30.03.14

Bamber and Hamdan take victory apiece in Malaysian thriller

Reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Earl Bamber and talented Malaysian Alif Hamdan took a win apiece in the opening round of the season today, held as part of the Malaysian F1 GP.
Twenty three-year-old Bamber, racing for LKM Racing, converted his pole position to snatch overall victory from Austrian Martin Ragginger of Team Porsche Holding, crossing the line more than three seconds ahead.  PICC Team StarChase ace Alexandre Imperatori joined the trio for the 10-lap sprint, having survived an early tangle with Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila. While Ragginger had the consolation of receiving his second place trophy from ‘Sherlock’ star Benedict Cumberbatch, Imperatori set the fastest lap of the race.
 
While the three fought for overall victory in the sweltering Malaysian heat, local hero Team Nexus Racing’s Alif Hamdan capitalized on his impressive Class B pole position and sixth overall in qualifying, to take the first class win of the season in style.  Second in Class B was OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, followed by series returnee Mok Weng Sun of Clearwater Racing who grabbed the final podium place from Dorr Havelock Racing’s Yuey Tan on the final lap.  
 
While the 10 laps of the 5.54km circuit were action-packed throughout, two drivers stole the limelight.  In a remarkable jump in form, Zheng Tong Auto’s Zhang Da Sheng challenged seasoned driver Tung Ho-Pin for fourth all the way to the chequered flag.
 
With all the drivers starting their first race in the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991), all 28 cars roared off the grid, dicing for position into Turn 1 as the 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season got underway.  While Bamber got away well, with Ragginger immediately giving chase, Imperatori came under pressure from a hard-charging Avila.  With the Team Jebsen trying to go around the outside, the pair made contact and the Macau driver spun out.  Imperatori recovered immediately, hunting down the leading pair.
 
Hamdan meanwhile hadn’t got the best getaway, losing places to the three Zhangs: Zhang Da Sheng, Team C&D’s Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang and series newcomer Zhang Zhen Dong of Team Basetex.  The three Chinese youngsters acquitted themselves superbly, demonstrating the benefit of the expert tuition they have been receiving under the new Chinese driver development programme from Porsche instructor Sascha Maassen.
 
Said Bamber, who immediately headed off for Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup testing in Barcelona:  “It was a challenge to hold off Martin [Ragginger] at the start, but by lap six we could pull away a bit.  It was just a matter of keeping my eyes forward, even though there was a big glaring gold car behind me!  It’s going to be close all year. I’ve had a bit more testing, but the others for sure are going to catch up.”
 
Ragginger meanwhile was philosophical, vowing to close the gap to Bamber and focusing on championship points:  “Our aim was as many points as possible in the first race as we have to get more used to the new car.  It’s very difficult to overtake as the cars are so equal.  All three of us had good pace, and I knew with no mistakes Alex wouldn’t be able to catch me.  But we definitely have to work to catch up.”
 
Imperatori, too, knew the three were evenly matched in terms of pace:  “I didn’t get a great first start in the new car – a good initial take-off and then I got bogged down.  Rodolfo tried to go on the outside but didn’t give me room and there was a little contact.  I had the same pace as Martin and Earl, but it’s difficult to pass which is testament to the level of this championship. I pushed very hard on the last lap but Martin defended very well.”
For Hamdan, once again his pre-season hard work had paid off, with a faultless run to the first Class B victory of the season:  “I learned how to drive here at Sepang, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been working harder than anyone in my class. Our expectation for this season is top five at the end of the year, so we’re really looking forward to Shanghai.”
 
Zhang Da Sheng was thrilled to have made such great strides in the opening round: “Everyone was very nervous today, and the start was very important.  I got a good start and held my position, trying to fix what I did wrong in qualifying.  I did better, but it’s still not enough for me.  Ho-Pin is very fast, and the whole race was really exciting.  He has speed and experience, and I tried to stay with him and overtake but I wasn’t successful.”
 
After a superb start to the 12th Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, the 28 talented drivers next travel to the Shanghai International Circuit for the Formula 1 support race, the second of two which race on the same programme as the pinnacle of international motorsport.  From April 18 to 20, the battle for the two coveted championship titles will resume.
 
