Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger proved his prowess during the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s first race of the season after a laser start to the race set the stage for the Austrian driver’s eventual victory in Round 1.
After a rainy practice session the day before, the sun came out for the morning qualifying that saw several young drivers dominate the top times. Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang managed to grab the pole advantage going into Round 1 with a swift 2:08.833 lap time while Team Starchase’s Philip Hamprecht earned the P2 slot and Porsche China Junior Team’s Zhang Dasheng nabbed P3.
But the early advantage earned by the young drivers was quickly overshadowed by precision driving as the first turn clash saw Hamprecht and Zhang Dasheng fall from the front of the pack, opening a path for Martin Ragginger to swoop in from a fourth place start to second and begin pressuring Andrew Tang, who managed to keep his cool and maintain the lead position in lap 1.
Maneuvering seamlessly through the initial tumult, FAW T2 Motorsport‘s William Bamber grappled his way into third from fifth in the first turn and immediately went on the defensive as Hamprecht and Zhang Dasheng fought to regain their positions.
But a bigger threat loomed for the two young drivers in the form Team Formax’s Chris van der Drift, who came roaring from behind as he was eager to make up lost ground after a rough qualifying session left him starting in P7.
Ragginger’s persistant agression produced a clear opportunity for a clean pass on Tang in lap 2, leaving the Porsche China Junior to fend off the ambitious Bamber as Ragginger slowly pulled ahead of the pack.
Just as Ragginger’s victory was looking all but guaranteed, the safety car was called onto the track in lap 5 after OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia suffered a shredded tyre, evaporating Ragginger’s pocket of comfort and reinvigorating Tang.
The safety car resulted in renewed tension mid-pack after the race began again in lap 8 with Chris van der Drift dashing to catch the frontrunners, leaving Zhang Dasheng, Philip Hamprecht, Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue, Absolute Racing’s Tanart Sathienthirakul and Team C&D’s Yuan Bo in a tit for tat that drew the spotlight for the remainder of the race.
In the end, Ragginger managed to fend off Tang and Bamber long enough to proudly claim the honor of victor in an exhilarating first race of the season, leaving Tang in second and Bamber in third.
As a driver for dealer team Team Porsche Holding, Ragginger’s victory also marked the first-ever win for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s newly-introduced Dealer Trophy.
“I had a really good start. I managed to defend P2 at the outset. My pace was really really good on cold tyres and I managed to overtake Andrew. In the end we won, it was really good to win the first race of the season and we are looking forward to tomorrow, ” Martin Ragginger said during the press conference after the race.
It was an equally eventful first race for Pro-Am after an unintended technical violation saw Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan drop from a P1 qualifying time to last place in P25, giving series returnee Evan Chen of Kamlung Racing the coveted first place start.
Despite a strong performance in qualifying, Chen was quickly relieved of is P1 position by Team Betterlife’s Li Chao who arrived in Round 1 ready to fight, ferociously fending off initial jabs by Modena Motorsports‘ Wayne Shen, starting in P3, to overtake Chen.
Following the safety car reset, it was a back and forth battle between the three drivers, with Li Chao and Chen trading the first place position several times while facing constant pressure from Wayne Shen.
While the top three drivers locked horns up front, the real heroics among Pro-Am came from Yuey Tan, who’s comeback from last place could only be described as meteoric as the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Pro-Am Champion cut through the pack in a tour de force of speed and grit.
A bold start saw Tan charging toward the top of the pack, weaving between fellow Pro-Am contenders in a mad dash to recover his lost spots. But Tan suffered another dose of misfortune just as he crested the middle of the pack, hitting a slick spot on the track that sent him spinning.
Undeterred, Yuey quickly recovered and continued his onslaught, eventually making a bold pass on regular rival Wayne Shen to secure third place with just 2 laps remaining.
Meanwhile, a last minute bump-up between Li Chao and Evan Chen sent Chao spinning from his top spot, paving the way for Chen’s first place finish. A quick recovery and last minute push by Chao saw him secure a second place finish, while Yuey Tan clinched a hard-earned third place victory.
Following review, Chen was penalized for his collision with Chao, resulting in a first place position for Chao after a tough-but-friendly battle between the two spirited drivers.
“To be honest I thought I was pretty buggered after we had to start last. Its a high quality Pro-Am Class this year, I think one of the best so far. Evan is new, but he is young and fast, so I thought it would be pretty hard to catch up. But I’m happy where we ended up and I think I couldn’t have really hoped for anything better,” Tan said during the post-race press conference.
With the first points marked, drivers are prepped and ready to head back to the track on Sunday for another exhilarating round of Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2017
Round 1 Race Result
|1||86||Martin RAGGINGER||Team Porsche Holding||27:52.723|
|2||10||Andrew TANG||Porsche China Junior Team||27:53.020|
|3||12||William BAMBER||FAW T2 Motorsport||27:54.345|
|4||7||Chris VAN DER DRIFT||Team Formax||27:57.470|
|5||19||Dasheng ZHANG||Porsche China Junior Team||28:01.779|
|6||88||Bo YUAN||Team C&D Auto||28:03.470|
|7||77||Yue CUI||Team Jebsen||28:09.099|
|8||15||Tanart SATHIENTHIRAKUL||Absolute Racing||28:09.388|
|9||99||Philip HAMPRECHT||Team StarChase||28:10.295|
|10||55||Jinlong BAO||Zheng Tong Auto||28:17.043|
|11||9||Chao LI||PA||Team Betterlife||28:24.039|