Porsche Carrera Cup GB – the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK – got its milestone 20th season underway at Donington Park. Round one, the 350th race since the championship began in 2003, was won by Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2022 / 2023 Junior Adam Smalley (Duckhams Yuasa Racing with Redline) on his championship debut. Returnee Matthew Graham (Redline Racing) stormed to the front of a 25-strong grid to claim victory in round two.
In addition to a capacity grid, the season-opening weekend also welcomed the arrival of the latest generation of 911 racing car – the 510 hp ‘Type 992’ 911 GT3 Cup – while the championship maintained an uninterrupted run as a key part of the British Touring Car Championship package.
Smalley’s win was far from a foregone conclusion. Championship hopeful Kiern Jewiss (Team Parker Racing) had been the initial pacesetter in qualifying, while during the second half of the session reigning Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB champion Theo Edgerton (JTR) looked on course to snatch pole position. However, a late hot lap from fellow Rookie Gus Burton (Rosland Gold Racing by Century Motorsport) was enough to see him oust his rivals in a closely contested session. In the Pro-Am category, Nathan Harrison (Redline Racing) was top while Josh Stanton (JTR) emerged ahead in Am.
The first race of 2022 produced plenty of excitement with very close racing throughout the field. Burton maintained his lead for much of race one, but Smalley kept him in his sights and closed on his rival towards the latter stages of the race. A mistake from Burton allowed Smalley through to victory in the championship’s 350th race on his championship debut, joined on the overall podium by Edgerton and Graham. Harrison continued to show the way in Pro-Am with Stanton proving the class of the Am field.
The weekend’s second race saw Burton line up on pole position for the second time courtesy of the reversed grid. However, when the race began Graham made another perfect start to lead from lights to flag. Edgerton secured a solid second once more while Jewiss mustered an impressive performance to move up 11 places for the final spot on the overall podium. Harrison clinched a second Pro-Am category victory with Stanton doing the same in Am – both drivers underlining their intentions for category glory in 2022.
Both practice sessions on the 1.9-mile Donington Park National circuit took place on Thursday in warm and dry conditions. The morning session gave drivers their first opportunity to see the pace of their rivals on fresh Michelin slick racing tyres. Burton was the overall pacesetter, lapping in a time of 1:05.616, chased in the Pro category by Smalley and Edgerton. Pro-Am driver Harrison impressed with a time good enough for third overall while Stanton topped Am.
The weekend’s second practice session took place on Thursday afternoon with only small margins separating the field – half-way through the session the top six cars were split by less than one tenth of a second. Towards the end of the session, Burton traded fast times with Seb Morris (Team Parker Racing), however it was Graham who would ultimately come out on top with a time of 1:05.623, Edgerton was second with Burton third. The Pro-Am category battle was an equally close affair, but Harrison again had the measure of his rivals while Stanton headed Am once more.
Saturday afternoon’s 30-minute qualifying session took place in dry conditions. Jewiss was the first driver to set a representative time with a 1:05.803, moving him to the top of the timesheet. As more drivers got their tyres up to temperature he was soon superseded by Edgerton who produced a time of 1:05.732, heading a top five consisting of himself, Jewiss, Graham, Burton and Smalley – all covered by just 0.091 seconds. Harrison topped the Pro-Am category fight while Stanton was ahead of his Am category rivals.
In the second half of qualifying a very close battle raged for pole position between Edgerton, Smalley, Jewiss, Graham and Burton. Initially Jewiss took provisional pole position while Edgerton improved to sit second – just 0.009 seconds adrift. With less than two minutes remaining on the clock, Burton set the fastest time of the weekend (1:05.283) and while others also improved none could beat his benchmark lap. Burton would be joined on the front row by Jewiss with Smalley third. Harrison maintained his advantage in Pro-Am qualifying, an impressive fourth overall, while Stanton stayed ahead in Am.
