Eastwood extends podium run with two seconds at Knockhill

Eastwood extends podium run with two seconds at Knockhill

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.”

Eastwood impresses with brace of seconds at Snetterton

Eastwood impresses with brace of seconds at Snetterton

Charlie Eastwood showed that he is a match for anybody in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a pair of second-place finishes at Snetterton.

After scoring a top-ten at Silverstone in the Supercup two weeks ago, the Porsche Scholar enjoyed his best weekend to date in Norfolk as he pressurised series leader Dan Cammish throughout the first race, adding a fastest lap for good measure.

Returning to the circuit where he enjoyed his greatest success in single-seaters, Eastwood had earmarked the 2.9 mile circuit as one to make his mark and was duly on the pace from the word go in Friday practice.

The young Northern Irishman’s qualifying was compromised by traffic at Oulton Park and Croft, but there were no such problems for Eastwood at Snetterton, lining up second on the grid for both races. However, he felt there was still more time in the car and was determined not to allow Cammish to run away with it in race one.

When the lights turned green, Eastwood doggedly pursued his Redline Racing team-mate until the intervention of an errant lapped car handed Cammish a reprieve, eventually finishing 1.7 seconds behind.

“We got off to a good start and really started to push Dan. We were able to get close to him and challenge him for the lead, when with about four laps to go, we caught up with a backmarker and got tangled up with him. Dan got past him on the straight and I got stuck in the corner, which cost me a second and unfortunately that was my chance gone”

A small mistake at Williams on the opening lap of race two meant Eastwood would face a tough ask to dislodge Cammish from the top spot, but got his head down and drove a clean race to finish just 1.5 seconds in arrears.

In the second race again we had another good start into second, but we just went in a little hot and got a big bit of oversteer, which gave Dan a two second lead. We were able to close the gap to the end of the race and we were four hundredths off the fastest lap, but there just wasn’t enough to challenge for the win. Still, to be pushing Dan is a great position to be starting the second half of the year because we know that he’s a good benchmark for the top five in Supercup, so we’re really happy with that.

In only his fifth weekend in the championship, a first Carrera Cup win is now firmly in Eastwood’s sights, although he’s not lost sight of how far he has already come in his new discipline.

“Of course you always want to win and you always want a little more, but you have to be realistic and see what you’re up against. To be right up at the sharp end against guys with Dan’s experience and get fastest lap in race is great for my confidence – it’s been a really good weekend.”

Eastwood’s next outing comes in two weeks’ time as the championship heads north to Knockhill in Scotland, where the youngster will look to continue his strong form.

Eastwood marks Supercup debut with top-ten finish

Eastwood marks Supercup debut with top-ten finish

Charlie Eastwood capped an encouraging first outing in the Porsche Supercup with a top-10 finish at Silverstone on the British Grand Prix weekend.

The 20-year-old Porsche Scholar finished right on the bumper of fellow guest driver and Carrera Cup GB championship leader Dan Cammish in tenth place after 10 frenetic laps of green-flag racing, which started behind the Safety Car due to Silverstone’s famously inclement weather.

Although Eastwood had already raced at the Northampton venue this year in support of the World Endurance Championship, where he picked up two podium positions, the weekend would see the Northern Irishman pitched against the very best one-make Porsche drivers in the world, including one who has previous experience racing for the factory Porsche team in the WEC.
As such, Eastwood headed into the weekend with very little by way of expectation, but came away with his confidence boosted having proved that he could mix it with vastly more experienced drivers.

“It’s been a very productive weekend and given me a great insight into what’s needed if I do another Supercup round with regards to what the grip levels are like, because it was like driving a different car with the rubber on track. It was such a tough group of drivers out there as well, so it’s great to come away with a top-ten from the highest level of Porsche racing. I really enjoyed the experience and I’ll be taking a lot from it going into the rest of the season.”

Eastwood was docked three places on the grid for a track limits violation in qualifying and started from 16th position, but didn’t let that distract him from the task in hand.

