Pre-season, despite the additional complexity of a new generation Type 991 GT3 cup, conventional wisdom dictated that experience would prove pivotal in the 2017 Porsche Mobil1 Supercup. Thus Michael Ammermüller (Lechner Racing) found himself with the burdensome tag of championship favourite.
In these circumstances two things invariably happen. The ‘anointed’ favourite lives up to expectations and preserves their reputation, or they are usurped by unexpected pretenders and risk losing years of hard fought for respect.
Michael Ammermüller is emphatically living up to the tag in 2017. Having claimed both victories in Barcelona, the Bavarian contender immediately stamped his authority on round three in Monaco with a qualifying margin of a staggering half-a-second. In a one make series. In dry conditions.
Second on the grid sat Dennis Olsen, team-mate and rival to Ammermüller. As the lights flickered out on Sunday morning, Olsen found himself watching Ammermüller romp away into the distance. His view of the championship leader’s demonstration had been blocked by turn one though, by the rapid starting Dan Cammish. The third Lechner man made a stonking start and had stolen second by St Devote.
Words are rarely able to do a Monaco contest justice. Put simply the top-three circulated in the same order from turn one to the chequered flag. That description simply does not reflect the skill shown by the top three, each holding a scant margin over the other and a slightly greater gap to the rest of the field.
Lechner are undoubtedly a Supercup power-house, but their performance in Monaco was a cut-above the standard. Such levels of dominance will leave rival teams hoping it was a set-up unique to the quirky Monte-Carlo labyrinth as opposed to a fundamental key to the still fresh generation two Type 991.
MRS-GT Racing mounted Zaid Ashkanani was another driver with a big smile on his face, fourth marking his best Supercup performance to date. Whilst the top three were all from the same stable, fourth to seventh was split between four different teams. Matt Campbell (FACH Auto Tech), Daniele Di Amato (Dinamic Motorsport) and Robert Lukas (Lukas Motorsport), along with the aforementioned Ashkanani and former Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster (FACH Auto Tech – eighth) all finished exactly where they qualified. That statement not tremendously surprising within the confines of the tight and twisty principality lay-out.
Ryan Cullen was twelfth in the fourth-best Lechner machine. Mark Radcliffe (IDL Racing) arguably drove the race of his career to finish seventeenth, a massively impressive result for the former Pro-Am2 Carrera Cup GB competitor and validation if any were needed of the class system in the British championship that allows every level of driver to develop and fight for honours. Sadly MOMO-Megatron driver Paul Rees and the second IDL Racing car of Tom Sharp both failed to make the finish.
From Monte-Carlo to Austria and the juxtaposition between tight and twisting street circuit confines of Monaco and wide-open mountain undulations of the Red Bull Ring. Ammermüller has an air of imperiousness currently, but the performances of Cammish and Olsen suggest that although Lechner have an advantage, the internal fight is going to be just as fierce as last year’s multi-team scrap. Young guns hungry for success, and the experienced charger at the peak of his performance. Quite a cocktail, with seven races still to go…