Chris van der Drift has won the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2017 after the final two rounds at the Shanghai International Circuit in China over the weekend.
Heading into the weekend, van der Drift was second on the overall points table and set the fastest lap in qualifying with a 2:08.025 lap. He was just one-tenth of a second quicker than season-long rival Will Bamber of FAW T2M, who wrangled P2 with a 2:08.127 lap time, while Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang began in third with a 2:08.135 lap time.
Round 12 later in the day offered a full-scale battle between drivers as they pushed their limits with nothing to lose. Right from the start, Bamber burst through to the front of the pack, briefly overtaking van der Drift on Turn 1, but receiving a quick rebuttal, with van der Drift resuming the lead by Turn 3.
Bamber then settled in for a race-long siege on van der Drift, while Tang was instantly put under pressure by Team StarChase’s Philip Hamprecht and Porsche China Junior Teams‘ Zhang Dasheng.
Meanwhile, MArtin Ragginger began his long journey from the back of the pack, quickly taking three positions to 7th but hitting a wall behind Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue, who maintained a resilient pace despite unremitting challenges from the table leader.
Meanwhile, upfront, an audacious attempt by Bamber to overtake van der Drift resulted in Bamber being sent wide, clearing van der Drift’s mirrors and giving him ample breathing room in front. In the end, van der Drift finished the race to take the championship lead in first, ahead of Bamber in second and Tang in third.
“My start was probably the worst I’ve done all year, I saw right away that Will was beside me. He went a little bit wide and I managed to stick it down the inside. Luckily I managed to pull that off, otherwise I probably would have been following him throughout [the race]. After that, I managed to take it home,“ van der Drift said in the press conference following the race.
For Round 13, van der Drift needed only to play it safe from P1 in order to secure the season win. But as soon as the lights went green, Tang was ready to pounce from P2, putting the pressure on van der Drift, who chose not to engage and risk the championship.
With Tang out front, Hamprecht made a skillful pass on van der Drift, who once more showed experienced composure knowing victory was close at hand. It was then Tang and Hamprecht out front, with Bamber in third being chased by Zhang Dasheng after both drivers seized a window left by van der Drift.
Ragginger in the meantime was making his final push, knowing each position recovered was one step closer to reversing the day’s previous misfortune, immediately cruising from P11 to P6 before making a pass on van der Drift, who settled in P7.
The spotlight was then focused on a mid-pack battle led by Bamber as Ragginger ferociously tested the defenses of both young drivers, at one point cruising three abreast as an attempt to pass Zhang Dasheng and Bamber was made. Zhang Dasheng showed his true progression throughout the season with a clever mid-race pass on Bamber just before the safety car was ushered out after contact between Team Force Asia Racing’s Akash Neil Nandy and Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue.
Meanwhile, Tang and Hamprecht exchanged blows in front, with the persistent young German piling the pressure on the Porsche China Junior and eventually finding an opening for a clean pass – taking the lead for the eventual win. The remaining podium spots went to the two Porsche Junior Team drivers, with Tang in second and Zhang Dasheng in third.
“We had a great start, I managed to get up toward the front and eventually get past Chris, who was playing it smart because he only needed to finish the race to get the championship win. Then it was just about getting past Andrew, he was defending well, but I found the gap finally to make the pass. Obiviously this is a great way to finish off the season. It’s nice to finish my first year of Carrera Cup, and now I know what to expect for next year,“ Hamprecht said in the press conference after the race.
The final points for the top three Overall drivers were Chris van der Drift in first with 235, Martin Ragginger in second with 228 and Will Bamber in third with 220.
With the 2017 season completed, all eyes and efforts are now on 2018, with a Press conference held during the busy race weekend to outline the highlights in store for next year.
In addition to the arrival of the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, the season will be highlighted by a calendar stock-full of exciting stops, including two F1 support races in Shanghai and Singapore, as well as the Bangsaen Street Circuit and a return to the Sydney Motorsport Park to race alongside Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.
Making history for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – Pro-Am winner Evan Chen, top performing Porsche China Junior Andrew Tang and Australian driver Paul Tresidder will form the first-ever series entry into the Bathurst 12 Hours race.
“Its been a fantastic season, with a suprising end.We’re all proud of our drivers and appreciate their constant efforts throughout the season. Now we have a chance to look back and reflect as we prepare for another exciting season next year. We can’t wait to come back in 2018 stronger than ever,“ Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Alexandre Gibot said.