Entering the seventeenth season of the championship Porsche Carrera Cup GB heads to the traditional season opener this weekend at Brands Hatch with a refreshed field taking on the 2019 edition.
The top three drivers in the championship in 2018 have moved on, Tio Ellinas is heading for the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup with the front-running Lechner squad as they support the Formula 1 series through Europe and Mexico, Dino Zamparelli has made the switch to British GT, racing the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport and Tom Wrigley is exploring other sports car opportunities and has already taken part in VLN 1 with Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW.
2017 Am class champion Shamus Jennings and Pro-Am race winner Greg Caton also make a move away from the championship as they take on the British GT Championship in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro class
Race winner Lewis Plato heads in to 2019 as the highest placed returnee after rounding the year out in fourth place, for this season he switches from JTR over to Motorbase Performance as he looks to mount a championship challenge with the race winning squad. Plato will be hoping to improve on his two victories and six podium finishes of 2018.
Plato’s former team-mate Dan Harper sticks with the JTR squad in his second year as a Porsche GB Junior, the 2018 season brought two wins, the most fastest laps, the most pole positions, and three podium finishes. The young Northern Irishman be hoping to hit the ground running this season, under the watchful eye of team owner and 24-Hours of Le Mans winner, Nick Tandy.
2018 Rookie champion and three-time race winner George Gamble switches to Redline Racing for the new season along with his 2018 team-mate Seb Perez who makes the step up to the Pro class after winning the Pro-Am championship last season. The duo retain their distinctive Amigos livery for the 2019 season and will no doubt be challenging for wins throughout the season.
Another driver moving up from the Pro-Am class is race winner Dan Vaughan, who took three class victories throughout 2018, along with nine podium finishes to end the season as runner-up in the championship. Vaughan joins Plato at Motorbase Performance for 2019 as the team look to add to their 26 overall race victories in the series.
Whilst a new name to the Carrera Cup GB grid, Tom Roche will be familiar to those following the TOCA package as he makes the move to Porsche with Rob Boston Racing. With five wins under his belt in Ginetta GT4 Supercup, the Welshman will hope to continue his winning form that brought him victory in the final round of the 2018 Ginetta series.
2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am class
With both Perez and Vaughan moving up to the Pro class, Jamie Orton returns to Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am as the highest placed driver in the 2018 championship after finishing third to the duo after a troubled season. As long as all goes to plan this year, Orton is favourite to take the Pro-Am title and with the support of JTR will be hard to beat.
Esmee Hawkey will be doing her best to disrupt Orton’s championship ambitions as she returns to the championship for a second year with GT Marques. 2019 will see the Kent driver also take on the single seater W Series around Europe as she broadens her opportunities in motorsport. 2018 saw Hawkey gain a third and second place finish throughout the season along with a strong run of consistent performances towards the end of the year, narrowly missing out on podium finishes. With coaching from race-winner Dino Zamparelli it could be the breakthrough year for Hawkey taking class victories.
A new name to the grid for 2019, Clio Cup race winner Jack McCarthy moves from front-wheel-drive to rear-wheel-drive Porsche’s with Redline Racing and seems to be on the pace already in testing, matching Orton’s times in the Brands Hatch test session earlier this week.
Karl Leonard has featured on the Carrera Cup GB grid on and off since 2008, collecting thirteen wins along the way. This year he returns to track with Team Parker Racing, sharing his driving duties throughout the year with his brother Michael Leonard.
2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Am class
Peter Mangion returns to defend his Am class championship with Team Parker Racing after taking an impressive nine victories in 2018 to beat IN2 Racing’s Peter Kyle-Henney to the title.
Kyle-Henney returns for 2019 as he looks to add to his 24 Am class victories (record holder for the most wins in the Carrera Cup GB Am class) and chases down the title that has so far eluded him.
Former BTCC racer Richard Hawken now has a season of experience to his name in the Carrera Cup and is back with Slidesports Engineering. He will be looking to hit the ground running as he aims for further podium finishes in his uniquely liveried car (see if you can spot the hidden Porsche on the side this year).
A new name and a new team to the grid for Adam Knight and Valluga Racing; The team have previous experience in endurance competition abroad, racing the Type 991 Porsche 911’s. While it is a new challenge for the team, they seem to be adapting quickly in pre-season testing.
Justin Sherwood is another returnee from 2018 after competing in a partial campaign last year he is back to take on the Am Class with Team Parker Racing.
Irish Formula For racer John Ferguson returns to Porsche action for the first time since 2012 when he raced in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Great Britain, taking four podium finishes. Ferguson will be racing with the IN2 Racing squad for 2019 as he looks to disrupt the Am class championship regulars.
2019 Rules – The same but different
For 2019 the series will retain the reverse grids for the second race that we introduced in 2018, meaning that a number from four to six is selected at random and depending on the number that is drawn the first four, five, or six finishers from race 1 will start the second race with the positions reversed.
New for this year will see anyone that fails to finish the first race join the grid for race 2 behind the lowest placed competitor in the class. This move will avoid drivers in different classes getting caught up in someone else’s battle, for example if a Pro competitor fails to finish they will be bunched with the other Pro finishers from race 1.
The point structure from 2019 remains in place along with two bonus points that will go to the driver with the fastest lap in their respective class.
Rounds one and two will both take place on Sunday 7 April, with live coverage of round two on ITV4.