Snetterton’s challenging 300 layout, Knockhill’s twists and turns and Silverstone’s point-and-squirt national challenge. The most rounded calendar in the category’s history? Almost certainly.
Conclusion: 2017 Is Going To Thrill
Old-stars and new faces is a theme that runs through-out the line-up in terms of drivers, teams and venues for Carrera Cup GB in 2017. An active organising team has worked wonders on the championship over the past few seasons and is a key attribute to its continued success. Obviously the ingredients are one part, how they mix together to create something mouth-watering totally another. As media-day approaches it is difficult to pin-point exactly what the narrative of the new season will be. Another dominant Dan Cammish display? The young apprentice taking the fight to the (not so) old master? A new team to the fore and new drivers fighting at the front? Not knowing is half the fun. One thing that fans, teams, drivers and everybody involved can be assured of though, is this. In 2017, Carrera Cup GB is going to thrill…