The 2017 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix will mark a major milestone for Australia’s top one make category, the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.
The prestigious all Porsche series will celebrate its 100th round at Albert Park this year, giving the series a chance to look back on a remarkable history that has seen big names, new faces and superb wheel-to-wheel racing since the championship was formed in 2003.
To help celebrate the milestone, here’s five of the most important people, places, faces or events to come out of 100 rounds of sensational Porsche Carrera Cup action.
5. THE FOUNDING FATHER
Jim Richards is an icon of Australian motorsport, but he was also the first ever winner of a Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race, round, and the inaugural championship back in 2003.
Richards’ 10 round victories still place him third in the all-time Carrera Cup rankings, his 31 victories put him in the same position on the race winners list and he holds the equal record for most round wins in a season (6). But perhaps most of all, Richards’ solidified his position as a legend of Porsche racing – his Carrera Cup win joining his Targa Tasmania successes.
4. SUPERCAR BREEDING GROUND
A look through the Carrera Cup record books will deliver you a veritable ‘who’s who’ of current stars of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
Current Supercars stars Fabian Coulthard, David Reynolds and James Moffat all cut their teeth in Carrera Cup, while enduro regulars Warren Luff, David Wall, David Russell, Luke Youlden, and Jono Webb are all race winners in the category.
Four-time Bathurst champion Steven Richards also raced Carrera Cup, winning the championship not long after retiring from full-time Supercar competition three years ago.
3. CLASSIC RACING
There’s been some great Porsche Carrera Cup Australia racing at Albert Park – the fast, flowing nature of the place suits the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars to the ground.
From Supercars legend Mark Skaife making his Porsche debut at the venue in 2011, to the unrivalled joy seen from Challenge class runner Max Twigg when he raced with and overtook Skaife the same year, there have been plenty of great moments.
It’s also always been close there: in 2015, home-town hero Nick McBride edged out then-rookie sensation Matt Campbell by 0.0028s for pole position; the second closest margin in series history!
2. THE KING OF ALBERT PARK
Not only is Craig Baird the most successful ever driver in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, with five championships, 60 race victories and 21 round wins, he was also the Porsche king of Albert Park’s 5.2 kilometres.
Baird won four straight rounds at the venue (2008, then 2011-2013), winning another three times when the event was a non-championship round prior to the ’08 season. He didn’t race in the category last year, but he is still the most successful Porsche driver at Albert Park, bar none.
1. STAR FINDER
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia has entrenched itself as one of the best categories in Australian motorsport for young drivers to learn the craft and elevate their career – and there’s perhaps no better example than 2016 champion Matt Campbell.
The young driver from Warwick started in the second-tier Porsche GT3 Cup, was elevated to Carrera Cup in 2015 and won the championship last year. Along the way he won a Porsche scholarship, following a shootout in Europe made up of representatives from other one-make Porsche series around the world, that will see him become a factory Porsche driver and contest the iconic Porsche Supercup this year.
He’s following the path of young Kiwi Earl Bamber, who is now a factory star for the brand and has a Le Mans 24 Hour victory to his credit.