It was high spirits for the Absolute Racing team after their Overall driver Mitchell Gilbert sealed his first championship podium of the season with a courageous start from P2 that left him defending a narrow lead for the remainder of the race.
The 22-year-old Australian-born Malaysian driver bull rushed the starting flag to overtake P1 driver and championship leader Maxime Jousse of Kamlung Racing before executing a nearly flawless race that earned him top spot. But it wasn’t all bad for Jousse, whose second place finish earned him a comfortable point lead at the top of the championship as well as some extra impetus to bring into Round 8.
Jousse was left defending most of the race against a ravenous Martin Ragginger of Team Porsche Holding. Starting in P3 after a qualifier that saw the positions divvied by fractions of a second, Ragginger was immediately hit with an assault by P4-starter Andrew Tang of the Porsche China Junior Team, who momentarily overtook Ragginger at the start but ceded the lead a lap later before tenaciously trying – unsuccessfully – to claw his way back to a podium position.
At just 3.93-km in length, the narrow track and sloping corners offered a tough challenge for many of the drivers as they competed for the first time at the Sydney Motorsport Park. The shorter track also presented a last minute challenge for the frontrunners as they began overtaking the back of the pack toward the end of the race.
Meanwhile, Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue was brawling mid-pack, doing his best to catch up with the front after starting in P7 while defending from an onslaught of pressure from the back. In the end, his constant cool earned him a respectable 6th place.
With just three laps to go, Mitchell was forced to pass the last place driver, creating an opening for Jousse, who attempted a pass but had the window of opportunity slammed shut. In the end, Mitchell crossed the finish line in first with a razor-thin 0.2857-second gap, followed by Jousse in second and Ragginger in third.
“At the very end I was catching up with the Class-B guys and they were putting a lot of pressure on me from behind. The last four laps were real tough. There were a lot of words coming out when I crossed the finish line – it was real special,” Mitchell Gilbert said in an interview after the race.
Jousse was quick to congratulate Gilbert, while expressing his own satisfaction with the race saying “He was just strong enough to keep the lead, there was nothing I could do. I managed to keep the P2, which is good points for the championship and good for us – but I definitely want to win tomorrow.”
Regarding his battles with Jousse and Andrew Tang, Martin Ragginger said “It was a tight race, especially at the end. It was quite a tough challenge because I was up against Maxime and Andrew, so I had to look to the front and the rear – but in the end it was a nice race.”
Absent from his usual place at the front of the pack was PICC Team Starchase’s Nico Menzel. The young German driver started at the back of the grid in a backup car after contact with another driver during qualifiers left him unable to drive his usual car.
With a rough start by Absolute Racing’s Yuan Bo, who began in P1 for Class-B, it looked like season-long rival est Cola Thailand’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, starting in P2, was going to finally defeat Bo. But an ambitious attempt to gain space on his adversary backfired as Inthraphuvasak went wide on a turn, hitting the corner bumps and spinning out – sending him back several positions and opening the way for Yuey Tan of Team Jesben to work his way into second place where he remained for most of the race.
In a display of unyielding determination, Inthraphuvasak battled his way from the back, overtaking tough racers such as OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia and Zheng Tong Auto’s Bao Jinlong before managing a last minute pass on Yuey Tan, once more earning Inthraphuvasak a second-place podium victory.
Yuan Bo clinched Absolute Racing’s second first-place podium of the day, while Yuey Tan, cheered on by friends and former racing peers, finished in third place.
But a last minute surprise greeted Yuey Tan after a penalty was placed on Inthraphuvasak that dropped him down to third place and hoisted Yuey Tan to second place.
“At the start I lost three or four positions – but I came back. It was very tough, especially fighting with Vutthikorn and Cui Yue. I did my best job, but tomorrow can be better,” Yuan Bo said in the post-race press conference.
On his wide turn that left him struggling to regain second place, Inthraphuvasak said “I was pushing so much to try and catch the front row guys, but I couldn’t make it and I went wide. Lucky me that I was able to come back by putting my head down and trying to go as fast as I can.”
Regarding the last minute overtake by Inthraphuvasak, Yuey Tan admits he was surprised at the speed brought on by the Thai driver: “I didn’t realize Vutthikorn was catching up so fast until I saw him in the mirrors – then I thought ‘holy crap’. So I started to push a little bit.”
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2016 Round 7 – Results
|1||88||Mitchell GILBERT (AUS)||Absolute Racing (HKG)||24:57.7429|
|2||68||Maxime JOUSSE (FRA)||Kamlung Racing (CHN)||24.58.0286|
|3||86||Martin Ragginger (AUT)||Team Porsche Holding (CHN)||24.58.8244|
|4||10||Andrew TANG (SIN)||Porsche China Junior Team (CHN)||25:04.3010|
|5||6||Yuan Bo (CHN)||B||Absolute Racing (HKG)||25:09.4585|
|6||77||CUI Yue (CHN)||Team Jebsen (HKG)||25:17.9847|
|7||19||ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)||Fun88 Team Sunfonda (CHN)||25:28.7090|
|8||5||Yuey TAN (SGP)||B||Team Jebsen (HKG)||25:41.7018|
|9||55||BAO Jinlong (CHN)||Zheng Tong Auto (CHN)||25:42:5678|
|10||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK (THA)||B||est Cola Thailand||25:42.6937|
|11||21||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||25:43.2290|
|12||3||Michael S. (INA)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||25:49.2845|
|13||28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||25:49.9631|
|14||78||Suttiluck BUNCHAROEN (THA)||B||True Visions Motorsports Thailand (THA)||25:55.6071|
|15||16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||26:03.7044|
|16||23||Paul TRESIDDER (AUS)||B||Paul Tressider||26:11.8885|
|17||9||Li CHAO (CHN)||B||Team Betterlife (CHN)||26:12.3279|
|18||11||Tiger WU (TPE)||B||RC Racing (SIN)||26:25:9305|
|19||17||Billy Fung (HKG)||B||Arrows Racing (MAS)||25:01.3835|
|20||22||SIU Yuk Lung||B||LKM Racing (MAS)||25:03.6278|
|21||8||Sontaya KUNPLOME (THA)||B||Racing Spirit Thailand (THA)||25:20.1790|
|22||7||XI Wang (CHN)||B||Team Formax (MAS)||26:31.2267|
|23||99||Nico MENZEL (GER)||B||PICC Team StarChase (HKG)||DNF|