Clearwater Racing’s Craig Baird added another Porsche Cup win to his world record tally with a superb victory in Round 1 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Shanghai International Circuit. The New Zealand driver seized the lead from pole-sitter Rodolfo Avila on the opening lap and was not to relinquish it, despite fierce challenges from newcomer and fellow countryman Chris van der Drift of Kamlung Racing who crossed the line second. Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger claimed the final podium place after an epic battle with Avila.
In Class B, an equally-heated contest between pole-sitter, Singapore’s Yuey Tan of Team Jebsen, and Max Twigg saw the Australian snatch the win. Third in the category, for non-professional drivers, was Modena Motorsports’ Wayne Shen.
Baird, who returns to the series for a full season for the first time since 2010, was thrilled to have marked his comeback with a victory, setting the fastest lap of the race for good measure: “To come out of the blocks and win the first round is very, very satisfying, especially with [team owner Mok Weng Sun] giving me this opportunity.”
Van der Drift, meanwhile, who is competing in the first Porsche series of his impressive career, was surprised but delighted to find himself on the Shanghai F1 Grand Prix podium after his debut race: “It was good to have Kiwis one and two! I was a bit slow with the lights as I wasn’t sure about the clutch and how to get if off the line! The first lap was good and I managed to stay out of trouble into Turn 1 and to get up to third straight away. From there I had to wait and see what happened with the car as I had no idea what to expect. I tried to be as consistent as possible. Martin was quite quick at the end, but I was able to work out where he was quick and where I was quick. It was good experience and I sort of know a bit better what to expect tomorrow.”
With two-time and reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Earl Bamber, since catapulted to the heady heights of Porsche LMP1 competition, also hailing from New Zealand, the success of that country’s drivers can be a source of frustration for the field. Joked Ragginger: “It was not too bad, but I just have a little problem with those Kiwis! It was a good start for me. I was trying to pass Craig on the outside, he opened a little bit, and I then was completely outside. Chris came on the inside and I couldn’t hold him. In the end it was a really hard fight with Rodolfo. It feels like he has 5km more top speed than anybody else, so it was difficult to pass him.”
As the lights went out for the start of the 2015 season, Avila got away cleanly from pole but was almost immediately challenged, first by Ragginger, then Baird, with an audacious move by van der Drift demoting him to third by the end of the opening lap. Fourth after the start melee, Ragginger lost no time launching his attack on Avila, headlights ablaze. Behind the leading four, Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin, who had made a superb start, Team Yonda Dongfang’s Ro Charlz Skyangel and Alif Hamdan were locked in battle, before the young Malaysian disappointingly retired prematurely from the race.
In Class B, Tan had lost his pole position advantage at the first corner, but reclaimed the lead before a cat and mouse duel ensued, bringing the Shanghai crowds to their feet. With tyre wear taking its toll though, in the closing laps of the race Tan succumbed to the Twigg’s unrelenting attack.
Things were no less exciting at the front of the pack, with Ragginger finally finding a way past Avila on Lap 8, and fighting off the furious Macau driver before breaking away and taking the chase to van der Drift up ahead.
Action-packed from start to flag, the closing stages of the 12-lap thriller saw PICC Team StarChase driver Nico Menzel, who had closed up to Skyangel in sixth, get alongside as the pair crossed the start/finish line two abreast into the final lap. Skyangel held firm, however, to cross the line sixth behind Tung.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2015 Round 1 – Results
|1||12||Craig BAIRD (NZL)||Clearwater Racing (SIN)||26:07.731|
|2||68||Chris VAN DER DRIFT (NZL)||Kamlung Racing (HKG)||+0.542|
|3||86||Martin RAGGINGER (AUT)||Team Porsche Holding (CHN)||+0.883|
|4||20||Rodolfo AVILA (MAC)||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+5.684|
|5||58||TUNG Ho-Pin (CHN)||Budweiser Team Absolute Racing (HKG)||+9.698|
|6||8||Ro Charlz SKYANGEL (SIN)||Team Yonda Dongfang (CHN)||+11.067|
|7||99||Nico MENZEL (GER)||PICC Team StarChase (CHN)||+12.000|
|8||98||*Max TWIGG (AUS)||B||Max Twigg (AUS)||+33.359|
|9||5||Yuey TAN (SIN)||B||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+36.317|
|10||16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||+36.668|
|11||55||BAO Jin Long (CHN)||Zheng Tong Auto (CHN)||+37.919|
|12||11||*Andersen P MARTONO (INA)||B||Team Kangshun (CHN)||+40.173|
|13||21||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+40.736|
|14||9||LI Chao (CHN)||B||Team Betterlife (CHN)||+41.535|
|15||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK (THA)||B||Chang Racing Team (THA)||+42.529|
|16||51||Johnson HUANG (TPE)||B||Team BC Racing Team (TPE)||+51.790|
|17||69||Christian CHIA (CAN)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+59.044|
|18||3||Michael S. (INA)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+65.911|
|19||2||*Samson CHAN (HKG)||B||Samson Chan (HKG)||+72.502|
|20||28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||+74.805|
|21||65||ZHU Jun Han (CHN)||B||Absolute Racing (HKG)||+74.955|
|22||78||Suttiluck BUNCHAROEN (THA)||B||True Visions Motorsports Thailand (THA)||+82.270|
|23||88||Hugues RIPERT (HKG)||B||Spark Motorsport (HKG)||+83.462|
|24||17||FUNG Yui Sum (HKG)||B||Arrows Racing (HKG)||+94.579|
|25||23||Paul TRESIDDER (AUS)||B||Paul Tresidder (AUS)||+107.985|
|26||80||Sontaya KUNPLOME (THA)||B||Racing Spirit Thailand (THA)||1 Lap|
|22||*SIU Tit Lung (HKG)||B||LKM Racing (HKG)||DNF|
|72||Alif HAMDAN (MAS)||Alif Hamdan Motorsports (MAS)||DNF|