It was a day of clashes for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia as drivers ruthlessly battled for top slot in one of the season’s most contentious races yet. After the dust settled, Absolute Racing’s Mitchell Gilbert emerged carrying a broad grin and the first place trophy, having narrowly avoided the front pack pandemoiun which sent several of the season’s top drivers spiraling off the thin track into the back of the pack.
Once again, Gilbert had a lightning start from P2 that saw him overtake P1 and championship point leader Maxime Jousse of Kamlung Racing, who immediately dropped to fourth after being sent out wide by Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger, who started in P3, and allowing Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang to slide into second from his P4 start.
But Jousse was hasty to get back on the offensive, making a bold maneuver on Turn 2 that put him in contact with Tang and sent Ragginger spinning, leaving Tang in 6th and Ragginger in 12th. Charging into second, Jousse began a slow siege on Gilbert. With Gilbert’s pace faltering, Jousse succeeded in in passing him in lap 5.
Just when it looked like Jousse had sealed his victory with a 5-second lead over the rest of the pack in lap 11, his steering locked up, sending the pro driver barreling toward the tyre wall and out of the race – opening a huge gap up front and returning the lead to Gilbert.
Working his way from the last grid position, PICC Team Starchase’s Nico Menzel quickly overcame wave after wave of drivers in the back of the pack, meeting Ragginger mid-pack in a tit-for-tat that eventually brought them both to the back of Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang, who had already recovered from his early race mishap to join the frontrunners .
Taking a last minute dash for a podium spot in the second to last lap, Ragginger experienced his second debilitating spin of the race, clearing the way for Tang to secure his third place victory, leaving Raggigner in fifth, just ahead of 6th place driver Cui Yue of Team Jebsen.
Class-B driver Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak of est Cola Thailand managed to cleverly evade the worst of the fallout, playing the patient game as opportunities opened following fighting at the front of the pack.
In the end, an exultant Gilbert snagged his second victory of the weekend, followed by Inthraphuvasak in second for overall and a battle-scarred but bright-eyed Tang. Looking relieved after a race-long struggle climbing through the ranks, Menzel managed fourth place, offering brief respite from a tough weekend for the young German driver.
“When I saw (Maxime) go off, it was a bit of a different feeling – I knew I was going to lead. I think he had the race covered. If he didn’t have that problem, I think he would have won,” Mitchell Gilbert said, showing a jubilant humility in a press conference after the race.
Despite his strong start to the race, Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak said he chalks his victory up to the last minute drama across the top ranks: “I had a very good start this time and I was able to catch up with the frontrunners, so I just kept my head down and tried to go as fast as I could. I didn’t expect to be on the podium for overall but toward the end there were many many collisions that allowed me to make it through”
After an equally bloodied race, Andrew Tang agreed with Inthraphuvasak on the fortunate turn of events that led them to the podium: “I think I got really lucky to be here on the podium because of the drama on the track.”
In addition to his second place overall victory, est Cola Thailand’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak dug in with Class-B rival Yuan Bo of Absolute Racing right off the start, passing him by the first turn in a similar start to the day before.
But, as exhibited all-season long, Bo is a master of the long game. The Chinese driver once more fell back on precision passing and pure speed, eventually making contact with a stubborn Inthraphuvasak after the Thai driver refused to give up his spot. Halfway through the race, Bo finally managed the pass as both drivers dodged the shrapnel from the numerous quarrels out front.
A last minute twist of fate, however, saw Bo make contact with Zhang Da Sheng of Fun88 Team Sunfonda, dropping him from his top spot to a non-contender and clearing the way for Inthraphuvasak’s first place victory in Class-B.
Playing an equally impressive game of cat and mouse, Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan and OpenRoad racing’s Francis Tjia applied constant heat on eachother throughout the race. Regular rivals throughout several seasons of Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the two traded blows while coping with the coming and going of overall drivers as they dropped from the front.
But Yuey Tan managed to hold out, staying on his toes and just ahead of Tjia to earn second place for Class-B, followed by Tjia in third.
On his situation while dealing with Francis Tjia, Yuey Tan said “We got into the (overall) action pretty quick. For Francis and I, while we were trying to battle it out all throughout the race, we were seeing all the overall guy coming through, dropping out or going off the track.”
