Last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship experienced the biggest format changes since the series began in 2003. Chief amongst these changes was the introduction of reverse grids.
How reverse grids work in Carrera Cup GB
Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekends are run as part of the support package for British Touring Car Championship rounds. Drivers are split into three categories based on pace and experience: Pro, Pro-Am and Am. There is an additional Rookie class for drivers new to the series. Reverse grids affect the Pro category.
There are two races in each Carrera Cup GB weekend. The start order for race 1 is set by the qualifying times: fastest man starts from pole. However, the start order for race 2 is determined by a combination of the finish order of the first race and a ball picked at random on the race 1 podium.
The podium balls are numbered 4, 5 and 6. The number selected dictates how many of the leading pack will have their grid positions reversed for the start of race 2.
The first race of the 2018 season was held on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in early April. The weather was wet, making conditions interesting for the drivers, including the sole non-Brit, Cypriot Tio Ellinas, who started the season with Slidesports Engineering/DVF Racing. Ellinas qualified fourth overall, behind polesitter, Dino Zamparelli. As a mark of just how tight this series is, the top fourteen cars were separated by less than one second.
Ellinas passed George Gamble and Lewis Plato in the race to come home second overall. So the top six finishing order for race 1 was Zamparelli, Ellinas, Plato, Gamble, Orton, Wrigley. Three of the top six positions were claimed by cars from Joe Tandy Racing.
On the podium, Zamparelli chose the number 5 ball, which reversed the order of the top 5 race 1 finishers for the race 2 grid, giving a start order of Orton, Gamble, Plato, Ellinas, Zamparelli and Wrigley. Ellinas again made it from fourth to second just ahead of Zamparelli at the chequered flag. Zamparelli came away from round 1 as series leader with Joe Tandy Racing leading the teams.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2018 results
After one of the tightest championships in recent history, it was Ellinas who emerged as 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. The Cypriot won only one race, but finished every race of the season in the points and claimed podiums in 13 out of 16 races. Joe Tandy Racing took the team championship.
Carrera Cup GB changes in 2019
For 2019, the reverse grids stay but there is a further refinement to the grid system to allow race 1 non-finishers to start behind the last finisher in their category, as opposed to starting at the back of the grid. Fastest race lap earns a point for the drivers in each category.
Carrera Cup GB prize money and bonus Porsches
Teams and drivers compete for a prize fund totalling almost £350,000 through the season, with additional prizes for the winningest teams. The series champion wins £40,000, with the top rookie coming away with £35,000. Points are weighted in favour of the race 1 result (winner gets 12 vs 10 points) and the prize money is weighted in a similar way. A win in race 1 nets £1700, while a win in race 2 earns £1300.
Winning drivers in each category get the use of a Porsche for a year, while the team champions get the use of a Cayenne for a year. This will help them get to the events spread all across the UK with an additional race weekend on Europe. Last year’s European round was held at Le Mans, while the 2019 euro road trip will be to Spa or Monza, sometime in May.
It is interesting that the drivers and team managers are required to pass an online test at the start of each season, and drivers are selected at random to do more tests throughout the year. There is also random breathalyser testing through the year, with zero tolerance enforced. More of my motorcycle touring pals have been reporting early morning random roadside breath testing in effect across Europe also: a good thing, in my opinion.
Mobil 1 The Grid did a nice piece on Nick Tandy’s work to keep Joe Tandy Racing at the sharp end of the grid in Carrera Cup GB including interviews with Nick, Tio Ellinas and Lewis Plato (no relation to Jason). Watch that below: