1st October 2017: Charlie Eastwood is 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Champion. The thrilling season finale at Brands Hatch this weekend saw hard fought racing and determination shine through from the 2016/17 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholar.
Following one of the most important qualifying sessions of the season, all three title contenders in the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the U.K., locked out the front two rows of the grid for rounds fourteen and fifteen at Brands Hatch circuit, Kent.
Championship leader Charlie (Redline Racing) started the penultimate race from P4, affording the Belfast man a good chance to defend his four-point dropped score advantage over his closest title rival, Dino Zamparelli who lined up alongside him on the grid.
The damp track presented tricky, greasy conditions that produced a frantic contest from the off. There were multiple changes in positions throughout the entire race, but Charlie hung on to an important points scoring fourth to boost him to a six points advantage over Zampareilli going in to the final event.
With the Redline Racing team securing the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Team Championship at the end of round 14, their tenth since the championship launched in 2003, the main Carrera Cup GB Drivers’ title went down to the very last lap of the very last race of the year. Starting from third, the Belfast man knew that the 2017 crown was within his grasp as the track and weather conditions grew worse. The leading pack of the 21 car field were locked in an intense battle of clean racing and after 17 laps Charlie crossed the line in P5, enough to secure the Championship victory and celebrate the end of his second successful year in Porsche Carrera Cup GB.
Charlie scored 228 points (dropped score) with more wins under his belt than Zamparelli (228 points) to become the 2017 Carrera Cup GB Drivers’ Champion.
Charlie Eastwood says:
“I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone at Porsche for giving me this amazing opportunity; to have the best two years of racing that I have ever had. Also, thank you to all my family for supporting me through all the ups and downs over the years, but we always come out on top in the end and for that I am very grateful!”
During a wet Qualifying session on Saturday afternoon at Silverstone Circuit all Carrera Cup GB cars, except for the #28 Redline Racing Porsche of Charlie Eastwood, had their best and second lap times disallowed for exceeding track limits. Charlie qualified in P3 for Round 12 and P2 for Round 13, but with a ten-place grid penalty carried over from the Knockhill event, the Belfast man lined up in thirteenth position on the grid on Sunday morning.
The safety car led the 22-car strong field for the first two green laps of race one during which Charlie fought back from his penalization through treacherously wet conditions. He drove a mature and accomplished race to finish fourth in the proceedings, maintaining top spot in the Championship going in to the afternoon.
The sun had broken through the clouds in time for the crucial final round at the home of British Motor Racing in Northamptonshire. 2016/17 Porsche GB Scholar Charlie made the best of the front row starts, launching past the pole sitter in to turn one. However, an ongoing issue with the #28 Redline Racing charger meant that despite his best efforts, Charlie was unable to muster enough pace out of his car and lost position to his immediate racing rivals. Following the retirement of race leader Cammish on lap 22, Charlie claimed a well-defended P3 podium trophy and continues to lead the 2017 Carrera Cup GB Drivers’ Championship on 202 points.
Charlie Eastwood comments:
“It wasn’t an ideal weekend. We struggled with the car’s handling since testing on Tuesday; we turned the car upside down trying to find the issue. When we got in to Qualifying on Saturday it felt like the problem was still there, so we said to ourselves ‘right, let’s just try to forget about it and go forward’. It’s very frustrating as we know it’s not a setup problem, but something fundamental inside the car. The team did a great job re-building it for the event, but we need to work hard over the next two weeks to see what the issue could be before we head to Brands Hatch and try to maintain that lead.”
The finale of the 2017 Carrera Cup GB takes place at Brands Hatch, Kent on 30th September and 1st October, 2017.
Results: #28 Charlie Eastwood, Redline Racing
|Qualifying – Round 12||P3 (started P13*) – fastest lap 56.020 seconds (105.42 MPH)|
|Qualifying – Round 13||P2 – second fastest lap 56.106 seconds (105.25 MPH)|
|Round 12 – Result||P4 - 21 laps, best lap time 1:01.304 minute|
|Round 13 – Result||P3 - 27 laps, best lap time 56.671 seconds|
Charlie Eastwood clinched the Porsche Carrera Cup GB rookie class title with a scintillating podium display at Silverstone’s National Circuit.
Following a second consecutive double podium weekend at Knockhill, the 21 year-old arrived in Northamptonshire poised to continue his good run of form late in the season.