Francis Tjia agreed, saying “Yuey is, of course, someone I know very well on the track, I don’t think we’ve gone through one race where we weren’t bumper to bumper with eachother. Today, I wish I had just a little more attack in the car, but the front tyres kept washing out. Of course, with some of the (overall class) guys passing through, it made us more difficult”
While the action-packed race offered a jolting start to the day’s racing, the racers were far from finished. In the afternoon, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia joined Porsche Carrera Cup Australia in a 10-lap invitational race that started with both Cup’s Elite Class-B entering the grid for a historic first for the two racing championships.
Though friendly, the competition was fierce as the top drivers from each side vied for the honor of winning the first-ever Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Australia invitational.
It was a mix and match mash-up as Australia and Asian drivers engaged both with each other as well as with their regular season competitors. Naturally, no competition could be complete without friction between Yuan Bo and Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, who spent most of the race competing for podium positions behind Australia’s Steven Grove of Grove Hire.
Yuan Bo managed a small revenge in the invitational, overtaking Vutthikorn in the last minutes and catching up with Grove, with the two sealing a picture perfect finish with Grove in first and Yuan Bo in second split only by .02 seconds. Inthraphuvasak finished third to complete the top three.
While he may not have obtained first, Yuan Bo’s victory offered a much larger prize – a fully-paid entrance by Porsche China into the Formula 1 support race during the 2016 Suzuka Grand Prix in October as a result of his two invitational victories.
During the invitational, the PCC Australia drivers utilized their homefield advantage, pushing the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers out of the top three at the last minute, despite fierce efforts by championship point leader Maxime Jousse of Kamlung Racing and the weekend’s hero Mitchell Gilbert of the Absolute Racing team.
“Our first time in Australia and our first time racing against the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia has been a huge success. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed two very competitive invitationals with our gracious hosts and are looking forward to future opportunities to cooperate with our Australian counterparts. The months of hard work setting up this weekend has really paid off for both sides,” Alexandre Gibot Manager of Motorsport for Porsche China said following the invitational race.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2016 Round 8 – Results
|1||88||Mitchell GILBERT (AUS)||Absolute Racing||25:12.8405|
|2||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK (THA)||B||est cola Thailand||25:15.2273|
|3||10||Andrew TANG (SGP)||Porsche China Junior||25:19.2770|
|4||99||Nico MENZEL (DEU)||PICC Team StarChase||25:20.6459|
|5||86||Martin RAGGINGER (AUT)||Team Porsche Holding||25:26.3765|
|6||77||YUE Cui (CHN)||Team Jebsen||25:26.3771|
|7||19||Yuey TAN (SGP)||B||Team Jebsen||25:29.9075|
|8||5||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing||25:30.7143|
|9||16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports||25:30.7921|
|10||19||ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)||Fun88 Team Sunfonda||25:33.7072|
|11||55||BAO Jinlong (CHN)||Zheng Tong Auto||25:40.2199|
|12||78||Buncharoen Suttiluck (THA)||B||True Visions Motorsports||25:49.3539|
|13||3||Michael S. (IDN)||B||OpenRoad Racing||25:49.5405|
|14||28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports||25:50.6532|
|15||9||LI Chao (CHN)||B||Team Betterlife||25:55.3799|
|16||11||Tiger WU (TWN)||B||RC Racing||25:55.9346|
|17||23||Paul TRESIDDER (AUS)||B||Paul Tresidder||25:58.9207|
|18||22||YUK Lung Siu (HKG)||B||LKM Racing||26:39.7306|
|19||8||Kumplome SONTAYA (THA)||B||Racing Spirit Thailand||26:40.6550|
|20||17||Billy FUNG (HKG)||B||Arrows Racing||26:09.9120|
|21||7||Wang XI (CHN)||B||Team Formax||25:38.0359|
|22||6||Yuan BO (CHN)||B||Absolute Racing||DNF|
|23||68||Maxime JOUSSE (FRA)||Kamlung Racing||DNF|
Overall points after Round 8 (top 5)
|1||68||Maxime JOUSSE||Kamlung Racing||138|
|2||88||Mitchell GILBERT||Absolute Racing||133|
|3||10||Andrew TANG||Porsche China Junior Team||132|
|4||99||Nico MENZEL||PICC Team Starchase||130|
|5||19||ZHANG Da Sheng||Fun88 Team Sunfonda||111|
Class B points after Round 8 (top 5)
|1||6||YUAN Bo||Absolute Racing||170|
|2||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK||est Cola Thailand||164|
|3||16||Wayne SHEN||Modena Motorsports||119|
|4||5||Yuey TAN||Team Jebsen||113|
|5||9||LI Chao||Team Betterlife||102|