GT3 CUP CHALLENGE CHAMP TALKS UP TITLE HOPES AMIDST PORSCHE V PORSCHE BATTLE THE INTRODUCTION of the Type-997 Porsche GT3 Cup Car as the benchmark vehicle has been the subject of much chatter in the 2010 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia...
GT3 CUP CHALLENGE CHAMP TALKS UP TITLE HOPES AMIDST PORSCHE V PORSCHE BATTLE
THE INTRODUCTION of the Type-997 Porsche GT3 Cup Car as the benchmark vehicle has been the subject of much chatter in the 2010 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Series presented by Mission Foods paddock.
However, two drivers sticking with their existing cars are set to make sure they put up a fight.
Reigning series winner Matthew Kingsley and Porsche Centre Gold Coast Dealer Principal Terry Knight have joined forces this season to try and stop the later-model cars running away with all the glory.
Though mostly evenly matched last season, the Type-997 GT3 Cup Car (introduced last year in its own class) features more power, more downforce and a sequential gear shift as major differences - though they lack the ABS braking performance of the 996.
2009 996-driving frontrunners Sven Burchartz, Jeff Bobik, Ray Angus and Shane Smollen are amongst a group of capable drivers to jump to the newer car, whilst Kingsley and Knight will be joined on the Bathurst grid by the likes of rapid Melbournian Kane Rose and experienced Paul Bolinowsky to bolster the 996 ranks.
The battle between models is set to be a feature of this years' series, with competition at an all-time high.
"I recently drove both cars in the lead up to Bathurst and whilst both have their good and not-so-good points, ultimately the 997 is the car to have - but not by much," Kingsley said.
"With a lot of people stepping up into the newer car for the first time at Bathurst, plenty of drivers will still be coming to grips with the car so we will be taking advantage of that in the early rounds while we can.
"The 997s will have more straight line and better high speed stability but our cars have 10 - 15 years of development and ‘skulduggery' to counter that, so it should be interesting!"
With his title defence on the line, Kingsley said that consistency will be critical this year thanks to greatly improved competition and added depth compared to seasons past.
"Late last year there were many different drivers at the top of the time sheets and that is only going to increase this year," he said.
"The end result will be ten or more drivers that you will be able to throw a blanket over and every one of them will have a good crack at the silverware.
"The key to putting together a series win in 2010 will just come down to consistency. I don't think my 996 will have the outright pace on some of the circuits we will visit this year but regular top five finishes will be the key.
"Unless I drive like a complete idiot, I don't think we'll be struggling around at the back this weekend at Bathurst!"
Kingsley's teammate in the new Action Tyres / Porsche Centre Gold Coast squad, Terry Knight, believes that ‘the hard men' of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge have stayed true to the series by keeping their existing mounts.
"We don't need some fancy sequential gearbox to have fun," Knight joked.
"A lot of it will be down to a placebo effect. The guys in the new cars will think ‘I'm in a later car so of course I'm going to be faster'... Or so they think.
"Guys like Matthew, Paul Bolinowsky and several others will be out there taking it to the guys showing off their new girlfriends, proving you don't need to have the latest gear to be very competitive in the GT3 Cup Challenge."
"Our biggest advantage will be if it rains," Knight added, in reference to the lack of ABS in the 997 GT3 Cup Cars.
"That's our ace card. If it rains, it's on. With so many (997) guys having little seat time in their new cars it will take them some time to come to grips with the change in brake feel - there could be some lock ups and if there are, we'll be there waiting to pounce."
Both drivers admitted that the growth of the series was the most pleasing aspect of the 2010 season ahead.
"The growth has been fantastic. It's great to see a lot of the new cars but also a core group of 996s contesting the series this year," Knight said.
"Either way, drivers have a ball racing here no matter where they are on the grid. You don't need to be in the top five or six to have a great time or a great battle. The best thing is its competitive racing but you also won't find a more social and happy competitor group anywhere."
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Series Presented by Mission Foods kicks off this weekend with two, 12-lap races as part of the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour festival at Mount Panorama Bathurst.
The event will be streamed live on the internet via www.bathurst12hour.com.au.
The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge appreciates the support of 2010 sponsors Mission Foods, Performance Friction, Michelin and Racer Industries.
-source: gt3 cup challenge