After a three year break, the single brand Porsche Rennsport Festival returned to Sydney Motorsport Park in spectacular style. It must be said that the atmosphere of the event in 2016 was more lively, with a wide range of fan activities ranging from the usual Show n’ Shine, exhibits of non-racing Porsche historics (including an original Porsche tractor), memorabilia outlets and classy sit-down food and bar facilities. A most clever and really practical participation activity was the Kids Driving School. Booking the kids in for early driver and road rules training in a fun and interactive fashion parents were able to partake of the many festival stalls and race viewing while the kids had a great time “driving” mini Porsches. The obligatory face painting was also provided. I must say I have never reported on an event that was this family-friendly.
Sam Curtis, CEO of Porsche Australia was delighted with the active participation by the consumer public. Gazing across the top of the pit building to an almost capacity filled car park up on the hill, Sam said “….its a much better event than we put on last time. SMSP is a great fit for us, and we are thrilled with the level of support we have been given to make this a huge success”. Sam was obviously having a great time too, as during the few minutes we chatted Shane van Gisbergen stole 15 places in the first Carrera Cup GT3 race and we were both excitedly grinning from ear to ear watching an incredible demonstration of race-craft.
In conditions closely emulating those of three years ago, the festival started under early wet and grey conditions however both days turned on bright blue skies with fluffy white clouds for the majority of racing. Over 5000 people enjoyed all that was on offer. As well as the festival having many quality off-track attractions, the calibre of racing on-track was also outstanding and electrifying. With many of the best drivers in the country piloting multi millions of dollars of the highest race tech machinery. With a list of elite names like Percat, Caruso, van Gisbergen, Tander, Wall, Slade, Reynolds and Richards participating, it was a no-brainer that the crowd was going to be entertained. Obviously these guys got leave passes from V8SC or just couldn’t resist the allure of driving entirely different race cars than they usually drive, certainly added to the grand spectacle of the two Pro-Am Carrera Cup enduro races.
The weekend racing was spread across six categories. Firstly two Regularity divisions, novice and experienced. Regularity One fostered a wide spread of winners in this category with Doug Barbour (1976 911) pleased with his first and second places around his nominated time of 1:53. Terry Dickens (2010 GT3) enjoyed two first places in Regularity Two driving closest to his nominated time of 2:10.
I have decided to coin a word to describe a Group S and N Historic race. BROUHAHA!! Meaning “a noisy and over-excited reaction to something”. I mean this in the nicest possible way, Watching some of these guys on the grid, they’ve got the twitchiest throttle feet. In both race three and four, Seabrook and Adler broke before the lights. Adler broke so early in race three, he was 100 mtrs down the track before the others cleared the start line. And that was from the second row of the grid. For that he earned himself a 30 second penalty. Wayne Seabrook (1976 911) dominated with all three race wins with Richard Watts (1976 911) two seconds and a third while Stan Adler (1975 911) took home to Victoria two thirds and a second.
Scott Taylor (2013 997 GT3) holds the kingship of this category, taking home all the lollies in Porsche Sports Cars over the weekend. With his pals Indiran Padayachee (2011 GT3) and Anthony Skinner (2009 GT3 Cup) they owned the podium in the exact same positions for all three races.
Porsche GT3 Cup lived up to its expected hype with young guns Jaxon Evans and Hamish Hardeman duelling up the pointy end of the pack. It was a coming of age as young Jaxon took out his first GT3 Cup Challenge victory as he held Hardeman out of the top spot in all three races, albeit in a nail biting finish in race three. Hardeman clearly had the best of Evans for the majority of that race but a little run wide on turn two allowed a quick thinking Evans to go shallow and steal the lead holding onto the last three laps to claim three wins and his inaugural Challenge win. Evans stated” …he ( Hardeman) made me work for it. Its great that we can race hard and fair against each other.” Hardeman is showing great promise in this his first full season in the GT3 Cup car. Third place for the weekend went to Porsche junior Jake Klarich.
Carrera Cup race one on Saturday was no less exciting. David Wall grabbed the early lead from the second row off the grid. At the same time Percat shot from fourth to second. Van Gisbergen started from 20th after a penalty from qualifying saw him moved 4 positions backwards. Notwithstanding, as we have seen from him in V8Sc racing, undaunted he proceeded to carve through the field including pushing Percat and Davison wide at turn 15 in a daring display of his awesome driving ability. After twelve laps and only 20 minutes elapsed of the one-hour race SVG was nipping at the heels of second place. After a solid drive by Challenge driver Geoff Emery, he handed the wheel over to pro driver Matt Campbell, who placed well within the top ten. Campbell brought the car home for race one win.
Race two and Emery wins the start but soon moves backwards through the field as the quicker Pros move on by. Campbell commented after the race: “Geoff (Emery) was smart enough to know who was quicker in the field and to let them on by. He positioned the car in a really good place for me.” As soon as the window for driver exchange opened, Emery hauled the car in for Campbell to jump in. Richards had the fastest lap with a 1:31.7 jumping Slade to take third spot. SVG once again had a heap of work to do, jumping into the car in 16th. He spent the next 18 laps working his way up to a credible finish in fourth place. Abela and Camillieri touched coming out of turn three and a coordinated spinning ballet unfolded as each plowed down through the grassy verges on opposite sides towards turn four in unison. Unfortunately only Camillieri continued on. As soon as McBride jumped in after Dylan Thomas’ solid drive, he worked up six places to ultimately finish in second. Following the two races the leader board in Carrera Cup has Campbell ( 1st) followed by McBride (2nd) and Davison ( 3rd).
The “Urban Cowboy “ Magnus Walker came from the USA for the Rennsport event. Renowned international Porsche enthusiast, reputably owner of over 50 Porsche 911’s , replete in jeans, leather jacket and long dreadlocks, Magnus enthralled the crowd and kindly gave of his time, knowledge and enthusiasm for the marque, chatting and signing autographs until the long lines had dwindled.
A spectacular and fun event, Rennsport featured over 450 cars, 200 of which graced the track in racing, and countless priceless racing and road going examples where on display in the PorscheStrasse. These included two original LeMans winning examples as well as rare specimens such as a 1989 911 Speedster. This second running of Porsche Rennsport Festival bettered the first one in all ways said CEO Sam Curtis. “ There were more Porsches on track, more Porsches on display, more activities for the public and as a result more Porsche fans attended. Porsche is a special brand in so far as its appeal extends through the age range. Whether its modern or historic race cars, road cars like the GT3 RS or open top cars like the original 356 Cabriolet, there is always a Porsche to admire.”
Words and pics by Rob Annesley