The Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia has enjoyed a close title battle in 2021, with Ryan Suhle leading Christian Pancione after two rounds.
Very little separates the two ahead of the series’ next round in Tailem Bend during the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships next month with 28 points the margin between them.
Both drivers have won two races so far, however it’s Suhle’s three second place finishes to Pancione’s one that has proved to be the major difference between the two drivers when it comes to the points.
For Suhle, he puts his good form in his second full season down to consistency and the fact that he has no external distractions this year.
“In 2019, I struggled to make any progress because I was running both the Formula 4 single seater and the Porsche during the season,” Suhle explained.
“On some Shannons weekends, I was doing both categories and double rounds which could total to nine races over two days and I just couldn’t focus or adapt between the two properly.
“The way both competitions were set up were different too. Formula 4 focused on rewarding outright wins, while Porsche focuses more on the weekends as a whole.
“I guess having not done Formula 4 since 2019 and having been able to completely focus my time and energy on Porsche have been the driving factors in my rise of form this year.
“I would say that I have just learnt lots more over the past two years. About adapting driving style and understanding the data more.
“To be able to use the data of former McElrea Racing drivers such as Warren Luff, Matt Campbell and Jaxon Evans has been a great opportunity and is helping me a lot.”
This season isn’t the first time Suhle has been in the running for a title, having also challenged for ultimate glory in the Australian Formula 4 Championship.
In 2018, he finished in second place behind current Dunlop Super 2 Series star Jayden Ojeda, before finishing the 2019 season in third place behind Luis Leeds and Aaron Love.
In that same year, the Queenslander also made his debut in the Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge where he picked up a race win and eight podiums – eventually finishing the year in fourth place.
While he has come close to silverware in previous seasons, the teenager has put himself in the best position to finally win a title 2021 for the first time in the career.
“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,” Suhle said.
“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 thanks to a good pool of talent.
“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.
“You could win every race but that one DNF could move you down the order and with Christian being so strong as well, we have little room for error.
“I was stronger in Phillip Island but he got the better of me at Sydney Motorsport Park, so it’s been a good battle between us so far and I have really enjoyed it.
“Hopefully there are a few more rounds to go where we can build that gap and affirm the title.”
The Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge Australia forms part of the opening round of the Shannons Motorsport Australia Championships’ double header at The Bend Motorsport Park on 15-17 October.