Published on October 16th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – Rounds 11 & 12 Preview High-Stakes Season Finale
The season finale of the 12th Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season at the Sports Car Champions Festival from October 17 to 19 is set to be a tension-filled thriller as both the overall and Class B championship titles go right down to the wire at the grand finale double header at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Heading the charge is defending champion and Porsche Mobil1 Supercup leader Earl Bamber, who made his Porsche factory debut at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans earlier this month, teaming up with Michael Christensen and Patrick Long for the 10-hour race. Bamber has taken six Porsche Carrera Cup Asia wins in nine races so far this season, as well as combining his title defense with Porsche Carrera Cup Germany and Supercup campaigns.
While the extraordinary ascent of the 24-year-old New Zealander may be making international headlines, the LKM Racing driver has not had it all his own way this season. While the 28-strong Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field may include the most exciting combination of experience, skill and fledgling talent ever assembled in the region, one man in particular has kept Bamber firmly in his sights all year: Martin Ragginger.
The Austrian Team Porsche Holding driver, just two years Bamber’s senior, has given fans some of the most spectacular moments of the season, beating his rival on three occasions so far, snatching two outright victories, and sharing the podium with him five times. With a total of 41 championship points at stake in Shanghai, and a gap of just 21 between the pair, the battle for the 2014 title promises to be a white-knuckle ride.
Tied for third on the overall leaderboard, and still in mathematical contention for the title, are PICC Team StarChase driver Alexandre Imperatori, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion in 2012, and former F1 test and reserve driver, Tung Ho-Pin of China, competing with Budweiser Team Absolute Racing.
In a championship so competitive that finishing out of the points just once can put pay to title aspirations, Imperatori’s DNF in Japan in June represented a massive blow in what has otherwise been a strong season. Despite four podiums plus victory in Shanghai in April and double-digit points in Rounds 7 and 9, Imperatori is still 40 points adrift of Bamber.
Likewise, Tung has finished in the double-digit points every time out so far this season, reaching the podium in Malaysia in August during what has been his strongest Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season to date.
Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila will be gunning for third place in the final standings in Shanghai. Just two points shy of Imperatori and Tung, Avila has shown he can hold his own amongst some of the world’s leading sportscar specialists.
Having harnessed more than 60 years of Porsche motorsport success and experience and applied it to the development of China’s brightest young talents this year, the efficacy of the new China Junior Development Programme is evidenced by its drivers. Zheng Tong Auto’s Zhang Da Sheng, 22, lies sixth on the leaderboard and has impressed this season with not only his ability to learn quickly, but also the maturity he is displaying under pressure. Fellow youngster Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang of Team C&D, 20, is eighth in the points, while Zhang Zhen Dong of Team Basetex, 22, is tenth going into the final rounds.
While the overall championship looks set to be a showdown of epic proportions between Bamber and Ragginger, the battle for the Class B title will be a three-way duel between a trio of committed rivals. Leading that charge is Malaysian youngster Alif Hamdan. The 23-year-old Nexus Racing talent is Bamber’s protégé, and his transformation since the 2013 season has been spectacular to witness. Currently fifth on the overall leaderboard, Hamdan took a memorable second place in Japan to share the podium with Bamber and Zhang Da Sheng, while six Class victories in nine races plus a well-earned point in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup make him a man to watch. However, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia has become renowned for its uncompromisingly competitive field and, like Ragginger, OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia and Singapore’s Yuey Tan of Dorr Havelock Racing have kept Hamdan – and the Class B title – within reach.
An impressive seven podiums have put Tjia just three points adrift of the Malaysian, while a memorable Class B victory at his home race in Singapore last month, a win in Shanghai in April and four podiums means Tan is a mere five points from the top spot.
Making his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia debut at the weekend will be Dutchman Carlo van Dam. After becoming Japanese and German F3 champion in consecutive years, van Dam turned his attentions to sportscar racing. He has two SP3T class wins in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and several podium finishes in Europe and Asia to his name including a win in the Japanese SuperGT 500 Series in 2012.
As the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) returns to Shanghai for the second time this season, this time to decide who will be crowned 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia overall and Class B champions, it is certain that the 28-strong field will be looking for a season finale which showcases what has made the championship the most respected in the region and beyond: Fair play, skill, talent and an uncompromising commitment to motorsport of the very highest order.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – Rounds 11 & 12
Provisional Entry List
|1||Earl BAMBER (NZL)||LKM Racing (MAS)|
|2||*Kelvin KWAN (HKG)||B||Kamlung Racing (MAS)|
|3||Michael S. (INA)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)|
|5||Yuey TAN (SIN)||B||Dorr Havelock Racing (SIN)|
|7||BAO Jin Long (CHN)||Team Synsanly (CHN)|
|8||Ro.C. Skyangel (SIN)||Team Yongda Dongfang (CHN)|
|9||LI Chao (CHN)||Team Betterlife (CHN)|
|11||Ringo CHONG (SIN)||Team Kangshun (CHN)|
|12||MOK Weng Sun (SIN)||B||Clearwater Racing (SIN)|
|16||Wayne SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)|
|18||ZHANG Zhen Dong (CHN)||Team Basetex (CHN)|
|20||Rodolfo AVILA (MAC)||Team Jebsen (HKG)|
|21||Francis TJIA (HKG)||B||OpenRoad Racing (HKG)|
|22||SIU Yuk Lung (HKG)||B||LKM Racing (MAS)|
|28||John SHEN (HKG)||B||Modena Motorsports (HKG)|
|33||Samson CHAN (HKG)||B||Samson CHAN (HKG)|
|51||Johnson HUANG (TPE)||B||Team BC Racing Team (TPE)|
|55||ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)||Zheng Tong Auto (CHN)|
|58||TUNG Ho-Pin (CHN)||Budweiser Team Absolute Racing (HKG)|
|66||Jason ZHANG Zhi Qiang (CHN)||Team C&D (CHN)|
|68||MAK Hing Tak (HKG)||B||Kamlung Racing (MAS)|
|72||Alif HAMDAN (MAS)||B||Nexus Racing (MAS)|
|77||*Carlo VAN DAM (HKG)||B||Tiger Racing Team (HKG)|
|86||Martin RAGGINGER (AUT)||Team Porsche Holding (CHN)|
|88||Egidio PERFETTI (SIN)||Mentos Racing (SIN)|
|98||Henri RICHARD (USA)||B||Silicon Tech Racing LLP (USA)|
|99||Alexandre IMPERATORI (HKG)||PICC Team StarChase (CHN)|
*Non series registered
Overall Provisional Points after Round 10 (top 5)
|1||1||Earl Bamber||LKM Racing||158|
|2||86||Martin Ragginger||Team Porsche Holding||137|
|3||99||Alexandre Imperatori||PICC Team StarChase||118|
|58||Tung Ho-Pin||Budweiser Team Absolute Racing||118|
|5||20||Rodolfo Avila||Team Jebsen||114|
|6||55||Zhang Da Sheng||Zheng Tong Auto||82|
|1||72||Alif Hamdan||Nexus Racing||151|
|2||21||Francis Tjia||OpenRoad Racing||148|
|3||5||Yuey Tan||Dorr Havelock Racing||146|
|4||16||Wayne Shen||Modena Motorsport||96|
|5||98||Henri Richard||Silicon Tech Racing LLP||84|