Queensland Raceway will host the 200th race of Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge this weekend
As the primary feeder category for the Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup Australia, the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge provides a home to not only seasoned racing enthusiasts but future stars.
This weekend will mark the 200th race in the series history, a significant milestone for the category and the Australian motorsport landscape. Created as a series for Porsche enthusiasts – by Porsche enthusiasts – its catered for 991, 997 and 996 models that had previously raced in the Porsche Carrera cup Australia.
The first-ever race was held at Mallala Raceway on 28 May 2008. Graeme Cook won all three races from Sven Burchartz that weekend, with the latter going on to claim the inaugural 2008 championship.
Commenting on the 200 milestone for the series, Burchartz said, “I’m really proud to see how the category has evolved and flourished over last years. It’s found its true home now, as an integral step within the Porsche Motorsport pyramid.”
The series would extend from 4 races to 6 for 2009, with Matt Kingsley taking the 996 class and outright championship ahead of Burchartz, while Roger Lago would become the first 997 class champion. The 997 cars were permitted to run with the series one year earlier than expected, as Carrera Cup went on hiatus for 2009 and 2010 seasons.
These 997 cars raced for points in their own class but were not awarded outright points, and thus, were not credited with outright race wins, poles or podiums in the record books. Burchartz along with John Trend and Jodi Zylstra were all instrumental to the creation of the series in 2008.
Zylstra explains how the category first came about, “GT3 Cup Challenge started as there was a need for drivers at the time – who didn’t want to race in the Australian GT Championship – to establish their own category as many of the Porsches were already eligible, as well as others that could be accommodated within the class under the technical regulations. Sven (Burchartz) and Jon Trende approached Porsche Cars Australia in December 2007 and immediately got the support from Jamey Blaikie and Michael Winkler.”
After the foundation was laid, Zylstra – who was Operations Manager for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge at the time – was approached by Porsche Cars Australia to oversee the running of both categories, when Porsche Carrera Cup Australia was reintroduced in 2011
There were no real issues or obstacles in those early years recalls Zylstra, as Trend and Burchartz infused a mantra among competitors of ‘Race with your mates.’ Basically, anyone who had a Porsche and wanted to race, could come away and compete with series for the weekend.
“We always tried to keep the competitor costs down and at the time, it was as much about the comradery among the drivers, as it was about the action on the track. There was always a lot of laughs and fun on Friday and Saturday nights. None of the guys took themselves too seriously in those days, but of course, all that changed as soon as they got on the track the next morning.”
This sense of community prevails in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge paddock until today, although the make-up of the grid has evolved. While still providing a home for the enthusiasts of the German marque, in recent years Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge has become the country’s most proven launchpad for talented youngsters to climb the Porsche Motorsport pyramid.
The series has witnessed many of today’s top-level drivers cut their teeth in national competition, giving rise to the likes of Matt Campbell, Jaxon Evans, Fraser Ross, Roger Lago, Michael Almond, Brenton Grove, Dylan O’Keeffe and Tony Quinn, to name but a few.
Since 2008 there have been 67 rounds of the series and a total of 199 individual races held at those rounds. Of these 199 races, only two have been declared as ‘no results’. The first was in 2008 at Phillip Island, when Race 3 was cancelled after a barrier was damaged on the warm-up lap, with the resultant repairs forcing the cancellation of the race.
2009 at Eastern Creek, Race 2 was also declared a ‘no result’ after a multi-car accident on the opening lap caused a Safety Car and ultimately a red flag with the race declared.
As both races had started (a warm-up lap is considered a start under CAMS NCRs) the record books reflect that Queensland Raceway will host the 200th race this weekend, a huge milestone in the category’s history.
The records also reflect that Matt Kingsley holds the record for the most pole positions (9); the most round wins (8) and the most race wins (24) in the series history. While Jeff Bobik holds the record for the most outright podium finishes (13) and John Goodacre the record for the most round starts (34)
Qualifying and all the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge races from Queensland Race this weekend will be streamed live via www.thenationals.com.au website
For more race information throughout the weekend, follow the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge social pages: Instagram – @CupChallengeAus / Twitter – @CupChallengeAus / Facebook.com/CupChallengeAus