Brands Hatch debut for new Porsche 911 GT3 race car
The opening rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatch 8/9 April is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the 2006 British motor racing season.
The biggest field in the history of the Carrera Cup GB will make a fantastic spectacle at the famous Kent venue, with 21 of the stunning new ‘Type 997’ 911 GT3 Cup cars going into battle in a pair of 34-lap encounters, supporting the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
After six weeks of testing and fine-tuning the new cars, the teams’ and drivers’ attention is now focussed on the first two rounds of the new season. Qualifying and the opening race will be held on Saturday, with the second race on Sunday expected to be in front of a big BTCC crowd as the British racing season gets off to a flying start.
The new ‘Type 997’ 911 GT3 Cup racer that makes its UK debut this year has drawn universal praise from the drivers, with more power, a sequential gearbox and enhanced aerodynamics – so Carrera Cup lap records are set to tumble.
Heading the entry and proudly carrying number ‘1’ on his car will be defending champion Damien Faulkner (Co Donegal). The Irish ace drives for Team Parker with SAS, based in Leicester, and is determined to take back-to-back titles but knows he faces an incredibly strong field with a clutch of very serious title contenders.
Champion in 2004 and runner-up last year, Richard Westbrook (Ipswich) returns with Red Line Racing, from Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland. His parallel programme in the European Porsche Supercup may force him to miss some Carrera Cup races, but Westbrook will want to win races at the very least. Equally, former BTCC Champion and GT racer Tim Harvey (Witney) has high hopes for 2006 after a mixed 2005 campaign and now heads up a very strong squad at Motorbase Performance, who are based not far from Brands Hatch in Wrotham, near Sevenoaks.
Fastest of all during the pre-season test day at Silverstone – the only time to date all the leading cars have tested at the same time – was Mark Cole (Newbury) for Team RPM, from Worcestershire. That was a big boost to the team and Cole will be fighting hard to continue his pacesetting form at Brands.
Another strong contender is Championship newcomer and proven GT ace Michael Caine (Newmarket), who races with Motorbase Performance. Established Carrera Cup front-runner Jason Templeman (Nottingham) returns again with Team Parker with SAS, joined by new team-mate Sam Edwards (Aylesbury).
Piers Masarati (Pinner) races for Surrey-based team Trakspeed, and will be keen to make rapid progress. Paragon from East Sussex enters the Championship with Andy Purdie (Maidstone) and Stratford-upon-Avon-based IN2RACING are entering former BTCC driver Richard Williams (Bromley by Bow, London) who should do well as he adapts to the 911.
New for 2006 is a two-tier driver structure, allowing drivers to compete in either a professional or professional-amateur category. The ‘pro-am’ is aimed at giving non-professional racers their own points and prize money rewards to chase, and has proved very popular indeed, and a gaggle of quick racers will be contesting this category within the overall race results.
With many years’ experience of racing Porsches between them, Red Line Racing drivers Nigel Rice (Beverley, East Yorkshire) and Jason Young (Oakham, Leicestershire) are expected to be among the ‘pro-am’ pacesetters, whilst striving to also get as far up the overall results as possible. Their major rivals will include Motorbase Performance driver Phil Quaife (Tonbridge), Team Parker Racing’s Mark Hazell (Llanhennock, Monmouthshire) and Trakspeed’s David Ashburn (London).
Newcomers to the Porsche Carrera Cup in the ‘pro-am’ category include Red Line Racing’s Maxi Jazz (West Norwood, London), Pete Osbourne (Worksop, Nottinghamshire) who races with Team O, and IN2RACING’s Mike Richards (Knutsford) and Paul Hogarth (Cheshire).
The car entered by Porsche Cars GB, resplendent in the distinctive black and white livery of Vertu, the world’s first and only manufacturer of handcrafted luxury mobile phones, will be driven at Brands Hatch by renowned racer and motoring journalist Mark Hales.
Thus the stage is set at Brands Hatch for some epic racing to get the 2006 Porsche Carrera Cup GB off to a great start. With an impressive grid, many potential race winners and the ‘pro-am’ category offering the added spectacle of a race within a race, everything is in place for a memorable start to the season!