“Will Zamparelli and JTR be ones to watch?”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional can be a bit of an as­sault on the senses some­times. The lights, sounds, smells and den­sity of the trade stands can all be­come a bit over­whelm­ing, but in a good way. It’s easy to miss things, so as a jour­nal­ist you have to keep your ear to the ground at all times, and your eyes on the crowds in an at­tempt to spot key driv­ers and per­son­nel min­gling amongst the vis­i­tors.

Two of those key per­son­nel were hang­ing around the Porsche stand, and with good rea­son.

I’d al­ready ar­ranged a catch-up with old friend Nick Tandy, but I didn’t ex­pect for Dino Zamparelli to tag along too.

“You two in co­horts this year then?” I asked pre­sump­tively.

“You’d bet­ter ask Nick first, and then you can write the story,” came Dino’s re­sponse through a telling grin.

So there you have it. Zamparelli and Tandy – could it be the sign­ing of this year’s Porsche Car­rera Cup GB?

Zamparelli was the only man to take the ti­tle fight to Dan Cam­mish last year, and in truth, is prob­a­bly the driver best placed to do so again this year.

Yes, Porsche Scholar Char­lie East­wood was a win­ner last sea­son, but Zamparelli’s ex­tra ex­pe­ri­ence from high-pro­file sin­gle-seaters mixed with two years in a 911 GT3 Cup should com­bine to make him favourite for the chal­lenger tag.

I’ve watched Dino since his Ginetta Ju­nior days, and he’s quick and a cere­bral driver. He learns and adapts bril­liantly, but his best years have al­ways come when he’s had a sea­soned and calm­ing voice in his cor­ner too.

He had that in Ginetta Jrs and For­mula Re­nault BARC via his dad Mike, him­self a for­mer power­boat racer. I have fond mem­o­ries of be­ing in­vited to the post-ses­sion de­briefs aboard the family’s mo­tor home – a clev­erly con­verted bus – and usu­ally of­fered a bowl of the best pasta in the pad­dock. But the higher the level, the more ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences play a part.

Zamparelli’s GP3 re­sults were largely un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive of his tal­ent, so the Car­rera Cup beck­oned, but his first two years were spent mud­dled be­tween two teams.

Now Zamparelli will def­i­nitely ben­e­fit from hav­ing Tandy in his cor­ner to be that calm­ing voice.

I’d wa­ger that no­body knows the 911 GT3 Cup cars quite like Tandy. After all, he helped de­velop it.

For Tandy, this year rep­re­sents a chance to move the family busi­ness into the arena he knows best, and try to raise the next gen­er­a­tion of Porsche stars. His team sim­ply has to suc­ceed, if only for his own rep­u­ta­tion, and in Zamparelli and Lewis Plato it has a promis­ing base.

Tandy him­self won’t be avail­able for all of the UK rounds – cur­rently he has two clashes with his FIA World En­durance pro­gramme – but he has sea­soned staff there to look after things in his ab­sence.

This is what the Car­rera Cup needed. Hav­ing one driver dom­i­nate each year ul­ti­mately hurts pub­lic in­ter­est in any se­ries. But it looks like we’ll have a gen­uinely open ti­tle fight in 2017.

Can Zamparelli mount a chal­lenge after JTR move?

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