Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 34

COLUMNS BRIAN SIMS quality, then everything else pales into insignificance and although not the biggest grid on the day, the Porsche Carrera Cup races provided some great action and are particularly spectacular at high-visibility, undulating circuits like Brands Hatch. What I found extremely encouraging was to see 20-year old Josh Webster, who raced with the Status GP3 Team in 2013, win the Porsche Carrera Cup championship this year. In the process he has become a role model for many other young drivers, disenchanted with the closed shop that is the route to F1. I was recently invited to Porsche’s GB Head Office in Reading to meet Ragnar Schulte, Porsche’s General Manager / Marketing and his motorsport team. To his credit he has realised the tremendous potential being offered to Porsche by the many issues facing single-seater racing at present. He’s seized on this, determined to build Carrera Cup GB 2015 into something very special. Several impressive cost-cutting initiatives are being introduced, combined with a significant increase in prize money, to encourage the generation of young racers who no longer see F1 as the Holy Grail when it comes to building a professional career. Assistant Motorsport Manager Darioush Gheissari explained to me that an important ingredient for 2015 is the introduction of an innovative Rookie Championship category for drivers under 24, with a £50K prize for the overall winner. The overall prize fund for 2015 has been doubled! 34 I’m delighted to report that in my subsequent discussions with a few of the Carrera Cup Teams it became obvious that the cost reductions being introduced by Porsche are in turn being passed on to potential customers. With budgets for 2015 being quoted at around a third of what GP3 and F3 teams are now charging, it’s hardly surprising that so many disenchanted young single-seater stars are looking seriously at embarking upon a career as a professional sports car racer. This is reflected in a huge surge of interest being reported by all of the Carrera Cup teams. It looks as though not only will we be seeing large grids for 2015, but a rise in the number of young, ambitious professional drivers arriving from other categories. If you add to the cost reductions the opportunity for successful drivers in the series to move on into SuperCup and then maybe even WEC, Porsche Carrera Cup GB looks very much as if it will be the series that fills a huge void. It’s a void seemingly created by the total inability of the single-seater powers that be, including F1, to control and structure their own categories into a semblence of a “product” that the commercial world finds attractive. The change of attitude and direction by many of today’s young drivers shouldn’t come as a surprise …..the writing has been on the wall for a long time. A colourful 40 year career in international motorsport has taken Brian Sims from professional race-driving to running an F1 Grand Prix track and from being the Marketing Director of two F1 teams to founding the Motorsport Industry Association. Now a Consultant and Advisory-Board Member for the prestigious Oxford Brookes University and a Guest Lecturer for the World Academy of Sport, Brian is the author of two highly-acclaimed sponsorship books and an accomplished Speaker, using F1 as the theme for motivating business audiences. More info at www.briansims.co.uk. thepaddockmagazine.com