Eastwood pocketed his £50,000 rookie class prize with a surging run through the field from 11th on the grid in race one. The Porsche Scholar wasted no time in picking off his rivals, moving up five positions on the first two laps before dispatching Lewis Plato – his chief opponent in the rookie standings – heading through Woodcote. The overtakes didn’t stop there, as Eastwood charged past Dino Zamparelli with a gutsy move on the inside at Copse, before moving into podium territory with a well-timed late braking manoeuvre heading into Brooklands.
He then came under pressure from Stephen Jelley towards the end, but produced a stern defensive drive to keep his hard earned third place. The result netted him a further 16 points in the championship, which was more than enough to seal the rookie class title with three races to spare.
That was the plan all year. We’ve been improving every single race and chipping away at it, so to have the rookie championship wrapped up as soon as we have is a great feeling. We had a problem with glazed brakes in qualifying, so 11th wasn’t where our pace was, but we got a really good start and just picked them all off one by one.
It was definitely my best race in a Porsche. We still had some problems with the brakes and with the tyres locking up; without that, second might have been on the cards, but it was a great recovery from where we were.
The second 28-lap contest saw the Northern Irishman deliver another strong performance to finish fourth and notch up his 12th top five finish of 2016. Starting from the inside this time in seventh, Eastwood again made inroads on his opening lap, passing two cars to assert himself in the top five.
After stretching out a lead to the group behind, Eastwood was forced to defend when a safety car bunched up the field on lap eight. Determined to keep the heat on the race leaders towards the end, he pushed on to escape the clutches of the chasing pack, finishing just three seconds shy of third position.
We started seventh and got a good start, we didn’t have the dominant pace that we had in the first one but to come away with a third and fourth from eleventh and seventh is a lot better than we expected this morning!
An impressive 30 point weekend at Silverstone safeguards Eastwood’s place in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB top three. Although the overall championship is now out of reach, just 14 points separate him from second place heading into the final round of the year at Brands Hatch on October 2nd.
Hopefully if we get the qualifying back to where it needs to be we can challenge as we have at Snetterton and Knockhill. There’s only 14 points between myself and Dino Zamparelli in the championship for second, so I’ll be trying my hardest to grab some points off him in the first race and set it up for a battle in the second race.
Charlie Eastwood extended his run of podiums in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB to four in a row, with another pair of second place finishes on his first visit to Knockhill.
Following his best weekend in a Porsche to date at Snetterton, the 21-year-old Porsche scholar arrived in Scotland riding the crest of a wave and eager to maintain his good form on the busy 1.3 mile circuit.
With all 20 cars completing sub-1 minute laptimes, finding clear track in qualifying would be a real challenge, but Eastwood clearly hadn’t read the script. Showing that a lack of circuit knowledge was no hindrance, he pumped in four times each within a few hundredths of each other to put himself on the front row for both races.
“We knew that qualifying is fairly crucial at most tracks, but especially around here. We struggled a bit on Friday but on Saturday we put a couple of really good laps together to get ourselves onto the front row and give us a chance to try and go for the win”
From his outside grid slot, the Northern Irishman tucked into second behind Redline Racing team-mate Dan Cammish at the start of race one before setting off in pursuit. Their laptimes were very close – Eastwood only 0.012 away from taking a second fastest lap of the season – but with only one line through the stretch from Scotsman over the blind, uphill chicane, it was difficult to follow Cammish through the traffic and he would have to settle for second, 2.1 seconds in arrears. The second 31-lap encounter unfolded in much a similar fashion, as Eastwood again made a good start, before settling into second place. The gap between the two leaders ebbed and flowed throughout the race due to the traffic, but all the while Eastwood was able to keep himself out of the clutches of the chasing Tom Sharp.
“I tried a move around the outside, especially in the first one, but he covered it well and really used all the exit to give me no room. Because it’s such a small track, I knew that the traffic was going to play it’s part but it does average out by the end – you gain a little bit and you lose a little bit. It was quite a lonely race for us, unfortunately it wasn’t a lonely race out front but in second place, but all in all, it was another good haul of points. These four second places show we can be consistent and fast, so hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the year.”
His fourth P2 finish in succession means Eastwood has now closed to within 16 points of second in the overall standings, while another pair of rookie class wins – Eastwood’s ninth and tenth of the year – have consolidated his margin over nearest rival Lewis Plato. With two rounds to go, the Northern Irishman is now well on course to meet the targets he set himself at the start of the season.
“This year we were really focused on winning the rookie championship and I think we’ve dominated that quite well. Our goal was just to be pushing for podiums, but here and at Snetterton, we’ve really been able to push Dan hard for the win, which shows we’re getting closer and closer. We’re closing in on Dino Zamparelli a lot now and if we can finish the year with the rookie championship and second overall, we can’t ask for much more.”