Porsche Carrera Cup Asia prepares for dazzling season with showcase opener
Wed 26.03.14, 2:02PM
Shanghai. The glittering spectacle of 28 stunning new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) purebred racing sportscars lined up on the grid during the 2014 FORMULA 1 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX this weekend will ensure the 12th season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia gets off to a truly impressive start.
The 2014 field for the region’s premier sportscar championship is equally impressive, with an intriguing combination of respected professionals and passionate young talent from across Asia and far beyond.
This year the overall title and Class B championship, for non-professional entrants, will be contested over 11 hard-fought races on five of Asia’s most prestigious race tracks, and at no fewer than three rounds of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, a suitably high-profile showcase for the region’s finest GT drivers.
The all-new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) represents a major evolution for the iconic car. The more powerful 3.8-litre flat six engine produces 460 horsepower, 10 more than previously, and the six-speed sequential gearbox is operated by a pneumatic paddle shift system, yet another first for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. Following the official pre-season test, also held at Malaysia’s 5.54km Sepang International Circuit, all indications are for dramatically quicker lap times from this season thanks to the new Porsche technological innovations and Michelin tyres.
Leading the charge for the start of the 2014 season is reigning champion and sportscar wunderkind Earl Bamber of New Zealand, this year entered by LKM Racing Team, in what will be a busy season for the 23-year-old who will defend his Asian title as well as contest the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany.
Amongst a record 10 China Porsche dealership entries is Martin Ragginger with Team Porsche Holding and the Austrian will be going all-out to clinch the championship title denied him last year, while Macau driver Rodolfo Avila is also expected to be a title contender as his Team Jebsen celebrates their 10th Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season. Former F1 test and reserve driver Tung Ho-Pin of China will be a fierce rival with his Budweiser Team Absolute Racing outfit, and 2012 champion Alexandre Imperatori will mount his bid to capture a second title with three-time champions PICC Team StarChase.
Four young mainland Chinese drivers will have the additional support of a new Porsche China education and coaching initiative, the China Junior Development Programme: Zhang Da Sheng, this year competing with Zheng Tong Auto having finished 8th in 2013; Team C&D’s Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang, 10th overall on an impressive series debut last year; new Team Basetex entry Zhang Zhen Dong; and reigning Scirocco R-Cup China champion and Formula Masters China Series regular Bao Jin Long of Team Synsanly, both of whom join the series this year.
With Mentos Racing Team’s Egidio Perfetti propelled to the ranks of the professionals courtesy of his commanding Class B championship win last season, the battle is on amongst the competitive field of impassioned and committed enthusiasts. Ensuring white-knuckle racing action throughout the field, the likes of 2012 Class B champion Wayne Shen of Modena Motorsports, Singapore’s Yuey Tan of Dorr Havelock Racing, runner-up last season, Team Betterlife’s Li Chao, 3rd in 2013, OpenRoad Racing Team’s Francis Tjia, Nexus Racing’s young Malaysian talent Alif Hamdan, and 2012 GT Asia Series Champion Mok Weng Sun of Clearwater Racing will ensure the title is wide open.
As the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia prepares to blast off the grid for the start of its 12th season at the forefront of sportscar competition, never before in the history of regional motorsport has a more impressive line-up of pure talent, unwavering dedication and unmatched technological excellence been assembled.