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“Congratulations on your tenth birthday, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil”

“Congratulations on your tenth birthday, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil”

Text by Luiz Alberto Pandini

Exactly ten years ago, on the 16th of April 2005, Brazilian motorsport scene saw a new series get born: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil. An idea already with some years of maturation and put into action by Dener Pires and Roberto Keller, the men behind the “madness” of bringing to Brazil a series inspired on Porsche Supercup.

I don’t have any pretension of saying that I saw Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil get born, but I watched closely many moments occurred before those two races of April 16th, 10 years ago. I remember Dener and Beto at the stand of Porsche at São Paulo Auto Show in 2004, presenting the project to the new drivers and showing them the details of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup exhibited there (it was an expo unit, brought from Germany specially to this fair).

Weeks later, the first car ready to race arrived at Interlagos, on a weekend of a Porsche Club do Brasil event. All in white, it was taken out of the truck that came straight from Santos port, put into the boxes and finally got his numer: 01. Decals written “GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil” were also applied to the car, thus giving it a more “racing” look. Full tank and routine inspections done, the 911 GT3 Cup entered the track driven by Dener and Keller to some demo laps.

In January of 2005, that same car took part of Mil Milhas Brasileiras, driven by Raul Boesel, Marcel Visconde, Max Wilson and André Lara Resende. During the practice sessions and races, a telemetry system gave precise info on mechanical wearing and performance of the 911 GT3 Cup. The car wasn’t one of the fastest of the race, but got the checkered flag on seventh position and – the most important – raced the amount of laps equivalent to a whole season of sprint racing without any problem, presenting the team with valuable information and parameters.

I worked as press officer at Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil for the first ten seasons of the series, and as broadcast commentator between 2010 and 2014, sharing the TV booth with my fellow Luc Monteiro – one of the most talented narrators I have ever known, capable of giving you thrills without being hysterical, being informative beyond of what you see on the screen (by the way, he’s an excellent partner of table and games).

From everything I saw and lived during these 10 seasons, one of the images I keep in my memory is the inaugural race at Interlagos. In any race, I like to see the formed grids, the movement of the mechanics, the final rituals of the drivers. It’s a moment of expectation and even today I feel the adrenalin rushes when the engines are turned on, the formation lap is authorized and, of course, when the race starts. And that special grid had a special meaning. The ones who were there at Interlagos knew that this was the beginning of something with big potential of turning into something big and successful. There were people with some doubts about it, although a series with similar profile (Trofeo Maserati) was introduced into the Brazilian motorsport scenario the year before. But with time (short time), Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil would surpass all expectations.

Eleven drivers started on the first of the two races. The veteran Totó Porto, the most experienced among the participants, clinched the pole and won the inaugural race. It was a sunny hot day. Behind him, Roberto Posses, Luis Zattar, Eduardo de Souza Ramos, Tom Valle, Marcel Visconde, Marcos Barros, Charles Reed and Henry Visconde. Antônio Moraes and Otáveio Mesquita abandoned; Omilton Visconde Junior, the 12th participant, took part of free practice only. The second race started in the afternoon, had clouded weather and lower temperatures. Eight cars aligned on the grid, in the order of the first race results. Porto won again, followed by Valle, Souza Ramos, Mesquita, Reed, Marcel and Henry. Posses abandoned, Zattar didn’t start because of an injury on his shoulder (he raced earlier in the day already under this condition) and Moraes left for some reason I couldn’t discover at that day. The car used by Marcos Barros on the first race would be driven by André Lara Resende on the second one, but he decided not to run. In the end of that year, Posses would be crowned the first champion of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil, after a long dispute with Zattar.

Since 2008, Dener Pires commands the series side by side with his sister, Silvana Pires – Keller left to concentrate on other projects, like restauration of historical GP superbikes and, with them, take part of the International Classic Grand Prix, the championship created for these machines in Europe.

Since that first race with 12 cars and the next, that will take place in April at Velo Città with two different classes and with around 40 drivers, many things changed. The Brazilian Porsche Cup has grown in number of drivers (the initial 12 soon were 15 on the next race, 24 on the second season and 50 in 2010, already divided into two classes), in structure, in territorial coverage (initially planned to happen only at Interlagos, soon the races were being held at other Brazilian circuits, Argentina, Portugal and Spain) and international presence (did and does joint events with F1, WEC and WTCC).

The cars also evolved. The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup “996” from 2005, with 390hp and “H” transmission soon gave place to more modern versions – the current, from “991” generation, has 460hp and paddle shift.

There were more than 150 races, many of them excellent – because of the disputes, the unexpected facts, sometimes because of all of them together. From every race that happened from 2005 to 2014, I was absent in only three or four. I had the opportunity to make many good things (one of them, to drive a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) and follow closely the happenings that, in a way or another, hardly would be at the reach of my senses. Today, I cheer for Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Brasil to complete another 10 years of existence. No irony: congratulations to everyone involved.