The first points have been marked, but the season is just warming up as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s 25-strong line-up of international drivers return to Fuji International Circuit for two rounds of Asia’s top one-make series followed by a second historic invitational with Porsche Carrera Cup Japan.
Just two points seperate championship leader Martin Ragginger of Team Porsche Holding and William Bamber of FAW T2 Motorsport, who planted the seeds of a future rivalry as they went head to head during the season opener in April, with Ragginger taking Round 1 and Bamber Round 2 to gain 38 and 36 points respectively.
Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang returns to Fuji International Speedway, known worldwide for its speedy 1.5-km straight on the homestretch, with confidence after the 22-year-old Singaporean clinched his first-ever Carrera Cup Asia win at the track following a lights-to-flag victory in Round 3 of the 2016 season. Tang is currently in third with 32 points.
Completing the top four is Team Formax’s Chris van der Drift, currently in fourth with 30 points after a trying first two rounds that saw the New Zealander squeak onto the podium on the last lap of Round 2 to grab third place He arrives in Fuji with a flawless record at the track after clinching two wins there on his path to winning the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
Beyond the table leaders it‘s anyone’s game, with a razor-thin point spread building suspense in the mid-table. Team Starchase’s Phillip Hamprecht narrowly leads the mid-table standings in fifth with 21 points after making an audacious run for the podium in Round 2 before being shut out last minute by van der Drift. Porsche China Junior Team’s Zhang Dashang, trailing Hamprecht by a single point in sixth with 20, was equally combative in Shanghai, showing a renewed vigor as the young Chinese driver prepares for his second race weekend at Fuji.
Still easing into the transition from Pro-Am to Pro, Team C&D’s Yuan Bo has yet to reveal the full explosive driving power that earned him 2016 Pro-Am Champion status, but has done well in seventh with 19 points, while series newcomer Tanart Sathienthirakul of Absolute Racing holds onto 8th with 18.
Chinese drivers Cui Yue of Team Jebsen and Bao Jinlong of Zheng Tong Auto – two stalwart Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers who have potential to transform their familiarity with the tricky turns and straights of the 4.563-km Fuji track to their advantage – round out the top ten.
The race weekend will also give Team Force Asia’s Akash Neil Nandy the chance to get back in action after car troubles left the young driver observing Round 1 and 2 from the pit, despite solid qualifying times.
Drivers will also be representing their teams in the new Porsche Dealer Trophy, which saw Team Porsche Holding sweep the first weekend as Ragginger brought home two wins to earn 40 points. Not far behind is Team C&D with 38 points and Team Starchase with 36.
In Pro-Am, an incredible three-way tie for first place between Team Betterlife’s Li Chao, Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan and Modena Motorsport’s Wayne Shen – all with 30 points – has set the stage for a dramatic race weekend. Emerging on top of the tables after Fuji would set Tan on a solid path to his second Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Pro-Am Championship win, but Li and Shen bring considerable experience at Fuji having participated in every race there since the series made its debut at the track in 2014.
Following closely on the heels of the three leaders after a strong performance at the season start is series newcomer Evan Chen of Kamlung Racing, who deftly recovered from Round 1 to grab a win in Round 2 and earn 28 points.
The race weekend will provide Paul Tresidder of his self-named team, currently in sixth, an ideal primer before the Australian driver heads to the 24 hours of Le Mans on June 16 for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in a Porsche support race alongside the world’s most challenging endurance race.
Before moving up in the fixtures, however, Tresidder must face off pressure from Thai talent Suttiluck Bunchareon of True Visions Motorsport Thailiand, while another tie between Arrow’s Racing Fung Yui Sum and Modena Motorsports John Shen completes the top ten in Pro-Am.
Thai motorsport guru and series veteran Sontaya Kunplome of Racing Spirit Thailand also joins Round 3 and 4 for his first appearance in the 2017 season..
OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, a regular on the podium in 2016, will look to recover from a series of misfortunes that saw him unable to participate in the opening weekend, but must challenge LKM’s Siu Yuk Lung before moving forward.
Two guest drivers will also join for Round 3 and 4, with Alex Liu Lic Ka joining Arrows Racing for his second weekend this season and Stephen Grove, a regular in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship, gets behind the wheel for RC Racing after recently participating in the WEC’s 6 Hours of Spa with Porsche Carrera Cup France.
Finishing off what is sure to be a thrilling weekend in Asian motorsport will be an invitational between the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Japan, with more than 40 cars expected to participate as drivers from the two series seek glory for their respective competitions.
“We saw proof of this season’s sharp competition during the opening weekend and we’re expecting the races to get more intense as the season builds momentum. We’re also thrilled to be hosting a second invitational with our sister series in Japan. This type of collaboration further proves the strength of Porsche’s vast global community and will provide motorsport fans in Asia with a truly unique race experience,“ Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Alexandre Gibot said.
Both races and the invitational will be broadcast via livestream on carreracupasia.com, LeTV sport and PPTV sport, with Round 3 on Saturday at 15:15 (local), Round 4 on
Sunday at 11:20 (local) and the invitational race on Sunday at 16:30 (local).
Overall points – Round 1 and 2 (top 5)
|1||86||Martin RAGGINGER||Team Porsche Holding||38|
|2||12||William BAMBER||FAW T2 Motorsport||36|
|3||10||Andrew TANG||Porsche China Junior Team||33|
|4||7||Chris van der DRIFT||Team Formax||30|
|5||99||Philip HAMPRECHT||Team Starchase||21|
Pro-Am points – Round 1 and 2 (top 5)
|1||9||LI Chao||Team Betterlife||30|
|2||5||Yuey TAN||Team Jebsen||30|
|3||16||Wayne SHEN||Modena Motorsport||30|
|4||68||Evan CHEN||Kamlung Racing||28|
|5||8||Preeda TANTEMSAPYA||Racing Spirit Thailand||26|