Published on June 9th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Bamber & Hamdan make Porsche Carrera Cup Asia history in Japan in Round 6
Defending champion Earl Bamber and young Malaysian star Alif Hamdan made Porsche Carrera Cup Asia history today taking overall and Class B victories in the championship’s first-ever race on Japanese soil.
Following Bamber’s LKM Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup across the line at the Fuji International Speedway was 2014 championship points leader Martin Ragginger of Porsche Holding, with Hamdan becoming only the second Class B driver in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia history to stand on the overall championship podium. However, Ragginger was later handed a 30 second penalty by the Stewards after an altercation involving PICC Team StarChase driver Alexandre Imperatori and Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila, demoting him to fourth. The penalty promoted Hamdan to second overall, with Zhang Tong Auto’s Zhang Da Sheng taking the final podium spot.
Second in Class B was OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia with Dorr Havelock Racing’s Yuey Tan taking the final podium place.
Ragginger maintains his position at the top of the overall championship leaderboard despite the penalty, but Bamber jumps to second in the standings just nine points behind, with Imperatori nine points adrift of him in third. Hamdan has an 18 point margin at the top of the Class B standings from second place Tjia, with Tan in third.
Commented Bamber after the race: “It was crazy on the grid – slicks, wets, slicks. We got a great start, and then the drive through penalty, and after that is when all the fun began! It was very slippery out there to begin with and difficult to judge the grip. Martin and I had a really good battle and we were together the whole race.”
For Hamdan, who started on slick tyres, it was an emotional race: “I saw Earl and Martin go into the pits, and I thought “oh no, they know the rain is coming back and I’m doomed. It didn’t hit me immediately that I was leading until I met some Class B drivers, some of whom didn’t realise I was leading and thought I’d spun out somewhere! I knew it was inevitable that eventually Earl and Martin would catch me, but Earl is my mentor and coach so I’m pleased he won.”
Round 6 was, without doubt, one of the most intense and exciting in the series’ 12-seasons so far. The drama began even before the lights went out for the start. With the 28-strong field of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) cars lined up on the grid shod with slick tyres, the rain clouds descended and the start was delayed while wet tyres were fitted on the grid. The race declared wet, but just five minutes before the start, the rain eased off and some teams elected to make a last-minute switch back to the Michelin slicks as the clock ticked down the seconds.
As the cars came round to form on the grid, Earl’s brother William, making his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia debut this weekend, made the call to follow the front runners and pit to switch to slicks, starting the race from pit lane.
Then it was lights out and as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field roared off the grid for the first time in Japan, and it was defending champion Earl Bamber who led the field from pole. As he set about pulling away from the chasing pack, behind him several cars were caught up in the opening lap melee.
Mentos Racing’s Egidio Perfetti and Team Basetex driver Zhang Zhen Dong were early casualties, the rest of the field deftly avoiding the incident. Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, a determined Rodolfo Avila made a bold move on PICC Team StarChase driver Alexandre Imperatori while Ragginger, who had started from the front row, made it a three-way duel with Imperatori in the centre. Imperatori was forced out, while Avila managed to continue.
As Earl pulled away at the front, it seemed as though even Ragginger would have his work cut out catching him. Team C&D’s Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang, who started from the fourth row of the grid, running in third but coming under spirited attack from Hamdan. Behind them, a hard-charging Zhang Da Sheng of Zheng Ton Auto got the better of Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin, with Team Yongda Dongfang’s Ro.C. Skyangel also running strongly. However, in a dramatic turn of events, both Bamber and Ragginger were given drive-through penalties having cut the timing of their pre-start tyre change too fine. Ragginger followed Bamber into the pits on lap three, with the LKM Racing driver rejoining in fourth behind Tung and immediately setting about his charge back through the field. Avila, meanwhile, took his drive-through penalty, received for the same infringement as Bamber and Ragginger, which dropped him down the order, his Team Jebsen car having sustained damage in the earlier incident.
Hamdan found himself leading his first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race, but Bamber and Ragginger, both with headlights ablaze, were on the hunt for the race lead, battling for the advantage and gaining two seconds per lap on the Malaysian and Zhang Da Sheng in second. As first Earl and then Ragginger closed up to the two race leaders, the excitement ratcheted up a notch as Hamdan was the first to catch up to the back markers, some of whom began racing with him not realising he was leading overall.
