Out all day yesterday working on a new project, I came home to an empty house so for once had my choice of TV channels. Cracking a beer and switching to Sky F1, the Porsche Supercup highlights programme from Barcelona was about to begin. It was hard to escape the ghost of Sean Edwards.
Sky’s coverage of Supercup is pretty good. Shame it’s not available live, as Ben Edwards commentates and knows his stuff. Still, Supercup is fun to watch anytime and the opening round of the 2014 season laid down a great marker for the new boys.
“A lot of the quick guys from last year are no longer racing,” said Kuba Giermaziak, who had shown useful speed in 2013. “There are some quick guys coming through, and of course Christian Engelhart and Klaus Bachler are quick so we’ll have to see.”
Qualifying was super close, with Philip Eng beating rookie Earl Bamber to pole by just 18 thousandths of a second. As the grid lined up on race day, Bamber’s second place grid slot had been dried by the sun, while Eng’s pole position was still damp from overnight rain. That was all Bamber needed. His start was noticeably quicker than Eng’s and he led a tight battle into turn 1 and over the first couple of laps, eventually finishing five seconds ahead.
Down the field, the Porsche factory juniors were doing some damage. Bachler’s 2014 campaign started in dubious fashion when an incident early on brought a time penalty that dropped him to twelfth after the finish. Riberas did well, finishing sixth after Bachler dropped back. Sven Muller managed P10 despite a tap, and Conor de Philippi also had a tap, ending up behind his rookie junior team mate.
The racing looked good and Bamber is quick: a real force to be reckoned with. Philip Eng has always been fast in a Porsche, so a season-long ding-dong between these two would be welcome, with Ben Barker and Christian Engelhart hard on their tails. Engelhart and Bachler have the Konrad Porsches this year, with Bamber driving for Fach Auto Tech.
Next round is Monaco, where the Supercup has often been dreadfully processional. One saving grace in the last few years was the late Sean Edwards’ smoothness on his home circuit. Sean was missed in Barcelona: Monte Carlo will be worse. Here’s an official Porsche AG video, shared after Sean’s death while instructing on a track day last year.