Porsche Mobil1 Supercup 2017: Season Preview

by Lee Bonham

A second generation of Porsche 911 Type 991 GT3 Cup makes its Formula 1 support-slot debut this weekend in Barcelona, as the 2017 Porsche Mobil1 Supercup springs into life at the popular Circuit de Catalunya. 32 drivers will compete across nine races, globe-trotting to eight different international destinations.

Heading the entry-list for Lechner Racing is the highest-placed returning driver from 2016, namely Michael Ammermüller. Last year was one of the less fruitful in the German driver’s long and illustrious Porsche Cup career, with only three rostrum results and not a single win on his scorecard. Experience counts significantly in Supercup, with limited track time a curse of any F1 support category, circuit knowledge is both key and hard to accrue. Whilst the tool of competition is new, the venues are not. Ammermüller starts as favourite, with extensive circuit and general Porsche knowledge.

That is not to say he has a clear path to glory. Within the Lechner Racing camp alone are another 7 contenders with considerable pedigree. Double Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Dan Cammish is arguably the stand-out. Cammish is dovetailing Supercup with a shot at a historic third title in GB, but will prioritise the international competition. Having already taken two wins, and a further podium, over the first four races of his UK campaign the former Formula Ford GB champion enters his maiden full-season of Supercup with considerable momentum. Whilst the car is new in this generation’s guise, Cammish was unsurprisingly rapid in testing. Expect this to translate into results sooner rather than later.

Ryan Cullen suffered some atrocious luck last year, culminating in a monster Monza roll-over after contact. Top ten results reflected the inherent pace that the Irish driver evidently had. Again experience counts. Being further forward is a given, hassling Ammermüller and Cammish a distinct possibility. Our off-season interview with Ryan may be found here.

Dylan Pereira and Al Faisal Al Zubair bring experience from the GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East but will likely be building further Porsche experience in their sophomore and debut seasons respectively. Sean Hudspeth was the Pro-Am1 vice-champion in Carrera Cup GB in 2016, and Tom Oliphant emulates Cammish in dovetailing Carrera Cup GB commitments with Supercup. Oliphant’s campaign so far is limited to the Spanish and British Grand Prix support events.

Denis Olsen rounds-out a distinctly weak-link free Lechner line-up. Rookie champion in Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland last year, and third overall, will act a springboard onto a dual Supercup/Deutschland calendar this year. Renowned for its close, intense completion, Olsen has had the perfect platform on which to develop as a Porsche driver and will be right in the thick of the action from the get-go. A double-success at the opening Deutschland round of 2017 at Hockenheim, after sparring with Ammermüller, was marker enough for the season ahead.

L-R: Olsen vs Ammermüller. Story of the season to come? (Credit: Porsche AG)

FACH Auto Tech have two further national Carrera Cup champions to bring to the grid. 2014 GB champion and former national Scholar Josh Webster makes his full-season competition return after a bit-part 2016 in the Renault RS01. Coaching in GB has kept Webster’s Porsche knowledge fresh, alongside a starring performance at the British Grand Prix supporting Supercup event last year at Silverstone.

Matt Campbell is the reigning Carrera Cup Australia champion and the twenty-two year-old Queenslander will be one to watch develop throughout his maiden international foray. Pace will be a given, experience will build, and the combination will deliver the results. Suisse driver Glauco Solieri rounds out FACH’s 2017 entry.

The experienced Robert Lukas leads the Lukas Motorsport entry, comprising of no less than five drivers. Lukas finished fifth in the standings, one place behind Ammermüller, in 2016 and will likely be found in and amongst the top ten contenders on any given weekend. Piotr Parys by contrast is one of the least experienced drivers on the entry-card, only seventeen-years-old. He is a champion already in the Porsche Carrera Cup Central Europe, but Supercup is a whole different game. The phrase learning year applies here. Ditto former Euroformula Open driver Igor Walilko.  Chris Bauer and Santiago Creel complete the Lukas field.

MRS- GT Racing have Danish star Mikkel O-Pedersen, former single-seater driver Zaid Ashkanani, Carrera Cup France’s Roar Lindland and German racer Christof Langer in their four car line-up, with a championship contender of the calibre of Christian Engelhart likely to be much missed in 2017. Kenji Kobayashi will be a guest-starter at selected meetings.

Lukas is back, and will likely be at the front of the field. (Credit: Porsche AG)

With championship runner-up from 2016 Mathieu Jaminet absent, Martinet by Almeras find their hopes lying with another quick Frenchman. Steven Palette finished ninth in Supercup 2016 and the former French Carrera Cup ‘Rookie of the Year’ award winner will step up to the team-leader role in 2017. Philip Morin moves to Supercup after a successful Carrera Cup Scandinavia season in which he finished runner-up. Roland Berville is the third and final man in the Almeras garage this semester.

British star Paul Rees will be hoping for better luck as he embarks on his second full-season in Supercup. A former-GB race-winner, Rees’ experience will likely benefit his young teammate Nico Rindlisbacher in the MOMO-Megatron line-up. Rindlisbacher has limited racing experience across Karting and FIA Formula 4, but finished seventeenth on his Supercup debut in Austin last season so has potential to surprise. Egidio Pefetti completes the team for 2017.

IDL Racing bring former GB race-winner Tom Sharp and Pro-Am2 contender Mark Radcliffe to Supercup for their first full-season on the international stage. The smallest team on the grid will likely begin to rile the dominant forces of Supercup sooner rather than later. Sharp is a versatile and enthusiastic racer who has starred at both the 2015 and 2016 British GP supporting Supercup contests. A championship challenge may be asking too much, but the odd podium emphatically is not.

Dinamic Motorsport’s Italian trio round out the entry list. Mattia Drudi was Carrera Cup Italia runner-up in 2016, and two year’s previously ended his national Formula 4 contest in the same position. Daniel Di Amato was the victor of the European Ferrari Challenge in 2014 and finished fifth in his domestic Carrera Cup last season. Giovanni Berton completes both Dinamic’s team and the Supercup field for 2017.

Cliché alert. Now the talking stops. A full-grid, a calendar comprising historic venues from the Circuit de Catalunya, to Monaco, the Red Bull Ring, Silverstone, the Hungaroring, the awesome Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez give us both our actors and our stage. Are you sitting comfortably? It is almost time to go racing once more in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup.

More frenetic action begins this weekend in sunny Spain. (Credit: Porsche AG)

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