Image: Barry Horne was the inaugural champion in 2003
In the last race of 2018, Porsche Carrera Cup GB powered into its fourth century of races – 301 to date and counting, as the fastest single marque GT championship in the UK begins its 17th season.
Part of an international family of over 20 championships, each Porsche Carrera Cup GB season has enthralled crowds as part of the TOCA package alongside the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), which itself celebrated a diamond jubilee in 2018.
Within this stable and thriving environment, Porsche Carrera Cup GB has repeatedly proved itself as a springboard for drivers seeking to progress their careers within the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid and within the wider motorsport arena.
Of 11 champions from 16 seasons, five have earned careers as professional drivers: Charlie Eastwood, Dan Cammish, Michael Meadows, Damien Faulkner and Richard Westbrook. 2012 Carrera Cup GB runner-up and 2014 Carrera Cup Le Mans winner Ben Barker has competed a Porsche 911 RSR in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for three successive years.
Within the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid, 2014 Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster has successfully competed in the international Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, supporting Formula One Grands Prix around the world. 2018 champion Tio Ellinas will take on the same challenge for 2019.
Four-time race winner Nick Tandy, his first win a guest appearance, moved through the Porsche one-make family with a combination of raw speed and outright success that took him to an outright win at Le Mans with Porsche in 2015 – the first for the now legendary 919 Hybrid, and the 17th for Porsche after a 17 year wait. Tandy has since taken wins at the Daytona 24, Nurburgring 24, Petit Le Mans and Sebring 12 as a Porsche factory driver.
Several drivers have progressed from Porsche Carrera Cup GB into the BTCC, most recently record race-winner and double-champion Dan Cammish. Sam Tordoff, Tom Oliphant, Ollie Jackson, Tony Gilham, Glynn Geddie, Liam Griffin, Rory Butcher and Daniel Lloyd have all starred on the Carrera Cup GB grid.
The success that has been born in the championship is enjoyed as much by teams as by drivers. Renowned names such as Motorbase, Redline Racing and Team Parker Racing have been familiar within Carrera Cup GB from the very start in 2003.
In its inaugural season, Porsche Carrera Cup GB established itself as an exciting and integral part of the TOCA package, running alongside the BTCC. A grid of race prepared 'Type 996' Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars lined-up for the opening round at Ireland's Mondello Park. Former single-seater ace and guest driver Damien Faulkner took pole position, but it was Barry Horne (Team Parker Racing) who took the points at the championship's opening weekend. Horne became the leading title contender throughout the 20 race season, ultimately fighting off Richard Westbrook (Team BCR) to be crowned the first Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. Faulkner would nevertheless leave his mark on the championship. Other notable guest drives in 2003 came from American Porsche racer Patrick Long, DTM ace Mike Rockenfeller, and former BTCC champion Tim Harvey. However, as continues to be the case, guest drivers were not permitted to score championship points.
Horne graduated to the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup for 2004, leaving Westbrook (BEAST Racing / Redline Racing) to face a new title adversary in Harvey (Team RPM) – the former took seven victories to the latter's eight. However, it was Westbrook's consistent run of points finishes that would secure him the 2004 title, despite increasing pressure from Jason Templeman (Vic Lee Racing). Occupying the guest car came a string of BTCC heroes; Alain Menu, John Cleland and Paul Radisich among them. Menu took two memorable outright wins in rounds seven and eight at Oulton Park.
The championship's third season saw Westbrook (Redline Racing) mount a strong defence of his title, taking 13 wins from 20 races. However, it was Faulkner (Team SAS) who ultimately triumphed – the Irishman's tally of seven outright victories and consistent visits to the podium for the rest of the season's races securing him the 2005 title. Entering as a guest driver, with two impressive podium finishes at home circuit Knockhill, came current day BTCC champion Gordon Shedden. At Brands Hatch (Indy), future Formula One test driver and later Formula E Team Principal Suzanne Wolff (née Stoddart) joined the grid.
In 2006 Damien Faulkner (Team Parker with SAS) became the first champion to successfully defend the Porsche Carrera Cup GB title. Consistency was again the victor's secret weapon – chalking up multiple podium appearances, Faulkner only appeared on the top step on three occasions. The season's other multiple race winners included Harvey (Motorbase Performance) and Westbrook (Team Irwin with Redline Racing) with three each, while Danny Watts (Team Irwin with Redline Racing) took 10 wins. The 2006 season was a somewhat musical one, with appearances from Faithless band member Maxi Jazz (Redline Racing) and Boyzone singer-songwriter Shane Lynch (Porsche Cars GB). Future BTCC front-runners Rob Huff and Paul O'Neill also appeared as guest drivers in 2006, in addition to rallying superstar Colin McRae.
