Stopped race, safety car, drive through penalties and a huge number of damaged vehicles. The Porsche Carrera Cup races in Zandvoort could not be topped for turbulence. No-one at Project 1 was really happy with the weekend. And yet in the practice session, everything ran to plan, especially for the rookies, who were driving on new tyres. Sean Johnston finished his first outing in the Zandvoort dunes in P2 and Jeffrey Schmidt in P4.
For Sean Johnston, the weekend was a rollercoaster of emotions. After his brilliant performance in practice, he hoped for a similar result in qualifying, and at first everything looked good. For a long time he lay in 2nd position, until his own driver error led to his hopes disappearing over the horizon, as he made contact with a crash barrier and his damaged radiator meant that he could no longer compete effectively. While his good first time meant that he started in seventh position in the second race, on Saturday he had to make do with starting in 21st position. These ups and downs continued in the race. Starting in P21, Sean Johnston battled in a great race to 9th position. “The performance in qualifying was great, unfortunately I cost myself an even better position because of a mistake. A huge thank you to my team, which got my car going again so quickly. To get from P21 to P9 is a great result and just shows what’s possible.” The second race was, however, sobering. “Starting in 7th position, I was counting on more but unfortunately in turn 1 I braked on the cooling fluid of an opponent and had to go into the pits to get a new front wheel. It was a shame for me and the team, which had worked so hard.” At the end of the day, the 22-year old Sean Johnston had to make do with 25th place in the second race.
What you have achieved once, you can achieve again. Before the Porsche Carrera Cup weekend in Oschersleben, ‘Team Deutsche Post by Project 1’ was on the attack. Both Jeffrey Schmidt in the rookie championship and Sean Edwards in the A-championship had legitimate hopes in respect of the championship. For one, everything ran exactly to plan, for the other it was a weekend to forget.
Just like at the Norisring, the bitter blow came on Saturday in qualifying. A transmission failure and complete loss of drive meant position 30 for the first race and position 11 for Sunday’s race. But those who know Edwards know that he never gives up. In both the first and the second races, he impressively demonstrated his pace and competitiveness and was the fastest on the track. On Saturday, his furious race to catch up led him to overtake 21 other cars and he was rewarded with a finish in eighth place. On Sunday too he showed everybody who was master of the track. At one point he was in third position, and it was only a decision of the race managers that stopped his battle to catch up. He therefore couldn’t take the podium place and the 14 associated points. Sean Edwards himself is taking the weekend and the season to date calmly. “Fortune has never really shone on me in the Porsche Carrera Cup. To have so much bad luck yet again in qualifying is really hard. In the race, you then have to take a higher risk on board and more critical situations can occur. Neither race was ideal for the championship but a lot is still possible and there are still enough points to collect. In the last four races in Zandvoort and Hockenheim we’ll be on the attack again.”
The seventh race in Monza, Italy, offered plenty of explosive action. The race was marked by exciting overtaking manoeuvres and tough battles for position. The improved aerodynamic packet of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Type 991, as compared to the old model, meant that the drivers could use the slipstreams at the high-speed Monza course a great deal more effectively. Even in qualifying it was a battle for the best position in the slipstream of the driver in front.
For Project 1, it was a case this weekend of ‘don’t risk too much but still use our strengths’. This tactic worked well in qualifying. With only 5 laps in the whole session, Edwards put his 911 in third place for the race and ensured the privilege, in contrast to his opponents, of being able to start the race with new tyres. Team ‘Allyouneed by Project 1’ rookie, Sean Johnston, qualified on a track which was again new territory for the 22 year old American in 21st position. The improvement of more than 2 seconds in comparison to practice on Friday was remarkable. After a poor start, Sean Edwards, who lives in Monaco, was forced to use defensive tactics. “Let’s put it this way, it was not an optimal start for me and to avoid going out and getting no points because of an accident, I tried to keep myself clear of everything, particularly on the first bend. Fortunately I wasn’t rammed by anything behind me and everything went smoothly.”
The sixth race of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup took the teams to the Ardennes, to Spa-Francorchamps. The tradition-steeped Belgian race is viewed by every driver as a highlight of the Supercup racing calendar and always offers spectators and fans spectacular motorsport. Project 1’s starting point was obviously to defend and to further build upon their lead in the drivers’ championship. After promising performances, Sean Johnston hoped to win further championship points with a finish in the top 15.
For a long time, the race, which consists of 11 laps of the 7.004km long circuit, offered very little real tension. Even though the drivers put a great deal of pressure on each other, there were no exciting overtaking manoeuvres amongst the leaders. Everything pointed to a pole-to-flag victory for Kuba Giermaziak but, on the last lap, everything changed. With an eye on the championship, Sean Edwards had cleverly kept out of all rough battles for position and for a long time was in third position behind Giermaziak and Bachler. A few bends before the finish, Giermaziak was forced to give in to a technical defect and give up his position. Bachler and Edwards therefore moved up a position.
After the short summer break, it was again time for racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup. The tenth and eleventh races of the season took the teams to the Nürburgring. After the explosive overtaking marathon by championship favourite Sean Edwards at the Norisring, everything pointed to victory for Project 1, and to being able to attack in the championship.
Since 2012 and 2013, there have been two races per weekend in the Porsche Carrera Cup. On the one hand, to give people the chance to iron out mistakes, on the other hand to further reduce risks. For Project 1, the weekend was a rollercoaster of emotion as far as the title hopes were concerned. In the most beautiful summer weather, title favourite Edwards was able to turn his second place starting position on Saturday into a confident victory, thereby reducing the gap in the championship to 5 points. For Project 1, it was the long sought after and much overdue first victory in the Porsche Carrera Cup. The team from Lohne in Lower Saxony was finally able to demonstrate a top performance at national level.