The 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship was settled in spectacular style at one of the most spectacular circuits on the UK calendar, Brands Hatch Grand Prix. With the Porsche 919 Hybrid, the pinnacle of the Porsche Motorsport pyramid, leading the cars to the grid for both races, the championship battle between Porsche GB 2016 / 2017 Scholar Charlie Eastwood and Dino Zamparelli (JTR) was settled in Eastwood’s favour in the final few laps of the final race.
The pair tied on points, but not before reigning champion Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) signed off the season in style with another dominant weekend – double pole positions, two fastest laps and a pair of wins a fitting way to end an era that has seen Cammish take 31 victories over just three seasons.
Former BTCC racer Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) took the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am1 title after round fourteen, a win placing him out of reach of season-long rival Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing).
Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) sealed the Pro-Am2 championship with a measured pair of second-place finishes, the record-breaking Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) unable to do any more than win both races and reduce the gap to just one point.
Drizzle and a damp track intensified the expectant atmosphere ahead of the first race on the full Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) led the field around behind the Porsche 919 Hybrid to take his place on the number one grid slot for the rolling start. As the lights went green, it was Tio Ellinas (JTR) who made the best start from the front row, passing Cammish into Paddock Hill. However, the reigning champion was quick to recover, pulling alongside Ellinas by the apex.
The defence was to be short lived, Cammish running wide at the exit in the tricky, greasy conditions and allowing Ellinas into the lead by Druids. With a good run out of Druids, championship leader Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) took third with a move on rival Dino Zamparelli (JTR) as the pair headed into Graham Hill. Zamparelli responded going into Surtees but ran wide onto the grass, allowing Eastwood back through and dropping the Bristol driver and championship hopeful to sixth.
As the leaders completed their first lap, Ellinas led from Cammish with Eastwood third. Behind, Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) finished an incredible opening lap fourth, making up four places from eighth on the grid. As Lewis Plato (JTR) claimed fourth back from Oliphant at Surtees, three cars found the gravel at Clearways, bringing out the safety car. Casualties of the first lap were Euan McKay (Redline Racing), Graeme Mundy (Team Parker Racing) and, crucially for the Pro-Am1 title race, Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing).
The race resumed on lap five, Ellinas leading the restart with Cammish in hot pursuit. As the pair approached Druids, Ellinas ran wide which allowed Cammish alongside. A defence from Ellinas into Graham Hill gave Cammish a run into Surtees and the lead for a brief moment, before he too struggled to make the apex. Ellinas capitalised on the gap to go ahead but lost traction on the exit, providing Cammish with an opportunity to pass on the run to Hawthorns for a lead he would not relinquish.
This activity at the front allowed Eastwood to close slightly behind, but a string of fastest laps from Cammish put the double champion out of reach of his pursuers, even if a record third title slipped out of his reach at the same time. For the remainder of the race, the action was to come from the battles for third and fifth.
Despite losing out to Plato for fourth, Oliphant regrouped to retake the position on lap 9. Not content with this, he set after Eastwood ahead in third, catching the Irishman on lap 15 and passing him for a podium position at Druids.
Plato was left to fall into the clutches of the recovering Zamparelli who was in turn being hunted down by Tom Wrigley (IN2 Racing). While Ross Wylie (Slidesports) was making an impressive recovery after a depressurising tyre early in qualifying left him at the back of the grid, fellow rookie Wrigley was also making good progress.
When Plato ran wide into Westfields, Zamparelli gratefully took the position and points to finish just behind championship leader Eastwood, allowing the Porsche GB 2016 / 2017 Scholar to increase his points lead to six from four. Wrigley also managed to pass Plato, completing his impressive run from ninth on the grid in sixth.
With Sherwood sidelined in the early stages, the Pro-Am1 championship was there for points leader Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) if he took the flag. As Martin contemplated the title, Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) was on a charge. After qualifying fifth, the Irishman displayed his wet weather skills by storming through the field to eighth overall and a Pro-Am1 win. Martin took second from John McCullagh (Redline Racing), enough to secure himself the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am1 championship after a hard-fought season with Sherwood.
In Pro-Am2, Peter Kyle-Henney moved himself to the top of the all-time Pro-Am2 rankings with a nineteenth career win. Victory in round 14 also moved him to within two points of Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) as the pair continued their season-long battle for the championship.
A loose wheel on the green flag lap forced Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) to give up second place to Jennings, but a fight back from the pitlane aided by the safety car saw Dockerill push Jennings hard for the second half of the race. Jennings also had to defend from a determined Matt Telling (Welch Motorsport) in the early stages. Telling, looking at home in the wet, managed to pass Jennings before light contact between the pair in the slippery conditions left Telling recovering from a spin. Both David Fairbrother (Slidesports) and Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing) fell foul of the conditions with a spin apiece, Fairbrother unable to restart.
