Slick tracks and rainy weather wet the way for Kamlung Racing’s Maxime Jousse to slide into victory for Round 4 in the afternoon, with the clouds parting to create the perfect setting for a gentlemanly invitational between Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Japan to finish out the weekend.
As proved during the rainy season opener in Shanghai, Jousse, who started in P1 after securing the second fastest lap time during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying sessions, is not one to shy away from slippery conditions. The 25-year-old Frenchman confidently handled every challenge the soggy track could throw at him, maintaining control at high speeds from beginning to end, securing a lights to flag victory.
Round 4 offered Mitchel Gilbert from Absolute Racing a strong start as the promising young driver, who started in P2, made no real errors in the wet conditions. But Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang, emboldened by his first place victory the day before, showed real insight and maturity as he balanced risk in the wet conditions. He repeatedly tested Gilbert in the early laps, at one point almost losing control, before surgically overtaking him in turn one in lap 9 after a game of chicken, with both drivers hurtling down Fuji International Speedyway’s famous 1.5-km straightaway daring each other to brake first.
That left Gilbert to contend with Team Fun88 Sunfonda’s Zhang Da Sheng and PICC Team Starchase’s Nico Menzel, who started in the fifth position, the furthest back in the starting grid he has been all season.
Zhang Da Sheng made several jabs at Gilbert who managed to deflect them with ease, forcing Zhang Da Sheng to adjust and giving Menzel a passage to move past him. Capitalizing on his momentum, Menzel proved his offensive capabilities are as equally tuned as his defense, jockeying Gilbert for several laps and overtaking him during the 13th lap to seal his ambitious drive for podium placement.
Celebrating on the podium was Jousse in first, Tang in second and Menzel in a hard-fought third.
“The race today was completely different from yesterday, first because of the conditions and also because I was out front and had no fights, whereas yesterday I was fighting with everyone” Jousse said in a press conference after the race. “It was a comfortable situation for me, the car was very good and the guys from Kamlung Racing did a very good job.”
While Overall offered a clean, tactical race, Class B was a slug match between est cola Thailand’s Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak, who started pole after getting the second fastest qualifying lap the day before, Absolute Racing’s Yuan Bo in P2 and OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, who started in P4 behind Team Jesben’s Yuey Tan.
Inthraphuvasak got off to a sprinting start, overtaking Yuan Bo by the second lap, leaving his rival to deal with the limited visibility created by water spray coming from his tires. But a veteran driver like Bo is not easily deterred and he managed to reclaim his position by lap 4, marking the start of a strategic tug-of-war that would continue throughout the race.
In a hasty attempt to recover, Inthraphuvasak hurled into turn 16, resulting in a spinout that left him facing the wrong way and temporarily taking him out of action. Bo also had a spinout shortly after, shredding his tyres and leaving the gentleman driver doubting his ability to finish the race.
The duel distracted the two top drivers, giving Francis Tjia, who managed to overtake Yuey Tan early on the race, a chance to sneak into the top Class B position.
Like a tiger relentlessly chasing prey, Inthraphuvasak recovered quickly to continue harrying Tjia and Bo, with each racer fighting fiercely, forcing each other into mistakes and reckless attempts at overtaking.
In the end, Yuan Bo once again emerged victorious, followed by Francis Tjia in second place and Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak in third after a second spinout toward the end of the race crushed his chances of the top spot.
“I destroyed my tyres. Toward the end of the session my tyres just got worse. I was really happy just to finish the race,” Bo said in the post-race press conference. Francis Tjia was quick to interject, jovially adding that not only did Bo finish – but he finished in first.
Shortly after, the rain subsided and the sun came out to reveal Fuji Mountain in all of its glory as 34 drivers from Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Japan entered the track to join in an invitational race between the two cups.
With a packed grid, Porsche Carrera Cup Japan drivers began a rolling start on the inside track after having won a coin toss, as sports tradition dictates, at the beginning of the race weekend.
