It was a magnificent day of firsts for Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang as he flawlessly executed a lights to flag victory during Round 3 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Fuji International Speedway in Japan.
The 21-year-old Singaporean started off a perfect racing day during the afternoon’s qualifying session, seizing on the track’s high-velocity 1.5-km straightaway to achieve the fastest lap, averaging 159.89 kilometers an hour for a 1’42.737 lap time, earning his first pole position.
Kamlung Racing’s Maxime Jousse clinched P2 during the qualifiers, just .006 seconds behind Tang, with Absolute Racing’s Mitchell Gilbert starting in P3 with 1’42.855.
It was a breezy evening as the 24 drivers gathered at the foot of Fuji Mountain to compete in identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars for the first race of the weekend. But despite the cool mountain weather, things instantly became heated.
Clashes on the first turn sent many drivers wide, shaking up the standings straight off the line, pushing Jousse from second to fourth and Gilbert to fifth, opening space for Team Fun88 SunFonda’s Zhang Da Shang to slide into second followed by Nico Menzel of Team PICC StarChase.
Tang was well-rewarded for keeping his cool during the initial melee and emerged ahead of the pack where he remained for the rest of the race, slowly increasing his lead as the pack battled fiercely behind.
“It was my first time starting pole and my first victory for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, so there were quite a lot of firsts for me in this race,” Tang said during a press conference after the race.
PICC Team Holding’s Nico Menzel managed a sly overtake on Zhang Da Shang in the second lap, after which he immediately turned his effort toward executing a flawless defense. The result was a sweat-inducing battle between the competition’s top drivers throughout the remaining laps.
First to take a stab at breaking Menzel’s untouchable armor was Maxime Jousse, who quickly went bumper to bumper after making a clean pass on Zhang in the third lap. Boldly squeezing every bit of speed from the track’s notorious straight shots, Jousse piled the pressure on Menzel, briefly achieving success in the sixth lap before having the window of opportunity slammed close.
Jousse’s audacious chase backfired in the ninth lap after a hasty corner locked his brakes and sent him spinning to fifth, creating a passage for Zhang Da Shang to try his hand at piercing Menzel’s position.
Playing a more patient game, Zhang Da Shang procured several opportunities, but none resulted in breaking through. Meanwhile, Mitchel Gilbert offered touch-and-go attempts at entering the fray, but never quite managed to recover from the first turn.
The race ended with Tang leading the Overall in first by 6.553 seconds, Menzel in second and Jousse in third.
Class B offered equally spirited competition, as ranks were also rearranged by the first turn chaos. Absolute Racing’s Yuan Bo immediately lost his pole position after going wide on the first turn, tumbling him back more than six positions along with Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak from est cola Thailand, giving third pole starter Yuey Tan of Team Jesben an immediate advantage.
But both Bo and Inthraphuvasak fought valiantly to recover their lost track position.
OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, who commanded Class B’s second place for the first few laps, was rapidly overtaken by a relentless Inthravaphuvasak, while Bo expertly weaved through the pack to eventually regain and maintain his first place slot for Class B.
Not far behind the two Class B leaders, Yuey Tan engaged in a 15-lap tussle with Tjia, who refused to give-up a coveted podium slot. Tan gracefully entered third and held his position, shutting the door on Tjia at every encounter.
Bo once again earned first place, followed by Inthraphuvasak in second and Tan in Third.
“It was really fun for me to have to fight my way back from the back and overtake many cars. I really pushed it,” Yuan Bo said in a press conference after the race.
Round 3 Results:
|1||10||Andrew TANG (SIN)||Porsche China Junior Team (CHN)||25’05.959|
|2||99||Nico MENZEL (GER)||PICC Team StarChase||+6.553|
|3||68||Maxime JOUSSE (FRA)||Kamlung Racing (CHN)||+7.401|
|4||19||ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)||Fun88 Team Sunfonda (CHN)||+8.679|
|5||88||Mitchell GILBERT (AUS)||Absolute Racing (HKG)||+9.110|
|6||77||CUI Yue (CHN)||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+19.029|
|7||6||Yuan Bo (CHN)||B||Absolute Racing (HKG)||+19.532|
|8||18||Vutthikorn INTHRAPHUVASAK (THA)||B||est Cola Thailand (THA)||+26.670|
|9||55||BAO Jinlong (CHN)||Zhen Tong Auto (CHN)||+35.010|
|10||5||Yuey TAN (SIN)||B||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+36.811|
|11||21||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+37.063|
|12||16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||+39.285|
|13||9||LI Chao (CHN)||B||Team Betterlife (CHN)||+40.202|
|14||78||Suttiluck BUNCHAROEN (THA)||B||True Visions Motorsports Thailand (THA)||+45.485|
|15||86||ZHANG Zhen Dong (CHN)||Team Porsche Holding (CHN)||+48.742|
|16||28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||+50.494|
|17||3||Michael S. (INA)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||+50.740|
|18||11||Tiger WU||B||RC Racing (SIN)||+51.666|
|19||7||Eric YEO||B||Team Formax (MAS)||+1’13.100|
|20||23||Paul TRESIDDER (AUS)||B||Paul Tresidder (AUS)||+1’27.587|
|21||22||SIU Yuk Lung (HKG)||B||LKM Racing (MAS)||+1’28.709|
|22||8||Sontaya KUNPLOME (THA)||B||Racing Spirit Thailand (THA)||+1’29.499|
|23||2||Kenneth LAU (HKG)||B||Prince Racing (HKG)||+1’35.322|
|24||17||FUNG Yui Sum (HKG)||B||Arrows Racing (MAS)||+1.39.844|