Shanghai. The engines were primed and drivers eager as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia hailed in the 2017 season at the home of Porsche China in Shanghai this weekend. With a raft of new faces, track and trophy announced during the season kickoff press conference, the 15th season was cheered by Porsche drivers, dealers and executives, with two-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia winner and 2015 Le Mans champion Earl Bamber attending as a special guest.
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers from all over the world gathered at the Shanghai International Circuit on Friday as they began preparations to battle throughout 13 rounds of grueling motorsport across 5 of Asia’s most challenging tracks – including a brand new street race in scenic Bangsaen, Thailand.
This year will also see the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia enter the global spotlight as it hosts races alongside three F1 events in Shanghai, Singapore and Malaysia, while advancing regional collaborations with two exciting invitational races. After the strong success of last year’s events, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Japan will once again partake in a picturesque invitational at the foot of Mount Fuji before the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia hosts an invitational race with its Australian counterpart in Malaysia for the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia’s first-ever race outside of its home country.
Ending the season with a bang, the series will finish back in Shanghai alongside the World Endurance Championship Shanghai 6 Hours, where the Porsche LMP1 team will strive for its third consecutive win at the home of Porsche China.
Among the most exciting features announced for the 2017 season is the brand new Porsche Dealer Trophy. Putting the series‘ 7 dealer teams against one another by awarding the best dealer team driver among 8 entries with points at the end of each round, the newly-created championship brings a whole other element of competition on track.
Dealer Trophy competitors include Yuan Bo, who is now racing in the Overall Class as Team C&D returns to the PCCA after a year away. As part of the Team Porsche Holding dealer team, series‘ veteran Martin Ragginger will undoubtedly offer strong contention for the Dealer Trophy alongside Chinese driver Cui Yue with the time-tested Team Jebsen dealer squad.
With 25 drivers on the grid piloting identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) race cars, this year’s competition is the one of the most diverse of the 8 Porsche Carrera Cup series worldwide, perfectly mixing Porsche veterans, fresh faces and a slew of fresh young drivers.
In a triumphant return to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, 2015 series winner Chris Van der Drift will bring the calculating expertise that earned the New Zealand driver his champion status as he races with Team Formax in 2017.
Entering his second season as the Porsche China Junior, 22-year-old Singaporean Andrew Tang will join the 2017 championship as a seasoned driver, having displayed his raw talent with several podium wins and a narrow fourth place finish with the Porsche China Junior Team in 2016. He will race alongside 24-year-old Chinese Zhang Da Shang, who will join the Porsche China Junior Team after a strong run during the 2016 season, where he finished the season as best performing Chinese driver and made history as the first Chinese to enter the global Porsche Motorsport Junior Selection.
Both will face competition from the likes of young new drivers such as Formula Master China Series 2016 winner and reciepient of the Porsche Formula Master China Series Scholarship Phillip Hamprecht who will join last year’s championship-winning Team Starchase crew and Team Force Asia Racing’s Akash Nandy. Both of the young drivers will get their first GT experience with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in 2017. Expanding the young talent pool further, FAW T2 Motorsport’s William Bamber, brother of Earl Bamber, and Absolute Racing’s Tanart Sathienthirakul will have a chance at being selected for the global Porsche Junior Selection Programme as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia opens eligbiility to the life-changing competition to all drivers under 26 years old.
All drivers under 26 will also have acess to a rotating line-up of star coaches, including Porsche legends such as Sascha Massan and Earl Bamber, who will take turns offering different perspectives and expertise to help develop the young drivers. In addition, a training camp for all young drivers is planned before the first official race in April, meaning this year’s line-up of fresh talent will enter the competition with their skills fully sharpened.
With last year’s Pro-Am winner bumped to Overall, the path to the top of the podium is clear for some of the series‘ toughest stalwarts such as brothers Wayne and John Shen of Modena Motorsports, who placed 3rd and 5th respectively in 2016, Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan, 4th last year, and Team Betterlife’s Li Chao, who tied for 5th.
It also leaves room for 2017‘s new faces such as Kamlung Racing’s Evan Chen and OpenRoad Racing’s Christian Chia who returns after a season away.
But they will face tough competion from experienced drivers such as Paul Tresidder of his self-named team, OpenRoad Racing’s Franci Tjia and Michael S., Siu Yuk Lung of LKM Racing, and Arrows Racing’s Fung Yui Sum, who will look to capitalize on their hard-earned prowess to break into the top 3 early on.
With the newly introduced Bangsaen Street Circuit – regular feature in the Thailland Speed Festival – included in this year’s calendar, Racing Spirit Thailand’s Sontaya Kunplome and True Vision Motorsports Thailand’s Suttiluck Buncharoen have a chance to showcase their skills on one of the country’s most scenic routes while grabbing a homefield advantage.
“We are all excited to get back on the track. We have an even more competitive field than previous seasons with a host of new drivers. With a wide variety of new features, 2017 is shaping up to be an extraordinary year for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. There is no doubt, this will be another brilliant championship for Asia’s best one-make series.“ Alexandre Gibot, Porsche China Motorsport Manager, said. “Asia has become a major market for Porsche Motorsport and we will have more exciting news to announce throughout the season.”
With the clock quickly ticking toward the start of the season, another explosive season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is about to get underway. While 2017’s line-up is brimming with talented drivers – only a select few will leave this year’s competition claiming the honor of Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion.