It was a perfect race weekend for FAW T2 Motorsport’s Will Bamber after the young driver completed his second lights-to-flag victory in Round 6 at the Bangsaen Street Circuit on Sunday.
Starting once more in P1 after a hugely successful qualifying session the day before, Bamber refused to give an inch off Turn 1, shutting out an instant challenge by P2-starter Chris van der Drift of Team Formax who settled in behind Bamber waiting for the moment to strike.
With just a single point lead on Bamber, van der Drift’s eagerness to keep his second place position in the championship was on clear display as he swooped in on Bamber’s tail, giving the race leader no room for error. Meanwhile Team StarChase’s Philip Hamprecht, making an excellent start, managed to find a clean space between the head of the pack and Team Porsche Holding‘s Martin Ragginger, who lunged through a P5 start to pass Team Jebsen’s Cui Yue and jump into fourth.
It was Bamber taking on constant pressure by van der Drift for much of the first half of the race as Bamber gained and ceded fractions of a second in his lead while Porsche China Junior Teammates Andrew Tang and Zhang Dasheng found their own space further at the back of the pack and were left exchanging blows, with Tang putting in several strong attacks that were deftly shut down by Zhang Dasheng.
Team Force Asia’s Akash Niel Nandy had a fantastic start from a tough position behind the first row of Pro-Am drivers, charging off the bat to pass two Pro-Am drivers before clawing at the back of Team C&D’s Yuan Bo to eventually make the pass.
The race came to a sudden halt in lap 7 after Zheng Tong Auto‘s Bao Jinlong was thrown from the turbulent turns of the Bangsaen Street Circuit into the wall, smashing the front of his car and bringing out the safety car for three laps as they cleaned up debris.
As the rythm of the race slowed, the gap between Hamprecht and Ragginger was eliminated, giving the championship-table leader a final chance at getting a podium for the race weekend.
With Hamprecht occupied by Ragginger, van der Drift was left redoubling his efforts on Bamber. But Bamber was flawless, keeping tight racing lines as he glided through the final turn of the race to complete a perfect race weekend with van der Drift still nipping at his heels. Hamprecht, having managed to fend off Ragginger, completed his second podium win for the weekend in third.
After the points are tallied, Bamber is now tied for first place with Ragginger at 116 points, while van der Drift narrowly trails in third with 114 points.
“Its pretty hard to believe, it is surreal. We’re in a beautiful location as well and such a challenging place at that – so to come away with two poles and two wins is extremely satisfying,“ Bamber said, beaming in the press conference after the race.
The weekend also saw Team StarChase take both wins for the dealer trophy, edging them toward current trophy leader Team Porsche Holding with 116 and 90 points respectively.
“For the whole weekend, congratulations to the whole Carrera Cup organization, the set-up for the event made it a lot of fun for everyone. Drivers put on a good show. For Philip and the team we are happy to have a good qualifying result and also showing up on the result sheet on race day and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season,“ StarChase COO Robby Niermman said during the press conference.
It was another round of cutthroat racing in Pro-Am as Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan had a rough start, eliminating his coveted P1 advantage as Kamlung Racing’s Even Chen zipped through Turn 1 to put the pressure on.
But OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia was foot-to-pedal from the get go, rocketing from P3 to overtake Chen. Maintaining a blistering pace, went headlong into Tan and executed an incredible pass to take the lead and begin pulling away from fellow competitors.
Keeping pace with Tjia, Chen also managed to overtake Tan within the first lap but pass slowed him down, furthering Tjia’s lead.
Just as it looked like Tjia would make a comfortable ride into victory, the safety car was ushered out, vanquishing his well-earned lead. But Tjia was undeterred, taking on Chen’s renewed challenge with expertise as he shut the door on all attempts to pass.
With just 3 laps to go, Team Better Life’s Li Chao became the final victim of Bangsaen’s cruel turns as he made contact with the wall, threatening another safety car, but manging to limp off without causing race stoppage.
Despite an all-out effort from Chen, Tjia managed to seal his first victory at the top of the podium in 2017, followed by Chen in second and Tan in third.
“I’m super happy. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the top step of the podium. This guy [Tan] and this guy [Chen] keep on stealing those place. So super happy. The team has done a brilliant job. Modena Motorsport always prepare the car brilliantly. So it felt good, I felt very comfortable and generally happy,“ Francis Tjia said at the press conference after the race.
With just two weeks to go until the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia returns for Round 7 and 8 at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia from July 21-23, the competition is tense with a tight point gap separating the table leaders for both Pro-Am and Overall.