The battle for the 2005 Porsche Carrera Cup GB bursts into action at Donington Park in Leicestershire this weekend (9/10 April) with the first pair of races in the season-long contest. Four drivers stand out as pre-season favourites, but a clutch of championship newcomers are set to make their mark as the season develops.
Richard Westbrook (Hackney, London) and Tim Harvey (Witney, Oxfordshire) arrived at Donington last September almost inseparable in the contest for the 2004 title. In a weekend of fierce competition and sportsmanship, Westbrook snatched the title by the smallest of margins. Aside from the career kudos of winning the prestigious title, he also collected the keys to a Porsche 911 Carrera road car worth over £60,000!
This weekend, it's back to the start for the third season of Carrera Cup GB. Westbrook and Harvey return for more and, once again, a new 911 awaits the champion at the conclusion of 10 weekends and 20 hard fought races. Both are back with the same teams, and both have newly-built 911 GT3 Cup cars for their respective campaigns.
Westbrook, who leads the driver squad for 2004 champion team Red Line Racing (based in Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland), will come to Donington hotfoot from a fantastic victory in the opening Porsche Supercup race at Bahrain last weekend. Having beaten the best in the world, Richard will be aiming to continue that winning form at Donington. Westbrook threw down the gauntlet to his Carrera Cup GB rivals during the pre-season test day at Snetterton last month by setting some stunning lap times; he means business.
Harvey, meanwhile, leads the line-up at Team RPM, from Worcester, and is more determined than ever to avenge his championship defeat of 2004. The TV presenter is a fiercely competitive racing driver, and he wants nothing less than the Carrera Cup title this season. As before, Tim will split his race weekends between racing the Porsche and doing live TV commentary on the BTCC races.
But no one, least of all Westbrook and Harvey, sees this as simply a two-way contest. In particular, the pairing at Team SAS will surely have a big impact on the season. In cars tended by Team Parker Racing – based down the road from Donington Park in Leicester - and backed by SAS International, Damien Faulkner (Co Donegal, Ireland) and Jason Templeman (Nottingham) are both potential champions. Jason has finished third in each of the last two seasons and doesn't want to do that again, while Faulkner has the biggest opportunity of his career to make his mark in sports and GT racing.
With experienced Porsche racers Nigel Rice (Beverley, East Yorkshire) and Jason Young (Oakham, Leicestershire), Red Line Racing has strength in depth, while significant championship newcomers include Milton Keynes-based American racer Emmanuel Crouvisier (Team RPM) and Londoner Stephen Shanly (Red Line Racing). Both showed excellent early pace in the Snetterton test day and as their experience of the cars grows, will be chasing podium finishes.
Stourbridge’s Steve Clark (Team RPM) and Michael Corridan (Sudbury, Suffolk) of Team Parker Racing will both build on the experience gained in 2004, while the Trackspeed team’s (based near Goldalming, Surrey) pairing of David Ashburn (London) and Rory Fordyce (Winchester, Hampshire) will make their Carrera Cup debuts this weekend.
The car entered by Porsche Cars GB in association with Team Autosport will be in the capable hands of Norwich racer Dan Eagling and he could be a contender for the podium.
So, everyone starts level as the season begins. Westbrook and Harvey will surely continue where they left off last September, but Faulkner and Templeman will spearhead some serious opposition!
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