2016 represented the year of the 30th consecutive season of the French Porsche Carrera Cup, one of the most competitive and longest-running one-make series in Europe. It is a fact that a number of Porsche Carrera Cup France champions are today official Porsche factory drivers: Patrick Pilet (champion in 2007), Frédéric Makowiecki (2010), Kévin Estre (2011).
The 2016 season offered prizes in four categories: Class A, Class B (gentleman drivers, Bronze on the FIA rankings), Rookie Award and Teams title. Four of the six race weekends were organized jointly with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux. A total of twelve races were run (two races per weekend), most of them on European tracks (only two of them in France): Barcelona, Spa, Zandvoort, Le Mans/Bugatti, Imola and Le Castellet.
The first race weekend of the season in Barcelona, in April, gave a first taste of what the season would be, with Frenchman Matheiu Jaminet (Team Martinet by Almeras) claiming two wins starting from pole position. Rookie in 2015 when he ended runner-up to Maxime Jousse (by only 2 points), Mathieu Jaminet, 21-years old from Moselle region started racing karts at 10-years old. In 2010 he finished third in the French single-seater Formula 4 (Auto Sport Academy), before moving to the Peugeot RCZ cup when he clinched the French title in 2012, his debut season.
His rival this year was the Italian Mateo Cairoli, who together with Jaminet, ran in both the Porsche Supercup as well as the Carrera Cup. Nevertheless, with Cairoli not scoring points in the French Championship, one of Mathieu Jaminet’s rivals this year was Joffrey de Narda (Sebastien Loeb Racing). Joffrey, 21 years old, was in 2016 already participating in his third season in the Porsche Carrera Cup France. Having started his career in karting, he drove single seaters in Formula 4 in 2012 and Formula Renault 2.0 in 2013.
Rookie Florian Latorre, 19 years old, (winner of Espoir Porsche Carrera France at the end of 2015) was in his first season in a GT car after a single seater presence in France (F4 in 2012) and in the US (Formula USF2000 in 2013 and 2014 and Pro Mazda Championship in 2015). The Alsacian youngster runs with the Sebastien Loeb Racing (both Sebastien Loeb and team manager Dominique Heinz being Alsacians). Latorre was one of the four drivers to contest the Rookie Trophy (drivers in their first Carrera Cup season, and under 26 years of age).
Another contender in the Class A was Vincent Beltoise, 26 years old. His family name is famous, Vincent being the nephew of Jean-Pierre Beltoise, one of the French Formula 1 and Endurance stars in the ‘70s. Cousin of Vincent is Anthony Beltoise well-known professional GT racing driver and three-times winner of the French Carrera Cup trophy: 2005, 2006 and 2008. For Vincent, an engineer from a very prestigious French engineering university (INSA Lyon), this year was his fifth consecutive season in French Carrera Cup (his best finish was third in the Championship, in 2012).
Another Rookie this year was Julien Andlauer (Saintéloc), a promising 17-year old from Lyon. He finished third in the French single seater Formula 4 Junior championship in 2015. Two other challengers in the Rookie Trophy were Thomas Laurent (Martinet by Almeras), 18 years old, karting world champion in the KZ 125 category and Alexandre Jouannem (Tsunami RT), 22 years old, having graduated from Formula Renault 2.0.
In the Gentlemen Trophy (B Class), the favourite was three-times Carrera Cup winner (B Class), Christophe Lapierre (Sébastien Loeb Racing). The experienced driver, a one-time participant at the 24 Hours of Daytona, is the owner of the Porsche Centre in Montelimar, in the east of France. His father, Jean Lapierre, was one of the top hill climb drivers in France in the ‘70s.
His main rivals in class B was Nicolas Misslin (Martinet by Almeras) and Roar Lindland from Norway (Sebastien Loeb Racing), with the latter winning his class in the first two races of the season, in Barcelona.
For the second round of the season, organized in May during the WEC 6 Hours of Spa meeting, Matteo Cairolli won both races but Jaminet scored the points of the first place each time (Cairoli not scoring points in the French Carrera Cup), setting himself up as the main favourite for the title. Lapierre and Lindland were the two race winners in class B.
At the end of June, a new race weekend saw the Porsche Carrera Cup France drivers and teams travelling to Amsterdam, for the Porsche Days NL meeting at the Zandvoort circuit.
Jaminet won both races once again from pole with Beltoise and De Narda sharing the podium for race 1, and with Andlauer and Jouannem completing the podium for the second race. Christophe Lapierre was the winner in class B in both races.
The rest of the season was a dominant and faultless drive, with 100% success rate for Mathieu Jaminet, with a win and pole positions at Le Mans, Imola and Le Castellet. Even a rainy second race at Le Mans presented no problem for him in his winning drive. Jaminet has set the fastest laps of the race in ten races out of twelve, with Alexandre Jouannem setting the fastest lap in the race 1 at Spa, and Vincent Beltoise for the second race at Le Mans.
The young Rookie, Florian Latorre, showed an impressive pace, with a highlight of a second place overall in the race 1 at Le Mans/Bugatti. He won the Rookie title ahead of Julien Andlauer (Saintéloc) and Thomas Laurent (Martinet by Almeras). Jeoffrey de Narda was often on the podium, but was at no time a threat for Jaminet. Christophe Lapierre won both Class B races in Le Mans, and Nicolas Misslin came back with an impressive series of four wins for the remaining four races of the season (Imola and Le Castellet). He ended six points behind champion Lapierre.
Martinet by Almeras, the team set in place by Philippe Almeras in 2007, clinched the Teams’s Carrera Cup title for its first time, with Sebastien Loeb Racing and Saintéloc completing the podium.
With a new car ready to race in 2017, the 991 GT3 Cup (460bhp) gave its last appearance in the French Porsche Carrera Cup.
Mathieu Jaminet ran two programs in 2016 with Martinet by Almeras: Porsche Carrera Cup France and Mobil 1 Porsche Supercup. After obtaining some podium results (3rd in Barcelona, and 2nd at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone), Jaminet won his main race at Spa Francorchamps and continued with two more victories at Austin Texas, to finish third in his Rookie season in the Supercup, behind Sven Muller and Matteo Cairolli. Following these strong performances Porsche rewarded these three young and promising drivers with a works driver role for Muller and ‘Young Profesionnals’ for Matteo Cairolli and Mathieu Jaminet.
Carrera Cup France 2016 – Drivers’ Championship:
|1||48||Mathieu Jaminet||Martinet by Alméras||262||A|
|2||9||Joffrey de Narda||Sébastien Loeb Racing||176||A|
|3||10||Florian Latorre||Sébastien Loeb Racing||160||A + Rookie|
|5||555||Julien Andlauer||Saintéloc||147||A+ Rookie|
|6||85||Thomas Laurent||Martinet by Alméras||112||A+ Rookie|
|7||911||Christophe Lapierre||Sébastien Loeb Racing||98||B|
|8||55||Nicolas Misslin||Martinet by Alméras||96||B|
|9||11||Roar Lindland||Sébastien Loeb Racing||83||B|
|10||47||Alexandre Jouannem||Tsunami RT||77||A+ Rookie|
|11||13||Oleksandr Gaidai||Tsunami RT||65||B|
|13||8||Carlos Rivas||Speed Lover||27||B|
|14||88||Wim Meulders||Speed Lover||25||B|
Written by: Lucian Sonea
Images by: Porsche Carrera Cup France/Alexis Goure