Shannons mid-season report card: Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge

With plenty to race for in the remaining months of 2021, take a look at how the seasons of our regular Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships categories are shaping up.

Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia

The Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge has already completed two rounds, with an intriguing battle at the top of the standings starting to take shape.

The popular one-make series made a couple of format changes ahead of the 2021 season, adding in some endurance races and removing Class B to add more competition to Pro-Am.

As always, the racing has been tight, competitive and popular with fans.

Rounds so far

Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships – Phillip Island
– Race one: Ryan Suhle
– Race two: Callum Hedge

Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships – Sydney Motorsport Park
– Race one: Christian Pancione
– Race two: Christian Pancione
– Race three: Ryan Suhle

Rounds remaining –  TBC

The Leader – Ryan Suhle

Suhle has had a coming-of-age year in 2021 and has taken a step up in his development as a driver.

While he has never won a title in his career to date, he has come close and is often one of the main contenders throughout the season. This year though, he finally leads and is in the box set for a maiden title.

Although he has matured as a driver, one of the biggest differences between 2021 and his previous campaigns is that he is only running the Sprint Challenge – which means his focus on a Shannons weekend is purely on the Porsches.

“We are right where we want to be. Like everything, it would be nice to have a few more points under our belt, but we have done all that we can. It feels good to be the box seat – especially in a series like the Sprint Challenge, which has been highly rated over the last few years,” Suhle said after Sydney Motorsport Park.

“I am not superstitious or anything. I think this title charge ultimately comes down to consistency because in this Porsche series one DNF could ruin your chances.”

Top 10
Ryan Suhle – 284 points
Christian Pancione – 258
Callum Hedge – 240
Courtney Prince – 185
Bayley Hall – 180
Sam Shahin – 162
Tom Taplin – 126
Sergio Pires – 125
Matthew Belford  – 110
David Greig – 101

Morris Finance Pro-Am Top 3  
Sam Shahin – 289
Sergio Pires – 235
Matthew Belford – 221

At this point, Suhle is in the box seat, but standing in his way is Christian Pancione and to a lesser degree, Callum Hedge.

On paper, not much separates the three drivers, however, Suhle’s consistency in finishing all five races on either the top step of the podium or in second place puts him in a good position.

Pancione on the other hand, had a slow start in Philip Island, missing the podium twice, but found good form in Sydney, while Hedge seems to be just behind the two and constantly applying pressure.

Photos: Speed Shots Photography

So for Suhle to win that long-awaited title, he’ll just need to continue doing what he has been doing and stay consistent.

Below, Courtney Price and Bayley Hall, who recently secured a seat for the Porsche PAYNTER DIXON Carrera Cup 2022 season, remain as threats.

Neither are a chance to win the title, but they could have a say in who wins it as they have both enjoyed podiums in 2021 and should they get another one, that could prove the difference between who wins.

In the Pro-Am class, Sam Shahin has a comfortable 50-point lead over Sergio Pires.

Shahin has won all but one race this year – yet has finished higher than Pires in all five races. Matthew Belford would also give himself a small chance of snatching class honours from the 2019 Pro-Am winner.

However, a ninth-place finish in race two of Sydney could be the result that costs him any chance of the title.

With two rescheduled Shannons rounds left for the year and the category one that may feature, there is still plenty to fight for as the title battle goes down to the wire.