|James Birch takes the lead into Donington Park... will he remain there afterwards?|
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge is managed by Porsche Cars GB alongside the Carrera Cup GB and is growing as the season develops, with steadily building competitor interest. The series gained championship status this year for the six-event, 12-race season and is for the cars from 2009 or before, including the 996-model cars from up to 2006.
Heading the GT3 Cup Challenge GB entry into rounds nine and ten will be championship leader Birch (GT Marques), who is enjoying a stunning season with five wins and two seconds from eight races to date. The Buckinghamshire racer heads to Donington with a 20-point lead and will need to build that to at least 45 points by the end of the Donington weekend to clinch the title. More probable is that the title contest will be resolved in front of the BTCC crowds at Silverstone over the weekend of 6/7 October.
Last time out at Croft, two drivers kept Birch away from the top step of the podium as Justin Sherwood and Steven Liquorish each took a win for Team Parker Racing. It is Liquorish who is really taking the fight to Birch across the season and his second win of the campaign in the most recent race at Croft shows that Liquorish is still very much in the title race. He now needs to peg back Birch’s points’ lead at Donington to ensure a cliff-hanging finish at Silverstone.
Although he has not contested all the races this season, former F3 racer Sherwood has shown excellent pace and he will be firmly on home ground at Donington, so expect him to be very rapid. Meanwhile, making a welcome return to the GT3 Cup Challenge after missing a couple of events is Peter Smallwood (Parr Motorsport) and he is another driver with overall podium ambitions.
John Ferguson (ASK Racing) could be a dark horse in the battle for overall wins having shown strong pace at unfamiliar circuits over recent races. Donington should suit the Birmingham-based Irishman and he has the pace to rival Birch, Liquorish and Sherwood at the very head of the contest. Joining Ferguson in the Dublin-based ASK Racing squad is Tom Hallissey in the team’s Class Two 996-model 911 GT3 Cup.
Now running third overall in what is proving to be a remarkable debut season of racing is Mark Cowne (Parr Motorsport), while back on track after missing the Croft races will be Mark Flaherty (Redline Racing).
After qualifying at 11.15 on Saturday, round nine will start at 16.30, with round ten at 13.45 on Sunday. Both races will be filmed for transmission on the Porsche Origin website and Porsche’s YouTube channel.
Current provisional championship points:
Overall: 1 James Birch, 149; 2 Steven Liquorish, 129; 3 Mark Cowne, 90; 4 John Ferguson, 69; 5 Justin Sherwood, 63; 6 Neil Houston, 60; etc.
Class 2: 1 Mark Cowne, 28; 2 Tom Hallissey, 11.