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Porsche Carrera Cup GB grid swells as winner takes all in 2019 title fight

Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK, returns to the ToCA package with a grid of 21 (8 Pro, 6 Pro-Am, 7 Am) following an annual blue riband weekend on the international stage. With just two weekends and four rounds of the 2019 season remaining, Silverstone could see the overall championship decided. Both Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) and Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) needing nothing less than victory to keep Porsche GB Junior Dan Harper (JTR) from being crowned 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion.

Joining the fray are three drivers new to the championship. Aaron Mason joins the Pro-Am category with Brookspeed International, bringing significant endurance experience having most recently competed a Cayman GT4 in the Bathurst 12 Hour. Lucky Khera and Lee Frost swell the Am category ranks with Team Parker Racing, both graduating from the Ginetta GT4 Supercup.

Rounds eleven and twelve ran in support of the opening race of the 2019 / 2020 World Endurance Championship (WEC) season – the 4 Hours of Silverstone – which also played host to the race debut of the new 2019 Porsche 911 RSR. Having already become the first driver to take victories in both races since the introduction of a reverse grid for race two at the start of 2018, 18-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior Dan Harper (JTR) further extended his championship lead shortly before the 911 RSR took a one-two finish in GTE Pro.

Harper took a dominant victory in round 11 and drove a remarkable recovery drive to come back from two spins following contact with arch title rival Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) in round 12. Harper came through to finish fourth, crucially still ahead of Plato, meaning that the 18-year-old only needs sixth place or higher in round 13 to take the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup GB title.

The Porsche GB Junior has won the opening race of every weekend this season, six in total, a run equal to that of former double Porsche Carrera Cup GB champions Tim Harvey and Dan Cammish. Should Harper win round 13, his tally of seven consecutive opening race wins from seven weekends would be the highest in the history of the championship.

Despite having taken just one victory (Croft) to the championship leader’s seven, 26-year-old Lewis Plato (Motorbase Performance) remains a title challenger occupying second in the standings – 44 points behind Harper going into the championship’s penultimate weekend. Underlining his consistency, Plato’s podium result in round 11 was his eighth of the 2019 season. However, only victory will suffice at Silverstone if Plato is to keep his title chances alive going into the championship’s final weekend, but his highest-placed Porsche Carrera Cup GB career finish on Silverstone’s National circuit has been third in 2018.

Despite missing the opening weekend of 2019, Josh Webster (Team Parker Racing) also has a mathematical chance of the championship, sitting just a single point behind Plato with four races remaining. 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Webster took second in round 11 and victory in round 12 – his second win of the season and eighth in the championship. The former Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup driver was Porsche GB Junior Harper’s closest rival both on track at Thruxton for rounds 9 and 10 and over the Silverstone Grand Prix weekend. In four Porsche Carrera Cup GB career visits to Silverstone National, Webster’s best results have been second and third, both in his championship year of 2014.

Benefitting from a reverse grid pole position in round 12, Nottingham-based George Gamble (Amigos Redline Racing) was passed only by a hard-charging Webster to take second spot – his sixth visit to the podium this season. Three non-scoring races have put paid to Gamble’s charge up the championship standings, he now sits seven points adrift of Webster. However, on the nine other occasions when the 22-year-old has taken the flag this season, he has never finished lower than fourth – serving to highlight his pace and race craft. The 2018 Rookie champion’s highest finish during his last visit to Silverstone National was fourth, a result he’ll be aiming to better in 2019.

Dan Vaughan (Motorbase Performance) made his second podium appearance of the 2019 season following round 12, a fine fighting drive seeing him displace Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) in the championship standings as a result. Third place at Silverstone marked his second best result of the season – bettered only by his second-placed finish in the rain-affected round six at Croft. The 22-year-old from Hampshire revisits the scene of a Pro-Am category victory in 2018 and, now a Pro category runner, Vaughan looks well placed to better his highest overall Porsche Carrera Cup GB career finish on Silverstone National of seventh.

After both progressing to the Pro category for 2019, Seb Perez (Amigos Redline Racing) and Vaughan have continued their close battle throughout the season, switching positions in the championship standings on more than one occasion. Perez returns to Silverstone with a four point deficit to his rival which he will be looking to recoup. In their Rookie seasons of 2018, Perez and Vaughan – then Pro-Am category drivers – each took one category victory each during the championship’s Silverstone National weekend. On this occasion Perez will hope to match, or better, his best finish of 2019 – third place overall.