Following the 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekend format, Burton earned two championship points with his pole position, as did the top qualifiers in their respective categories – Harrison and Stanton. The cars of Angus Whiteside (Toro Verde GT), Peter Kyle-Henney (Toro Verde GT) and Peter Mangion (Toro Verde GT) had their qualifying times disallowed due to a technical infringement and would start round one at the back of the grid in that order after a 10-second delay.
The first of the weekend’s two 23 lap races – the historic 350th race in championship history – took place on Sunday morning in dry and sunny conditions. When the lights went out Jewiss got away well and moved to the outside of Burton for Redgate, but a small lock up for Jewiss allowed Burton to regain ground and maintain his lead through Hollywood. At the same time Smalley was immediately engaged in a fight with Graham for third, successfully maintaining his advantage. Further into the opening lap Jewiss attacked for the race lead in the run from McLeans to Coppice, moving to the outside of Burton but, running out of room, he took a trip through the gravel before rejoining the race down the order.
In Pro-Am, Harrison maintained his category lead at the start of the race with Will Aspin (Team Parker) second and Ryan Ratcliffe (Team Parker) third. Am, in turn, was led by Stanton with reigning category champion Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) occupying second and newcomer Mark Radcliffe (Valluga) in third.
On the second lap Edgerton found a way by Graham for third place overall while there was drama for Oliver White (Duckhams Yuasa Racing with Redline) who slowed before coming to a stop. Michael Clark (Valluga) left the circuit at Roberts before rejoining – he would soon pick up a puncture forcing him to pit for new tyres.
Following a spin for Ratcliffe which relegated him down the timing screen to 20th spot, Jewiss was doing the opposite, rising up the order as he sought to mount a recovery drive – by lap six he had moved up to tenth from fourteenth. On lap seven a close dice for sixth developed between Harrison, Will Martin (Comline Richardson Racing) and Stanley, with Jewiss now not far behind. As Jewiss fought to move back up the order he became tangled up with Aspin, as a result Jewiss took another trip through the gravel – this time at Roberts.
At the front of the race Smalley began to close on Burton, the two setting the exact same fastest lap time down to the thousandth of a second (1:05.769) on the same lap as their duel intensified, Smalley now just 0.756 seconds behind the race leader. A little further back a five-car train travelling from Martin in sixth to Harrison, Stanley and Jewiss – now occupying ninth – delivered very close racing. As Jewiss challenged Stanley at the Craner Curves through to Roberts he was ultimately forced to back off leaving Stanley ahead. A mistake from Martin then mixed the running order but further drama awaited Jewiss as he soon found himself in the gravel for a third time after a new attack on Stanley went awry.
Several close battles developed throughout the field. Aspin challenged Martin for eighth place while newcomers Jake Giddings (Toro Verde GT) and Jack Bartholomew (Comline Richardson Racing) fought over tenth spot with Charles Rainford (CCK Motorsport) – now third in Pro-Am – just behind. A seven-car train running nose-to-tail soon saw Aspin, Bartholomew, Giddings, Martin, Rainford, Hugo Ellis (JTR) and Charles Bateman (Team Parker) all seeking to snatch ninth overall as they vied for position. On lap 19 Mangion received a five-second penalty for track limits, bringing his chase of rival and teammate Kyle-Henney to an end.
In the closing stages of the race Smalley continued to close in on Burton. Just half a second separated the pair when Burton made an error at Roberts which allowed the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Junior to pass him on the Wheatcroft Straight, taking the lead of the race. Now struggling for pace following a trip through the gravel which removed his splitter, Burton soon came under attack from Edgerton who passed him on lap 22 at Coppice, Graham following him through to take third. On lap 22 Radcliffe was handed a five-second penalty for track limits but he had enough of a time buffer for it not to impact his position on the Am category podium.
Smalley crossed the line to take a maiden win in his very first race as Porsche Carrera Cup GB Junior, the historic 350th race in championship history, followed home by reigning Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB champion Edgerton with Graham taking the final podium position. Harrison grabbed glory in Pro-Am, joined on the category podium by Aspin and Rainford while Stanton topped Am from Sherwood and Radcliffe.
