The Porsche Carrera Cup GB took a step forward in 2015. A big step. The grid grew in depth and breadth, across all three classes. In the summer we spoke with series boss James MacNaughton about the changes made to the series to reach the level it has. So now we have reached the end of the season, it’s time to look back and look forward to 2016.
The World Endurance Championship meeting at Spa-Francorchamps all the way back in May was arguably the 2015 highlight and one that every driver seems to have loved. “We will definitely be racing with the WEC in 2016 and we hope to be back at Spa,” MacNaughton tells us.
One change for 2016 is the injection of yet more cash into the series, the full details of which can be found here: Carrera Cup GB 2016 Boosts
“We are constantly evaluating the championship and the prize structure,” says MacNaughton and highlights the different approach the series will take in 2016. “This year the Pro champion won a set amount of money and a paid drive in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup at Silverstone. After evaluating that we thought about the possibility of a driver not going to the Supercup, so the prize wouldn’t be relevant.” Therefore the money from that drive will now just be given to the champion towards a racing budget in 2017. Plus the pretty prize of a 911 that 2015 champion Dan Cammish sadly missed out on.
“We have received a huge amount of interest, even more than we had for 2015 at this time last year. We have a had a few registration forms for next year and the grid should be similar to this year if not bigger,” MacNaughton reveals although is unable to give any specifics just yet.
On the Scholar, whomever they may be? “They’ll be one to watch definitely.” MacNaughton then goes on to describe in more detail the place of the Scholarship scheme within the championship. “We feel that the scholarship is a fantastic boost for anybody already looking to do the championship, a cherry on top of the cake. It designed to help develop drivers, not just get somebody who can win straight away.”
One of the key things next year will be be how drivers such as Tom Sharp develop, with a year of Carrera Cup experience. MacNaughton is keen to use Sharp as an example to illustrate how a driver can progress in the series. “The way they run the team is pretty much unique in our paddock, it is very much a family run team. It is a fantastic story. Bearing in mind they only have one car and limited data, you can see Tom has had a steady progression from a difficult media day (in his own words) to victory in the finale and the Rookie prize to go with it.”
The increased prize fund is not the only new attraction for potential entrants and MacNaughton is keen to re-iterate the work the series is putting in for the new season. “We are working our socks off to make sure we have as many good competitors in 2016 as we can. We aren’t just sitting here waiting for the phone to ring.”
“After consultation with teams and drivers we established there was a need for official exclusive Carrera Cup test days, included in the registration fee.” This is one such new idea that MacNaughton highlights for us. The effort going into these innovations is not the work of a moment and the planning and forethought is a lesson for anyone operating a professional sporting series.
There is also the matter of the two “free of charge days” prior to the new season with specialists from the Porsche Human Performance Centre. “The people at PHP work with some very notable names in motor sport and they really know about the human part of the driver/car relationship.”
“We have allowed each chassis a few more sets of tyres to make Friday practice more useful, definitely not unlimited as we obviously need to keep on eye on costs,” is MacNaughton’s explanation of the other main innovation for 2016.
Our attention now shifts to the TOCA package, a key theme in just about every conversation you have with anybody involved in the BTCC or its support package. “What TOCA can offer to all support races is the best platform in the country. More and more drivers seem to be drawn towards the various different categories. Long may it continue.” The live television and the fans are once more revealed to be the keys in this relationship and there seems to be a certain optimism about the future for all the series involved.
MacNaughton is also keen to highlight the developments from 2015 that are being carried over, especially the Rookie class and its £50,000 prize and the Team Cayenne scheme for those teams running two or more cars. Plus there is an early registration scheme which will reward those who enter the series as soon as possible.
One last look back to Brands Hatch then, MacNaughton enthusing that, “We were so happy that four of our championships were resolved on the final race weekend even if the drivers probably weren’t! That’s what the fans want to see and shows that the basic formula for the championship works, along with the breadth of people in the series. It was the dream end to a very successful year.”
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB emerged from 2015 with its head held high after a tumultuous couple of seasons. It is a championship back to its best and beyond that and MacNaughton, like us, cannot wait for 2016. “It will be a very, very exciting year for the Carrera Cup GB in 2016 throughout all of the classes.”