Championship wide open as 2015 title chase resumes in Malaysia

| Photographer Credit: Porsche Asia

The race for the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia overall and Class B championship titles remains wide open as the region’s premier sportscar championship resumes at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit this weekend, with the 28-strong fleet of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) racing cars set to dazzle under the tropical sun.

Leading the charge after winning six of the season’s 14 races is Kamlung Racing’s Chris van der Drift as he continues his astonishing Porsche racing debut, having won the last six consecutive races. However, keeping his eye firmly on the prize is fellow New Zealander Craig Baird of Clearwater Racing who is just 15 points behind.

Another driver who is making waves in his first season of Porsche racing is 17-year-old PICC Team StarChase driver Nico Menzel. With racing very much in his genes – he is the son of two-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Christian – the younger Menzel has made extraordinary progress since the start of the year, culminating in two podium finishes in Thailand last month to lie third on the leaderboard. Menzel made his Porsche Mobil1 Supercup debut this summer, competing in one round at the Hungaroring in Budapest and two further races at Belgium’s legendary Spa-Francorchamps track.

Despite not having luck on his side this season, a victory and two podium finishes have ensured that Chinese star Tung Ho-Pin remains a strong championship contender, with the Budweiser Team Absolute Racing driver sitting two points ahead of Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger.

One driver who will be hoping Lady Luck is back on his side in Malaysia is 24-year-old local hero Alif Hamdan. The true talent of the reigning Class B champion, competing for the overall title for the first time this season, has been eclipsed through no fault of his own. After a racing incident in Round 7, Hamdan was unable to take the start of the second race in Thailand last month, so has some ground to make up on home turf.

The stakes are equally as high in the Class B category, with the two drivers at the top of the leaderboard both equally determined to clinch the coveted title: Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan of Singapore retains his place at the top of the points table, however arch rival Francis Tjia of OpenRoad Racing has chipped away at Tan’s lead, reducing it to just three points.

Hot on their heels is 2012 Class B champion Wayne Shen, who joins his brother John in the two-car Modena Motorsports entry. Thailand’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak has, like Hamdan, fallen foul of racing incidents several times this season, but a race win, three podiums and two pole positions attest to the skill and talent of one of Asia’s most experienced drivers.

Team BC Racing’s Johnson Huang has, like Tan and Wayne Shen, shown impressive consistency, finishing every race so far in the points to put him fifth on the leaderboard, 14 points ahead of Team Betterlife’s Li Chao.

While Hamdan may be relishing the prospect of racing on his home track, scene of the official pre-season test in March, the searing heat and humidity of Malaysia will test the drivers’ fitness and stamina to the max. The fast F1 track requires razor sharp driver responses, and in the energy-sapping conditions, a cool head will win the day.

With an international field packed with exciting talent and formidable experience, the 2015 season has so far been nothing short of spectacular, and the six-race charge to the final chequered flag promises to be truly thrilling.

Qualifying for Round 9 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be held on Saturday, September 5, with both races held on Sunday.

Overall Points after Round 8 (top 5)
Pos Comp No Driver Entrant Points
1 68 Chris van der Drift Kamlung Racing 140
2 12 Craig Baird Clearwater Racing 125
3 99 Nico Menzel PICC Team StarChase 96
4 58 Tung Ho-Pin Budweiser Team Absolute Racing 85
5 86 Martin Ragginger Team Porsche Holding 83

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