Momentum. “The impetus gained by a moving object.” The Porsche Carrera Cup GB gained momentum in 2015. After a difficult period of dwindling entries and team interest, last season was vintage for one of the most popular domestic GT categories.
The only thing it lacked? An overall title fight. What was billed as one of the most open contests in recent years, never really came to be.
Three tenths. In a one make category around the Silverstone National Circuit on media day in the afternoon test session. Not much cause for hope. Spare the hyperbole It is done, isn’t it? Well…
Dan Cammish took eleven victories, sixteen podiums and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB title at his first attempt in 2015. The re-set button has been hit though, everyone is back to 0. That means it is game on, even if Cammish was once again the man to beat during the Carrera Cup GB media day.
Tom Oliphant, Lewis Plato, and Charlie Eastwood. These three drivers, along with Cammish, create one of the most formidable teams in recent TOCA support memory. Redline Racing have a Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion, an ex-British GT contender and the brand new Porsche scholar alongside their dominant reigning champion. In one team. In-fighting, with four immensely competitive and talented young GT stars tussling, will be a point of focus this season.
Then we have GT Marques. Alessandro Latif and Dino Zamparelli. Latif is an unknown quantity, with a plethora of experience in a variety of GT machines, and he outpaced Zamparelli on media day. Around the Silverstone National Circuit where ex-GP3 man Zamparelli took two dominant victories in 2015.
Yet Zamparelli ended last season where, arguably, he should have started it. Fighting at the front. Despite his deal being announced only two weeks before the opening round at Brands Hatch, in truth he starts the year with the potential to finish it right in the thick of the title fight.
Team Parker Racing have one car entered into the Pro class and their full focus is on Stephen Jelley. Last year Jelley had a teammate in Josh Webster, yet both drivers suffered at varying points with a lack of luck or a lack of pace. Or both. Momentum. Neither gained it. Jelley and Webster are both better drivers than last year showed. Expect a comeback from one, as the other moves onto the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
IDL Racing and Tom Sharp. The dark horses? Or likely front runners? In truth they are both. Fundamentally easy to underestimate, yet blisteringly quick, Sharp could, just, maybe put together a title challenge this season. If he can match his rounds one to seven consistency with his round eight pace, then there is no reason why Sharp won’t emerge on top.
Juta Racing return with a singleton entry in the Pro class. Jonas Gelzinis though, represents one of the most fascinating question marks of 2015. Runner up in 2013, but the slowest Pro entry of the second media day test session, Gelzinis is a naturally quick competitor who spent time in the series working through Pro-Am1, to Pro, to fighting for the title. He will surprise this year. It is isn’t clear whether that’ll be because he has pace, or because he does not.
Pro-Am1 is a class made up of three entries. That is a shame because the class title fight between Ignas Gelzinis and Jordan Witt went down to the wire in 2015. Literally. Tenths was the gap that gave Gelzinis his title and the fact that he is not returning to defend it, or to try the Pro classification for size, is another in a long list of motor sport what ifs. Dan McKay (In2Racing), Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) and Sean Hudspeth (Parr Motorsport) are the current class of 2016.
McKay was a cut above, ninth in the afternoon media day test session, nearly a second quicker than Sherwood. Yet Sherwood has previous class experience and in-between minor slips and trips in 2014, were glimmers of blistering pace that could just give him a shot at a class title. Hudspeth’s classification as a Pro-Am1 remains a question mark. A flash of pace in the morning session, slower in the afternoon session, an unknown quantity. Comment after Brands Hatch.
Pro-Am2 has an eleven car entry and it will be a class to watch in 2016. That is a cliché, so allow me to expand.
Euan McKay (In2Racing) was eleventh in the second media day test session, hounding the Pro class contenders. Inter-class warfare is nothing new, but the Pro-Am2 contenders so far up on genuine pace, is.
John McCuallgh and Redline Racing want to retain their class title and in terms of pace there is no reason why they can’t. Peter Jennings (G-Cat Racing) was within a tenth and a half of McCullagh on media day and with a year’s category experience, now has to step up to title contention.
Tautvydas Barstys runs in the sole Pro-Am2 Juta Racing car, a TOCA package regular and not a slow one either. Peter Kyle-Henney has run with the Type 991 GT3 Cup in all three years of its UK life and is capable of staying out of trouble and clawing back points, key in multi-class racing. Mark Radcliffe (Intersport) will spring a surprise or two, after ending the afternoon media day session in seventeenth.
Barrie Baxter (Redline Racing) has experience in classic machinery and arguably there is no better training ground for handling quirky racing cars, and the Type 991 GT3 Cup has nuances that it is key for a newcomer to learn. In a roundabout way he and Cammish are reunited as teammates, having working together in British GT4 in 2014.
Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) will try to uphold family honour and outpace father Peter. Ian Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing), Peter Parsons (The Car Loan Centre) and Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing) round out the entry. All three are returnees from 2015, all three are in strong teams that can deliver competitive machinery and all three should be there or thereabouts.
Momentum. Nobody yet truly has it. Come Saturday afternoon at Brands Hatch this weekend somebody will have gained some. On Sunday, that momentum will build and build and build. Then onwards, via the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, Oulton Park, Croft, Snetterton, Knockhill, Silverstone National and the Brands Hatch GP configuration, the stars of the show will try and build the momentum necessary to push them past the championship flag first. Forget 2015. We are at 0. From Cammish to McCuallgh, Sharp to Sherwood, Gelzinis to Barstys, as of now, everyone is equal. That is the basic recipe for any classic championship fight.