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Title battle takes on new twist for Porsche Carrera Cup GB return to Croft

The Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, saw the return of 2014 / 2015 Porsche GB Scholar Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) last time out at Donington Park. Despite no testing, the 2014 champion emphatically proved that he will add a new dimension to the 2019 title battle for the remainder of the season.

The presence of Webster along with the return of another former front-runner – Tom Wrigley (Rob Boston Racing) – promises a pair of thrilling races in Yorkshire, packed with close, clean racing that has become a hallmark of the championship.

18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR), continues to stamp his authority on the 2019 title, the teenager producing a mature victory in round three and a patient podium finish in round four – despite having started from fourth and sixth on the grid respectively. Harper arrives at Croft, last visited by the championship in 2016, with a seven point advantage in the overall championship standings having never raced a Porsche at the circuit before.

One of Harper’s closest rivals is 26-year-old Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance). Plato is one of the few drivers on the grid to have competed in 2016, and has already raced to three podium finishes in four races during his 2019 campaign. Currently sitting second in the driver’s standings – just two points clear of George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) – Plato will go to Croft wanting to use his typically strong single lap qualifying pace to close the points gap to Harper, as well as increase his overall tally of wins.

Gamble narrowly missed out on pole position at Donington Park by a slim 0.003s margin, going on to finish second in the first of the two races. Gamble’s podium result further bolstered his points tally in the overall standings – he is already a race winner in 2019 with his round two victory at Brands Hatch. The 22-year-old reigning Rookie champion displayed good pace and race craft at both the Brands Hatch and Donington Park weekends, now more than ever a constant feature at the sharp end of the grid.

Despite missing the championship’s opening weekend, former Porsche GB Scholar and 2014 Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) chalked up a healthy 19 points on his return to the championship at Donington. The former Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup driver made an immediate impression on the championship, snatching a surprise pole position for round three which he converted into a podium finish in mixed conditions. Having started fourth for his second race, Webster wasted no time finding his way to the front of the pack to secure an outright victory – the seventh of his Porsche Carrera Cup GB career. The 25-year-old heads to Yorkshire knowing that he has to make up for the points lost at Brands Hatch, as well as the two points he was docked at Donington following an incident at the start of round four.

Following his podium appearance at Brands Hatch – his first race weekend after stepping up to the Pro category for 2019 – Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) suffered a difficult weekend at Donington Park. The 2018 Pro-Am champion was involved in a significant ‘off’ during round three, resulting in his retirement from the race. Thanks to the excellent work of Amigos Redline Racing, Perez was able to make the grid for round four where he repaid the team’s efforts by taking a points paying finish. The Derbyshire teenager will want to finish ahead of teammate and good friend Gamble at Croft to get his 2019 season back on track.

Plato’s team mate Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) has been a feature in several sessions in 2019, scoring points in three out of four races. Vaughan, who has stepped up from a Pro-Am category campaign in 2018, will be aiming to develop his pace further to regularly get on terms with the front runners at Croft following a very strong showing last time out.

Welshman Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) continues to adapt to racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the Pro category Rookie finding himself in the thick of the action at times while showing good race craft and speed. Following a technical infringement, Roche was disqualified from round four at Donington Park but will look to bounce back at Croft.

A late addition to the grid comes from Rob Boston Racing, in the form of 2017 and 2018 front-runner Tom Wrigley. Wrigley claimed an impressive third overall in 2018, after finishing his debut season second in the Rookie standings. With four Porsche Carrera Cup GB career victories, the only driver on the grid who can lay claim to more is Webster. Although adapting to a new team, Wrigley will doubtless add to the action in both races as he swells the Pro category to fill half the grid.

A keen rivalry has already been established in the Pro-Am category between an experienced hand and an exciting newcomer. Following double category victories, Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) arrives at Croft top of the Rookie championship standings – the 18-year-old has an unbroken record of podium appearances so far. McCarthy is joined on 33 points by Porsche Carrera Cup GB veteran Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing). Having competed in 50 Porsche Carrera Cup GB races during his career, 43-year-old Leonard technically sits second behind McCarthy on account of accruing two wins, one third and one fourth place finish to McCarthy’s two wins and two third place finishes. The battle will undoubtedly continue in Yorkshire, where Leonard has the benefit of having raced a Porsche at the circuit before.

Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) is conducting a tandem racing campaign in 2019, competing in Porsche Carrera Cup GB and the inaugural season of W Series after fighting her way to a place in the final 18. The 21-year-old has achieved three category podium finishes so far in this, her second season racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship, and sits just five points off the category lead. However, adapting from a single-seater to a GT car and back again will present a tough challenge this season for the talented driver from Kent.

Jamie Orton (JTR) sits three points behind Hawkey in the Pro-Am category standings. The 39-year-old, now in his third season, has recorded two category second places but will want to return to the top step where he stood five times in 2018.

Am category leader Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) has continued a run of good form this season, securing two victories and two second place finishes in another competitive season for the category. The Leicestershire driver will be hoping that his experience of racing at Croft in 2016 will benefit him, a visit which netted two category podium finishes.

Looking to interfere with Sherwood’s plan will be Rookie John Ferguson (Redline Racing). The 45-year-old took a shock third overall in qualifying at a wet Brands Hatch for his first weekend, before taking his maiden category victory in round four. The newcomer has been a constant presence at the top of the Am category time sheets so far this season, and shines especially in challenging conditions.

As the driver with most wins of anyone in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Am category (24), Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) is yet to stand on the top step of the podium in 2019 – though he has registered a pair of impressive third place finishes. Kyle-Henney currently sits third in the Am category standings behind Sherwood and Ferguson. Rookie Adam Hatfield (Valluga Racing) steps in to replace Adam Knight for the first time in 2019, the two sharing a campaign.

Only four drivers on the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB grid have raced the ‘Type 991’ Porsche 911 GT3 Cup at Croft in the past – 2016 was the last time the championship visited the challenging Yorkshire circuit. Amongst those with experience are 2016 competitors Plato, Sherwood and Kyle-Henney – all three will be hoping their experience of the circuit nets them an advantage. However, undoubtedly all eyes will be on 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Webster. The former Porsche GB Scholar clinched two overall victories at Croft in 2014, where he took the lap record which still stands, and two podium finishes during his last visit there with the championship in 2015. The question will be whether his successor Harper will be able to fend him off in 2019.

Source. Porsche

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