The introduction of the 'Type 997' Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in 2007 coincided with James Sutton (Redline Racing) clinching the Porsche Carrera Cup GB title at his first attempt. A total of six overall victories saw Sutton beat teammate Harvey and Steven Kane (Motorbase Performance) by just a handful of points come the season finale at Thruxton. Kane took eight wins in 2007, Harvey claimed five, with 24 Hours of Le Mans regular Sam Hancock (Motorbase Performance) notching up one victory at Knockhill. For the first time the grid was divided into Pro and Pro-Am categories with an almost even split of entrants. Nigel Rice (Redline Racing) scored more points than his Pro-Am rivals to take the inaugural category championship title.
Having made regular race-winning appearances in the championship since its inception, former BTCC champion Tim Harvey (Redline Racing) was finally crowned Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion in 2008. Harvey fought off the advances of fellow race winners Michael Caine (Team Parker Racing) – five victories, Tim Bridgman (Team Parker Racing) – seven victories, and Sam Hancock (Team Jota) – three victories. The 2008 season saw competitors split into three categories for the first time; Pro, Pro-Am1 and Pro-Am2. Tony Gilham (ReDesign Racing) took Pro-Am1 honours, Glynn Geddie (Parr Motorsport) Pro-Am2. Making a guest appearance was future Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Nick Tandy. Also guesting was Stefan Hodgetts, son of BTCC champion Chris Hodgetts. Stefan took overall victory in round five at Croft, Tandy round nine at Silverstone.
Eight overall wins contributed to Tim Bridgman (Team Parker Racing) securing the title in 2009. Caine (Motorbase Performance), Sutton (Redline Racing) and the ever-present Harvey (Redline Racing) shared the remaining outright victories between them. Packed grids provided plenty of action throughout the field across 20 races, Glynn Geddie (Team Parker Racing) secured the Pro-Am1 title, Glenn McMenamin Pro-Am2. Former BTCC race-winner Anthony Reid, British Rally Championship mainstay Mark Higgins, and Superbike World Championship rider Aaron Slight all made appearances as guest drivers.
With defending champion Bridgman moving up to the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup for 2010, Harvey (Redline Racing) and Caine (Motorbase Performance) were left to battle it out for top Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship honours. Harvey took 11 wins to Caine's seven in a season when the pair were barely away from the podium. Ultimately Harvey triumphed, taking his second Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship trophy. Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing) was the only other driver to stand on the top step of the podium in 2010, winning rounds 19 and 20 at Brands Hatch (Indy). Ollie Jackson (Motorbase Performance) finished top in Pro-Am1, George Richardson (Motorbase Performance) in Pro-Am2.
It was 2007 champion James Sutton (Redline Racing) who became the third double champion in Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship history, finishing the season just ahead of newcomer Michael Meadows (Team Parker Racing) and Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing). The season's blue-riband event was a visit to the historic Nürburgring Nordschleife as part of the inaugural Porsche Carrera World Cup in June. A total of 23 drivers from the Porsche Carrera Cup GB lined up alongside over 100 competitors from around the world, each in 911 GT3 Cup cars, for a six lap race around the legendary Nordschleife – Tim Harvey (Nationwide Motorbase) took overall victory. Other notable performances in 2011 came from Nick Tandy (Motorbase Performance) who claimed three overall wins. Lithuanian racing driver Jonas Gelžinis (Juta Racing) was crowned Pro-Am1 champion, George Brewster (Celtic Speed) topped Pro-Am2.
The 2012 season signalled the arrival of the next generation of Porsche 911 – the 'Type 991' GT3 Cup. Michael Meadows (Redline Racing), Ben Barker (Parr Motorsport) and Sam Tordoff (Team Parker Racing) were all front runners throughout the season. Seven different drivers shared the available wins over the course of 20 races, Meadows clinching a string of victories in the early part of the season, while Barker did the same in the latter half, but it was Meadows that emerged ahead of his competition as the Pro category Champion. Ahmad Al Harthy (Redline Racing) from Oman was crowned Pro-Am1 champion, while Will Goff (Goff Racing) claimed Pro-Am2 honours.
Now racing with Samsung Smart Motorsport, defending champion Michael Meadows took eight overall victories in 2013. His main opposition came from Pro-Am1 category champion Jonas Gelžinis (Juta Racing) – the Lithuanian now having graduated to the Pro category. Three overall race wins and a number of podium results for Gelžinis put him in title contention, but Meadows ultimately did enough to become the fourth ever double Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. Other notable performances came from Dean Stoneman (Redline Racing) with five victories and Rory Butcher (Celtic Speed) with three. The 2013 Pro-Am1 champion was Spaniard Víctor Jiménez (Redline Racing), the Pro-Am2 champion Pete Smallwood (Parr Motorsport).
