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02 Jun 2016

Preview: Carrera Cup GB at Oulton Park

Championship duel set to intensify at Cheshire’s challenging Oulton Park.

The fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK will be speeding back to the TOCA package for rounds five and six after two rounds supporting the World Endurance Championship. The 24 car grid will take to the swoops and curves of Cheshire’s demanding Oulton Park for the next chapter in what is proving to be another exciting and hotly contested season.

The story of the season so far has been the unfolding duel for supremacy between defending champion Dan Cammish (Redline Racing) and Dino Zamparelli (GT Marques). Cammish’s tally of three wins from four races belies the close-fought nature of their contest, perhaps better illustrated by Zamparelli’s haul of three fastest laps which puts him ahead in the hunt for a Chopard Superfast Automatic. Neither driver has been away from the podium in eight races, and both are heading into the weekend focused on getting an advantage over the other after the previous two rounds at Silverstone.

If the duo’s run of one-two finishes continues at Oulton Park, it will equal the all-time Carrera Cup GB record of six in a row. Looking to prevent this is a host of new drivers and seasoned campaigners that have already shown serious pace. Keen to lead the charge at his local circuit will be newcomer Tom Oliphant (Team Redline) who, together with team mate Lewis Plato, has produced some thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing with reigning Rookie Champion Tom Sharp (IDL Racing) and long-standing front-runner Stephen Jelley (Team Parker Racing).

Leading the Rookie category for drivers aged 17 to 24 and new to the championship is 2016/17 Porsche Scholar Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing). Gaining valuable experience every lap, Eastwood has established himself as a consistent top three prospect, with strong showings in the first four rounds despite conditions that were challenging even for the most experienced of runners.

Hot on the heels of the Pro category are the Pro-Am1 contenders, who arrive at Oulton Park with just four points separating the top three. Currently holding the advantage is John McCullagh (Redline Racing), the reigning Pro-Am2 champion validated in his last-minute decision to step up a category for 2016 with two wins to date.

However, mixed fortunes have been the order of the season so far in Pro-Am1. Newcomers Sean Hudspeth (Parr Motorsport) and Euan McKay (IN2 Racing) have shown strong pace to take a win apiece but, like the more experienced McCullagh, have found that the exceptionally close racing makes consistent results even harder to achieve.

Pro-Am2 looks poised for another classic race weekend as a scant three-point margin separates the top three with four rounds gone. Impressing in his first season, Mark Radcliffe (Intersport Racing) is one to watch after winning twice to earn a two-point cushion at the head of the category. The more experienced Tautvydas Barstys (Juta Racing) and Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) are hot on his heels after taking one win each, and will be looking to put their knowledge to good use around Oulton Park’s seven turns.

The Island circuit is a favourite with drivers, the undulations providing a driving challenge reminiscent of the famous Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany. This flowing nature makes overtaking more of a challenge than on most circuits, which will place the emphasis on qualifying – the past six races at Oulton Park have all been won from pole position. The question will be whether Cammish can continue his perfect run of 2016 pole positions, or whether Zamparelli will be able to harness his one-lap speed to lead the grid away for rounds five and six.

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