Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, steps onto the international stage once again, this time at Silverstone. Rounds eleven and twelve will support of the opening race of the 2019 / 2020 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season – the 4 Hours of Silverstone – which also sees the racing debut of the 2019 911 RSR. Competing in front of an international audience of teams, drivers and spectators, Porsche Carrera Cup GB’s grid of mechanically identical 485 hp ‘Type 991’ Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will race on the full 3.7-mile Grand Prix circuit for the first time since 2016, when the championship last supported WEC.
18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) arrives fresh from his most successful Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekend to date. At Thruxton, Harper further extended his championship lead with a clean sweep of pole position, two wins and two fastest laps – becoming the first driver to take two victories in a weekend since the introduction of a reverse grid for race two at the start of 2018. Harper is also one of three drivers on the grid who raced their 911 GT3 Cup on the full Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in July, as part of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in support of the British Grand Prix.
Porsche GB Junior Harper’s closest championship rival is 26-year-old Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance), 35 points adrift. Plato took a gamble on tyre strategy in mixed weather conditions in round nine, switching from slick dry weather tyres to grooved wet weather rubber just prior to the start of the weekend’s first race. The move looked to be a wise one early in the race but, on a drying track, Plato’s tyres lost grip and he ultimately struggled home in eighth. Having started the weekend’s second race from the fourth row of the grid, Plato made up places at the start and secured another impressive podium finish – his seventh from 10 rounds. Plato competed on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in his debut Porsche Carrera Cup GB season of 2016, placing sixth and seventh.
2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) arrived in Hampshire trailing George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) by nine points. Following two thrilling races at Thruxton the former Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup driver’s two second pace finishes saw him leap ahead of Gamble in the Pro category standings. Despite missing the opening weekend of the 2019 season, Webster has second-placed Plato firmly in his championship sights, trailing the Motorbase Performance driver by just nine points. Webster has made six podium appearances from eight races so far in 2019, underlining his pace and consistency. Webster made his return to the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup at Silverstone this summer, further bolstering his already extensive experience of racing a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on the Grand Prix circuit.
George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) made an impressive start to round nine, overtaking Webster for second in tricky conditions, navigating the slippery circuit with skill to ultimately take the final podium spot – making it his third consecutive podium appearance. From the second row of the reverse grid race, Gamble got away well, however in the battle for the lead at Cobb, the 22-year-old reigning Rookie champion was involved in an incident that led to his retirement. His third non-scoring race of 2019 relegates him to fourth in the driver’s championship rankings. Gamble will hope to use the experience gained from racing on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in July to his advantage.
Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) drove to two fourth place finishes in rounds nine and ten at Thruxton, crucially finishing ahead of his main category rival Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) on both occasions. The two drivers arrived in Hampshire separated by just one point in the Pro category standings, Vaughan in fifth and Perez in sixth. However, they arrive at Silverstone having switched positions, Perez now three points ahead. Like his team mate Gamble, Perez took part in July’s Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race on at Silverstone, the 19-year-old coming home one place behind 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Webster.
Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) made the best of a difficult weekend at Thruxton. Like his Motorbase Performance team mate Plato, Vaughan dived into the pits at the start of round nine to switch to wet weather tyres, starting his race from the pit lane. However, the changeable conditions led to a drying track leaving Vaughan 10th. In race two, the 22-year-old secured a top six finish – his highest placed finish this season being second in category at Croft, a result he will want to replicate or better at Silverstone.
Rookie Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) made an explosive impact on round nine. The Welshman joined Plato and Vaughan in switching to wet weather tyres on the formation lap. Making his race start from the end of the pit lane, crucially his Rob Boston Racing crew made a quick pit stop to get him to the front of the queue. Making the most of his grip advantage, Roche carved his way through from the back of the grid in the opening laps to take the overall lead. On a drying track, Roche nevertheless finished the race as the highest runner on wet tyres, and will carry his growing experience of the 911 GT3 Cup to Silverstone.
Having switched from the Pro-Am to the Pro category for Oulton Park, Jamie Orton (JTR) underlined his move with second overall in round eight, followed by sixth in round nine at Thruxton. However, an incident at the start of round ten resulted in damage, and the subsequent pit stop for repairs saw him rejoin the race two laps down. The London-based driver, who joined the championship in 2017, could be best placed to spring a surprise at Silverstone.
