The Carrera Cup Asia returned to Bangsaen for a rugged street battle, as both Pro and Pro-Am points leaders dealt with a dose of misfortune that sent ripples through the leaderboard. With the weather alternating between light drizzle and blazing sunshine, and a solid breeze sweeping in off the sea, the atmosphere trackside was never less than electric. Crowds of ecstatic motorsport fanatics lined the street circuit four-deep in places, all eager to get a glimpse of the action and an earful of engine roar.
As Thailand’s biggest racing series, the Thailand Super Series put on a seriously impressive show, with constant races going on across two days of heart-stopping action. The motorsport carnival reached a peak with the Porsche Parade that saw Thai Porsche enthusiasts take a colourful selection of classic and contemporary Porsches around the track to wild cheers from the passionate crowds.
Tense Qualifying Session Sets the Pace for the Race Weekend
Due to the tightness of Bangsaen Street Circuit, two consecutive qualifying sessions were held, with the ProAm drivers taking to the track first and the Pro drivers qualifying second. Qualifying times matter more at Bangsaen Street Circuit than possibly any other track this season, making this one of the most exciting portions of the race weekend. The previous Porsche Carrera Cup Asia course record at Bangsaen was set by Chris van der Drift in 2018, with a time of 1:35.070. The thrilling qualifying session this year saw Team StarChase’s Philip Hamprecht smash that record with his time of 1:34.942, earning himself both pole position and the course record.
Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger set a time of 1:35.091 which was fast enough to earn him a P2 start, while series guest Maxime Jousse, driving for Kamlung Racing, earned a P3 start with his time of 1:35.159. Pro-Am qualifying saw Zheng Tong Auto’s Bao Jinlong storm back into the series after missing the last stop due to a training injury, earning Pro-Am pole position with a time of 1:39.512. Bao’s season rival, OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, clocked in at 1:39.966 earning himself a Pro-Am P2 start, while local hero True Vision Motorsports Thailand’s Suttiluck Buncharoen earned himself a P3 start with his time of 1:40.403.
No Room for Error as Carrera Cup Drivers Deliver Flawless Performances
The tightness of the track at Bangsaen made this one of the tensest races of the season. Each driver knew he was racing on a knife-edge. With close to zero track sections with any run-off space at all, one mistake and their race would be all over. There was no room for error whatsoever, and by the end of the race very few errors were made.
Moving out of the grid, the Pro drivers in front kept largely in formation, with Hamprecht in the lead followed closely by Ragginger. Behind Hamprecht and Ragginger, Jousse and Team Giltrap Group’s Will Bamber were having their own personal battle, with Bamber desperately hunting for an opportunity to sneak past the series guest.
Before the end of the fourth lap, Ragginger had managed to seize a unique opportunity coming out of the Porsche hairpin and managed to edge past Hamprecht to take the lead, eventually crossing the finish line before any other driver. However, a post-race scrutineering issue caused Ragginger to be disqualified for this round, leaving Hamprecht as the eventual winner, followed by Jousse in second and Bamber in third. The Pro-Am drivers took the start of the race with a little more confidence, with Bao slickly maneuvering ahead of the cars in front of him to jump up two places to P7, so determined was he to make up for his missing races at the last stop. The Pro drivers ahead of Bao – Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue and series guest Reid Harker driving for Earl Bamber Motorsport – weren’t content to let last year’s Pro-Am champion supplant them, and managed to muscle back ahead of Bao by the third lap.
Bao still lead the Pro-Am pack, ahead of Buncharoen who was racing on his home turf and wasn’t about to make any mistakes. Bringing up the rear behind the top two was Tjia, driving smartly and flawlessly. Despite a number of tense moments, the top trio would remain in formation for the remainder of the race, and ended up finishing in the grid positions they started in, with Bao coming in first, Buncharoen in second and Tjia in third. “I missed all three races in Sepang” Said an elated Bao Jinlong during the post-race press conference. “But I’m back now, and ready to win!”
Intense Heat in Round 10 Sets Pulses Racing
With the sun beating down, Round 10 started off with Bamber in pole position, followed by Jousse in P2 and Ragginger in P3. The Pro-Am placement saw Bao in pole position for the second time this weekend, followed by Tjia in second and Buncharoen starting in P3. As the lights extinguished, the drivers roared cleanly off the grid. Bamber immediately began pulling ahead, attempting to put some distance between himself and Jousse to his rear. Jousse wasn’t content to be left in the dust however, and stuck closely to Bamber’s bumper, spending almost the entire race less than half a second behind him.
Ragginger joined the top two in a battle for first, with the three drivers pulling ahead of the pack to have their own personal brawl out in front. Bringing up the rear, Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue, Porsche China Junior Daniel Lu Wenlong and Bunjong Motorsport’s Tanart Sathienthirakul provided some of the biggest thrills of the weekend, with Sathienthirakul and Lu at times driving side by side on this extremely narrow track. Following a brief bit of contact between Sathienthirakul and Lu, Lu dropped back two places to finish behind Cui and Sathienthirakul. Bamber refused to budge from his P1 start, finishing the race with a flawless lights to flag victory, followed by Jousse in second and Ragginger third.
The Pro-Am competition started off with plenty of excitement. Tjia furiously launched himself out of the grid to steal first place from his close personal rival Bao before turn 2, managing to hold position until the very end of the race and secure his third victory of the season. A clash as the Pro-Am drivers approached turn 3 saw Paul Tresidder spin out and block the track, forcing several drivers to go around him and completely stopping current Pro-Am points leader Yuey Tan of Novu Racing Team in his tracks, effectively taking Tan out of contention for the rest of the race. With that misfortune befalling Tan, the field was open for Tjia and Bao to reignite their rivalry, as Li Chao managed to move up into Pro-Am P3 ahead of Buncharoen. With flawless driving from the three lead cars, the race ended with Tjia in first, Bao in second and Li in third. “My order from Kamlung Racing were to bring home a victory” Said series guest Maxime Jousse, who started and finished in second place.
“So I wasn’t just driving for second place. However, on a course like this, if the guy in front doesn’t make any mistakes then there’s not too many options to overtake – and Will didn’t make any mistakes!” Having lived in Thailand for three years, Jousse is a big fan of Bangsaen “This course is really something special. Yes it’s difficult, yes it’s tough, but the atmosphere around the track simply can’t be beaten. You’ve got the beach right there by the track, the palm trees, the waves rolling in and out. It’s beautiful here. And the crowds are some of the most passionate you can find anywhere in the world.”
Dealer Trophy Wide Open for the Second Half of the Season
Philip Hamprecht’s solid weekend of superlative racing drove Team StarChase to the top of the Dealer Trophy table. Having claimed the Dealer Trophy championship last year – also with Hamprecht in the driving seat – Team StarChase are currently 15 points clear of second place Team Giltrap Group and their driver Will Bamber. From Giltrap Group on down however, the points remain tightly clustered. Team Porsche Holding, represented by the most victorious driver in Carrera Cup Asia history Martin Ragginger, have a grand total of 144 points, just three points behind Team Giltrap Group. While current fourth place holders Kamlung Racing are just four points behind Porsche Holding with 140 points. With only seven points separating the fourth, third and second place, the Dealer Trophy remains wide open for the second half of the season, ensuring a thrilling end to what has been a truly thrilling season. “What a magnificent race weekend” Said Porsche China President and CEO Dr. –Ing Jens Puttfarcken “The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia put on a truly impressive show. The track is fantastic, the location is beautiful and the crowds are so full of energy and passion for motorsport. I will certainly return to Bangsaen again the next time we have an event here.”