Reigning Rookie champion Tom Sharp (IDL Racing with Team Parker Racing) stormed to a seventh place finish in front of a crowd of over 100,000 fans as the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup supported the British Grand Prix.
Chaotic weather with sudden downpours turned the race into a thriller, with the challenging conditions providing the seven Porsche Carrera Cup GB guest competitors with an opportunity to showcase their pace and racecraft on motorsport’s biggest international stage.
As the 30 competitors in Porsche’s elite international championship formed up to drive to the grid, the first drops of rain began to fall. Dark clouds hung low over the 3.7 mile circuit, then as the 911 GT3 Cup cars formed up the rain began in earnest. At the last moment, the race was declared wet and teams allowed to switch from dry to wet tyres on the grid.
The safety car was deployed, with former Supercup driver Bernd Mayländer behind the wheel and leading the field for two laps in heavy rain. When he switched off the lights and pulled into the pits, the Porsche Carrera Cup GB competitors took full advantage of their experience gained earlier in the season in similar conditions to make their move.
Leading the charge up the field was Tom Sharp, racing as number 44 for the weekend, who was able to find enough grip to complete an amazing first lap in fifth place after starting eighth. A move past the 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster (Rookie Team Deutsche Post by Project 1) saw Sharp into fourth and quickly onto the tail of double 2016 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup winner Matteo Cairoli (Fach Auto Tech), challenging for a podium and at one point the fastest driver on track:
“We didn’t really have a plan as we thought it would be dry. We managed to change the car a little, but it was never going to be perfect for the wet. We were in a different position to the regular guys as we can afford to have a spin, so you can push a bit harder and that’s what we tried to do. I predicted we’d struggle a bit towards the end of the race and tried to make up as many places as possible early on, but it’s quite incredible to think we were challenging for third. It’s not something we ever thought we’d be able to do.”
Webster went on to take the honours as the top-placed British driver in an excellent fourth, while another solid international performance saw reigning Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Dan Cammish inside the top ten, taking the flag after 12 laps of racing in ninth.
However, the two drivers most on the move were Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) and Tom Oliphant (Team Redline). Despite having his fastest time in qualifying deleted for track limits and subsequently starting from 16th, Eastwood proved his racecraft to make the top ten in the final order, an outstanding performance from the Porsche GB 2016/17 Scholar in his first Supercup appearance.
Achieving no less of a feat, Oliphant proved undaunted by his competitors and the conditions. An ability to find grip in the slippery conditions, as evidenced by some breathtaking overtaking manoeuvres around the outside, saw the Cheshire driver gain the most places to finish 12th after starting 20th on his Supercup debut.
Another newcomer was 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Rookie Lewis Plato (Team Redline), who finished his first Supercup race in 17th, only two places behind Dino Zamparelli (GT Marques with MOMO-Megatron Team PARTRAX) who was also making his first appearance.
Regular Pro-Am2 competitor Mark Radcliffe (Intersport Racing with Team Parker Racing) had a steeper learning curve than he expected as he took on the challenging conditions. The second-placed driver in the Pro-Am2 standings proved no less able to provide entertaining racing on the international stage as he battled to 29th at the flag.
After a proud showing amongst the elite of Porsche’s Supercup competitors, the seven drivers will return to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB grid for rounds nine and ten at Snetterton on 30 and 31 July.