Round 1 - Results

Pos

No

Driver/Nationality

Class

Entrant/Nationality

Time

1

1

Earl BAMBER (NZL)

 

LKM Racing Team (HKG)

21:57.761

2

86

Martin RAGGINGER (AUT)

 

Team Porsche Holding (CHN)

+3.280

3

99

Alexandre IMPERATORI (HKG)

 

PICC Team StarChase (CHN)

+3.706

4

58

TUNG Ho-Pin (CHN)

 

Budweiser Team Absolute Racing (CHN)

+13.799

5

55

ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)

 

Zheng Tong Auto (CHN)

+14.547

6

66

Jason ZHANG Zhi Qiang (CHN)

 

Team C&D (CHN)

+15.018

7

18

ZHANG Zhen Dong (CHN)

 

Team Basetex (CHN)

+19.427

8

72

Alif HAMDAN (MAS)

B

Nexus Racing (MAS)

+19.955

9

8

Ro.C. Skyangel (SIN)

 

Team Yongda Dongfang (CHN)

+21.556

10

88

Egidio PERFETTI (SIN)

 

Mentos Racing Team (SIN)

+24.323

11

11

Ringo CHONG (SIN)

 

Team Kangshun (CHN)

+36.668

12

9

Li Chao (CHN)

 

Team Betterlife (CHN)

+47.292

13

21

Francis TJIA (HKG)

B

OpenRoad Racing Team (HKG)

+49.742

14

12

MOK Weng Sun (SIN)

B

Clearwater Racing (SIN)

+60.373

15

22

SIU Yuk Lung (HKG)

B

LKM Racing Team (HKG)

+61.284

16

28

John SHEN (HKG)

B

Modena Motorsports (HKG)

+69.326

17

68

MAK Hing Tak (HKG)

B

Kamlung Racing (HKG)

+69.334

18

5

Yuey TAN (SIN)

B

Dorr Havelock Racing (SIN)

+70.156

19

77

Jacky YEUNG (HKG)

B

Tiger Racing Team (HKG)

+74.219

20

2

Kenneth LAU (HKG)

B

Prince Racing Hong Kong (HKG)

+81.706

21

16

Wayne SHEN (HKG)

B

Modena Motorsports (HKG)

+91.819

22

51

Johnson HUANG (TPE)

B

BC Racing Team (TPE)

+92.661

23

3

Michael S. (INA)

B

OpenRoad Racing Team

+93.639

24

6

*Daniel BILSKI (HKG)

B

Daniel Bilski (HKG)

+113.746

25

98

Henri RICHARD (USA)

B

Silicon Tech Racing LLC (USA)

+84.992

-

7

BAO Jin Long (CHN)

 

Team Synsanly (CHN)

DNF

-

33

Samson CHAN (HKG)

B

Samson CHAN (HKG)

1 Lap

-

20

Rodolfo AVILA (MAC)

 

Team Jebsen (HKG)

DNF

*   Non series registered

*   Car 98 – 30 second time penalty – Causing a collision (Stewards decision No. 4)

     Fastest Lap: Alexandre Imperatori/PICC Team StarChase/2:10.531/Lap2/152.874kph

Overall Points after Round 1 (top 5)

Pos

Comp No

Driver

Entrant

Points

1

1

Earl Bamber

LKM Racing

21

2

86

Martin Ragginger

Team Porsche Holding

18

3

99

Alexandre Imperatori

PICC Team StarChase

16

4

58

Tung Ho-Pin

Budweiser Team Absolute Racing

14

5

55

Zhang Da Sheng

Zheng Tong Auto

12

Class B

Pos

Comp No

Driver

Entrant

Points

1

72

Alif Hamdan

Nexus Racing

21

2

21

Francis Tjia

OpenRoad Racing

18

3

12

Mok Weng Sun

Clearwater Racing

16

4

22

Siu Yuk Lung

LKM Racing

14

5

28

John Shen

Modena Motorsports

12