Kiwi driver Chris van der Drift has finished third in the latest round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the Fuji International Circuit in Japan.
Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger had the perfect race for Round 3 achieving the victory trifecta with the first place win, pole position and fastest lap to earn the maximum number of points.
The Austrian driver narrowly grabbed the pole position in the morning qualifiers by achieving a lap time of 1:42.750, with less than a tenth of a second separating him and Team Starchase’s Philip Hamprecht in P2 with 1:42.804. A last minute change up for P3 occurred after Porsche China Junior Team’s Andrew Tang had his best lap dropped for exceeding track limits, bumping FAW T2 Motorsport’s Will Bamber to P3 with a 1:42.836.
Undeterred by the last minute switch in spots, Tang kept his focus, executing a brilliant start to overtake Hamprecht and Bamber in the first turn melee. Team Formax’s Chris van der Drift was also laser-quick off the line from P5, revealing the 2015 Champion’s tactical mindset as he swung wide and cut in sharp to position himself in third.
The pack leaders were given ample breathing room as Hamprecht, Bamber and Absolute Racing’s Tanart Sathienthirakul jostled for position behind van der Drift, with Hamprecht courageously defending tireless attacks from behind by Bamber, who was equally pressured by Sathienthirakul. Hamprecht’s defense held strong throughout most of the race but eventually crumbled as Bamber made a clean pass into fourth.
The battles in the back allowed van der Drift to maintain a comfortable pocket in third place.
Skirmishes continued in the mid-pack throughout the race with Team Force Asia’s Akash Nandy exchanging blows with Team C&D’s Yuan Bo while Ragginger, having achieved a 1.8-second lead on Tang, continued to race without any mistakes.
Ragginger’s victory was all but sealed with 6 laps to go until the pack leader, mistaking the number of laps left after misreading a track-side sign, eased off the gas. Meanwhile, Tang was still going full throttle, cutting the gap between him and Ragginger to just over half a second, building last minute excitement as the young driver glimpsed a shot at victory.
But time was on Ragginger’s side and he finished the race with confidence, earning a perfect win with 22 points and winning the Porsche Dealer Trophy for Team Porsche holding. A very happy Tang finished the race in 2nd with van der Drift not far behind in 3rd.
“First of all I want to thank my team of course and Porsche Holding for giving me such a good car today. From pole position I tried to do a good start, I thought I could pull away a little bit from Andrew. In the end he had a good speed, we saw this already in Shanghai that he’s really good at the end of the race,” he said.
In Pro-Am, a three-way tie between Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan, Team Betterlife’s Li Chao and Modena Motorsport’s Wayne Shen ramped up the competition going into the Round 3 qualifiers – with each driver showing fierce desire to grab an early-season lead in the tables.
Tan was the first to gain the edge by grabbing the pole and one point with a 1:44.046 qualifying time, while leadership contenders Shen, starting P5, and Chao, in P6, did not fare so well. Kamlung Racing’s Evan Chen once more exhibited the speed and precision seen in Round 1 and 2 to clinch P2, with OpenRoad Racing’s Michael S. finishing out the top three grid.
As soon as the lights went green, the Pro-Am grid erupted into a flurry of fights. Yuey Tan got off to a rough start, surrendering the lead spot to OpenRoad Racing’s Michael S. early on, but keeping his cool and regaining the lead just one lap later. Chen, also passed by Michael S., cleverly held back, waiting to sweep in at the first opportunity.
Chen didn’t have to wait long and charged in to pressure Tan after he won the tussle with Michael S. while OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia and Wayne Shen entered into the fray, resulting in a mass battle between the top five drivers.
Shen eventually passed Michael S., leaving the two OpenRoad racers in his wake to deal with Li Chao, while Tan and Chen continued their clash up front.
Things came to a sudden halt after contact between Tjia and Shen sent both cars out of the race in lap 11, clearing the way for Li Chao to grab third, while Tan, though displaying expert tactics, couldn’t keep pace with Chen and eventually lost his lead. As the checkered flag waved, Chen led in first Tan in second and Li Chao in Third.
“Thanks to my sponsor and my team – Arrows Racing and KLM Group. As for the battle with Yuey, I tried to do everything I can to pass him. He’s too experienced to screw around with, but I had to try to make him make a mistake. But I finally got the pass and managed to pull away,” Chen said.
The Porsche Carrera cup Asia’s 25 drivers will be back on the track tomorrow as they return to action in Round 4 and a friendly invitational with Porsche Carrera Cup Japan. Viewers can catch the race via livestream on carreracupasia.com, LeTV sport and PPTV sport, on Sunday at 11:20 (local) and the invitational race on Sunday at 16:30 (local).