Why club level series will be revolutionised in 2012
When the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge was launched back in 2010, it was easy to think that it was more of a white elephant than a revolut ion for budding sportscar drivers.
The series has struggled to gain momentum for the two years. Grids have been modest and the class has slipped under the radar. This year looks like it will be a different story, though, as the German sportscar giant has opted to throw its weight behind the initiative.
When the GT3 Cup Challenge was launched it was a Porsche-blessed operation, which was run by the independent Porsche Club of Great Britain. Although Porsche put up some technical support and offered a Carrera Cup prize race for the ou tright winner, the series suffered from a lack of promotion and failed to shake off the image of being just another expensive club series.
The second year wasn’t much better either, which prompted Porsche to step in. The entire scries has been taken under the wing of Porsche Cars Great Britain, the firm that transformed the fortunes of the Carrera Cup, now one the UK’s best supported sportscar championships.
The changes go far deeper than just a label on the series’ logo too. Porsche’s aim is to align the series closer to the Carrera Cup and transform the GTS Cup Challenge into a breeding ground for younger drivers while also being a haven for gentleman drivers.
“We don’t want the GT3 Cup Challenge to be a Carrera Cup clone. At its heart it is a club racing series and we will never move away from that ethos,” says Porsche GB motorsport manager Marion Barnaby’. The last thing we want is for amateur drivers to think of Porsche as a scary manufacturer coming in to raise prices and dictate things when our plans are the exact opposite.
“Most manufacturers have a ladder of progression and focus on improving the top rung. Porsche already has the Supercup at the top so it seems right that we should go in the opposite direction instead and focus on the foundation of our leadder. It shows that Porsche has a dedication to its amateur drivers at well as its international stars”.
The focus for thos year is on encouraging gentleman drivers.Barnaby pointsout that Porsche has sold almost 200 track cars into the UK alone and there are almost as many machines used for track days as competitive events.To encourage those drivers to come racing Porsche has pledged to supply a team of technicians to every round to assist with general maintenance and set-up advice across the grid.
“The series is designed to be a stepping stone for amateur and gentleman drivers to help then-, make the transition into racing,” Barnaby says. “The 911 has always been a relatively easy car to maintain so it’s a perfect club racing tool but making the step into competition is often a scary prospect.
“A Porsche can be quite complex in terms of set-up and driving style so we’ll offer everyone guidance and assist with any technical problems. That service will allow drivers turning up with just a car and a trailer to get a similar level of support to a driver in a team. It takes the stress out of a race weekend and makes it accessible for drivers with a range of funding.”
While the series will rely largely on amateur racers it has a dual purpose, doubling upas a feeder class for the Carrera Cup. Budgets are est imated to range from L30,000 to run an older model 911, up to around L80,000 to run a newer car with team support. That is under half the cost of the headline Carrera Cup championship.
“We often see drivers from non-GT series moving into Carrera Cup and they struggle to adapt to the 911 GT3 in such a competitive class.The GT3 Cup is also a platform for aspiring drivers to gain experience of the cars in a less stressful environment before moving into the PCCGB. It allows drivers to learn a new style of racing without spending a huge budget.”
Porsche’s administration of the class has also started to pay dividends. The series will now run on British Automobile Racing Club meetings and will be packaged alongside the popular Formula Renault BARC and Kumho BMW championships to create a mini- race package. In addition Porsche has arranged for the series fmale to run alongside the Carrera Cup in support of the British Touring Car Championship rounds at Silverstone in October.
“We wanted to strengthen the link between the GT3 Cup and the Carrera Cup.”says Barnaby “We don’t want our drivers to feel like the poor relation of Carerra Cupso we’re splitting our resources between the two series, which will culminate in the two running together on the BTCC package.
“You cannot sit back and wait for drivers to come to you. We fully intend to go cut and find drivers with 911s that aren’t racing, find out why they’re not and then tailor the GT3 Cup to suit those needs.”