A close championship fight developed in 2014 between returning champion Meadows (Redline Racing) and teammate Josh Webster. Webster was a talented newcomer, appointed the Porsche GB 2014/15 Scholar after winning an intense shootout for the position. Meadows took 11 category wins to the newcomer’s six, but it was Webster’s consistency that saw him snatch top championship honours by just a handful of points – the first and only time a Porsche GB Scholar / Junior has won the title in their debut season.
The jewel in the 2014 season's crown was round seven at Le Mans. The Circuit de la Sarthe played host to a joint race with Porsche Carrera Cup France which was won by Porsche Carrera Cup GB guest driver Ben Barker (Parr Motorsport). The Le Mans race also welcomed as a guest the now world-renowned host of BBC Top Gear, Chris Harris. Of the Pro-Am1 drivers, Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) was crowded champion, with Steven Liquorish (Team Parker Racing) taking Pro-Am2 glory.
The 2015 season will be remembered largely for the dominant performances of eventual champion, Dan Cammish (Redline Racing). After winning one guest race at the end of the previous season, Cammish secured 11 overall victories, six of those consecutively. However, fellow race-winners Michael Meadows (Samsung SUHD TV Racing), Josh Webster (Redline Racing), Dino Zamparelli (Parr Motorsport / GT Marques) and Tom Sharp (IDL Racing) also put in strong performances throughout the season. Meadows, who took ten podium finishes in 2015 and won the season's blue-riband event in support of the World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, finished as runner-up to Cammish. Championship returnee Ignas Gelžinis (Juta Racing) topped Pro-Am1, John McCullagh (Redline Racing) Pro-Am2.
Reigning Champion Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) successfully defended his title in 2016, only the second driver to record back-to-back championships. A tally of 12 wins across one season of 16 races also set a new record. The closest rival to Cammish in the first part of the season was former GP3 racer Dino Zamparelli (GT Marques) who scored three wins, and in the latter part of the season Porsche GB 2016/17 Scholar Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) who scored his maiden win in the penultimate round. The championship battle in Pro-Am1 was settled in favour of Euan McKay (IN2 Racing), while a closely-fought battle between Tautvydas Barštys (Juta Racing) and Peter Kyle-Henney (Parr Motorsport) was resolved in favour of Lithuanian driver Barštys.
Defending double champion Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) split his season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign. Due to a calendar clash, Cammish missed rounds eight and nine of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Snetterton, a significant challenge in his quest for a record third title. Cammish took eight race wins, Porsche GB 2016/17 Scholar Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) secured four, while Dino Zamparelli (JTR) chalked up three. Zamparelli, now with the new JTR team, emerged as the main rival to Eastwood, their battle going down to the wire. Though the pair tied on points, Eastwood was crowned champion on wins. Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) topped the Pro-Am 1 standings, Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) sealed the Pro-Am2 championship.
The season was also notable for a second visit to Le Mans, the round in support of the 24 Hours of Le Mans producing a motor racing classic. With competitors from all around the world, it was Cammish who took the outright win with a daring move for the lead on the final lap.
The 2018 season saw the arrival of the second-generation 'Type 991' 911 GT3 Cup. Dino Zamparelli (Redline Racing) and former Formula One test driver Tio Ellinas (Slidesports Engineering) quickly made the title fight a duel, the introduction of a reverse grid for the second of the two races each weekend prevented any one driver from dominating. The arrival of 17-year old Porsche GB 2018/19 Junior Dan Harper (JTR), and six different winners over the season, created one of the most exciting seasons of them all. The blue-riband event in 2018 was a visit to historic Monza in Italy in support of the European Le Mans Series. For the second year in a row, Zamparelli lost out on the title in the final round, Ellinas emerging at the 2018 champion. Newcomer Seb Perez (Amigos Team Parker) topped the renamed Pro-Am category, while Peter Mangion (Team Parker Racing) headed close rival Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) in the Am category, formerly Pro-Am2.
In 2019, over eight weekends and sixteen rounds, the Porsche Carrara Cup GB will continue to run alongside the BTCC calendar, part of its on-going commitment to the TOCA package that has provided such a successful home for the championship since 2003. Rounds 11 and 12 will take place in support of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Silverstone on the weekend of 30 August and 1 September, the WEC season-opener providing a world-class stage for teams, drivers and sponsors. The 2019 calendar is as follows:
Brands Hatch (Indy) Rounds 1&2 5-7 April
Donington Park Rounds 3&4 25-28 April
Croft Rounds 5&6 14-16 June
Oulton Park Rounds 7&8 28-30 June
Thruxton Rounds 9&10 16-18 August
Silverstone (Grand Prix) Rounds 11&12 30 August–1 September
Silverstone (National) Rounds 13&14 27-29 September
Brands Hatch (Grand Prix) Rounds 15&16 11-13 October