The 2017 Porsche Supercup season kicked off in style during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona. Although experienced Supercup racer, Michael Ammermüller, took the win in both races, it was perhaps Norwegian Porsche Junior, Dennis Olsen, who set out the most exciting challenge for Supercup honours in the opening round of the championship.
Barcelona has a long downhill run from the grid to turn 1, so race starts here are always exciting. Olsen’s fellow Porsche junior, Matt Campbell, had seized pole position, but wrong-footed the start and almost stalled the engine when the lights went out. Ammermüller had no such issues and made a blistering getaway, with the track to himself on arrival in the braking zone.
Had the German time to study his mirrors, he would have enjoyed a chaotic scene, as cars took to the grass and well into the pitlane exit to avoid tripping over each other. None of the lawnmowers seemed to lose too much time, and many had literally made progress ‘through the field’ by the end of lap one. Lap two brought the safety car out when Berton got beached in the gravel. While the stricken car was removed, Ammermüller worked his 911 hard to keep heat in the tyres.
The aggressive manoeuvring paid off: Ammermüller got the jump on his rival at the restart. As the leader focused on stretching the advantage, a queue of cars formed behind Cammish, with Olsen at the front. The 21 year-old calmly held position for five or six laps but, once the race passed half-distance, he began to distract with his car in that irritating way that only a precocious youngster with a factory drive seems capable of.
Watching Dennis race was a joyous experience. A phenomenal kart driver, he started karting at six years old and has claimed titles including several Norwegian kart crowns, the prestigious German KF3 and KF1 titles and the World SuperKart Cup Final KF2 title. From 191 kart race starts, Dennis has claimed 90 wins. He has uncanny control, particularly over the front of his car, being able to place it with absolute precision. It was this skill that ultimately got him in front.
After harrying Cammish for lap after lap, darting around at the end of the straight and with a few cheeky nudges to boot, he stuck to the left and forced Cammish into braking super-late to defend. As Cammish locked up and ran slightly wide, Olsen bolted right, picked up the inside and shot into P2 on three wheels. It was pure karting brilliance. They held this order to the finish.
Round 2 was held on Sunday. I haven’t yet seen the race, but Ammermüller again finished first with Olsen in hot pursuit and much closer at the chequered flag. Campbell and Cammish came home third and fourth with Dylan Pereira in fifth (above: another young talent with kart pedigree). This puts Ammermüller ahead in the championship, but Olsen is going to have a very interesting season. I look forward to watching him racing at Monaco and trying some kart lines there too.
I’ve been eagerly anticipating Olsen’s first Supercup season since the thrilling reports of his debut Carrera Cup Germany season last year. The young Scandi has also started this year’s Deutschland season in style, winning both races at the recent Hockenheim double header. Watching Olsen race a Cup Car is reminiscent of Kevin Estre’s finest moments: no doubt that a successful sports car career lies ahead if Olsen sticks with good management.
Here’s a video of the full race without commentary. These things normally disappear within a few days, so it lasts as long as it lasts!