Tom Roche (Rob Boston Racing) recorded two solid points scoring results in rounds 11 and 12, finishing seventh and sixth respectively. The Rookie has been a consistent points finisher throughout the 2019 season, with his highest position being fourth in round 7 at Oulton Park – there the Welshman took advantage of a reverse grid front row slot with an impressive drive to the flag. Roche’s tenacious drive in mixed conditions at Thruxton was equally memorable – the 32-year-old continues to grow with confidence and experience as his season progresses.

Splitting his 2019 season between Pro-Am and Pro category campaigns, Jamie Orton (JTR) suffered a frustrating weekend at Silverstone, which included an intense battle with Perez. On previous visits to Silverstone National, the Londoner has seen mixed fortunes; two top 10 finishes as a Pro category driver in 2017 were followed by two DNFs in 2018 during a full season in Pro Am – Orton’s participation ending early in both of the weekend’s races. As the 39-year old returns to Silverstone National as a Pro category driver once more, a good haul of championship points could put him in touch with Roche – currently 14 points ahead – by the end of the season.

Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) continued his consistent 2019 campaign last time out – the 43-year-old has finished every race this season on the category podium on all but two occasions. A second-placed finish in round 11 and a fifth in round 12 put the experienced Dubliner, who has competed in more than 50 races since making his championship debut in 2008, back into the lead of the Pro-Am championship. Leonard returns to Silverstone looking to maintain his slim three point championship lead over rising star Esmee Hawkey (GT Marques).

With a new found confidence following the completion of her first season racing in W Series, her first Porsche Carrera Cup GB category victory at Oulton Park and a clean sweep at Thruxton (Pro-Am pole position, two category victories and two category fastest laps), Hawkey continued her recent strong form in qualifying at Silverstone with a category pole position. However, while the 21-year-old looked set to build on her recent achievements, both races netted only a fourth-placed finish. As a result Hawkey slips back to second in the Pro-Am category fight – with four races remaining she has everything to play for.

Rookie Jack McCarthy (Redline Racing) proved the star of Pro-Am last time out at Silverstone, closing the points gap between himself, Hawkey and Leonard with two category podium appearances. McCarthy’s win in round 12 puts him on equal footing with Hawkey in terms of victories – three wins each – and puts him back in contention for the Pro-Am category title. The 18-year-old is also locked in a tight fight with Pro category driver Tom Roche for Rookie championship honours. Going into the Silverstone National weekend, the Kent-based driver sits just three points adrift of Roche in the hunt for the £35,000 prize.

Though ineligible for championship points due to his late arrival to the championship, Sam Brabham (Team Connect it) took an impressive maiden category win in round 11, following it up with second in category in round 12. The promising 24-year-old returns to the scene of his Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship debut in 2018 in good form, as he continues the Brabham family racing tradition.

Having made his Porsche Carrera Cup GB debut at Oulton Park, Adam Hatfield (Valluga Racing) sat out the Thruxton weekend but made a return for rounds 11 and 12. A podium appearance in round 11 should add to the newcomer’s confidence.

Am category leader Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) further extended his championship lead with a victory in round 11 and second place in round 12, maintaining his unbroken record of Am category podium finishes in 2019. The experienced 43-year-old from Loughborough is a formidable force in the Am category, his most successful result around the 1.6-mile Silverstone National circuit being an impressive 8th overall in his debut season of 2014.

Rookie John Ferguson (Redline Racing) continued to make an impression on the Am category during the championship’s blue riband weekend – a category victory in round 11 being a highlight. Ferguson’s fourth Am category victory of the season sees him now tied on points with Peter Kyle-Henny (IN2 Racing) for second in the category with four races remaining.

The championship’s most successful Am category driver with 27 wins, Kyle-Henney retired with damage in round 11 but recorded his ninth Am category podium appearance of the season in round 12 – a feat he want to repeat during the Silverstone National weekend as he battles to get back ahead of Ferguson.

Returnee Adam Knight (JTR) showed strong pace in qualifying for round 11, rewarded by securing a category pole position that converted into two Am category podium appearances. With a best result of second in round 12, Knight will want to continue that good form going into the latter part of his Rookie season.

Fraser Robertson (Redline Racing) returned to the championship at Silverstone for the first time since 2018, the Yorkshireman reacquainting himself with several of his sparring partners from the previous season and part of a now seven-car strong category.

Silverstone’s short and fast 1.6-mile National circuit typically delivers close racing throughout the weekend, with small margins between the drivers in all three categories. At this crucial stage of the championship several key title battles will play out ahead of the season finale at Brands Hatch in October.

Source. Porsche


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