Once the Safety Car peeled in after two slow laps, the Redline Racing rookie got his head down and steadily moved his way through the pack, with Michael Ammermueller and Christian Engelhart – both former winners in Supercup – powerless to hold him off in the tricky conditions.

Eastwood believed further positions were possible, but was still delighted to have passed his first real test with flying colours.
“There were five guest drivers in the top ten, so if you go to another Supercup round where there’s no guest drivers then that puts you around P6, which is really encouraging. The start was under Safety Car, so instead of starting from the eighth row it was the 16th row because we were single file and from there it was a lot harder to make up positions. In the end we were about a second quicker than the guys in front and we finished right behind them, so I think we definitely put on a good show.”

It comes after a busy few weeks for Eastwood, who finished fifth in the Goodwood shootout with his regular Carrera Cup machine.

“I’d never been to Goodwood before, so it was always a big part of my bucket list. I was really happy when I was told at the start of the year that I would be competing up the hill and we had another great result there in the shootout where the four cars in front of me had double the horsepower. All in all, it was a weekend of celebration and another really fantastic event to be a part of.” 

His next outing in the Carrera Cup GB will be in three weeks’ time at Snetterton, Norfolk.

Rookie win and points haul for Eastwood at Croft

Rookie win and points haul for Eastwood at Croft

Porsche Carrera Cup Scholar Charlie Eastwood continued his debut season with his sixth rookie class win of the season and two points finishes at Croft.

The fast and flowing 2.1 mile North Yorkshire circuit is notoriously hard on tyres, with lots of high-commitment corners that require a well-balanced car in order to achieve the best lap-times.

Unlike the circuits the Carrera Cup GB has visited so far, this would be the first time Eastwood had raced at Croft, but despite this disadvantage, the 20-year-old managed the second quickest time in FP2.

However, traffic meant he was unable to set a representative time on his second set of tyres in qualifying and the Redline Racing driver would have to settle for starting seventh and eighth.

“We were P3 on the first set of tyres, but on the second set, which is always the faster, I wasn’t able to set a time due to the traffic. That put us seventh and eighth, so there was a lot of work to be done from there. “

In Race One, Eastwood made his now customary excellent start around the outside to take fourth and top rookie, a position he held to the flag after seeing off pressure from team-mate Tom Oliphant.

As the tyres deteriorated, the Ulsterman found himself at the head of a long line of cars bottled up behind Stephen Jelley for the final podium position, but the checkered flag came just too soon to make a move against the category veteran and add to his tally of three podiums so far this year. Nevertheless, Eastwood was able to take the rookie honours once again.

“We made a change just before the race to help the rear tyre degradation and the guys up front definitely started to go off before ours did. In the last three or four laps we were really able to close down on them and with a couple more laps, a podium was definitely on the cards. All in all, it wasn’t a bad race coming from seventh.”

At the rolling start in Race Two, Eastwood was forced wide at turn two and lost ground to Alessandro Latif. A good exit from the hairpin meant Eastwood managed to get fully alongside, but Latif continued to move across his line until there was nowhere left to go.

Being squeezed onto the grass and the subsequent loss of momentum would cost him a further two positions and drop Eastwood off the back of the lead group. Despite incurring some damage in the incident, Eastwood was able to recover to his original starting position with an opportunistic pass Euan MacKay into the high-speed Jim Clark Esses on Lap 7, followed by a decisive move on Sean Hudspeth into Clerveaux on Lap 8.

“It could have been a lot worse than it actually was, I lost the front splitter which is really important around Croft and it dropped us behind the Pro-Am 1 guys. Once I got past them, without the front splitter it was going to be very hard to make any further progress.”

In the end, it was a case of what might have been for Eastwood, as he reaches the halfway point in the season fourth in points, having slipped behind Jelley in the standings.

“It’s a little bit disappointing, it wasn’t the result that our pace deserved, but we’ve still got six wins and two seconds in the rookie points, so I’m very pleased with how it’s going this year. I’m now looking forward to seeing where I am against the big boys in the Supercup race at Silverstone in three weeks’ time and I’ve got Goodwood this weekend, so I’m keeping myself busy!”

