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Joe Warhurst on his championship winning 2023: "I was speechless"

Conducted and Written by Tom Evans

Image Credit - Jakob Ebrey

For many aspiring young racing drivers the world of motorsport can be an intimidating one, especially after they are ready to move on from karting. Not only are the costs worryingly high, but the pool of championships available to race in is only getting bigger. This was a question that our interviewee faced not too long ago, but one that has shaped his career for the better. We sat down with recent Porsche Sprint Challenge GB champion Joe Warhurst for a chat on his career to date, and what the future may hold.


The Ginetta Junior championship is one of the more popular routes to take for young British drivers, as it provides a great platform to both build essential knowledge, and get your name out in front of TOCA crowds. “I got my ARDS licence (the entry level UK racing licence) in January 2020 at Silverstone, in order to prepare for the upcoming Gietta season, we’d already contacted a few teams at that point. But then Covid happened, so all those plans had to be put on hold. In July when restrictions started to lift again we tested with two teams (R-Racing and Fox Motorsport), and ultimately decided on the R-Racing squad. Fox were only running one car that year and it was the owner's son, so we didn’t think that was the best option.”


“R-Racing had a great public image and were great with their media stuff, so we wanted to secure a deal there. But then we found out how much they were!” said Joe with a smile. “We only wanted to do the final two rounds, and we stumbled across Total Control Racing and did a test day with them at Knockhill. It went really well, and we decided that we wanted to contest the final two rounds with them.

Warhurst on his first ever test day, coached by Jake Hill; Credit: Steve Hindle

A Strong Debut


His debut at Snetterton landed him two points finishes, and the final round at Brands Hatch brought a P14 and 13, bringing his points tally for just two rounds to 18. “Tom Edgar who was my teammate ,who we hoped that we could use data from, moved teams for 2021, and so did Will Rochford since he was too old. We figured that we’d have to move teams for the following season, and we decided to go with Elite Motorsport in the end.”


The following year would be Warhurst's first full season of car racing, paired up with five other drivers at Elite Motorsport. Round one brought promise, with a front and second row qualifying for the races. However this ended in disappointment: “Race one I got pushed into the tyre stack, literally on lap one. After that the car felt really sketchy for race two, and I ended up having a spin whilst in third. I think that round at Thruxton really damaged my confidence, and I sort of stagnated for a few rounds until the middle of the year. “

Warhurst would achieve his first rookie podium at Thruxton (August) - Credit: Jakob Ebrey

Later on that year Warhurst would record a P5 at Silverstone, his best result of the season

so far. “That really helped with confidence going into the winter series later that year”. The four race winter series over one weekend in November at Brands Hatch would provide Warhurst with the opportunity to claim his first race win, however missing out due to a battle in the stewards room. However it was there he would record his first overall podium to date.



2022 - Mixed Feelings and Important Choices


“2022 was obviously the year that I wanted to go for the championship, and looking at testing times that was doable.” The season started strongly with three podiums from six races, however unforeseen circumstances at Thruxton hampered Warhurst’s progress. “I was following Josh (Rowledge) at the start of race one, and I’ve been hit from behind and swung round in the middle of the chiccane. My teammate Kanato (Le) had nowhere to go, and T-boned me, snapping the chassis, engine and gearbox, essentially riding off the car. There was nothing we could salvage from the old car at that point.”

The extent of the damage to Warhurst’s G40 after his Thruston crash

“We had to scramble to find a new car between Thruston and Croft, which isn’t easy since the G40’s are expensive, and our budget isn’t as high as some other drivers. We managed to find one that had been sitting around for a while, but one of the biggest issues is that no G40 is the same. Since they’re all hand built they’re all different in small ways.” The remainder of the season saw Warhurst take two more podiums, and seven further top five finishes, ending P5 in the championship. “We had a nice roundoff to the year with a double top five at Brands Hatch, but we were kind of thinking, well, what's next?”

