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Sprint Challenge field heralds Townsville Porsche return

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29 Jun
One-make Porsche racing returns to the streets of Townsville next weekend
5 mins by Supercars.com
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  • One-make Porsche racing returns to Townsville

  • Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge series to race next weekend

  • Townsville the third round for second-tier Porsche series

One-make Porsche racing returns to the streets of Townsville at the 2024 NTI Townsville 500 next weekend – but not quite in the way North Queensland Supercars fans have seen before.

In the past the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Championship has been a staple on the Reid Park Street Circuit, however this year it’s the turn of the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge series to put on a show.

While the cars might look and sound the same, there are key differences between the two one-make categories.

Townsville will mark the third round of 2024 for a category that is to Carrera Cup the same way the Dunlop Series is to the Supercars’ main game.

Sprint Challenge was founded in 2008 and has evolved to become a key steppingstone in the fabled ‘Porsche Pyramid’, the developmental pathway that propels drivers through the ranks and ultimately to top-level competition either here or abroad.

Drivers like Matt Campbell, Jaxon Evans and more recently, Ryan Wood, have come via Sprint Challenge and into not only international competitions but also – in the case of Evans and Wood – into the Repco Supercars Championship.

Much like the Dunlop Series, the Porsche Sprint Challenge field uses previous-generation Cup Car machinery and serves as a perfect entry point for drivers and teams before stepping up to the ‘main game’, in this case, Carrera Cup.

The field is predominantly comprised of the Type 991.2 GT3 Cup Cars – the same ones that raced in Townsville’s Carrera Cup races prior to the 2022 season.

Townsville won’t be the first time the championship has competed on the Repco Supercars Championship undercard – it featured on the Sydney SuperNight and Townsville SuperSprint events last year – but it will be the first ever street circuit event for the category in its 16-year history.

And don’t think for a second that a second-tier series will provide second-tier racing because if this year’s title race has been any indication that is far from the case.

Sprint Challenge’s Townsville debut comes at the time of peak competition for the category which features more depth of competition now than it has ever seen.

At the pointy-end of the field, a host of young stars are battling for the championship, with the top-10 drivers in the standings following the first two rounds having an average age of under 20.

They’re young, hungry and the result has been feisty racing across two rounds contested to date, at Phillip Island and The Bend, respectively.

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Young West Aussie star Caleb Sumich, who drives for McElrea Racing, won the opening round of the year at Phillip Island however it came in a three-way tie for round honours with Team Porsche New Zealand young-gun Brock Gilchrist and Grove Racing’s junior star, Oscar Targett.

Targett, an Australian karting prodigy taken who was under the wing of the Grove Racing group last year, struck at Round two in South Australia last month to claim the round and a narrow championship lead heading to Townsville.

In the six races so far, he’s also the only repeat winner – claiming the season opener at Phillip Island and the most recent race at The Bend – while other races have been shared by young Queenslander Hamish Fitzsimmons, Round 1 winner Sumich, speedy Kiwi import Clay Osborne and Brock Gilchrist.

Former Super2 racer Tyler Greenbury has made a welcome return to the championship this year aboard his own team and sits seventh in the standings.

As with Carrera Cup, Sprint Challenge features races within the race with class competition a talking point.

The Pro-Am ranks are led by Danny Stutterd with Lachlan Harburg and former champ Brett Boulton in close company. Class B, which features earlier-generation GT3 Cup Cars, is being dominated by Jacque Jarjo.

The Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge field will contest three races across the Townsville weekend, two sprints and one longer-distance race that has competitors battling for the prestigious Jim Richards Endurance Trophy.

The 25-strong Porsche field hits the track on Friday for practice with Qualifying and Race 1 on Saturday, with two races completing proceedings on Sunday.

As with all the action from the NTI Townsville 500, fans will be able to watch the racing on Fox Sports, Kayo and the Seven Network.

Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge field: NTI Townsville 500

#

Class

Driver

Model

3

Pro-Am

Jonathan Gliksten

GT3 Cup Gen II

4

Pro

Oscar Targett

GT3 Cup Gen II

5

Class B

Jacque Jarjo

GT3 Cup Gen I

6

Pro

Tyler Greenbury

GT3 Cup Gen II

8

Class B

Bradley Carr

GT3 Cup Gen II

9

Pro-Am

Marc Cini

GT3 Cup Gen II

10

Pro

Brock Gilchrist

GT3 Cup Gen II

11

Pro-Am

Eric Constantinidis

GT3 Cup Gen II

14

Pro

Caleb Sumich

GT3 Cup Gen II

15

Pro

Clay Osborne

GT3 Cup Gen II

16

Pro

Hamish Fitzsimmons

GT3 Cup Gen II

19

Class B

Brayden Taylor

GT3 Cup Gen I

25

Pro

Ben Taylor

GT3 Cup Gen II

28

Pro

Ayrton Hodson

GT3 Cup Gen II

34

Pro-Am

Casper Tresidder

GT3 Cup Gen II

35

Pro-Am

Indiran Padayachee

GT3 Cup Gen II

47

Class B

Stephen Moylan

GT3 Cup Gen I

71

Pro

Conor Somers

GT3 Cup Gen II

84

Pro-Am

Brett Boulton

GT3 Cup Gen II

91

Pro-Am

Lachlan Harburg

GT3 Cup Gen II

99

Pro-Am

Ross McGregor

GT3 Cup Gen II

116

Pro

Aron Shields

GT3 Cup Gen II

222

Pro

Nash Morris

GT3 Cup Gen II

702

Pro-Am

Daniel Stutterd

GT3 Cup Gen II

777

Pro

Jake Santalucia

GT3 Cup Gen II

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