Ignas Gelzinis has expressed his excitement ahead of making his debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB this season, but also acknowledges the challenge awaiting with the biggest entry in the championship’s history.
Gelzinis is competing with the Juta Racing team that guided his older brother Jonas to three race wins and the vice-champion honours in 2013, the Lithuanian outfit returning after a season away from the series.
This isn’t Ignas’ first association with the championship, as he reached the final of the Scholarship competition last winter, a prize that was won by the eventual 2014 Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster.
With that experience under his belt, the 24 year old is delighted to be on the grid this season.
“Getting there [the Scholarship] was a really big thing, but unfortunately I didn’t win it! Josh Webster won it and that was for a reason – he’s a very fast guy,” Gelzinis told TCF.
“The Porsche Carrera Cup GB has always been a good championship. This is firstly because the cars are equal machinery, and secondly, the quality of the drivers is really high.
“The reason we’re here is mainly due to our sponsors. Exide have been with us for a really long time and are still with us, TonyBet started sponsoring us this season and then there are other sponsors like Craft Bearings, KG Group, Juta and AutoJuta.
“They’ve all helped us arrive here, so I hope our performances can re-pay their trust in us.”
Gelzinis got his first taste of Porsche competition last year with a campaign in the Porsche Cup Challenge Central Europe, running with Juta in the series that visits circuits including the Hungaroring, Brno, Most and Slovakiaring.
He adapted well to sportscar racing and finished second overall with two wins, though admits it’s limited how much of that experience he can bring across to the Porsche having used an older-spec 911 Cup car last season.
“It was a tough transition,” explained the former FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy member. “Getting a handle on any powerful Porsche is a challenge for any driver!
“While I have the knowledge about the driving style needed for these cars, the current-spec car is so different to the one we ran last year, so we need to learn how the new car works.
“Some other teams have had more track-time and a year to get used to this car, so there are a lot of things for me and everyone else at Juta Racing to learn this year.”
Gelzinis returns to the BTCC package, having been a top ten finisher in the Renault UK Clio Cup in 2013, as part of the biggest and arguably the most competitive Porsche Carrera Cup GB grid of all time.
As one of twelve Pro classified drivers on the grid, Gelzinis acknowledges that securing front-running results will be a huge challenge and says his focus this year is on mastering the latest 911 GT3 Cup model and developing as a sportscar driver.
“I’m really excited, I can’t wait for the first round to start!” he concluded. “We’re under no illusion that it’ll be hard at the start but ultimately things should become easier. The quality of the other teams and drivers is so high, that getting into the top ten will be a challenge in itself.
“I think it’s too early to be talking about targets, but let me put it like this: at first, we want to survive the starts on this big grid – with thirty cars, it’s the biggest grid in Carrera Cup GB history.
“Once we’ve done that, then I think we can start talking about our goals, but ultimately for Juta Racing and myself, the 2015 Carrera Cup GB season will be mainly about learning.”