Published on April 13th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Round 1 of Porsche Carrera Cup Asia taken by Craig Baird
Clearwater Racing’s Craig Baird added another Porsche Cup win to his world record tally with a superb victory in Round 1 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Shanghai International Circuit. The New Zealand driver seized the lead from pole-sitter Rodolfo Avila on the opening lap and was not to relinquish it, despite fierce challenges from newcomer and fellow countryman Chris van der Drift of Kamlung Racing who crossed the line second. Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger claimed the final podium place after an epic battle with Avila. In Class B, an equally-heated contest between pole-sitter, Singapore’s Yuey Tan of Team Jebsen, and Max Twigg saw the Australian snatch the win. Third in the category, for non-professional drivers, was Modena Motorsports’ Wayne Shen.
Baird, who returns to the series for a full season for the first time since 2010, was thrilled to have marked his comeback with a victory, setting the fastest lap of the race for good measure. With two-time and reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Earl Bamber, since catapulted to the heady heights of Porsche LMP1 competition, also hailing from New Zealand, the success of that country’s drivers can be a source of frustration for the field.
As the lights went out for the start of the 2015 season, Avila got away cleanly from pole but was almost immediately challenged, first by Ragginger, then Baird, with an audacious move by van der Drift demoting him to third by the end of the opening lap. Fourth after the start melee, Ragginger lost no time launching his attack on Avila, headlights ablaze. Behind the leading four, Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin, who had made a superb start, Team Yonda Dongfang’s Ro Charlz Skyangel and Alif Hamdan were locked in battle, before the young Malaysian disappointingly retired prematurely from the race.
In Class B, Tan had lost his pole position advantage at the first corner, but reclaimed the lead before a cat and mouse duel ensued, bringing the Shanghai crowds to their feet. With tyre wear taking its toll though, in the closing laps of the race Tan succumbed to the Twigg’s unrelenting attack.
Things were no less exciting at the front of the pack, with Ragginger finally finding a way past Avila on Lap 8, and fighting off the furious Macau driver before breaking away and taking the chase to van der Drift up ahead. Action-packed from start to flag, the closing stages of the 12-lap thriller saw PICC Team StarChase driver Nico Menzel, who had closed up to Skyangel in sixth, get alongside as the pair crossed the start/finish line two abreast into the final lap. Skyangel held firm, however, to cross the line sixth behind Tung.