Baird and van der Drift 2-3 in Singapore, title showdown set for Shanghai

Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin took an emphatic win in Round 12 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit, pulling out an impressive gap of 2.842 seconds at the flag from second-place finisher and Round 11 winner, Clearwater Racing’s Craig Baird. Third over the line after the 12-lap race was championship leader, Chris van der Drift of Kamlung Racing, who made his debut in the Lion City at the weekend.

In Class B, Spark Motorsports’ Egidio Perfetti took his second win of the weekend, bowing out of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in characteristically impressive style. The 2013 Class B Champion took his final series win at his home Grand Prix ahead of OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, on the podium for the second time this weekend, the impressive points haul keeping him in title contention. Third was Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan who, thanks to the efforts of his team and the crack EKS Motorsport support crew, swept aside the disappointment of Round 11 to claim the final podium place.

As the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia heads into the final rounds of its 13th season in Shanghai next month, van der Drift tops the overall championship leaderboard but, after the Singapore weekend, his margin to title rival Baird is reduced to just 8 points. Second in the points, although now out of championship contention, is PICC Team StarChase driver Nico Menzel, 25 points ahead of Tung. Team Porsche Holding’s regular driver Martin Ragginger, for whom Zhang Zhen Dong was standing in in Singapore, lies fifth.

It couldn’t be tighter in the Class B standings, with four drivers still in the 2016 title chase and two races remaining. Despite a challenging weekend, Tan still tops the table with a seven point lead from Francis Tjia who jumps to second. Just a single point behind Tjia though is est Cola Racing Team’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, and only one point behind him is Modena Motorsports’ Wayne Shen. Team Betterlife’s Li Chao just missing out on a stab at the title in fifth.

Tung, second in Round 11, was thrilled to have taken his second season win and first victory in Singapore: “I had a very good start today, but so did Nico. It was very tight into the first corner, and he had a very good run through the first few corners until he outbraked himself, so I was a bit lucky with that. I had new tyres for today, so I knew I was able to pull a gap from the guys behind me.”

For Baird, the race was all about staying ahead of title rival van der Drift firmly: “Obviously probably the most important part for me was to keep Chris behind. There’s a chase on points with just two rounds to go, so it was important. We had to make sure we finished and didn’t make any mistakes.”

While van der Drift didn’t have the happiest of weekends, he nevertheless kept his hold at the top of the leaderboard: “I didn’t have a good run in qualifying, getting caught up with blue flags, so that was kind of the end of my weekend. But I came back today and got a third place. It was important to make sure Craig didn’t get too far ahead and minimise the points gap.”

Said a delighted Perfetti: “It’s fantastic to have two [Class b] wins this weekend. My last opportunity at my home Grand Prix makes it all the more special. I really enjoyed it and for four years it has been fantastic to be part of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia racing with all these fellow gentlemen. It’s a big family.”

Also back on the podium for a second time in Singapore, Francis Tjia enjoyed this weekend immensely: “It’s been a good weekend and a good points haul – finally! I needed a little bit of luck and I think it came my way. Unfortunately it was a little bit unlucky for Yuey yesterday, but that’s part of racing. I wish Egidio wouldn’t show up all the time – we like to have him around, but not in the race! It’s a brilliant circuit and it’s so much fun to race here. It’s challenging but really rewarding if you can get it right. I’m happy the championship stays tight after this weekend, and we’ll be fighting for it going in to the final rounds in Shanghai.”

The ebullient Tan was thrilled to have made it to the Class B podium after an eventful race: “It’s been pretty emotional! Today it just felt like there were so many guys racing all over me – in front, behind, making contact, left and right. It was about avoiding everything and making sure I survived. I can’t believe I’m still on top [of Class B] after all this stuff. It was pretty dejecting to see the 20 points disappearing like that yesterday, but that’s racing.”

As the lights went out, pole-sitter Menzel got away well, but Tung’s launch was better, pulling alongside the German. Despite running wide, Menzel held the position before dramatically out-braking himself and heading down the escape road. He rejoined right down the order, fighting his way back through the field to eventually cross the line seventh.

Further back, a tangle between Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila and Team Yonda’s Ro Charlz Skyangel saw the latter shunted out of the race.

With Tung now focusing on pulling a gap from the chasing pack, behind him Baird and van der Drift were locked in a battle for points, neither able to close up to the leader. Behind them, Malaysia’s Alif Hamdan led Perfetti, Avila and Francis Tjia, who was coming under fierce attached from Inthraphuvasak. The Thai driver made his move on lap 5, but came by too fast and spun, dropping down the order and out of Tjia’s mirrors. Vutthikorn eventually finished 11th behind Team Kangshun’s Ringo Chong of Singapore.

Behind Perfetti, Avila was piling the pressure onto Hamdan, executing a superb move to pass the Malaysian and taking the fight to the Class B Spark Motorsports’ driver. Perfetti wisely elected not jeopardize a Class B victory, and Avila got by to go fourth.

Further down the order, Team Porsche Holding’s Zhang Zhen Dong was on a wheel-perfect charge through the field, passing Tan and taking the fight to Bao. Lights ablaze, he loomed large in Bao’s mirrors, the pair separated by a hairs breadth. Side by side though, disaster struck when Bao lost control under braking, collecting Zheng and taking them both off the track. The pair managed to rejoin, with Zheng heading Boa home in 15th and 16th.

The spectacular finale of the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be held where the season began, at the Shanghai International Circuit, from October 30 to November 1. There, in the company of their FIA World Endurance Championship counterparts from Porsche Motorsport, 28 of the region’s finest GT specialists will do battle not only for the overall and Class B championships, but for the chance to take a victory in Asia’s most respected and admired sportscar championship.

 

Baird and van der Drift 2-3 in Singapore, title showdown set for Shanghai

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