“We initially had the Spanish F4 Championship on the table. We thought it would be cheaper than we initially expected, but that was far too expensive in the end.” A stroke of luck would come Warhurst’s way, as he was invited by Porsche to test both their 992 Cup car, and the Cayman GT4. “Both cars were super fun” said Joe on the whole experience. “We had a chat with some of the guys at Porsche and they explained the whole Porsche motorsport pyramid. You go from Sprint challenge, to Carrera Cup, to Super Cup and then into endurance categories. And that was perfect since it was something I’d love to make a career out of.”


“We looked at LMP3 briefly, but since it’s not televised much it would be harder to find sponsors so it was out of our budget. So we contacted a few Porsche teams about 2023, and we decided on Team Parker. After a few test days we decided to do the Southern Sprint Challenge GB, there wasn't much competition but we mostly just used it for testing, although I did technically win the championship in my class!”


The 2023 Season


The start of the 2023 Porsche Sprint Challenge Gb couldn’t have gone much better for Warhurst, with three podiums from three races. Four more podiums would follow on the run-up to Silverstone, the fifth round of the year. "Everyday I'd wake up, and the first thing I'd see was a second place trophy on my bedside table. I trained harder than ever, on the sim everyday ready to put up a good fight for Silverstone.”


“I knew we had to enter the round with a bang, and that’s exactly what we did! We were quick in testing and managed to convert a double pole to my first win of the season in race one. After race one my teammate who was doing Carrera Cup (Adam Smalley) came up to me and said that the pressure was off now, and he was partly right. The nerves of winning my first race were gone and I could just crack on.”


The following two races at Silverstone would both end with Warhurst taking the top step of the trophy, the first and only pro class round sweep of the season. However the celebrations were short lived, as Warhurst and the team switched their focus to winning the overall championship at Brands Hatch just two weeks later.


“We were in the championship lead, so set up really nicely heading into Brands.” said Warhurst on his preparations for the season finale. “We struggled a bit in practice as we were trying to save some money by not buying new tyres, but come qualifying we never expected to have pole position pace. One of the biggest factors around Brands is confidence, both in the car and what you can do. And honestly I just stopped looking at the walls during qualifying, and ended up on pole by three thousands of a second.”


Team Parker racing took a 1-2 finish in race one, with Warhurst heading the pack: “I knew I just have to beat Steve (Roberts) in race two in order to win the championship. And I knew the pressure would really ramp up if he could take it to the third race, so we really wanted to get it done in the second. I maintained the lead at the start, but every time I looked in the mirrors Steve was right there behind me. But in the end we led lights to flag, and as soon as I got back to the pits the celebrations started.”


“Everyone asked me why I didn’t stand on the roof as a celebration, but my first thought was that I’ve got to sell it at the end of the year, so I don't want dents!” said Warhurst with a laugh. All my family were waiting for me and I didn’t really know what to say, I was speechless.”

Title celebrations with Team Parker post race three - Credit: Team Parker

Looking Ahead: “It’s just about finding the budget”


“It’s great to be in the Porsche Motorsport pyramid now” said Warhurst when asked where he’s looking to next. On October 5th, Warhurst was announced to be one of four drivers nominated for the final of the Porsche GB junior Programme, a scholarship that provides one driver with two years of funding towards a Carrera Cup GB campaign. “Yeah the goal at the moment is to win the junior Programme, and then do two years of Carrera Cup GB. Even if I don’t win the shootout, I’m just aiming to take as much as possible away from it.”

“I would expect it's gonna be difficult for Porsche to pick a winner for the shootout this year, I think it'll be very, very close.”


“There’s always other options out there like European GT4, which is a great championship but harder to find sponsors for. And there’s always the British GT route, it’s just about finding the budget and seeing what’s available really.”


The Porsche Carrera Cup Gb Shootout takes place on the first of November at Silverstone, where the four drivers will face not just on track assessments, but also media and physical tests.


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