The 13th season of the region’s premier sportscar championship is heading for a season finale of truly epic proportions as the 28-strong Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field heads home to Shanghai for Rounds 13 and 14 from October 30 to 31. Closing the season in fitting style as part of the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Shanghai, both the overall and Class B championship titles have once again gone right down to the wire.
Two drivers remain in contention for overall honours, both countrymen of the series’ most famous graduate, 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Earl Bamber: Kamlung Racing’s Chris van der Drift; and fellow Kiwi, Craig Baird of Clearwater Racing.
In what has been a spectacular Porsche racing debut season, 29-year-old van der Drift has so far notched up an astonishing seven outright victories and an additional two podium finishes. However, so close is the competition amongst the sterling international field, that his extraordinary performance has only given him a slim eight-point advantage from championship rival Baird.
Baird holds the world record for the most number of Porsche Cup victories, and has kept van der Drift within striking distance all season, amassing two victories plus six podium finishes. With a total of 41 points on offer in Shanghai, Baird will need to claim both wins and rely on his fellow drivers to keep van der Drift down the order if he is to claim the crown.
Although now out of championship contention, the next six drivers on the overall leaderboard are more than up to the task, and will each be gunning for victory to add to their season-ending points tally; another rookie sensation this season, 17-year-old Nico Menzel has already given his PICC Team StarChase their maiden victory together as well as a further four podiums; China’s Tung Ho-Pin and his Budweiser Team Absolute Racing have taken two victories so far this year, the first of which was the opening round in Shanghai which bodes well for the weekend; Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger of Austria; Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila; Team Yonda’s Ro Charlz Skyangel; and Malaysian youngster Alif Hamdan.
While the battle for the coveted Porsche Carrera Cup Asia overall championship crown may be intriguing, it pales in comparison to the epic showdown on the cards for the Class B title where four drivers remain in contention.
After 12 races unrivalled in the series’ history in emotion and tension, Team Jebsen’s Yuey Tan of Singapore heads the charge into the final rounds. Despite not having taken an outright Class B victory so far this year, six podiums and a points finish after every race have given Tan an eight-point lead from OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia. Tan has twice been Class B runner-up and Tjia once, and neither driver is willing to concede an inch in their quest for the title.
Tied in third, however, are two drivers equally equipped to seize the championship win both just two points adrift of Tjia: Thailand’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak of est Cola Racing Team and 2012 Class B Champion, Wayne Shen of Modena Motorsport. Vutthikorn made a welcome return to the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the start of the season after a seven-year hiatus and, despite enduring more than his fair share of misfortune, has powered on to take four wins and three podiums so far. Wayne Shen, meanwhile, has been consistent all season, clocking up the championship points to remain in contention for the title.
In what will be a blockbuster of a Porsche Carrera Cup Asia weekend, the region’s finest teams and drivers will be sharing the Shanghai International Circuit with their Porsche Motorsport counterparts as they contest the penultimate round of the FIA WEC. By winning the fourth race in a row with the Porsche 919 Hybrid at the 6 Hours of Fuji earlier this month, the Porsche Team took an important step forward in the battle for the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, and now leads both the manufacturers’ and the drivers’ standings.
As the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia heads home to Shanghai to celebrate the conclusion of its 13th triumphant season at the pinnacle of regional motorsport, it is fitting indeed that the Porsche family comes together as it goes all out for victory in the world’s fastest-growing FIA world championship.
Provisional Overall Points after Round 12 (top 5)
Pos Comp No Driver Entrant Points
1 68 Chris van der Drift Kamlung Racing 202
2 12 Craig Baird Clearwater Racing 194
3 99 Nico Menzel PICC Team StarChase 158
4 58 Tung Ho-Pin Budweiser Team Absolute Racing 133
4 86 Martin Ragginger Team Porsche Holding 120