Porsche Carrera Cup Japan’s Tsubasa Kondo from Sky Racing, got a quick start in the race and dominated the first lap. But with so many cars on the track, a few bumps were inevitable and the safety car came out in lap 2, giving Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s Maxime Jousse of Kamlung Racing the chance to close the gap. Jousse managed to overtake Kondo in the third lap and held the front position for the rest of the race.
Meanwhile, after a long weekend of fighting for the top, Mitchell Gilbert of Absolute Racing played the field and came in a strong third.
In Class B, Yuan Bo took top marks, earning his third victory to complete a triumphant perfect race weekend. He was followed by Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak and Satoshi Hoshino from D’Station racing.
“It was great fun racing with Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, I was very happy to take part,” Tsubasa Kondo said in a press conference after the invitational.
“It’s great to be on the podium, its been a little while. It was a pretty exciting concept, having so many cars in the race. A little bit strange, but it was great fun,” Gilbert said
Speaking in the Class B press conference Vuttikorn Inthraphuvasak said “I have to give respect to my brother Hoshino-san, he was very good. I couldn’t make any mistakes, once I made even a small mistake he would catch up immediately. It was a great race and a great weekend.”
Round 4 – Results
|1||68||Maxime JOUSSE (FRA)||Kamlung Racing (CHN)||31:40.327|
|2||10||Andrew TANG (SIN)||Porsche China Junior Team (CHN)||+5.695|
|3||99||Nico MENZEL (GER)||PICC Team StarChase (HKG)||+10.351|
|4||88||Mitchell GILBERT (AUS)||Absolute Racing (HKG)||+12.622|
|5||19||ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)||Fun88 Team Sunfonda (CHN)||+25.514|
|6||86||ZHANG Zhen Dong (CHN)||Team Porsche Holding (CHN)||+25.764|
|7||55||BAO Jinlong (CHN)||Zhen Tong Auto (CHN)||+33.519|
|8||6||YUAN Bo (CHN)||B||Absolute Racing (HKG)||+37.841|
|9||21||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+40.693|
|10||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK (THA)||B||est Cola Thailand (THA)||+42.416|
|11||3||Michael S. (INA)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+46.467|
|12||77||CUI Yue (CHN)||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+47.145|
|13||9||LI Chao (CHN)||B||Team Betterlife (CHN)||+55.864|
|14||5||Yuey TAN (SIN)||B||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+57.032|
|15||16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||+58.329|
|16||28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports(HKG)||+71.340|
|17||23||Paul TRESIDDER (AUS)||B||Paul Tresidder (AUS)||+83.984|
|18||7||YEO Tee Eong(CHN)||B||RC Racing (SIN)||+102.564|
|19||78||Suttiluck BUNCHAROEN (THA)||B||True Visions Motorsports Thailand (THA)||+103.407|
|20||2||Kenneth LAU (HKG)||B||Prince Racing (HKG)||DNF|
|21||8||Sontaya KUNPLOME (THA)||B||Racing Spirit Thailand (THA)||DNF|
|22||17||FUNG Yui Sum (HKG)||B||Arrows Racing (MAS)||DNF|
|22||SIU Yuk Lung (HKG)||B||LKM Racing (MAS)||DNF|
|11||Tiger WU||B||RC Racing (SIN)||DNF|
Overall points after Round 4 (top 5)
|1||68||Maxime JOUSSE||Kamlung Racing||91|
|2||99||Nico MENZEL||PICC Team StarChase||80|
|3||10||Andrew TANG||Porsche China Junior Team||64|
|4||19||ZHANG Da Sheng||Team Fun88 Sunfonda||61|
|5||88||Mitchell GILBERT||Absolute Racing||56|
Class B points after Round 4 (top 5)
|1||6||YUAN Bo||Absolute Racing||94|
|2||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK||est Cola Thailand||82|
|3||21||Francis TJIA||OpenRoad Racing||61|
|4||16||Wayne SHEN||Modena Motorsports||57|
|5||21||Yuey TAN||Team Jesben||50|
|28||John SHEN||Modena Motorsports||50|