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Bamber increases hold on Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title race

Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – Round 8

Malaysia. Reigning Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion, LKM Racing’s Earl Bamber, increased his lead at the top of the 2014 points table today by taking victory in Round 8 at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit. Second across the line was Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila with Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin of China taking the final podium spot.

Bamber was assisted to his fifth victory of the season by pole-sitter Martin Ragginger of Team Porsche Holding and PICC Team StarChase driver Alexandre Imperatori. While Imperatori was challenging Ragginger for the lead on lap five, the pair came together, both spinning and dropping down the order. That handed the race lead and eventual win to Bamber, although the New Zealand driver had been closing in on the duo having started from the third row of the grid.

In Class B it was points leader Alif Hamdan of Malaysia who took the win, the Nexus Racing star recovering from a tough qualifying which had seen him start from 11th on the grid. Second was series newcomer Max Twigg of Clearwater Racing, a superb debut for the Australian in just his second time in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Title contender, OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia, was third in the category, delighted to have converted what he had expected to be an exercise in damage limitation after qualifying down in 20th overall, into a podium finish.

The race results remain provisional following a number of investigations after the incident-packed race.

The eventful 10 lap race was a white knuckle ride for drivers, teams and spectators alike, and the action began the moment the lights went out. While the front runners got away cleanly, Modena Motorsports’ John Shen and Kamlung Racing’s Mak Hing Tak collided as the 28-strong field thundered off the grid, collecting Prince Racing’s Kenneth Lau and Tiger Racing Team’s Bentley Yeung in the melee.

The incident brought out the Safety Car with Ragginger leading the pack followed by Avila, Imperatori, Bamber, Tung and Zheng Tong Auto’s Zhang Da Sheng who had started from the fifth row of the grid.

When the Safety Car pulled off at the start of lap three, Avila was initially right on the tail of Ragginger but an aggressive Imperatori was on a charge, diving past the Team Jebsen driver and up into second. Bamber executed a wheel-perfect move to pass Avila and move into third, although the Macau driver didn’t concede the position without a fight.

Out in front, Imperatori continued his impressive pace and closed up to Ragginger, challenging for the race lead. So high are the stakes as the race for championship intensifies that neither rival was prepared to concede an inch and, almost inevitably, the pair touched and spun, dropping them both down the field. Next began an epic charge back through the field, each driver furiously powering their way up the order. However, Imperatori come together with Twigg, once again spinning and fuelling his almost-palpable frustration. He eventually crossed the line in ninth followed home by Ragginger.

Class B pole-sitter Yuey Tan of Dorr Havelock Racing and Team Yongda Dongfang’s Ro.C. Skyangel, who qualified third overall, were not able to maximise their grid advantage amidst the more experienced challengers despite their impressive performances in Qualifying.

Zhang Da Sheng, Team C&D’s Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang and Team Basetex driver Zhang Zhen Dong were fifth, sixth and seventh respectively in the provisional results, the trio continuing to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new China Junior Development Programme.

While delighted to take another victory, Bamber was nevertheless disappointed not to have had the chance to do battle with fellow title contenders Ragginger and Imperatori: “It was a difficult qualifying earlier, which made our job more difficult, but a really fantastic race. I got a good start I had a bit of contact in the first corner. From there, I just focused on going forward and then the gateway just kind of opened up. It was good for us but also a shame as you could see that Martin and Alex were having a really fantastic battle and it would have been great to join them to have a three way fight for the lead.”

Thrilled to take his third podium of the season and his second in succession, Rodolfo’s second place result tasted all the sweeter after Imperatori’s aggressive move on him early on: “We had a good start and managed to stick behind Martin into the first corner. I didn’t want to push too quickly too early, and I didn’t expect Alex to pass where he did and had to open the door to him. I knew as soon as Alex got close to Martin what would happen and - jackpot!”

Likewise, Tung was not surprised at the clash between the two arch-rivals while challenging for the lead, but was happy to be back on the podium having struggled during practice and qualifying: “I got a good start [from eighth on the grid] and was up to sixth after one lap. I think Alex and Martin need to remove their magnetic doors!” he joked.

Despite a challenging qualifying session, Tjia was fortunate his grid position put him in front of the startline incident, which he was understandably oblivious to: “I wasn’t looking in the mirrors at that point, I was too focused on what was going on in front of me!” he said. “My qualifying was terrible so my initial goal was damage limitation. As the race progressed though, I thought ‘this is starting to look good’. There was so much dog fighting going on in front of me that it allowed me to catch up.”

The epic battle for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia overall and Class B championships continues on Sunday, with Round 9 shaping up to be another sizzling 10-lap race on Malaysia’s thrillingly fast and flowing Formula 1 track.

Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – Provisional Round 8 Results

Pos  No   Driver/Nationality   Class Entrant/Nationality  Time

1    1    Earl BAMBER (NZL)         LKM Racing (MAS)     23:54.566

2    20   Rodolfo AVILA (MAC)       Team Jebsen (HKG)    +6.610

3    58   TUNG Ho-Pin (CHN)         Budweiser Team Absolute Racing (HKG) +8.459

4    72   Alif HAMDAN (MAS)    B    Nexus Racing (MAS)   +9.408

5    55   ZHANG Da Sheng (CHN)      Zheng Tong Auto (CHN)     +12.679

6    66   Jason ZHANG Zhi Qiang (CHN)          Team C&D (CHN)  +15.403

7    18   ZHANG Zhen Dong (CHN)          Team Basetex (CHN)   +21.412

8    12   *Max TWIGG (AUS)     B    Clearwater Racing (SIN)   +27.259

9    99   Alexandre IMPERATORI (HKG)           PICC Team StarChase (CHN) +28.226

10   86   Martin RAGGINGER (AUT)         Team Porsche Holding (CHN)     +29.127

11   11   Ringo CHONG (SIN)         Team Kangshun (CHN)  +29.349

12   7    BAO Jin Long (CHN)        Team Synsanly (CHN)  +35.870

13   9    LI Chao (CHN)        Team Betterlife (CHN)     +37.882

14   21   Francis TJIA (HKG)   B    OpenRoad Racing (HKG)     +39.541

15   8    Ro.C. Skyangel (SIN)      Team Yongda Dongfang (CHN)     +39.661

16   16   Wayne SHEN (HKG)     B    Modena Motorsports (HKG)  +39.923

17   5    Yuey TAN (SIN)  B    Dorr Havelock Racing (SIN)     +40.474

18   6    *Evan CHEN (TPE)     B    Evan Chen (TPE) +40.789

19   33   Samson CHAN (HKG)    B    Samson CHAN (HKG)    +44.569

20   3    Michael S. (INA)     B    OpenRoad Racing (HKG)     +45.392

21   98   Henri RICHARD (USA)  B    Silicon Tech Racing LLP (USA)  +46.327

22   22   SIU Yuk Lung (HKG)   B    LKM Racing (MAS)     +56.388

23   68   MAK Hing Tak (HKG)   B    Kamlung Racing (HKG) 1 Lap

DNF  88   Egidio PERFETTI (SIN)          Mentos Racing (SIN) 

DNF  51   Johnson HUANG (TPE)  B    Team BC Racing (TPE)

DNF  28   John SHEN (HKG) B    Modena Motorsports (HKG) 

DNF  2    Kenneth LAU (HKG)    B    Prince Racing (HKG) 

DNF  78   Bentley YEUNG (HKG)  B    Tiger Racing Team (HKG)  


*Non series registered

Fastest Lap: Earl Bamber/LKM Racing/2:10.695/139.100kph