Bring on the V8’s; Carrera Cup stepping stone to Supercars
IF RACE car driving skill, ability and experience are any guide, then John Martin could soon become Rockhampton's first V8 Supercar driver.
That's because Martin has raced in almost every racing category on four wheels, all over the world.
One of the remaining categories he hasn't raced is the Porsche Carrera Cup, but not for long.
Martin gets behind the wheel for his first Porsche Carrera Cup race next month in Townsville.
Martin has inked a short contract for the last five rounds of this season with the Adelaide-based Copyworld Racing Team.
He's done so to get the experience he needs to take the next step to V8 Supercars. Because, despite knowing international circuits such as Le Mans, Spa, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Monaco and Daytona like the back of his hand, he has not raced at Mount Panorama, Bathurst.
"I have never raced at Mount Panorama, never competed at Bathurst," Martin admitted.
"That's the main reason for signing up for the Porsche Carrera Cup. It's the support category for the V8 Supercars, so it gets me in front of the Supercar teams. But most importantly, so I can get the experience on Australian tracks, such as Bathurst, Sandown and the Gold Coast.
"So, effectively yes, I'm hoping to break into V8 Supercars in 2016. It really helps that the Carrera Cup is on at the same time and I get some exposure to the Supercar teams. I'm talking to some of the Supercar teams."
So watch this space, because Martin's racing CV is world-class. The boy who grew up in Blackwater to call Silverstone in the UK home is now back in Australia and resides in Yeppoon. Martin began racing karts when he was 14, rapidly progressing to State and National Championships before moving to Formula Ford in 2005. A year later he was Formula Ford National Champion, in his first full rookie season.
"That was pretty special,
it was a pretty good first year in the Formula Ford national series," Martin recalled.
He then went to Europe and won on debut at Silverstone in the same class. The goal was always Formula 1, which didn't materialise, but Martin remains philosophical.
"The dream has changed a little bit," Martin said.
"F1 is not going to happen now, but there are always other opportunities, other challenges in motor racing."
Indeed there are, because Martin took his racing skill to A1 Grand Prix, racing for Australia around the world and then to Europe's Superleague Formula. It was here that Martin completed arguably the world's toughest race, the Le Mans 24 hour.
"By far, Le Mans is head and shoulders above the rest," Martin said.
"It's just so hard."
In 2012 and 2013, the jet-setting Martin flew east to America for a new racing challenge and competed in Sports Cars. In 2014, the Tudor United SportsCar Championship began, a merger between the two existing North American sports car racing series, the American Le Mans and the Rolex Sports Car Series.
The inaugural 2014 season began with the world-famous Rolex 24 hours of Daytona, another of the world's toughest endurance motor sport events. And Martin finished third.
So, it's no wonder Martin was able to snare a short-term racing contract for the remainder of the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup. Martin is today in Adelaide, testing with his new Copyworld team.
The dream may have changed from Formula 1 to V8 Supercars, but this dream could soon be reality. It begins in Townsville on July 10-12, when Martin lines up for his first of five Carrera Cup races. If all goes well mechanically with his Copyworld Porsche it will be a fascinating race to watch.
Because, if experience counts for anything, which it certainly does in motor sport, Martin could well be on the winner's dais on debut. Just as he did in Formula Ford in Europe.
The next step, to become the region's first V8 Supercar driver will be that much closer.
Porsche Carrera Cup
Rd 4 Townsville Street Circuit, July 10-12
Rd 5 Sydney Motorsport Park, August 21-23
Rd 6 Sandown 500, September 11-13
Rd 7 Mount Panorama, October 8-11
Rd 8 Surfers Paradise, October 23-25