Victory for Cammish and fourth for Eastwood secured Redline Racing the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Team Championship, their tenth since the championship’s inaugural season in 2003.
A dry track with the ever-present threat of rain in the air saw the field once again led out onto the grid behind the Porsche 919 Hybrid. The climactic final round would see either Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) or Dino Zamparelli (JTR) crowned as champion, and they lined up for the standing start third and second respectively. An even start from the front two rows allowed Zamparelli to move to the inside and slot in between Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) ahead and Eastwood behind.
Lewis Plato (JTR) went wide to pass Tio Ellinas (JTR) and carried his momentum around the outside of Paddock and up into Druids. Contact between Plato and Eastwood ahead, who had also taken to the outside of Druids, was just enough to allow Ellinas, Plato and Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) past. One corner began what was to be a thrilling points battle between Eastwood in sixth and Zamparelli in second.
Were Zamparelli to finish second, Eastwood needed to cross the line fifth or higher to equal the Bristol driver on points but take the title on number of wins – four to three. Standing between Eastwood and the 2017 title was team mate Oliphant, who was determined not to make life easy for the Irishman. As Zamparelli held the gap to Cammish at just under one second, the pair posting almost identical lap times, and Ellinas settled into third, the pressure was on Eastwood.
By lap five he was in a position to put Oliphant under an increasing amount of pressure of his own, Oliphant in turn responding to close in on Plato. As the trio became a train fighting for fourth, Eastwood made his move. On lap 10 he ran to the inside of Oliphant at Hawthorns, unable to do more than draw alongside, but remaining there through Westfields while Oliphant doggedly held on around the outside. The two approached Sheene still side by side, but Eastwood was able to finally move ahead as the pair turned into the right-hander.
A move into fifth gave Eastwood the position he needed to win the title, but as Plato ahead began to drop back the small advantage Eastwood had built over Oliphant was eroded. As the three ran nose to tail into Sheene on lap 14, Oliphant took to the outside once again and Eastwood, now blocked in, could do no more than watch Oliphant retake the position and the championship advantage once again swing towards Zamparelli.
Choosing to respond immediately, as the pair ran towards Paddock Hill Eastwood swept past Oliphant on the brakes and back into the lead of the championship. With only two laps remaining, lapped traffic added one more factor into the equation. As Cammish expertly picked his way through, Zamparelli took every opportunity to erode the two second gap and close on the leader.
However, it was not to be for Zamparelli. After a season of remarkably consistent results with a new team in JTR, he could do no more than take the points for second and finish with a tally equal to that of Eastwood.
Ellinas claimed his second podium of the weekend and fourth in a row, while Plato held on to fourth. Oliphant crossed the line less than half a second behind Eastwood with Dan McKay (Redline Racing) and Tom Wrigley (IN2 Racing) rounded out the top eight. Eight for Wrigley secured him third in the Rookie championship, with Ross Wylie (Slidesports) completing the top three.
In Pro-Am1, champion Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) had another win seemingly under control until a spin dropped him back to third. Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) was in the midst of another recovery drive from the back of the grid after being forced to retire from qualifying. The Irishman had already gained a place from Graeme Mundy (Team Parker Racing) by the end of the first lap, passed John McCullagh (Redline Racing) on the second lap, and moved onto the tail of the pair ahead. By lap eight, Martin, Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) and Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) were separated by just three seconds. On lap 13 Leonard was past Sherwood, and the spin from Martin at Druids saw him take his first category win of 2017.
Peter Kyle-Henney could do no more than win the race, the fate of his championship hopes resting in the hands of Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing), David Fairbrother (Slidesports), Matt Telling (Welch Motorsport) and Rupert Martin (Team Parker Racing). In order to topple Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) at the top of the table, Kyle-Henney needed one other drive between himself and Jennings were he to take the victory. This he duly did – setting an overall record of 20 Pro-Am2 wins on the way – but Jennings was able to fend off his challengers to take the 2017 Pro-Am2 title. Jennings, Fairbrother, Martin and Dockerill were separated by just five seconds as the flag fell, with Telling rounding out the category.
After an emotionally charged day, four champions of 2017 were crowned and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB family will gather in November at the annual awards night to celebrate what has been an outstanding season of competition.
Charlie Eastwood Redline Racing 228
Dino Zamparelli JTR 228
Dan Cammish Redline Racing 210
Alex Martin Team Parker Racing 123
Justin Sherwood Team Parker Racing 112
Graeme Mundy Team Parker Racing 67
Shamus Jennings G-Cat Racing 121
Peter Kyle-Henney IN2 Racing 120
Iain Dockerill Asset Advantage Racing 104