A clearer championship picture should be the result of the second round of the 2016 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli series, to be held this weekend at Sydney’s Porsche Rennsport Australia Motor Racing Festival.
Defending champion Ryan Simpson dominated the opening round at Sandown last month however his victory came in what was a one-off appearance, which means that the forthcoming round at Sydney Motorsport Park will be as open as they come.
Two young stars at the pointy end of the grid will be looking to establish their championship credentials early in the season, following strong performances in the season opener.
Sonic Motor Racing’s Hamish Hardeman (second) and McElrea Racing’s Jaxon Evans (third) both ran at the front at Sandown and will look to do the same at the very different Sydney Motorsport Park.
Just 10 points split Hardeman and Evans following the opening round with each looking to assert themselves at the top prior to the mid-season Jim Richards Endurance Trophy kicking off in June.
Evans scored his first GT3 Cup Challenge pole at Sandown however getting his Porsche off the line proved challenging – ultimately costing him a chance at winning.
However, his impressive race pace ensured that he was able to work his way back to the front of the field in each race and grab the final spot on the podium.
Evans’ teammate, Porsche Junior driver Jake Klarich, will be another looking forward to consistently improving when he gets to the 3.9km Sydney Motorsport Park layout.
The multiple karting champion sits seventh in the overall standings following the first round at Sandown – his racing debut behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
“I loved every moment of my first round. I was trying to adapt to the track and the car every session we went out and hopefully we can get a bit closer to the front in Sydney,” Klarich said.
“I did one test day at Sydney in February and it went quite well so hopefully we can keep improving.”
Hardeman, meanwhile, finished second to Simpson in all three races at Sandown and with his teammate not running this weekend, enters the round as the leading ‘full time’ driver in the standings.
Just trailing the leading outright drivers, Tim Miles won the Elite class at Sandown to commence his championship campaign in style.
Deep competition within the semi-pro GT3 Cup Challenge ranks this year means that back-to-back round victories are no guarantees for the ex-pat Kiwi racer, who drives for McElrea Racing.
The impressive Sam Shahin and category newcomer Anthony Gilbertson both featured amongst the results in the opening round – Shahin logging his personal best GT3 Cup Challenge performance and Gilbertson impressing on his debut to one-make Porsche racing.
The pair sit second and fourth, respectively, in the competitive Elite Class standings following the opening round.
Meanwhile, a horror season opener for Sydneysider David Ryan will see the driver of the #30 GT3 Cup car hoping to rebound in style on his home circuit.
Ryan qualified fastest of the Elite Class runners at Sandown – and an impressive fourth outright – however crashed heavily at the top of the famous ‘Rise’ in Sandown’s back straight during the opening race.
A late-night repair effort came to nothing as he was unable to avoid a stalled car at the start of the second race, leaving him with zero points from the opening round.
The Class B fight – for earlier 2007-specificatoin Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars – will also be worth watching after a competitive opening round at Sandown saw leading contenders Danny Stutterd, Michael Tsigeridis and Shane Barwood all race competitively.
Stuttered leads the class after taking three class victories at Sandown, after being edged to the class pole position by Tsigeridis.
A strong 16-car field will tackle the second round of the series, familiar faces Richard Gartner and John Morriss set to re-join the grid, alongside newcomers Michael Stilwell and Neville Stewart.
The Porsche Rennsport event will be the final sprint round before the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia launches into ‘enduro’ mode at the following round at Winton, in June, with the country Victorian circuit to host the first of three Jim Richards Endurance Trophy events this season.
As such the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia presented by Pirelli field will tackle three sprint races across the Porsche Rennsport Australia program.
Friday 29 April 2016
9:50am Practice 1 (20 minutes)
11:20am Practice 2 (20 minutes)
1:20pm Practice 3 (20 minutes)
Saturday 30 April 2016
9:50am Qualifying (20 minutes)
2:10pm Race 1 (12 laps)
Sunday 1 May 2016
11:05am Race 2 (12 laps)
3:45pm Race 3 (24 laps)
Round 2 Entry List
#4 Tim Miles (Elite Class) CSF Radiators / Miles Advisory Partners
#6 Michael Stillwell (Elite Class) Logicar Australia
#8 Neville Stewart (Class B) Asset Partner / Racing Dynamics
#9 Tony Martin (Elite Class) The Triffid Bar Venue
#10 Hamish Hardeman (Professional Class) Sonic Motor Racing Services/arris property group
#13 Sam Shahin (Elite Class) HTFU
#19 Anthony Gilbertson (Elite Class) Motiv8 Racing/Hallmark Homes
#30 David Ryan (Elite Class) Wrightlands GAM Soltronic
#32 Daniel Stutterd (Class B) FREEM
#34 John Morriss (Elite Class) Motorsport Leasing
#69 Richard Gartner (Class B) Safe-T-Stop
#72 Jim Campbell (Elite Class) Power Street Racing
#82 Brian Finn (Elite Class) Laser 3D/Force Accessories
#91 Jaxon Evans (Professional Class) Simulate-It/Willship
#95 Jake Klarich (Professional Class) Super Rooster
#99 Ross McGregor (Elite Class) Southern Star Windows