Tom Sharp would see hugely promising pace go unrewarded this past weekend (28/29 October) as his challenging first season in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup came to a close with a disappointing double retirement during the championship’s flyaway season finale in Mexico.
The exciting trip would provide Sharp with the chance to complete in South America for the first time in his career, as he contested the final two races of the year around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in the heart of the nation’s capital, Mexico City.
Eight weeks on since the last rounds at Monza, the 26 year old was immediately back on the front-running pace during Friday’s sole free practice session, as he finished a superb ninth quickest in the thirty car grid for his best practice performance of the season.
Unfortunately the Surrey-based racer wouldn’t be able to replicate that pace in qualifying the following day though, with issues caused by a cooler temperature and some problems with getting a clean lap on track meaning he would end up 23rd and 22nd on the grid for the weekend’s two races in his IDL Racing machine.
Sharp would be right back on the pace during the opening race later that day however, with a tremendous drive seeing him post laptimes comfortably on a par with the top ten as he rose up to twelfth position, but there would be late heartbreak as a sudden driveshaft failure forced him into retirement three laps from the end.
That disappointment would fire up the Dome Group, Mardix Group, Lloret, GBE, Aapex Wealth Management and Fireclad Limited supported racer ahead of the final race of the season, which came on the eve of the F1 Mexican Grand Prix in front of a passionate sell-out crowd of 115,000 fans.
There would unfortunately be no opportunity for Sharp to showcase his superb speed and racecraft once again though, with early contact causing a broken steering rack to end his race on the opening lap, which means he finishes his maiden Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign just outside the top twenty in the final championship standings.
Tom Sharp: “As a circuit, you couldn’t really ask for much more. It has a real flow and some unique features like the amphitheatre section, which is full of fans. I have never met such an enthusiastic group of spectators before, the atmosphere is incredible and it made it a really special weekend for us all.
“The car felt great straight away from the opening lap in practice. The balance of the car was very neutral and balanced between high and low speed grip, which allowed me to put together a good lap time and start the meeting in a really positive fashion in ninth overall.
“Qualifying wasn’t straight forward though and the end result was disappointing. That put us on the back foot for the races and after a great drive to twelfth, it was really frustrating to suffer a snapped driveshaft, and then in race two we couldn’t do anything as light contact to my front right wheel broke the steering.
“While we didn’t come away from the weekend with the results we wanted, racing in Mexico was a fantastic experience and it was a fitting end to an enjoyable first season in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Thank you to all the IDL Racing team and to all my sponsors for making it possible!”