In 2018 Porsche celebrated 70 years of sports car production, and for more than 60 years the brand has been involved in motor sport, something that runs through the DNA of the German marque.
The importance placed on motor sport is shown clearly in the ‘Porsche Pyramid’, which takes drivers from track experience and club events through the national one-make series on to an international platform, racing alongside the Formula 1 circus throughout Europe and around the world before arriving at the top with factory drivers in GT and soon to be Formula E.
In this first part we take a look in to the national competitions throughout the world, flying the flag for the Porsche brand.
The foundation of the Porsche Pyramid starts with the Porsche Sport Driving School, Porsche Sports Cup Series and the Porsche Club Sports Events.
Through these events, it gives drivers the chance to get their first taste of the Porsche experience as they work their way from Novice to motor sport license level.
There are a total of nine Carrera Cup one-make series around the world, not including the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. In addition, a further ten Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge and Porsche GT3 Trophy competitions also take place.
Based on the 911 GT3 Cup competitors are given an even playing field, putting the emphasis on driving ability separating the equal machinery.
The GT3 Cup and GT3 Trophy competitions are based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991 I) cars, whereas the Carrera Cup series use the newer Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991 II).
The Porsche Carrera Cup plays an important part of the development in the Porsche Pyramid, providing competitors to showcase their talent in front of the Porsche Motorsport team as they bid to gain the first step on the ladder in becoming a Porsche-backed driver in their Junior programme.
Currently, the Carrera Cup competitions are available in Asia (which takes place across China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore), Australia, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan (separate from the Asia series), and Scandinavia.
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Carrera Cup Deutschland is the oldest of the one-make series, their first season back in 1986 saw Joachim Winkelhock take the title as he split his driving duties between the series and DTM.
Since then the series have seen a number of well known drivers succeed in the championship including Olaf Manthey (who would go on to set up Manthey Racing), current Formula 1 safety car driver Bernd Mayländer, Dirk Müller, Lucas Luhr, Porsche Factory drivers Jörg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard, Nick Tandy, and Kévin Estre; Marc Lieb, Mike Rockenfeller, René Rast, Phililpp Eng, Sven Müller, Porsche Young Professional Dennis Olsen and Thomas Preining to name a few.
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Porsche Carrera Cup France started the year after Germany and has also produced its fair share of talent too, for example Dominique Dupay, Christophe Bouchut, Porsche Factory drivers Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki, Jean-Karl Vernay, Porsche Young Professional Mathieu Jaminet and Julien Andlauer have all come through the ranks.
Porsche Mobile 1 Supercup launched in 1993, but we will come back to that in part 2; next up in terms of regional competitions was Japan, which saw the launch of their series in 2001, followed by Carrera Cup GB, Carrera Cup Australia and Carrera Cup Asia all launching in 2003.
Competition in Carrera Cup GB has always been high, Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy impressed in his guest races in the series before going on to bigger things in Germany, the Supercup and then in to GT and Prototype racing for Porsche. Another top sports car driver to pass through the series on the way to the top was Richard Westbrook, who won the title in the second year of the competition in 2004.
Other names worth mentioning is touring car legend Tim Harvey, who took the title two times, as did Michael Meadows and Dan Cammish. Josh Webster and Charlie Eastwood are making a name for themselves further up the sports car ladder, a route that 2018 champion Tio Ellinas looks to be following as he makes the move up in to Supercup.
In Australia Craig Baird has made a name for himself in the series, securing the title five times, Supercar racer Fabian Coulthard also featured as a champion, along with Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell, and Porsche Junior Jaxon Evans, who is taking part in the Supercup in 2019.
Carrera Cup Asia has had its fair share of famous names to win in the series including Jonny Cocker, Darryl O’Young, Alexandre Imperatori, Porsche Factory driver Earl Bamber, Chris van der Drift, who has won the title three times.
Carrera Cup Scandinavia was welcomed to the stage a year later, there has been nine different champions over the fifteen years that the series has been running but there is one name that stands out, Johan Kristoffersson. The Swede took the 2012, 2013 and 2015 titles along with two STCC championships before switching to rallycross where he won back-to-back titles in 2017-2018, this year he is set to take on the World Touring Car Cup for Volkswagen.
Brazil’s series has run since 2005 with Ricardo Baptista and former F1 driver Ricardo Rosset tied on three titles each, leading the way in the series.
The most recent addition to the Carrera Cup family is the Italian series, launched in 2007 with Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli winning the championship in 2014.
Keep a look out for the second part of our “Climbing the Porsche Pyramid” as we take a look as the next step up in to international competition.