Thirty-one drivers representing eighteen different nations came together over the weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya, as the 2017 Porsche Mobil1 Supercup came to life in Spain. With one of the strongest national Carrera Cup graduate classes in recent memory, it was clear before the weekend that 2017 was going to be one of the toughest Supercup battles to conquer.
Pre-season favourite Michael Ammermüller (Lechner Racing) would ultimately leave Spanish soil having claimed two wins from the opening two races. Yet arguably he wasn’t the quickest competitor over the weekend.
That accolade fell to Carrera Cup Australia champion of 2016 Matt Campbell (FACH AUTO TECH), who claimed a staggering debut Supercup pole-position double, the first of those by a comparatively massive 0.305s margin.
Sadly for the Australian he would be undone on Saturday afternoon by a poor-start, which allowed fellow front-row starter Ammermüller to leap to the head of the order. With Campbell mired in sixth position, the German was able to extend his lead across the fourteen-lap duration and reach the chequered flag ten seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
Said nearest rival was Dennis Olsen (Lechner Racing) who was engaged race long in a battle for the runners-up honours with his team-mate, double Carrera Cup GB champion, Dan Cammish. Cammish put up the sternest of defences, but ultimately succumbed to Olsen’s attacks on the twelfth tour.
Half of the top ten order was Lechner comprised, with Dylan Pereira (eighth) and guesting Tom Oliphant (tenth) providing further evidence of the inherent pace the team was able to extract from the debuting second generation Type 991 GT3 Cup.
Campbell recovered from his start-line nightmare to fifth, 2014 Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster trailing his stablemate home one position further back. Between the Lechner rostrum and the FACH middle-ground sat Robert Lukas (Lukas Motorsport), the second highest placed driver from 2016 further reinforcing the importance of experience in such a competitive field.
Ammermüller only started fourth for race two, and it was Cammish who headed the early running after Campbell once again failed to make a satisfactory getaway. This time however, the Porsche Junior driver was able to recover far more swiftly and it was the two-time British champion Cammish who fell back down the order.
After Ammermüller had successfully stolen the lead, he was unable to escape with both Campbell and Olsen refusing to let the German driver get away. Olsen’s pace would prove superior to Campbell’s but inadequate to deny Ammermüller a richly deserved double. Cammish, Pereira and Oliphant ensured Lechner comprised five of the top six, with Campbell the only interloper.
Oliphant’s performance was particularly notable, recovering from a difficult qualifying session to climb from fourteenth to sixth. This was reflective of the incredible race-craft he has displayed in Carrera Cup GB, and does somewhat pose the question of what he could do with a full-Supercup season.
Paul Rees (MOMO-Megatron) found himself narrowly outside the top-ten on both Saturday and Sunday (thirteenth and eleventh). Tom Sharp (IDL Racing) and Ryan Cullen (Lechner Racing) were both outside of the top-twenty classification on Saturday but recovered well to fourteenth and sixteenth respectively come Sunday morning. Webster endured a difficult Sunday and struggled home to nineteenth. Pro-Am2 Carrera Cup GB runner Mark Radcliffe achieved two solid finishes from his Supercup debut.
From Spain the Supercup circus moves to its most prestigious backdrop, with Monte Carlo the destination for the third race of the season. Ammermüller already looks formidable at the front of the field, but Campbell’s stunning pace has proved that the new blood will put up a fight. Add in the likes of Cammish and Olsen, and the scene is set for an enthralling nine races still to come…