Van der Drift in action at Singapore this weekend

| Photographer Credit: Porsche Carrera Cup Asia

The 28-strong Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field is preparing to take on Singapore’s unforgiving Marina Bay street circuit this weekend for the penultimate meeting of the 2016 season. The formidable fleet of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) cars will be an impressive sight as the eyes of the world turn to the Lion City for one of the biggest international motorsport blockbusters of the year.

As the region’s finest sportscar championship prepares for what is a highlight of its season, with two races in support of the blue riband Singapore F1 Grand Prix, four drivers remain in contention for the overall championship, while six are still in the frame to take the Class B title.

Topping the leaderboard heading to Singapore is Kamlung Racing’s Chris van der Drift, the New Zealander with a 19-point advantage over closest challenger and fellow Kiwi Craig Baird of Clearwater Racing. Twenty-three points behind him is sensational sportscar newcomer, 17-year-old Nico Menzel of PICC Team StarChase, who took his first Porsche Carrera Cup Asia victory in Malaysia earlier this month and has so far notched up four podium finishes on an impressive rookie debut. Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger will be absent from Singapore, the Austrian ace on duty at the ADAC GT Masters for which he is in title contention. While his absence will effectively remove the Austrian from the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship race, his place at Team Porsche Holding will be taken by exciting Chinese talent, Zhang Zhen Dong.

Technically still in contention for the title, albeit mathematically with an outside chance, is Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin. The former F1 test and reserve driver has had more than his share of bad luck this season despite being both on the pace and displaying his exceptional talent to take victory in Round 2.

The competition amongst the privateer Class B field could not be more intense. So far this year, the category has seen six different winners over 10 races. Proving the importance of consistency in this no-holds-barred championship, points leader – and local hero in Singapore – Yuey Tan of Team Jebsen has taken five podiums but has yet to score an outright victory this season. This has given Tan a 17-point advantage at the top of the leaderboard from closest challenger and 2012 Class B Champion, Wayne Shen of Modena Motorsports. Tan, who took the Class B victory in Singapore 12 months ago, will be looking to repeat his success on home soil, particularly this year as the city-state celebrates 50 years of independence.

Just eight points behind Shen is Thailand’s Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, the est Cola Racing Team driver making a welcome return to the championship this year and getting quicker with each outing.

A rollercoaster season so far for OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia has seen him take victory in Round 6 and collect an additional four podiums, but he has also fallen foul of racing incidents to record a pair of DNFs which puts him fourth on the leaderboard, two points adrift of Inthraphuvasak. Team Betterlife’s Li Chao of China and Team BC Racing’s Johnson Huang of Chinese Taipei have both fought hard to stay in the race and will be two to watch in Singapore.

While track experience counts for much when it comes to street circuits, organisers have upped the ante this year by making modifications to the 5.065km, 23-turn track which they believe could potentially result in closer racing. However, navigating the ferocious Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 991) between the unforgiving Armco barriers of this technical track will still be a mighty challenge for the skilled Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field. For some, the weekend will be a return to the scene of triumph and disappointment, for others it will represent a thrilling new challenge, but for all, the Singapore Grand Prix weekend will be a dazzling showcase of glamorous, high-octane enjoyment.

Qualifying for Rounds 11 and 12 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be held on Friday, September 18, with Race 1 on Saturday and Race 2 at 17:25 local time, just prior to the F1 night race.

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