A pre-season preview, preview. For those wondering what has been going on behind the scenes in Porsche Carrera Cup GB land, the answer is quite a bit. Thanks to a superb effort by the organisers, we already have seventeen drivers officially signed up across the Pro, Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2 classes. So let us have a look at the super seventeen that are ready for a thrilling 2016.
Pro: Pick a Winner (So far)
Six out of the seventeen are signed up to fight it out for the title and so far, picking a favourite isn’t easy. Heading the sextet is reigning Rookie Class champion Tom Sharp, who as anticipated, returns with his family based IDL Racing squad.
Sharp ended 2015 by besting dominant Dan Cammish and is one the most exciting prospects for this year. With experience of car and tracks now gained, Sharp must use this to his advantage.
Meanwhile it is another Ginetta man, 2015 GT4 Supercup champion Tom Oliphant who grabbed all the early headlines. It would be easy to underestimate Oliphant, a man with little-experience of the unique Type 991 GT3 Cup car. However, the Supercup cars are difficult beasts to handle and Tom proved himself to be among the quickest domestic GT drivers last season. Wins must be the target with Redline Racing.
Jonas Gelzinis is back, the 2013 runner-up will have his first crack at the UK title in the Type 991 and was always fantastic to watch in the Juta Racing prepared Type 997 machines. If he can get back into the swing of the action quickly, he should be able to achieve podium pace. By the end of the season that should have morphed to race winning performances.
Alessandro Latif has a diverse and very successful background in multi-class GT racing at the highest level, including success at the infamous Bathurst and Daytona circuits. He is an ultimately unknown quantity in this kind of cut and thrust short and sharp GT racing. Maybe he will take time to get onto the quickest pace or maybe he will stick it on pole at Brands Hatch in April. You just don’t know.
Charlie Eastwood’s debut Carrera Cup campaign as the 2016/2017 scholar will be one of utter fascination. Eastwood is fantastically quick, has pedigree and has been singled out by Porsche themselves as a star of the future. How near that future is remains to be seen. A personal bet? He will win and early on. Maybe, just maybe a title challenge could come together.
For Stephen Jelley, that is what 2016 has to be about. After a tricky return to the Carrera Cup last year, Jelley will be looking to build on his experience of the Type 991 GT3 Cup. He showed flashes of fantastic pace last year, notably at the season opener on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, and he will look to build that into a full campaign this year.
Pro-Am1: Three of a kind
There is little to say about Pro-Am1 at the moment. With three entries it is hard to draw conclusion but let’s try.
Jack Falla showed brilliant pace at points in 2015, mixed with some atrocious luck (see the Croft accident that took him out of the following weekend’s British GP Porsche Mobil1 Supercup race). If he stops walking under ladders and utilises the evident pace, he could be a favourite for the title.
Daniel McKay returns with In2Racing and a full-season campaign definitely has the potential to produce some class victories. Ditto Mark Cole. Cole is a driver with the ability to harass the Pro drivers who are having on off day, and avoiding trouble in such scenarios is the way to build a full-season charge.
Pro-Am2: Exhilarating Eight
Pro-Am2 is currently the healthiest class with eight of the best Gentleman drivers taking to the track to prove their pace.
The entry is led by reigning champion John McCuallgh, who returns to defend his title for Redline Racing. This task will be made all the more tougher by another six returning drivers.
Rupert Martin’s bright yellow machine was a standout livery from last year and Rupert is a driver with knowledge to build on following his first campaign in the Carrera Cup GB.
Juta Racing’s dynamic duo of Nerijus Dagilis and Tautvydas Barstys were both impressive at points last year and so too were the G-Cat Racing family Jennings, with both Shamus and Peter. Four drivers there with the potential to achieve class victories.
Ian Dockerill returns for the Asset Advantage Race Team and then new boy Mark Radcliffe hops aboard the TOCA package to peddle a Porsche.
Still to Come
The story of 2016 so far looks to focus on the large Pro and Pro-Am2 entries and both of these are set to grow impressively in the next few weeks. Additions to the grid that are sure to shake-up the pecking order are set to be announced and rest assured that the Pro-Am1 entry is nowhere near done. It is set to be another fantastic season for the Porsche Carrera Cup GB.