James Birch is the 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Champion after taking victory in the final round of the season at Silverstone.
Second place to Justin Sherwood in the opening race was enough to settle the title, but Birch signed off in style to win the second race, shown live on ITV4 and in front of 30,000 spectators.
Qualifying saw series debutant Harry Whale cope best with damp conditions to secure a stunning pole position, with championship leader Birch third for both races.
The opening race saw a fantastic getaway from the second row launch Sherwood into the lead through Copse, with Steve Liquorish slotting into econd ahead of Birch and John Ferguson, Whale dropping to fifth by the end of the first lap.
After the safety car was brought out to remove Guy Riall’s car from Copse after he had contact with Neil Houston, the racing continued with Sherwood leading away. Behind, Liquorish was awarded a ten-second penalty for a false start, meaning as long as Birch stayed within ten seconds of him by the finish, he would be champion.
Unaware of the penalty though, Birch pressed Liquorish and passed him for second on lap nine. Although the gap to the leader decreased, Sherwood had enough in hand to take the win, with Birch confirmed as champion in second. Whale battled back to complete the podium in third on his debut, with Pete Smallwood fourth after a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits demoted Ferguson to fifth, while Liquorish finished sixth courtesty of his penalty and a mid-race spin.
Race two saw Whale slow away from pole once again, with Liquorish benefitting to take the lead briefly, before newly-crowned champion Birch powered through by the end of the opening lap, with a tag from Ferguson then demoting him to fifth.
This promoted Sherwood into second and he pressured the race leader early on, but Birch wasn’t flustered and he drove off to secure his sixth victory of the season. Sherwood meanwhile had a spin while lapping Tom Hallissey, giving Whale his best result of the weekend in second. Smallwood battled past Liquorish on the final corner of the final lap to claim a podium at his home circuit, with Liquorish a disappointed fourth ahead of Sherwood and Ferguson.
“So, so pleased to win the championship, I’m lost for words a bit to be honest,” said Birch. “Massive thanks to GT Marques for a great end to the season and for being great support.”
Provisional Final 2012 Porsche GT3 Challenge Cup Championship Standings:
1 Birch 222;
2 Liquorish 191;
3 Sherwood 142;
4 Ferguson 119;
5 Mark Cowne 117;
6 Smallwood 113; etc.