Clearwater Racing’s Craig Baird once again demonstrated his mastery of Singapore’s tricky and unforgiving Marina Bay street circuit, taking a wheel-perfect, pole-to-flag victory in Round 11 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. Second across the line after superb performance was Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin, while 17-year-old series rookie Nico Menzel gave his PICC Team StarChase their fifth consecutive podium finish on his Marina Bay Circuit debut.
In Class B, Spark Motorsports’ Egidio Perfetti took the win at his home race, ahead of est Cola Racing Team’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak in second. OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia was third, keeping the Hong Kong driver very much in championship contention with three races of the season remaining. Pole-sitter and local hero Yuey Tan of Team Jebsen was forced to retire when his engine overheated due to an issue with the water pump drive belt..
The Round 11 results remain provisional pending a number of ongoing investigations by race Stewards.
Said a delighted Baird: “I’ve had a really good car since the moment I got here. From first practice I’ve been really happy with it and we really haven’t changed the car at all. Usually I’m changing things and making excuses, but my Clearwater Racing engineer has really been working hard. I just put my head down and got moving.”
For Tung, despite the dramatic events of the race, it was a chance to covert the impressive pace he’s shown all season into another podium finish: “Finally a clean weekend – so far! The start was quite good and I managed to get Nico round the outside into Turn 1. From then on Craig was a bit too quick today for me to make his life difficult. Nico was always very close but not close enough to make an attempt.”
Singapore newcomer Menzel’s podium came after a tough race: “It’s my first time here in Singapore, so qualifying was really good – P2 today and pole for tomorrow. The start was terrible for me and Ho-Pin got past and then it was a real battle with Rodolfo, but it was good clean racing. It’s my fifth podium in a row and that’s great for the team.”
In Class B, Perfetti was thrilled with his win, particularly after missing out to Tan for pole position in qualifying: “There were quite a few close calls out there! I managed to squeeze my way past Ro Charlz Skyangel. It was a good race. I enjoyed it. I struggled a bit after the Safety Car, but luckily I had a bit of a cushion and managed it to the last lap. For tomorrow, as you know, I like to bring out the good stuff on the last day, so I have a set of brand spanking new tyres, so we’ll see what that brings!”
With Rounds 11 and 12 of the Porsche Carrera Cup forming part of Singapore’s glittering Grand Prix weekend, expectations were high ahead of the opening race, and the championship more than lived up to the expectations of the enthusiastic fans.
Tensions rose, however, when the start was aborted twice; first after Suttiluck Buncharoen stalled on the grid, and again when Zhang Zhen Dong, standing in for regular driver Martin Ragginger at Team Porsche Holding this weekend, was adjudged to have been out of position, for which he was handed a drive-through penalty, later converted to a 30 second time penalty.
Once the field roared of the grid though, the action was spectacular as they hurtled past the Singapore landmarks. Baird was away from pole like rocket, and immediately set about pulling a gap from the chasing pack. Behind him though, Tung was immediately alongside Menzel from P3 on the grid, claiming second place from the youngster and holding firm to the flag. Next Menzel’s mirrors were filled with championship leader van der Drift, who had stormed through the pack from seventh on the grid. Close behind the New Zealander was Alif Hamdan until Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila found his way past the Malaysian. Racing on the max, the trio fought for position, with van der Drift dropping down to sixth after Avila made contact before snatching a place back from Hamdan. Hamdan later spun out and retired.
As Baird increased his margin from Tung at the front, Menzel next came under attack from Avila. Wheel-to-wheel, the German defended superbly, denying the Team Jebsen driver any opportunity to make a move. Behind them, Zheng Tong Auto’s Bao Jin Long clipped the rear of Team Kangshun’s Ringo Chong, triggering a spin which brought out the Safety Car on Lap 6, with ten minutes left on the clock.
Heartbreakingly, Tan, who had been running third in Class B, was forced to retire as the field circulated behind the Safety Car, waiting with bated breath for the marshals to clear the stationery cars. Just as it seemed the race would finish behind the Safety Car, it pulled off, releasing the field for a final, thunderous sprint to the flag.