Young sportscar sensation Earl Bamber of New Zealand took victory from pole position in the Porsche SC Global Carrera Cup Asia – Singapore 2013 after a brilliant performance in a short but dramatic race on the Marina Bay street circuit.
Crossing the line second, having pressured the 23-year-old Nexus Racing star throughout the 12-lap race, was fellow countryman Craig Baird of SC Global Racing, with Bamber’s 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship rival Martin Ragginger of Team Eagle in third.
Said an emotional Bamber, after receiving his winner’s trophy atop the FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX podium: “It’s an incredible feeling, especially for the team. It’s our first time in Singapore and the team provided me with a fantastic car. We had a good tussle at the start and then a great fight before the long Safety Car period. I knew the restart would be impor tant and I managed to jump him and maintain the gap. It’s more than what we expected this weekend. It’s been great to race against Craig, he’s a fantastic competitor and we had a really good battle out there.”
While Baird didn’t take home the trophy this time, he was full of praise for his fellow countryman: “We didn’t get the best start. Earl is a deserving winner, he had good speed. We broke away a bit but then the Safety Car bunched everyone up. I think it would have been difficult to get by Earl. I always enjoy coming back here, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is so professional.”
In Class B it was Francis Tjia of OpenRoad Racing who took his second victory of the season so far ahead of category pole-sitter Egidio Perfetti of Mentos Racing. However second place for Perfetti – who has won eight of the ten races so far this year – was enough to seal the championship title with two races to go. Third in the category was Bamber’s Nexus Racing team mate, Adrian Henry D’Silva of Malaysia.
Said Tjia: “I love coming to Singapore, it’s my favourite event on the calendar. I always love coming here and to win it for my group, I’m very pleased.” While for the newly crowned Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Class B Champion, racing at his home Grand Prix was a special part of what has been an impressive season: “I don’t think I expected it to happen this way, but of course it’s special to do it here [at my home Grand Prix]. It’s been a good season so far. Last year I made some mistakes and this year I didn’t repeat them and stayed on the track for the most part. I am thoroughly enjoying this season.”
Bamber now leads the race for the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia overall title with a 16 point advantage over Ragginger, with Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila 37 points behind the leader. With 41 points on offer in the last two races of the season, this means the championship will go right down to the wire at the Sports Car Champions Festival in Shanghai next month, promising a thrilling climax to the series 11th season.
As the lights went out for the start of the showcase race, the 25-strong field hurtled off the grid with Bamber getting away well pursued by Baird. Behind the pair, PICC Team StarChase driver Alexandre Imperatori and Ragginger were battling for position, going two abreast into the chicane with the pair making contact and Ragginger moving up to third in the running order. Imperatori and Ragginger’s tangle gave Budweiser Kamlung Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin the run on the PICC Team StarChase driver.
Avila and Tung made contact at the start, dropping the Macau driver down the order, but he had got by Team Yongda Dongfang’s Benjamin Rouget and LKM Racing’s Keita Sawa when an incident involving Team Basetex driver Zhang Da Sheng saw multiple cars spin. At the start of the second lap, Bamber led Baird by just under a second, with Ragginger, Tung and Imperatori behind. Sawa, in sixth, led Francis Tjia, Asia Racing Team’s Li Chao, and Perfetti, with Rouget 10th and Team Betterlife’s Mario Farnbacher in 11th. However, when Nexus Racing’s Alif Hamdan hit the barriers, the Safety Car was called out, closing up the field.
The Safety Car pulled off at the start of Lap 10 for what was a dramatic, two lap dash to the flag. At the restart, Bamber again got away well from Baird, but Imperatori was immediately looking to find a way past Tung. The Chinese driver slid wide, hitting the barrier and spinning into Imperatori. Tung retired, while Imperatori kept going keeping an eagle eye on the gauges. Just a lap from the finish line though, he retired, pulling over after a water pressure warning.
While Sawa crossed the line fourth, he was later handed a 30 second time penalty for exceeding track limits to gain an advantage. Zhang Da Sheng was excluded from the race for driving standards.
Avila, meanwhile, fought back from behind to cross the line seventh, charging through the field in the final lap of the race. Sawa’s time penalty and Zhang Da Sheng’s exclusion mean Avila remains in championship contention going in to the final two rounds.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is back in action next month at the Sports Car Champions Festival in Shanghai from October 25-27.