Shanghai. Dramatic clashes rounded out an action-packed opening race weekend for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia with FAWT2 Motorsports’ Will Bamber displaying an unstoppable hunger for victory that earned him a Round 2 win.
Frigid cold threatened rain as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s 25 drivers took to the track on Sunday for Round 2, but Bamber embraced the rough conditions, going full pedal as soon as the lights went green and jumping into the Turn 1 melee from P4.
Grid leader Andrew Tang from the Porsche China Junior Team was prepared for the onslaught however, valiantly defending his position from P2-starter Team Starchase’s Phillip Hamprecht and Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger in P3.
But the action was halted before the first lap was completed after moist track conditions resulted in a bump-and-spin between drivers in the middle of the pack, ushering out the safety car and putting a temporary hold on the race.
It was Tang out front, Ragginger in second and Bamber in third when the race resumed in Lap 4. Utilizing the tight grouping, Bamber immediately pushed an unrelenting offensive on Ragginger, who could only work to defend as Tang enjoyed a moment to catch his breath and put some space between himself and the rest of the pack.
Despite Ragginger’s stout defense, Bamber proved unshakeable, eventually making a clean pass in Lap 5 and pushing on to Tang, quickly closing the gap to bring his tenacious assault right to the young race leader’s doorstep. After two laps of attack that saw Tang expertly shut the door on Bamber repeatedly, Tang eventually folded to a daring outside pass by Bamber in Lap 6.
It was then a contest for second and third between Tang and Raggigner, with Hamprecht strategically waiting in the wings and Team Formax’s Chris van der Drift keeping an opportunistic eye from further back.
The front pack action came to a white-knuckled climax as Ragginger attempted to overtake Tang just as Hamprecht decided to make his move, resulting in the three drivers charging side by side in a stubborn fight for the lead, offering an incredible moment of motorsport drama for fans in the grandstands.
Hamprecht pulled out of the three-driver stampede ahead of the rest but was passed by Ragginger on the next turn, with Tang resigning to pressure from Chris van der Drift, who, smelling blood in the water, had started his own foray toward the front.
With just minutes left to the race, Chris van der Drift had just one chance at a hail mary attempt to pass Hamprecht or walk away from the first race weekend empty handed. That opportunity came in the penultimate turn as both drivers hurtled toward Shanghai International Circuit’s notorious hairpin turn in an impromptu game of chicken.
It was then that van der Drift’s expertise was revealed as he perfectly timed a last-minute brake, leaving Hamprecht no room to turn on slick surfaces and sending the young driver wide off the track, sealing the podium with William Bamber in first, Martin Ragginger in second and Chris van der Drift looking relieved in third.
“To be honest, the pass on Andrew was meant happen in turn 1 but he fought really hard so we had to continue it on to turn 2 and 3. The car was amazing, I had a lot of grip so I managed to drive around the outside of him. I thought I would give it ago and worked, so I’m quite happy,” William Bamber said in the press conference following the race.
Ragginger’s second victory of the weekend in the Porsche Dealer Trophy category earned Team Porsche Holding a solid lead, with the two consecutive wins giving them a clear head start to the season-long competition.
Earning the second place in the Porsche Dealer Trophy category over the weekend was Team C&D, with driver Yuan Bo, with the iconic yellow-wheeled car performing admirably throughout both races. Rounding out the top 5 was Team Starchase, with driver Philip Hamprecht, Team Jebsen, with driver Cui Yue and Zheng Tong Auto with Bao Jinlong.
Meanwhile in Pro-Am, the first turn collision between OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia and True Visions Motorsports Thailand’s Suttiluck Buncharoen left drivers scrambling to recover. After the dust settled, 3 drivers were unable to continue the race, thinning the pack and creating ample opportunity for those that remained.
Carrying confidence from the previous day’s race, Kamlung Racing’s Evan Chen, starting in P1, managed a solid start, staying just ahead of the carnage behind him, with Modena Motorsport’s Wayne Shen, starting from P2, hot on his trail.
Chen and Shen traded blows throughout most of the race, but Chen proved the quickest, clinching the win and sealing a perfect race weekend for Pro-Am.
Team Betterlife’s Li Chao also showed sharp instincts as he maneuvered through the pack, keeping ahead of competitors for much of the race until last minute turmoil saw him rapidly retreat to the back of the pack, giving guest driver for Racing Spirit Thailand Preeda Tantemsapya, who had kept a steady hand just behind the front four for most of the race, the chance to carry his consistent performance onto the podium with a third place win.
“It was kind of messy at first, the conditions were quite so it was all about finding grip where you could. But I managed a decent start today, but then Wayne Shen managed to pass all of us, so I was trying to regain ground. There was a lot of good fighting,” Evan Chen said during the post-race press conference.
The action resumes on June 2 as the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia heads to Fuji International Circuit for Round 3 and 4, as well as the first of two invitational races planned for the season as they race against Porsche Carrera Cup Japan.