Snetterton rounds nine and ten - preview
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, enters the second half of an exciting and unpredictable 2018 season having seen six different winners from eight races. Following two eventful rounds at Oulton Park in Cheshire, the championship pendulum has now swung in favour of Tio Ellinas (Slidesports Engineering) and the second half of 2018 looks set for a title showdown between the former GP2 racer and Dino Zamparelli (Redline Racing).
Former Formula One test driver Ellinas now tops the points table for the first time, his advantage six points after damage from a stray corner marker at Oulton Park in round seven halted Zamparelli’s unbroken run of podium finishes. The 2017 championship runner-up took just two points away from both races while Ellinas, who has shown remarkable consistency in just his second season of Porsche racing, finished on the podium twice to accrue 14 points and topple Zamparelli from the championship lead for the first time this season.
Tom Wrigley (JTR) secured the maiden pole position and win of his Carrera Cup GB career at Oulton Park with what team owner and Le Mans winner Nick Tandy described as the ‘perfect lap’ in qualifying. Now in his second season, the rapid Wrexham driver looks more settled in the 911 GT3 Cup than ever and is most likely to interrupt the duel for the title as he also carries the momentum of a successful Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup debut at Silverstone into the Snetterton weekend.
Championship newcomer, 17-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper also claimed the maiden win of his Carrera Cup GB career last time out at Oulton Park. Harper had already shown his potential as a pacesetter, in particular with a pole position at Monza, and his learning curve continues. In taking to the top step of the podium in round eight, the Northern Irish star became the youngest winner in the history of the championship – and the sixth winner of 2018. Harper will carry that confidence to Snetterton, a circuit he knows well from his days spent racing in junior categories. Completing a competitive Pro category line-up for JTR is Lewis Plato, another driver to have claimed a maiden victory this season. Plato, now in his third season, has shown consistent pace in 2018 and was a podium finisher at Snetterton in 2017.
Topping the Rookie points table by a considerable margin at the mid-point in the season is George Gamble (Amigos Team Parker). Gamble is one of only two double race winners in 2018 and has already proved his credentials in battling wheel-to-wheel.
Jamie Orton (JTR) emerged from the Oulton Park weekend still leading the Pro-Am championship, however the triple race winner has come under increasing threat from developing Rookies Seb Perez (Amigos Team Parker) and Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance). Perez has also taken three category wins this season, Vaughan has won twice – both outscored Orton at Monza and Oulton Park and will be hoping to continue that trend going forward to maintain the tense three-way championship battle.
Rookie Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques), already a podium finisher in 2018, showed her pace after starting from pole position in the reverse grid race at Monza. As with her fellow Rookies, every race brings experience and makes one of the most competitive categories even closer. Bringing the experience of multiple seasons is Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing). The former Pro-Am champion sits just three points ahead of Hawkey in the Pro-Am standings and is never far from the front.
Perhaps the closest of all three categories is the Am category. Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) and Peter Mangion (Team Parker Racing) both claimed wins at Oulton Park with Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) taking two podium finishes behind them. Kyle-Henney and Mangion have three wins each so far this season and are now separated by just nine points. Rookie Mangion has quickly got on terms with experienced runner Kyle-Henney, who holds the most category wins in the history of the championship, and the two have enjoyed some exhilarating battles throughout the season – something sure to continue as Kyle-Henney seeks to avoid a repeat of an error at Snetterton last year that arguably cost him the title. However, Dockerill was in the mirrors of the two Peters all weekend at Oulton Park and will want to maintain that momentum during the remainder of the season.
Former BTCC racer Richard Hawken (Slidesports Engineering) has shown his consistency, scoring points in all of the first eight races. Fellow category Rookie Gary Eastwood (G-Cat Racing) will want to put a retirement in round seven behind him at Snetterton to ensure he outscores team mate and reigning category champion Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) – currently just two points separate the pair.
Fraser Robertson (Redline Racing) clinched points in both races at Oulton Park, his first double points scoring weekend of the season, while David Fairbrother (Slidesports Engineering) will want to recapture his category race-winning form of 2017 after making his return at Oulton Park. Rookie Steve Gales (Welch Motorsport) continues to adapt to racing in the Carrera Cup GB having scored points in both races at Oulton Park.
The Am category is joined for the first time by Rookie Dan Kirby who makes his series debut with GT Marques.
Round nine will take place on Sunday 29 July at 09:15 with round ten taking place later that day at 15:05 with live coverage on ITV4. Follow the lead up to the next races of 2018 via Twitter at @CarreraCupGB.