Fresh from completing her first season racing in W Series, Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques) enjoyed her most successful Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekend to date. The 21-year-old followed up her first category victory at Oulton Park with a clean sweep at Thruxton: Pro-Am category pole position, two category victories and two category fastest laps – this despite never having visited the UK’s fastest circuit before. Over the course of just two race weekends, Hawkey’s points haul has catapulted her from third to first in the category standings. Her main category rival Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) – one of the most experienced Porsche Carrera Cup GB drivers on the 2019 grid – now sits just one point adrift.
Arriving at Thruxton, Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) had appeared on the podium on all but one occasion in 2019 – the experienced Dubliner has competed in more than 50 races since making his championship debut in 2008. Leonard damaged his car beyond immediate repair in the first of Friday’s practice sessions at Thruxton, but overnight his Team Parker Racing crew setup a new machine for his use come race day. Leonard took second in category behind Hawkey in race one, while a recovery drive after a spin early in race two saw him cross the finish line in the final category podium position. Back in his original car, the 43-year-old will want to halt the momentum of category rival Hawkey at Silverstone, and has the most experience of the Grand Prix circuit in a 911 GT3 Cup of anyone on the grid.
Rookie Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) has enjoyed a string of strong results and is consistently never far from the Pro-Am action. Two non-scoring races, one at Croft and one at Oulton Park, have seen him come under increasing pressure in the Pro-Am points standings from Hawkey and Leonard. A problem in round nine saw the 18-year-old lose time with a lengthy pit stop, but a drive to second in category in round ten served as consolation. McCarthy arrives at Silverstone best placed to interrupt the battle between Hawkey and Leonard.
Adam Hatfield (Valluga Racing) made his Porsche Carrera Cup GB debut at Oulton Park, running closely with McCarthy in qualifying and going on to record a category podium finish in his very first Porsche Carrera Cup GB race. Hatfield sat out the Thruxton weekend, but the former GT racer will hope previous visits to Silverstone will help him to advance his Porsche challenge. Sam Brabham (Team Connect It) made a welcome return to Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Thruxton, having last competed in the championship at Silverstone in 2018. Continuing the rich Brabham racing heritage, the 24-year-old reacquainted himself with the 485 hp ‘Type 991′ Porsche 911 GT3 Cup throughout the weekend and will arrive at Silverstone with a renewed level of confidence.
Am category leader Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) secured two podium finishes at Thruxton to maintain his lead in the category championship battle. The Leicestershire-based runner is one of three drivers on the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB grid who competed in the championship when it visited Silverstone’s full Grand Prix circuit in 2016, and remains favourite for the category win in 2019.
However, Rookie John Ferguson (Redline Racing) took two impressive Am category victories on his first visit with the championship to Thruxton, taking the newcomer’s current win tally for the season to three – equal to Sherwood. Ferguson also made a guest appearance in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race at Silverstone, adding to his knowledge of the Grand Prix circuit.
Rival Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing), who sits third in the Am category championship just one point behind Ferguson, was also on the grid during 2016, and recorded second and third place finishes at Thruxton. The championship’s most successful Am category driver – with 27 wins – will want to add to his tally of three category race wins in 2019.
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB’s blue riband event will offer a unique opportunity for the championship’s teams and drivers to showcase their talents on the international stage. The Silverstone Grand Prix circuit is a technical one, where good balance through the corners and commitment are required in equal measure, the 911 GT3 Cup reaching top speeds in excess of 160 mph on the 770-metre long Hanger Straight – home to the Porsche Experience Centre.
The weekend programme of sports car racing includes the racing debut of the new Porsche 911 RSR – run by the factory Porsche GT Team – which will take part in the headline four hour endurance race on Sunday afternoon. Porsche begins the defence of both manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles in GTE Pro and GTE Am at Silverstone.
The two 2019 Porsche 911 RSR cars in GTE Pro will be driven by Porsche factory drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Michael Christensen, Kévin Estre, and Richard Lietz. Three of the four spent the formative years of their sports car racing careers competing in one or more of the 23 Porsche international one-make series around the world, underlining the importance of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid.
In addition to the two factory cars in GTE Pro, the customer teams Team Project 1, Gulf Racing and Dempsey-Proton Racing will field a total of five 2018-specification Porsche 911 RSR racers in the GTE Am category. Among the WEC GTE Am category drivers is 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup GB drivers’ championship runner-up, Porsche Carrera Cup Australia and former Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup competitor Ben Barker (Gulf Racing / Porsche 911 RSR #86). Barker’s career path, and that of Porsche factory driver and former Porsche Junior Michael Christensen – 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland champion / 2013 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup Rookie champion – will provide inspiration to Porsche Carrera Cup GB’s ‘Class of 2019’ drivers, amongst them 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR).