With the new season of Porsche Carrera Cup GB approaching we took the time to catch up with Peter Kyle-Henney, three-time vice champion of the Am-class, could this be the year he manages to top the standings?
While some racers start earlier, Kyle-Henney’s racing career started later in life, through buying used Porsche Cup cars for track days, the Hampshire-based driver then made the progression to racing.
“It seemed natural to stay with the brand and race Porsches,” said Kyle-Henney. “I have owned 12 cup cars including the 996/997 and 991 variants and a GT3R.
“There is no doubt that with each development iteration Porsche have managed to refine the dynamics of the car. What we have now is quite a sensational car to drive.
“With no traction control or ABS the beast demands respect but once you gain an understanding of the dynamics of the car its actually very predictable to drive.
“However to extract the very best from the car does require a somewhat unique and precise driving style.”
For 2018, Carrera Cup 2 switches to the second generation 991 GT3 Cup car, increased power amongst other improvements will see lap times fall this year.
“The second generation 991 is once again a step on from the older car, the principle change is the engine with more power and torque the car comes alive.
“The punch out of the slower corners is the most noticeable improvement. Despite the extra power Porsche have increased the engine and gearbox service intervals which will make the cars less expensive to run.
“With the squeeze on budgets this is as an important design requirement as making them faster. The brakes are carried over from the older car so the ultimate stopping power is the same, the slight aero modifications have helped the balance of the car especially in the high speed corners.
“There is no doubt we will see lap records broken this year in all categories,” adds Kyle-Henney.
Having raced in the series since 2014, Kyle-Henney has taken the second spot in the Am-class championship three times now, 2017 was perhaps the most bitter of these, missing out on the title by just one point, despite being the driver that took the most class victories.
“It is now the third time I have come second in class in Carrera Cup and one would be right to quote ‘always the bridesmaid…’
“However, 2017 was a difficult year because of the change in the class points structure. With only one point separating all places, any DNF was terminal for the championship.
“Despite winning 12 out of the 14 qualifying races I still came second with the overall winner [Shamus Jennings] having only a single win in class.
“We all play by the same rules so congratulations to him, but as the Porsche ethos is about winning because you are fast, and not for attending, Porsche have restored the points system, so this year all the drivers can race to win.
Looking ahead to the year, the schedule remains largely unchanged, the only exception being Le Mans is swapped out for Monza this year, as Carrera Cup GB joins the European Le Mans series for the weekend.
Kyle-Henney is looking forward to the challenge of Monza, but he did reveal that it was a home track that was his favourite.
“The new car is fast, devastatingly fast, and we have some great drivers in the championship his year so it’s going to be genuinely exciting for both the participants and the spectators.
“Having raced the Cup cars at Le Mans there is no doubt these cars are designed for the big circuits so Monza this year will be awesome.
“However, in the UK, my soft spot is for Brands GP, partly because it’s rare to be able to drive these cars on the GP circuit and partly because it’s still an old school track, it rewards the best of the best, sadly that does not include me!”
Talking of the importance of having a race outside of the UK, Kyle-Henney believes it is an important part of the series, competitors and their friends, family and sponsors.
“Having an overseas race in Carrera Cup GB in my opinion adds significantly to the series. Not only because Spa, Le Mans and Monza have great atmospheres and are steeped in history but they are great places to visit, so in general my family jumps at the chance to fly away for a break.
“It’s somewhat harder to convince them to go to a windy Knockhill, although for me the circuit is great fun to drive.
“The real benefit to adding an overseas circuit is for the career drivers, giving them exposure to the bigger circuits in very fast GT cars is great for CV’s and Carrera cup wins in Spa and Le Mans for Josh Webster and Ben Barker have helped open doors to further their careers.”
Outside of the championship, Porsche are dedicated to career progression, with their pyramid scheme and Nick Tandy showing exactly what can be achieved, making it all of the way through to winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 car.
At Goodwood last year, Kyle-Henney had the chance to drive some of the marques famous machinery.
“We should not forget that the championship provides the whole experience and more. Last year I was given the chance to drive the priceless 1998 winning Porsche GT1 and the LMP1 car from the same year at Goodwood off the back of being part of UK Porsche racing.
“Porsche have a very professional team who look after the drivers and teams and ensure that the racing is absolutely fair, every car is checked for compliance and having driven many of them I can say they are identical, it really is a one make championship where talent is the most important ingredient.”
The 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Season gets underway at Brands Hatch on 7/8 April, The Checkered Flag will be providing in-depth coverage of all races throughout the season, follow us on Twitter for the latest news at @thecheckerflag.