The next round of the championship will be held at more familiar climes of Snetterton in Norfolk, a circuit Eastwood has fond memories of, having taken two podiums there in BRDC F4.

Another podium haul for Eastwood at Oulton

Another podium haul for Eastwood at Oulton

After a long gap between Carrera Cup GB meetings, Porsche Scholar Charlie Eastwood got straight back on the pace at Oulton Park with another podium finish, his third finish in succession.

The Northern Irishman has made an impressive start to his sports car career and continued that form in Race One.

Qualifying third, Eastwood made a good start and maintained his position throughout the race until a red flag called a halt to proceedings five laps early. Having saved his tyres in the middle portion of the race, Eastwood was closing in on the battle for the lead between Redline Racing team-mate Dan Cammish and Stephen Jelley when the race was called.

Although frustrated not to have the opportunity to attack Jelley, Eastwood was more than happy to take third, once again top rookie, which consolidates his third place in the overall point standings.

“In the end it was a fairly simplistic race. Stephen had to drive very defensively for the majority of the race, so I think he’d overworked his tyres a bit and we were clawing it back when the red flag came out. That was a bit frustrating, but even though I would have been quicker than him, making it stick would have been very tough because Oulton Park is renowned for being a difficult track to pass on and Stephen is very good at car placement. All the same, it was good to take another good podium and gain ground on Dino in the points as well.”

However, qualifying for race two didn’t go quite as planned. With only one clear lap on his second set of tyres due to repeatedly hitting Pro-Am 2 traffic, Eastwood would face an uphill battle to come through from eighth.

Knowing that a good first lap would be crucial, Eastwood made an excellent start to drive around the outside of Old Hall, before slipping inside team-mate Tom Oliphant into Cascades for sixth. Unfortunately the two made slight contact on corner exit, which knocked the tracking on Eastwood’s right front out of kilter – a particularly damaging impairment on a clockwise circuit predominantly consisting of right-handers.

A slight mistake under braking for the chicane caused damage to the splitter and brought on worsening understeer, but Eastwood soon learned to drive around the problem and capitalised on a mistake from Tom Sharp at Lodge on the penultimate tour to take fifth.

While adjusting for the steering he under braked at the chicane which caused damage to the splitter and brought on worsening understeer, but Eastwood soon learned to drive around the problem and capitalised on a mistake from Tom Sharp at Lodge on the penultimate tour to take fifth.

Under the circumstances, it was a very reasonable result, although Eastwood finished a tantalising 0.132 behind Lewis Plato for fourth and best rookie at the line.

“The start went to plan, then I came out of turn two, Tom was just trying to hang it around the outside and we made slight contact which put the tracking out by around 30 degrees. It took me a few laps to adapt to the difference in steering but once I got used to it I started pushing on and my pace at the end was actually quite good considering.

Even though the second race was the lesser result, I’d say it was a better race for me. If you look at everyone else on the grid, they were only gaining one place or maybe two, so to go from eighth to fifth when everyone around us was on the same pace was quite good, especially with the damage I had. Looking back, I would have loved to have seen what my pace would have been like without damage…”

Eastwood won’t have quite so long to wait for his next outing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, with Round 4 at Croft set to take place on the weekend of June 18-19.

Eastwood nets double podium at Silverstone

Eastwood nets double podium at Silverstone

Northern Ireland’s Charlie Eastwood scored a maiden podium in only his third Porsche Carrera Cup race at Silverstone, before repeating the feat in the second race on Sunday. 

Racing on the support bill of the FIA World Endurance Championship in front of the Porsche factory team, the Redline Racing rookie stepped up to the occasion giving his more experienced competitors pause for thought with a weekend that combined strong racecraft with a maturity beyond his 20 years.

An unseasonal April snowstorm greeted Eastwood on Saturday morning and caused qualifying to be cancelled, leaving the grid for the first race to be set by the championship order from Round One at Brands Hatch. 

