An expert panel of judges has selected Benji Hetherington (18) from Hulme Walfield, Cheshire and Kieran Vernon (20) from West Chiltington, West Sussex, as the two recipients of the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholarship. After a demanding two-day evaluation process at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone, both drivers impressed in and out of the car against very strong opposition from the other four finalists; Leyton Clarke (Maidenhead), Michael Lyons (Felsted, Essex), Adam Morgan (Preston, Lancashire) and Sam Tordoff (Leeds).
Created and run by Porsche Cars GB, the successful ‘Carrera Cup GB Scholarship Programme’ is now in its third year and will provide £50,000 each to Hetherington and Vernon to use as a significant element of their budget for the 2011 Carrera Cup GB season.
The six finalists, chosen by an expert panel from nearly 40 applicants, were put through a rigorous two-day evaluation process at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone on 18/19 October. The programme started with driving sessions in the latest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car on the Silverstone National circuit under the expert guidance of former Carrera Cup GB champion James Sutton. Each driver had two timed stints, with the second run on new Michelin slicks as all aspects of their driving and feedback were analysed.
Away from the circuit, the focus switched to media work and presentation skills, as each driver underwent interviews with the judging panel as well as television interview sessions and media training. On the second day, the candidates underwent exhaustive fitness testing at the Porsche Human Performance Centre at Silverstone, which culminated with a demanding assault course over the Experience Centre tracks.
Over the year ahead, the two Scholars will receive an extensive fitness programme managed by the Porsche Human Performance team, plus branded race suits and a new Arai GP6S helmet.
“Once again, we have been hugely impressed with the quality of drivers in the Scholarship Final. It was a very tough choice to select only two from six very good candidates,” said Marion Barnaby, Carrera Cup GB Championship Co-ordinator. “I look forward to working with Benji and Kieran over the 2011 season and seeing them compete strongly in the Carrera Cup GB.”
On learning he had been successful, Benji said; “I’m almost at a loss for words. Winning the Scholarship is absolutely fantastic. I’m going to be smiling all the way until the start of next season. You never know how well you did against the other people. To see my name up there was just amazing.”
Benji started his motor career racing karts from 2003 to 2008 before moving into FF1600 single seater race cars late in 2008. He continued in FF1600 in 2009 and also competed in various sports car categories before graduating to the Ginetta G50 Cup for 2010 and achieving breakthrough race victories.
Kieran’s motor sport career also began in karting, and between 2004 and 2007 he won a number of championships. He finished runner-up in the 2007 Ginetta Junior Championship and finished second in the 2008 Ginetta G20 Championship. In 2009, Kieran raced to second place in the Scholarship Cup of the British Formula Ford Championship, and was a race winner in Formula Palmer Audi in 2010.
“Winning the Carrera Cup Scholarship is a huge boost to my career,” commented Kieran. “I can’t say how happy I am now. It’s a fantastic opportunity and I want to say a big thank you to everyone at Porsche for making this happen. I’m so keen to get out on track. I’m so excited and I can’t wait for the start of next season.”
Benji and Kieran are now eagerly planning their campaign to follow in the footsteps of this season’s Scholars, Euan Hankey (Taunton) and Michael Meadows (Banbury), both of whom developed into strong contenders in their debut year racing for Porsche.
Both Hankey and Meadows scored an impressive number of top five finishes in the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, with Hankey finishing the season in fifth place in the Championship and Meadows in eighth place overall.
The 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup GB will begin in April next year but, in the meantime, enthusiasts can also catch up with all the Carrera Cup action on origin.porsche.com/uk, which went behind the scenes at the Scholarship assessment.