It was a weekend of lessons in pushing the limit for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers Andrew Tang and Zhang Da Sheng as the pair represented the Porsche China Junior Team in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in Hockenheim, Germany.
Engaging with some of the top Porsche drivers from around the world, the young pair, who are the first all-Asian team to compete in the competition, were quick to find their footing over the race weekend as they faced off in a grid with 26 drivers.
During the practice session on Friday, the two got their first taste of the Hockenring, maintaining a steady presence in the middle of the pack as Andrew Tang finished in 16th and Zhang Da Sheng, who normally races in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia for the dealer team Fun88 Team Sunfonda, barreling in to finish 21st.
Rapidly grasping the tricks of the technical track under the steady guidance of star Porsche driver Earl Bamber, who was onsite throughout the weekend to offer his expert advice as a coach, both drivers made vast improvement in their standings during the qualifying round on Saturday– with Andrew Tang finishing 11 and Zhang Da Sheng climbing to 17.
Both drivers went into the race on Sunday ready to prove themselves. After a heated start that saw Tang and Zhang Da Sheng fighting fiercely to maintain their positions, a collision in turn 2 of lap 2 brought the safety car out, giving the two Porsche China Junior drivers a chance to reform and reassess.
With the safety car maintaining control of the pack until lap 6, it was a slower start that left racers in a last minute dash to jockey for position. In a bold attempt at overtaking an adversary, Andrew Tang briefly went wide of the track, slowing his pace and setting him back two places to 13th, where he finished the race less than a second behind the first driver.
“I was pushing a bit too hard, so I went bit out of the track. But overall the race was good for observing the others’ driving and seeing how hard the drivers push themselves to the limit,” Tang said in an interview after the race. “Now its about going back to Asia and taking this experience with me.”
Meanwhile, Zhang Da Sheng, who lost several positions earlier in the race after an onslaught of pressure from the back, refused to quit fighting until the last minute. His determination paid off in the last lap as he made a skillful pass to recover one position and finish the race in 18th.
“This weekend was very different and I found that I still have a lot space to improve. But I learned a lot about the car and about the work of the engineers and coaches here. When we evaluated the data of the car, we looked at every single detail,” Zhang Da Sheng said. “I’m very happy to have had this experience.”
Proud of the two young drivers’ performance, Manager of Motorsport for Porsche China Alexandre Gibot said “It was a great weekend. After the race we can say it was a successful project. The drivers showed their ability to learn quickly from testing to qualifying. Their timings show a very good result.”
“It was a good day for both drivers and I’m very satisfied with their performance. Both showed an amazing result during the qualifying,” Coach Earl Bamber said. “Now its about how Andrew and Zhang take their experience back to the cup in Asia.”
Having competed among some of the most ferocious Porsche racers in the world, both Andrew Tang and Zhang Da Sheng left the weekend with an arsenal of new tactics. They will get a chance to test their new skills at the Sydney Motorsport Park in Australia on August 26-28, as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia makes a historical first visit to the land down under for Round 7 and 8, as well as an invitational race between Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Australia.