Eastwood felt he had the pace to qualify in the top three and was frustrated to start sixth, but quickly sliced his way through the pack in the tricky conditions, latching onto the back of second-placed Dino Zamparelli by the end of lap two. Showing no fear, the Carrera Cup scholar powered around the outside of Zamparelli at Stowe, but soon found himself under attack and relinquished the place again a few laps later.  

“In Race One, half the grid were on wets and half were on slicks. Although I got a lot of heat out of the tyres on the warmup lap, those first five to six laps were properly hairy! Abbey is a fifth gear corner but we were taking it in third because it was soaking wet, it just didn’t seem to dry out! It was really just a case of keeping it on the black stuff.”

After a few laps of giving chase, Eastwood decided that discretion would be the better part of valour and settled for third, comfortably finishing as top Rookie Class entrant once again.

“I had quite a big gap to the guys in front and the guys behind – I knew that to catch Dino I would have to take a lot of risks, so I just settled for a podium and cruised it home for the last half of the race.”

Race Two was uneventful by comparison as Eastwood started and finished third, successfully managing the fresh set of slick tyres that had gone unused in qualifying and staying out of reach of the chasing pack. 

Yet whilst pleased to have collected a pair of podiums and continued his perfect run of Rookie Class wins in 2016, Eastwood has already set his sights on the next accolade – a first victory – and on closing the points deficit to defending champion Dan Cammish, starting at Oulton Park on June 4-5. 

“Race Two was fairly lonely, but we’ve got a four week gap now to get stuck in with some sim work and testing to get closer to the front two. I’m happy that I got the jump on the mid-pack and it’s now mainly the two experienced guys Cammish and Zamarelli. We knew that the first couple of races I’d be up against it, i’ve got to go up against very fast and very experienced guys in the class, but i’m now leading the rookie championship by a fair bit and up to third in the Pro championship. I just need to keep chipping away now – I’m learning more every weekend, but I still feel I have more to come.”

Strong debut for Eastwood at Brands Hatch Indy circuit

Strong debut for Eastwood at Brands Hatch Indy circuit

Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholar Charlie Eastwood enjoyed a strong debut outing in the championship at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent, taking Rookie Class honours in both races and narrowly missing out on a first podium finish.

The Northern Irishman, driving with eight-time Carrera Cup champions Redline Racing, suffered a setback in practice when a stone flicked up off his tyre went through the radiator, which prevented him from getting any practice laps on fresh tyres before qualifying. However, Eastwood rallied impressively to set the fifth fastest time in both sessions, each time as top Rookie Class entrant.

A lap of the 1.2 mile-Indy circuit takes just 46 seconds in a Porsche 991 GT3 Cup Car, leaving little room for a breather before launching into the next lap. That frenetic tempo was in evidence right from the beginning of Race One, although the circuit had still to fully dry after an overnight shower. Showing no signs that this was a 20-year-old in his first race with a roof over his head and taking part in his first rolling start, Eastwood held position in the opening laps before executing a textbook switchback manoeuvre to take fourth away from Jonas Gelzinis into Driuds. 

“I put him under a bit of pressure into Paddock and although I was a quite far back, I knew the brakes were strong and just went for the move – I was quite good on the brakes there all weekend.” 

After a lengthy Safety Car interjection, Eastwood latched onto the back of Tom Sharp, and determinedly tracked the 2015 Rookie Class winner through traffic, but was unable to prize open his defences and would ultimately finish three tenths shy of his first podium finish.

“I had a bit more pace than Sharp coming to the end of the lap, but it’s so hard to pass someone of relatively similar pace when they’re defending. There were a lot of new variables I had to deal with, for example I’d never done a rolling start before, so it gave me an idea of what I’ve got to face for the rest of the year. Although I had a few chances, I just couldn’t capitalise, but I’m still happy with fourth because it’s good points for the championship and I’m fighting against boys who are in their second or maybe third year of Carrera Cup.”

Eastwood again held fifth at the start of Race Two, but lost two positions when he was boxed in on the inside at Druids. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Eastwood responded and duly worked his way back past Rookie Class rival Lewis Plato. However, with his steering knocked out of kilter in the earlier battling, Eastwood found it difficult to make further progress and thus had to settle for sixth at the flag.   

