Absolute Racing teams made a welcome return to the rostrum during Rounds 6, 7 and 8 of the 2019 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, with Team StarChase’s Philip Hamprecht claiming three podium finishes and Zheng Tong Auto’s Andrew Haryanto clinching a Pro-Am podium position during an action-packed triple-header at the Sepang International Circuit (July 13/14).
Team StarChase’s Philip Hamprecht and Bunjong Motorsports’s Tanart Sathienthirakul were joined in this event by PCCA debutants Anderson Tanoto and Andrew Haryanto from Indonesia. 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup GT4 Cup winner Tanoto took over the #88 Absolute Racing entry, returning to Sepang Circuit where he started his career in motor racing back in 2013. 2018 Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 Cup Champion Haryanto replaced Bao Jinlong in the #55 Zheng Tong Auto car as the Chinese driver was forced to skip the race due to an injury. He is expected to be back at Bangsaen in August.
Heat and humidity are nothing new in Malaysia. But during this weekend’s Carrera Cup Asia round at Sepang International Circuit, these conditions were extremely high; presenting many challenges for drivers and teams. In the single Qualifying session, Team StarChase led the Absolute Racing teams with Hamprecht qualifying third for race one and two.
As the 2019 season of the PCCA reached its midpoint, Saturday’s race one marked the 200th Carrera Cup Asia race. As the lights went green, Hamprecht lost a position, dropping to fourth. The German driver then followed the front-pack, slotting his orange #99 Porsche into P2 when the two front-runners crashed on lap 5.
In crash-filled race that saw one period of safety-car, Sathienthirakul, Haryanto and Tanoto were all non-finishers as a result of damages caused by incidents. Sathienthirakul was taken out by the former race leader returning to the track after going off and smashing heavily into the side of his car.
Round 7 was held Saturday night under lights on the iconic Grand Prix circuit. Hamprecht lined up in third on the grid, while Sathienthirakul from the seventh and Haryanto and Tanoto were 15th and 21st at the start, respectively.
In a race that exploded into action, with two safety car periods, Hamprecht lost two positions in the opening lap. After the first restart, the German youngster dropped one more place to sixth. He eventually ran in seventh after the second safety-car period, and that was the wake up call he needed. Hamprecht fought his way up to fourth at the finish. Following a post-race decision that shifted the standings, he was promoted to third.
After race one disappointment, where he was just a passenger as his car slammed head-on into the wall, Sathienthirakul took a careful approach to the race two. With no previous race experience under the Sepang circuit lights, the Thai-driver lost one position that he managed to regain afterwards. He was P6 at the flag, just nine seconds shy from the race winner.
Haryanto made a brilliant start, moving up five places on the opening lap. His race pace was very impressive, and the Indonesian crossed the finish line in 9th overall. He got his first podium in PCCA in his second race ever by finishing second in the Pro-Am Class.
Getting into grips with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, compatriot Tanoto made into the end, in 16th overall and 10th in the Pro-Am Class. Due to a previous back injury that re-occurred on Sunday morning he wasn’t able to return to the #88 cockpit for the last race of the weekend.
Sunday’s 13-lap Round 8 wrapped up the intense Malaysian weekend. Starting from pole-position, Hamprecht led the first half of the race, but his pace dropped off late on. He ended up crossing the finish line in third.
The strong weekend points haul sees Hamprecht move up into 2nd in the Drivers’ championship standings as Team StarChase is now leading the Porsche Driver Trophy classification.
Lining up from fourth on the grid, Sathienthirakul was pushed into a spin on the opening lap while battling for a top three position. He was able to come from the very back of the field to earn an eighth place finish. This result allowed the Thai racer to keep the seventh position in the standings.
Haryanto, who started from P14, failed to complete the first lap, dropping out with car damage incurred as he tried to fight through the field.
Commenting about the weekend, Ingo Matter (Team Director) said: “First I want to congratulate Porsche for the 200th Carrera Cup Asia race. This is a great achievement and Absolute Racing is pleased to be part of this history since team’s day one. The weekend wasn’t easy for our drivers, but we managed to collect valuable points and some silverware. Good to see that Philip is back in the title hunt. Now we need to find a bit more performance to fight back for victory at the next races. We all feel sorry for Tanart as he deserved a better luck. Andrew and Anderson had two good first appearances, and congratulations to Andrew for his first podium in the category. A big thank you to all of our guys for their efforts this weekend, and now we will try to get even better results next time in Thailand.”
Absolute Racing teams and drivers can now enjoy the summer break. The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia resumes on the 3.7-km Bangsaen street circuit on August 30th – September 1st.