Porsche GB 2016/17 Scholar Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) was competing in the Modern GT Racers category of the timed shootout in his 911 GT3 Cup. Despite never having driven up the Hill before Friday’s practice sessions, and with notable competition from experienced drivers such as Kenny Brack, Eastwood expertly piloted his car to the top of the Hill second fastest overall in Saturday’s wet qualifying session.
Eastwood elected to switch to Michelin intermediates for the dry final run on the basis that full racing slicks would take too long to warm up on the short 1.16 mile climb. In a giant-slaying performance that earned him the acclaim of commentators and spectators alike, Eastwood posted the fifth fastest time overall with a 51.34 second run.
Eastwood was not alone among his fellow competitors in taking to the Hill, as reigning Pro-Am2 champion John McCullagh, reigning Rookie champion Tom Sharp and Pro-Am1 front-runner Dan McKay all took turns to demonstrate Porsche’s finest, past and present, in front of a crowd of over 60,000.
For all the drivers it was a special weekend, but none more so than for Sharp, as his motorsport career came full circle:
“All the cars I’ve driven this weekend have been amazing, but for me to drive the 911 GT1-98 was the realisation of a childhood dream, something I never thought I’d achieve. It’s the car that made me want to compete and why I race with Porsche, so to be able to drive it is what dreams are made of. I’m so grateful and proud to be a part of the Porsche Motorsport family.”
Other members of the Porsche Motorsport family were in attendance, with former Carrera Cup GB racers Ben Barker and Paul Rees taking a break from their World Endurance Championship and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup duties respectively to join an all-star driver line up that included 2016 Le Mans winner Marc Lieb.
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB action was not limited to the Hill. In a Goodwood first, the woods echoed each morning to the sounds of racing flat-six engines as Sharp (IDL Racing), McCullagh (Redline Racing) and McKay (IN2 Racing) fired up their 911 GT3 Cup cars to provide a unique, and fast, Porsche Motorsport VIP shuttle service straight into the heart of the Festival.
Still wearing the marks of a hard-fought weekend of racing at Croft just a few days before, the 911 GT3 Cup cars were joined by a Cayman GT4 Clubsport, also fresh from a weekend of racing. Proving the versatility of even Porsche’s most focused track machinery, both cars and drivers successfully battled the weather and conditions to deliver their passengers swiftly and on time.
The next challenge will be Silverstone’s round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, supporting the British Grand Prix. Regular Supercup contenders include former Porsche Carrera Cup GB race winners Ben Barker and Paul Rees, together with Ryan Cullan, who begins his 2016 Supercup campaign at Silverstone.
Providing a thrilling prospect, reigning champion Dan Cammish will take on the best of Europe alongside 2016 title hopeful Dino Zamparelli, while 2014 champion and Porsche GB 2014/15 Scholar Josh Webster will also be making a one-off appearance. Keen to make their own mark will be Tom Sharp, who shone in his debut appearance in 2015, plus newcomers Charlie Eastwood, Tom Oliphant, Lewis Plato and Mark Radcliffe.
A competitive showing is no easy task as, despite several visits to Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit in 2016, extracting the maximum from their tyres on a circuit laid more heavily with rubber than at any other point in the year will be a new experience for most. A further change for the drivers to acclimatise to will be a small shift in the balance of their 911 GT3 Cup cars caused by the lighter weight of the Supercup exhaust systems permitted in the European series.
Cammish and Sharp bring with them their experience from 2015, but the pressure is on to see who will be the top Carrera Cup GB contender on the ultra-competitive international stage. Follow their progress at @CarreraCupGB on Twitter and @carreracupgb on Instagram.