Charlie Eastwood claimed the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB title after a nail-biting season finale at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix Circuit. In the dying laps Eastwood definitively wrestled fifth position off of his Redline Racing team-mate Tom Oliphant to guarantee him the championship.
Dino Zamparelli (JTR) fought valiantly in second position but was unable to catch a determined Dan Cammish (Redline) in a race blighted by slippery conditions. Eastwood and Zamparelli ended a fantastic season of racing equal on points, with the Irish driver crowned by virtue of his greater number of victories across the season.
Cammish enjoyed a cleaner start from pole position in race two and held the advantage throughout the seventeen lap duration. As Zamparelli held on to second, Eastwood and Lewis Plato (JTR) made contact at Druids. This pushed Eastwood out of third and a secure championship position, and down to sixth behind Tio Ellinas (JTR), Plato and Oliphant.
With Eastwood sixth, second was sufficient to give Zamparelli the title but the three time 2017 race winner was not settled and charged after the Nationwide backed Cammish. Eastwood meanwhile was tussling with a less than cooperative Oliphant, who was determined to end his own season on a high note.
Eastwood bravely lunged into Hawthorns on the tenth lap and held the inside line through Westfields and Sheene to take fifth and the championship prerogative back. This would not be the end of the championship drama.
Plato in fourth then began to fall back, and this in turn pushed Eastwood back towards the doggedly determined Oliphant. On lap fourteen Eastwood became hamstrung behind Plato and Oliphant spectacularly retook fifth on the outside of Sheene. Eastwood had little time to retaliate and chose to do so almost immediately. The final roll of the championship dice came into Paddock Hill Bend on lap fifteen with Eastwood reclaiming fifth and the championship advantage.
That, as they say, was that. Cammish took his thirty first win in Carrera Cup GB, Zamparelli valiantly held on to second and Ellinas claimed his second podium of the day in third. Plato held on to fourth but fifth was enough for Charlie Eastwood to become the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. Oliphant was forced to be content with sixth, followed home by Dan McKay (Redline), Tom Wrigley (In2Racing) and Euan McKay (Redline). Ross Wylie once more shone for Slidesports to claim eleventh from twenty first.
In Pro-Am1 Karl Leonard took his second top ten and Pro-Am1 victory of the day for Team Parker Racing, as Justin Sherwood and Alex Martin reprised the roles from their championship battle to dice for second and third. This time it was Sherwood who emerged victorious from the Team Parker tussle, overcoming new Pro-Am1 champion Martin who span out of the class lead at Druids and fell behind both Leonard and Sherwood. John McCullagh (Redline) and Graeme Mundy (Parker) completed the class order for the final race of the season.
Peter Kyle-Henney (In2Racing) claimed his twentieth victory in Pro-Am2, a new overall record, but was powerless to stop Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) taking second in class and maintaining an advantage of a solitary point, all he needed to be confirmed as the 2017 Pro-Am2 champion. David Fairbrother (Slidesports), Rupert Martin (Parker) and Ian Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) all finished within a scant five seconds of the new champion as Pro-Am2 once again provided a thrillingly close battle. Matt Telling (Welch Motorsport) was the final finisher in the final race of the 2017 season.
Charlie Eastwood. Alex Martin. Shamus Jennings. Redline Racing. Tio Ellinas. Pro. Pro-Am1. Pro-Am2. Teams. Rookie. Five champions in five classes after one of the most fiercely contested and spectacular seasons of Porsche Carrera Cup GB racing. Eastwood’s crown is the culmination of a two year narrative of his 2016/2017 Scholarship, and he drove with admirable maturity and determination to claim his first GT crown. Dino Zamparelli similarly must be applauded for throwing everything he physically could at overturning the points deficit, and runners up honours racing for a team new to Carrera Cup GB is no effort to be anything less than immensely proud of. Dan Cammish ultimately couldn’t overturn the setbacks of missing Snetterton, a DNF after contact with Eastwood at Knockhill and a freak fire at Silverstone. Two championships and thirty one victories are figures very unlikely to be replicated in Carrera Cup GB any time soon. Alex Martin’s refusal to give up ultimately paid off and allowed him to wrestle the Pro-Am1 crown from Justin Sherwood after a thrilling season long dice. Peter Kyle-Henney may not have been similarly rewarded in Pro-Am2 but it is hard to argue that the In2Racing man was not the fastest man in his class. However, Shamus Jennings is a fully deserving champion having driven consistently to build up and then maintain his championship advantage. Redline were always unlikely to be topped in terms of teams honours but once again proved their utter professionalism and thoroughness to produce unbeatable pace from their fleet of Type 991 GT3 Cups. Ellinas consistently developed as the season progressed and his Finals Day podiums do leave the impression that a 2018 return would be with a championship charge fully in mind.
So the first generation of Type 991 GT3 Cup now exits and the Generation 2 car enters Carrera Cup GB. The shape of Carrera Cup GB will no doubt shift over the winter, with old faces exiting and new, unknown, faces coming into the series. One thing is for sure. The fastest one make GT competition in the UK is only going to get even better, stronger and faster.
Full results from all of the TOCA action this weekend at Brands Hatch can be found here: http://www.tsl-timing.com/event/173941