Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) concluded 2016, and potentially his Porsche Carrera Cup GB career, with a fittingly dominant win on the Brands Hatch GP circuit as the Pro-Am2 honours fell to Juta Racing driver Tautvydas Barstys.
Initially it appeared that GT Marques man Dino Zamparelli would take the fight to Cammish, the former showing tremendous early pace.
Behind the top two the remainder of the Pro order were involved in a thrilling scrap. As Tom Oliphant (Redline) attempted on outside manoeuvre at Paddock , Jonas Gelzinis stuck his Juta Racing machine into third position. Charlie Eastwood found himself trapped in fourth with Dan Lloyd’s In2Racing car the buffer between the race one winner and the charging Oliphant. Tom Sharp had the best seat in the house in seventh for IDL Racing.
Even a mid-race safety-car did nothing to disband the battling. Cammish charged away from a slow Zamparelli on the restart, and Eastwood made his move by slicing past Gelzinis. The last-named held fourth to conclude his season in the fashion it really ought to have began. Indeed the quartet ran in this order until the final chequered flag of the season, Cammish the winner and Zamparelli securing second in the championship standings.
Behind Lloyd maintained a respectable fifth for In2Racing, the team fully immersed in the Pro classification once more. Oliphant was sixth and Sharp seventh to round-out their seasons in decent if muted fashions.
Dan McKay refused to be beaten in Pro-Am1, and this time had the additional buffer of the guesting Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) between him and his In2Racing sibling Euan McKay.
Less than a second covered the class top-three after seventeen laps of tremendous dicing. Two narratives emerged during this weekend that will be fascinating potentially in 2017. A: McKay D concluded the year by showing that he can beat his brother on a good day, and will make a formidable opponent if the duo step up the Pro category next season. However, Euan’s race one drive (and his performances on another level throughout 2016) validates the view that he could be a dark horse in 2017… Whisper it, a podium contender. B: Karl Leonard really should be racing a Porsche for a full season in Carrera Cup GB, both fantastic to watch and thoroughly competitive.
The Pro-Am2 title-fight was the main theme for the season finale, and it delivered in spades. Tautvydas Barstys slipped back from his class pole to third position in the early stages, as Mark Radcliffe’s class domination at Brands continued for Intersport.
Shamus Jennings was the man in second for G-Cat Racing, and Barstys mysteriously slipped further down the ranks to fifth, as Ian Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) and Peter Parsons (The Car Loan Centre) snuck past the Lithuanian.
Given a sniff of his title rival, Peter Kyle-Henney seemed reinvigorated in his Parr Motorsport car and charged after the struggling Barstys. The earlier-referenced safety car was a legacy of Dockerill’s race coming to an abrupt and barrier related end at Dingle Dell.
Kyle-Henney struck to overtake Barstys on the restart but ironically the vice-champion and champion respectively as they were confirmed at the chequered flag, weren’t even on the rostrum. Instead it was Radcliffe who emerged on top from Jennings and a delighted Peter Parsons in his The Car Loan Centre operated car.
So another season comes to the end, and with a bittersweet feeling. Brands felt like a seminal moment in Carrera Cup history. The Dan Cammish era is very likely at an end, and still their remains the feeling that his achievements haven’t been quite as appreciated as they should. That is in part because of a lack of appreciation for the quality in the Pro order. When you consider the credentials of the likes of GP3 racer Dino Zamparelli, Blancpain man Stephen Jelley, former British GT competitor Lewis Plato and the Ginetta stars Tom Oliphant and Tom Sharp, you begin to appreciate the vintage era the series is currently in.
The fact that Cammish has been able to stand-above such a field deserved many plaudits. Hopefully next season he will move forward with his career. Yet this weekend Charlie Eastwood and Dan Lloyd in particular proved the series has a very bright 2017 in front of it. Eastwood’s first-season as the Porsche Scholar was building to this moment and presented with an opportunity he has grabbed it with both hands. Ditto Dan Lloyd, who deserved more than three rounds in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship before the dreaded budget issues intervened. Lloyd’s performance is more relevant for the In2Racing team’s 2017 , the squad returned to the Pro class with absolute ease and proved that they are one the top teams in this series.
If their young-chargers Dan and Euan McKay step up next year, they will be causing waves in the Pro class. Both are inexperienced and learning all the time. That’s not an insult, more of a compliment to the tremendous performances both have put in throughout 2016. John McCullagh was consistent and acknowledges he needs that small bit of extra pace to fight at the front of Pro-Am1. If he finds it over the winter, the 2015 Pro-Am2 champion will be a force to be reckoned with. Sean Hudspeth has been easy to overlook, but the Parr Motorsport competitor was always on the pace and more success beckons in 2017. Justin Sherwood‘s appearances were always competitive and Peter Jennings needs more rounds to improve next season.
So to Pro-Am2, a class which produced the tightest title fight and some of the best racing in the category throughout the year. Barstys, Kyle-Henney and Radcliffe all took turns at being the class stand-out. Ultimately though it was the first-named who maintained the edge come the finale. If you were to ask what if, the incident between Kyle-Henney and Radcliffe at Silverstone turned out to be key in the destiny of the 2016 crown. Shamus Jennings improved all the time for G-Cat racing, and Peter Parsons end-of-season podium was a delight for both team and driver. Ian Dockerill didn’t deserved to end a strong year in the barriers, Barrie Baxter showed flashes of pace and Rupert Martin was more consistent this season than last.
Overall a vintage year for Carrera Cup GB across each classification. Here’s to more of the same… In 2017.