For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Burton and Smalley (Pro), Harrison (Pro-Am) and Stanton (Am) each received one additional championship point. As part of the 2022 podium procedure, winner Smalley selected at random the number four ball, which reversed the grid positions of the top four overall race finishers from the opening round. That made the front row for the second race Burton from Graham with Edgerton from Smalley forming the second row.
Following the race, for the incident between Burton and Jewiss on the opening lap, Burton was docked two overall championship points and two teams championship points. For a technical non-compliance CCK Motorsport was disqualified from the results of round one meaning Rainford would start the weekend’s second race from the back of the grid following a 10-second penalty, promoting Ellis to the final Pro-Am category podium position.
The second race of 2022 took place on Sunday afternoon in dry conditions. Graham made his second perfect start of the weekend to snatch the lead from Burton at the first corner. Smalley slipped back to fifth place as Morris got a run on Edgerton out of Redgate and down to Old Hairpin, where he grabbed third. However, the driver on the move on the opening lap was Jewiss, slicing through the pack to move from fourteenth to sixth in a single lap.
The Pro-Am battle was a familiar story from the day’s previous race – Harrison led Aspin from Ratcliffe – while in Am Stanton pulled clear of a chasing Sherwood and Radcliffe. As Graham and Burton pulled away at the front, Edgerton was all over Morris, on lap three the Rookie passed at Roberts to regain third position. Jewiss was looking equally racey as he dived past Smalley in a clean move at Coppice to snatch fifth. Soon afterwards he overtook Morris as part of his determined drive. As Morris struggled for pace, he came under further attack from Smalley who passed him at the chicane for fifth.
On lap 13, Edgerton launched a successful attack on Burton for second with a brave move through the Craner Curves. Shortly afterwards Stanley – who had suffered several lock-ups into Redgate – left the circuit before driving to the pit lane. He would rejoin the race momentarily before making his retirement at the pit exit. All eyes now turned to Jewiss as he mounted a challenge on Burton for third. The pair got close through Coppice and even touched door handles in the run to Roberts, but Jewiss was ahead before they reached the corner. Attempting to mount a cut back on his rival, Burton jinked hard right and in doing so collected the solid marker on the inside of Roberts damaging his car and forcing his retirement.
In the last few laps of the race Radcliffe left the circuit at Old Hairpin allowing Mangion to pass for position in the Am category, Nigel Rice (Redline Racing) then closed on a delayed Mangion in what became a hard-fought battle for the final category podium place. On lap 23 Rice managed to get a run on Mangion down the Wheatcroft Straight, but Mangion stayed ahead through Redgate and Rice would not find another opportunity to pass – the experienced Porsche racers would cross the finish line separated by just two tenths of a second marking an exciting return to the championship for both drivers.
However, it was Graham who crossed the line first to take overall victory with Edgerton recording another second-placed finish of the weekend. Jewiss was rewarded for his stunning recovery drive with third, representing a total gain of 11 places during the race. Harrison took a second Pro-Am victory, joined on the category podium by Aspin and Ratcliffe. Stanton completed his perfect Am category weekend with another win, Sherwood was second with Mangion third. For recording the fastest lap in each of their respective categories, Jewiss (Pro), Harrison (Pro-Am) and Stanton (Am) each received one additional championship point.
The championship travels to Brands Hatch on the weekend of 14 and 15 May where drivers will tackle the short but challenging Indy circuit. Following their performances at Donington Park, Graham, Smalley and Edgerton arrive in Kent tied on 18 championship points apiece at the top of the table. Meanwhile Harrison and Stanton have opened their accounts in their respective categories in the best possible style. Although early days in the championship fight, the 2022 season looks to be closer than ever.
Matthew Graham – Redline Racing – 18
Adam Smalley – Duckhams Yuasa Racing with Redline – 18
Theo Edgerton – JTR – 18
Nathan Harrison – Redline Racing – 24
Will Aspin – Team Parker – 16
Hugo Ellis – JTR – 11
Josh Stanton – JTR – 24
Justin Sherwood – Team Parker Racing – 16
Nigel Rice – Redline Racing – 10
*results remain provisional