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Feature

30 Oct 2019

Racing Start – The new Sprint Challenge

The latest addition to the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid is on track to nurture new talent

As reported exclusively in Porsche Post in June, Porsche Motorsport GB is rolling out a new race series that will become another official rung on its enviably diverse and well supported career ladder. The Sprint Challenge is now confirmed for 2020, a completely new series that will act as a feeder for the Carrera Cup by offering a more affordable entry point to top-level sports car racing.
 
Officially titled the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB, the single-model series will feature the track-only version of the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, powered not by the new 9A2 Evo engine from the road cars but the mid-mounted 3.8-litre flat-six found in the previous generation GT3. This robust, dry-sumped competition unit will produce around 419bhp, delivered aft via a track-honed six-speed PDK gearbox.
 

 
The Clubsport features switchable ABS alongside stability and traction control, promising a much shallower learning curve than the unassisted 911 GT3 Cup cars. It
also comes as standard with adjustable brake bias while, internally, motorsport mod cons include air conditioning, an automatic fire extinguisher and a simplified version of the GT3R’s quick-release steering wheel.
 
The Clubsport benefits from the impressive integrated air jack system too, which significantly speeds up tyre changes. The tyres in question will once again come from Michelin, with slick and wets offered, the former limited to six per race weekend.
There will also be a tyre raffle at each weekend, giving a randomly selected competitor the chance to win a set of four Michelin tyres for their car.
 

 
Keeping costs down has been a formative part of the mission for Porsche at all levels of this programme. The GT4 Clubsport has a ‘no life’ engine and gearbox, meaning that expensive rebuilds should not occur during the season. Cars will be supplied directly by Porsche Cars Great Britain, currently for a very reasonable £131,100 excluding VAT, bearing in mind this is a genuine ex-Weissach race car.
 
Meanwhile, a full-season entry for the Sprint Challenge is £12,000 + VAT, although anyone registering before 1 December 2019 will save a further £2000. The overall estimated budget for a season of the Sprint Challenge is projected to be around half that of the Carrera Cup, a huge saving that promises to open this championship up to more teams and individual drivers.
 

 
Porsche Cars Great Britain will run the championship and provide technical and parts support at each round. The series aims to accommodate both amateur and professional drivers and is currently expected to be graded at National B level. This means the championship will run both Pro and Am categories, and while both feature on the same grid, each category will operate its own points structure and championship table, much like the Carrera Cup.
 
Whether participating with a professional team or individually, competitors will benefit from a dedicated race centre, providing hospitality and shelter across six weekends and 12 races, with five of the weekends formatted as double headers. The Club will formally host one double header weekend, set for mid-summer with the venue yet to be confirmed.
 

 
The 2020 calendar has been carefully constructed to reach all levels of the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid and to maximise commercial exposure. The Club’s own
weekend will give future graduates from the Club Championship and newly announced Boxster Cup a flavour of the new series, while rounds supporting British GT and TOCA guarantee that the championship is showcased at the highest levels of national motorsport. Porsche has also been careful to ensure that the Sprint Challenge never clashes with the Carrera Cup this coming year, allowing teams to take part in both series if they so wish.
 
Alongside affordability, the other key driver for the Sprint Challenge is driver progression and the GT4 Clubsport is the perfect car for this. Anyone hoping to take the next step into endurance racing after a season or two in the series can opt to retro-fit the MR (Manthey Racing) package that homologates the car for international GT4 racing, including the GT4 class of the British GT Championship.
 

 
Porsche Cars GB Motorsport Manager James MacNaughton explained the genesis of the new series: “Porsche Sprint Challenge GB is the result of a demand, from both within and outside of our community, for a championship that bridges the gap between club motorsport and Porsche Carrera Cup GB. The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is the perfect fit, capable of quick lap times and engaging to drive, but with the advantage of traction control and ABS for less experienced drivers. It’s also realistic for privateers to run the car themselves.”
 
More than 50 prospective teams and drivers attended a launch event held at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone in September, and a taster day will be held later in the year to offer prospective participants the chance to drive the car and meet the team. For more information on taking part, email porschemotorsportgb@porsche.co.uk.
 

 
Save the dates
 
The provisional 2020 calendar for the Sprint Challenge is…
Rounds 1 and 2: Silverstone (National), 25 and 26 April (TOCA)
Rounds 3 and 4: Silverstone GP, 6 and 7 June (British GT)
Rounds 5 and 6: Donington Park GP, 20 and 21 June (British GT)
Rounds 7 and 8: Venue TBC, date TBC (Porsche Club GB)
Rounds 9 and 10: Croft, 15 and 16 August (TOCA)
Rounds 11 and 12: Donington Park GP, 19 and 20 September (British GT)
 

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