With significant pressure applied to part-time co-drivers in the full championship round, experience is key when the title contenders secure their driving partners for the annual event, to be held this weekend at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
John Goodacre, Geoff Emery and Tim Miles have all tasted success in GT3 Cup Challenge, having been crowned champion of the series’ Elite Class in 2013, 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Each also has Carrera Cup experience to bring to their respective professionally ranked drivers ahead of the always-competitive Pro-Am event that will this year run alongside the Shannons Nationals event on May 26-28.
While Miles and Goodacre have each contested multiple Porsche Pro-Am events, Emery is a Porsche Carrera Cup Australia winner – having teamed with Matt Campbell to dominantly win both races and the round at the Porsche Rennsport event held in Sydney last year.
Miles will race with McElrea Racing’s Jaxon Evans, while Goodacre will also join the McElrea squad to partner Simon Ellingham.
Emery, however, will jump from the McElrea team to join Alex Davison; the combination of the most successful driver currently in the Porsche Carrera Cup field and the defending Pro-Am winner makes the combination one of the favourites for the pair of one-hour races.
“My job is to be smart, consistent and bring the car home for Alex,” Emery said.
“It’s an important weekend for the championship chances of the Pro drivers so there’s pressure on to make sure you do a sensible job and bring the car home. I’m looking forward to the weekend. The cars are great to drive and the racing is always very competitive.”
Davison sits seventh in the championship, however is one of seven drivers covered by just 92 points at the pointy-end of the field.
He’s also one of five drivers to have won across the first seven races of the ultra-competitive season this year.
Rising star Jaxon Evans will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his McElrea Racing predecessor Campbell – Evans is racing the same car that dominated the Pro-Am event at Porsche Rennsport last year in hands of Campbell and Emery.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up with Tim, he’s not only a close friend but knows what he’s doing in a Porsche as he showed in the GT3 Cup Challenge last year,” Evans said.
“Hopefully we can have a solid run and be fighting for a spot on the podium by the end of the weekend. Being able to do some testing last week helped the cause.”
Evans’ emphasised how important the weekend was for the overall championship picture.
“It’s an important round and we put 50 per cent of the pressure on the co-drivers as we can only do so much time in the car. They have to perform their part but everyone’s in the same boat.
“It’s great to have the longer races as it brings the team into the equation and adds them as another element of the weekend.”
Goodacre, meanwhile, holds the record for the most ever starts in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia series, ensuring he’ll bring plenty of experience to the table alongside Carrera Cup rookie, Ellingham.
The South Australian raced with Cameron McConville in the 2015 Pro-Am event, coming agonisingly close to a round podium before his car broke a driveshaft in the closing laps of the race.
He paired with Michael Almond last year, and in a difficult weekend for the combination, recorded finishes of 15th and 14th in the two races, respectively.