Earl could smell victory, cleanly getting by first Zhang Da Sheng and then Hamdan, with Ragginger, who got by Hamdan on the final lap, hot on his trail. The three crossed the line with Bamber delighted to have his friend and protégé alongside him on the podium.
A fantastic driver saw Zhang Da Sheng just miss out on his first podium finish, but it is only a matter of time before the talented China Junior Development Programme driver takes his first trophy. Avila too did well to survive an eventful race to finish fifth ahead of Tung.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia continues with Round 7 at the picturesque and challenging Fuji International Speedway.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – Round 6
Results Round 6
|1||1||Earl BAMBER (NZL)||LKM Racing (MAS)||27:23.342|
|2||72||Alif HAMDAN (MAS)||B||Nexus Racing (MAS)||+3.886|
|3||55||ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)||Zheng Tong Auto (CHN)||+17.990|
|**4||86||Martin RAGGINGER (AUT)||Team Porsche Holding (CHN)||27:26.511+30sec|
|5||20||Rodolfo AVILA (MAC)||Team Jebsen (HKG)||+1:16.361|
|6||58||TUNG Ho-Pin (CHN)||Budweiser Team Absolute Racing (HKG)||+1:39.554|
|7||8||Ro.C. Skyangel (SIN)||Team Yongda Dongfang (CHN)||+1:44.265|
|8||9||LI Chao (CHN)||Team Betterlife (CHN)||1 Lap|
|9||21||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||1 Lap|
|10||11||Ringo CHONG (SIN)||Team Kangshun (CHN)||1 Lap|
|11||5||Yuey TAN (SIN)||B||Dorr Havelock Racing (SIN)||1 Lap|
|12||7||BAO Jin Long (CHN)||Team Synsanly (CHN)||1 Lap|
|13||33||Samson CHAN (HKG)||B||Samson CHAN (HKG)||1 Lap|
|14||16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||1 Lap|
|15||51||Johnson HUANG (TPE)||B||Team BC (TPE)||1 Lap|
|16||28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)||1 Lap|
|17||3||*Marcel TJIA (SIN)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)||1 Lap|
|18||2||Kenneth LAU (HKG)||B||Prince Racing Hong Kong (HKG)||1 Lap|
|–||68||MAK Hing Tak (HKG)||B||Kamlung Racing (HKG)||N/C|
|–||66||Jason ZHANG Zhi Qiang (CHN)||Team C&D (CHN)||N/C|
|–||77||Jacky YEUNG (HKG)||B||Tiger Racing Team (HKG)||N/C|
|–||6||*John WONG (HKG)||B||John Wong (HKG)||N/C|
|–||22||*William Bamber (NZL)||LKM Racing (HKG)||N/C|
|–||12||*Hiroshi HAMAGUCHI (JPN)||B||Clearwater Racing (SIN)||N/C|
|–||99||Alexandre IMPERATORI (HKG)||PICC Team StarChase (CHN)||N/C|
|–||88||Egidio PERFETTI (SIN)||Mentos Racing (SIN)||N/C|
|–||18||ZHANG Zhen Dong (CHN)||Team Basetex (CHN)||N/C|
|–||98||Henri RICHARD (USA)||B||Silicon Tech Racing LLP (USA)||N/C|
*Non series registered
**30 seconds added to racing time (Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Regulation A19)
Fastest Lap: Martin Ragginger/Team Porsche Holding: 1:45.352/155.923km/h
Overall Provisional Points after Round 6 (top 5)
|1||86||Martin Ragginger||Team Porsche Holding||88|
|2||1||Earl Bamber||LKM Racing||79|
|3||99||Alexandre Imperatori||PICC Team StarChase||70|
|4||58||Tung Ho-Pin||Budweiser Team Absolute Racing||64|
|5||55||Zhang Da Sheng||Zheng Tong Auto||51|
|1||72||Alif Hamdan||Nexus Racing||100|
|2||21||Francis Tjia||OpenRoad Racing||82|
|3||5||Yuey Tan||Dorr Havelock Racing||75|
|4||28||John Shen||Modena Motorsport||49|
|5||33||Samson Chan||Samson Chan||45|