Birch sets early pace in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
Former single-seater racer James Birch made the early running in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge as teams and drivers tested at Silverstone yesterday (13 March) during Porsche’s pre-season test and media day.Contenders in the GT3 Cup Challenge joined competitors from the Porsche Carrera Cup GB for over three and a half hours of exclusive testing on the Silverstone National circuit and by the end of the afternoon Birch was top of the GT3 Cup times in his IN2 Racing entered 911 GT3 Cup.The 22-year old racer was delighted with the day’s work. “I’m really starting to get in the groove with the car now and I feel that I can push,” said Birch. “I’ve been on a learning curve today and I’m just trying to take a lot on board at the moment.”Leading the chase of Birch was Graeme Mundy, who has recently confirmed plans to contest a full GT3 Cup Challenge season with Team Parker Racing. The Salisbury racer lapped within half a second of Birch’s best time as Neil Houston and Steven Liquorish made it three Team Parker Racing cars in the top four. For Houston, it was a very encouraging finish to his first day of testing in a 911 GT3 Cup after two part seasons in a Ginetta G50 in 2009 and 2010. Peter Smallwood rounded out the top five for Parr Motorsport, while Lithuanian racers Michael Osterman and Vilmantas Audzijonis ran well as they learnt the track with Juta Racing. Also on hand, but not ready to run in the test session were Guy Riall (Almara Racing), Tom Hallissey (ASK Racing) and Mark Cowne (Fearn Sport).The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season starts at Snetterton over the Easter weekend (7/8 April).