The Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Pro-Am event offers opportunities for several new drivers to get behind the wheel of the 991 series Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car – but perhaps those relishing it the most will be those coming from within the ranks of Australian Porsche racing itself.
Several drivers currently competing full or part time in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia will join the Carrera Cup ranks at Porsche Rennsport Australia this weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park.
It’s an opportunity for them to pair with professional drivers from Carrera Cup and show off the strength of the GT3 Cup Challenge competition at the same time.
With event regulations stipulating that each car must contain only one ‘professional’ driver, front-running semi-pro talent from the GT3 Cup Challenge field has been in high demand from teams looking to give themselves the best chance at a Pro-Am victory.
The strength of GT3 Cup Challenge positions that series as an ideal place for leading Carrera Cup drivers to find a semi-pro driver with relevant experience in very similar cars.
Two key additions will be John Goodcare and David Ryan, who both join previous GT3 Cup Challenge graduates in their own right on the Pro-Am grid.
Goodacre, who recently notched up a record 100th GT3 Cup Challenge race start, will pair with fellow South Australian Michael Almond while Ryan will pair with former GT3 Cup Challenge title winner Fraser Ross.
Goodacre drove with Cameron McConville in last year’s Pro-Am event and was on course for a potential victory before ultimately settling for third place in the first race.
“We were on track for a great result and potentially a win but things didn’t quite go our way, though it was good to get a podium,” Goodacre said.
“The Pro-Am event is a great opportunity for guys like me to team up with a pro driver and have a real chance at winning races in Carrera Cup, which isn’t an easy thing to do because it’s about the most competitive series around.
“Our job is about making sure we bring the car back straight so the full time guy can do the job and get it home – but it’s pretty competitive amongst the guys coming in just for the one round!”
Meanwhile, double GT3 Cup Challenge series winner Roger Lago will make his return to Carrera Cup for the first time since a major crash at Townsville last July.
The Queenslander will team up with Duvashen Padayachee in the #45 entry run by McElrea Racing and is in strong form following a promising start to the Australian GT Championship this year.
Lago had a remarkable run of success in the GT3 Cup Challenge, sweeping to the title in both 2010 and 2011.
Having finished third in the 2015 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series, Geoff Emery will provide strong support for 2016 Carrera Cup title contender Matt Campbell as the pair combine in the McElrea Racing entry.
Campbell – another driver to cut his teeth in GT3 Cup Challenge before stepping up into Porsche Carrera Cup – currently equal second in the 2016 standings with two race wins to his credit already this year.
The Almond/Goodacre, Ross/Ryan and Campbell/Emery combinations are three of five entered – a quarter of the field – to feature two drivers both with race miles in GT3 Cup Challenge.
The 2015 Jim Richards Endurance Trophy winner James Abela will be joined by Tony Walls while last year’s rookie sensation Dylan O’Keeffe has locked in Tasmanian driver Sam Walter as his co-driver.
A third of the Pro-Am field of 40 drivers have at least some experience in the GT3 Cup Challenge prior to the step into Carrera Cup – showcasing the strength of Porsche’s own in-house development category.
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia will contest three races across the Porsche Rennsport Australia weekend, while the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia field will tackle two, one-hour races with compulsory pit stops in each.