“When I was going straight, the steering wheel was at 45 degrees, which wasn’t ideal because nearly all the corners are right-handers!”

Having impressed the Porsche Carrera Cup GB community with his temerity and speed, the Infinity Sports Management prodigy will be a force to be reckoned with at the next round at Silverstone, which will support the FIA World Endurance Championship. 

“All in all it was good to get some points on the board and it’s very early days. To be honest, the bigger tracks like Silverstone should suit me a bit better, so I’m looking forward to racing in two weeks’ time in front of the crowds at the WEC round. Hopefully we can put on a show and really try to push for my first podium.”

Eastwood out to impress in debut Carrera Cup Season

Eastwood out to impress in debut Carrera Cup Season

Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholar Charlie Eastwood has his sights set on winning the Rookie Class in his first season with eight-time championship winning team Redline Racing.

The 2012 Rotax World Finals champion emerged triumphant from a rigorous selection process and will receive financial support, media training and a tailored fitness programme from Porsche Human Performance for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

After a long off-season, 20-year-old Eastwood is itching to get the season underway on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit (April 1-3) for the first of eight meetings, including seven on the TOCA package to be shown live on ITV4. The Carrera Cup GB will also support the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Silverstone, giving Eastwood the opportunity to race under the noses of the Porsche LMP1 team.

“It’s really huge, there aren’t many opportunities like this where a manufacturer will support someone of my age, so I just want to grab it with both hands and do the best job possible,” said Eastwood, who is managed by Infinity Sports Management. 

“Porsche as a company definitely look after their scholars and their juniors very well and provide you with a very clear ladder system. You just have to look at Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, who both started in Carrera Cup not that long ago; they’ve obviously done well, progressed through the ranks and won LMP1 at Le Mans last year, so for the rest of my career it’s my hope that I’ll always be in a Porsche.”

The Northern Irishman will be seeking to emulate PCCGB Scholarship predecessor Josh Webster, who won the 2014 title as a rookie with Redline, a feat matched by Redline team-mate Dan Cammish last season. With eight drivers lapping within half a second of each other at the Silverstone Media Day, the 2016 season is shaping up to be one of the closest-fought in the series’ 14-year history and Eastwood expects to be firmly in the mix. 

“Dan is going to be on form from the very start, but there’s nothing to say that I can’t beat him, we’ve been very close in the times from the very start

It’s been going really well so far and I’ve felt at one with the car. It’s great to change into a different category where a lot of people say it’s very hard to get used to and click straightaway.

We’ve done all the preparation we can working with Porsche Performance, working at iZone with the sim, doing all the testing, and I’m obviously with Redline who are a well-known and successful team, so it’s shaping up well.” 

Eastwood’s main priority however will be the Rookie Cup, awarded to the best championship newcomer between the ages of 17 and 24, where his main rival for the £50,000 prize is likely to be another Redline team-mate, Lewis Plato (no relation to the touring car racer Jason.)

“I’m still a racing driver so I’m going to go for the main championship and do everything that I can, but our big aim this year is to win the rookie championship. 

Lewis will be a very strong contender in the rookie championship as he’s done British GT before, but I feel as if I’m on the top of my game and can’t wait to get started with some points on the board.”

Infinity Sports Management Director Harry Soden has every confidence in his young charge to deliver on his promise, and anticipates a breakthrough season in 2016. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Charlie to show what he’s made of. The Porsche Carrera Cup is a series on the rise and he’s got some very strong team-mates who will push him to extract the best from himself. He wants to win, and I’m sure he’ll be a real contender as the season progresses.”

Challenging Formula Renault 2.0 debut

Challenging Formula Renault 2.0 debut

- Eastwood moves up to international category for 2015 -
- Second highest rookie finisher in race one -

Ulsterman Charlie Eastwood got his 2015 Formula Renault 2.0 season underway this weekend at the opener at Motorland Aragon in Spain with his Strakka Racing team. The weekend comprised rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the championship and saw Charlie make his debut in the international category. Continue reading