Van der Drift makes a splash with podium finish at Spa

Team Carrera Cup Asia proved once again why the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia has earned its reputation as one of the most competitive sportscar championships in the world, after Chris van der Drift stole the show with a brilliant performance in atrocious conditions on the unforgiving Spa-Francorchamps circuit, storming from fourth on the grid to an impressive second place finish in the 15-lap race.

Driving the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the wet for the first time in his career, Kamlung Racing’s van der Drift was pleased to have fought his way to the podium: “It was very wet and we started behind the Safety Car. At the beginning, I had to be cautious as I’d never done a race in the rain with the 911, and last time I’d raced at Spa in the wet as 2006. The start was very bad conditions-wise, but then half way through it got a bit better. Grip-wise, I think we went fastest in the first four or five laps, but over the whole race I think we were very good. After the wet start, I was soon figuring it out and going forwards. It’s great to finish 2nd for the team and for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.”

The race was won by Steven Palette of the Porsche Carrera Cup France, with pole man Mathieu Jaminet third. In the Class B category, Alberto De Amicis took the victory, while 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Class B champion, Egidio Perfetti was fifth.

Despite being a complete newcomer to the legendary Belgian track, which includes the formidable Eau Rouge / Raidillon combination, van der Drift’s team mate in the Porsche Carrera Cup 24 Hours of Spa, Yuey Tan of Singapore, continued to impress amongst the field of fellow Carrera Cup drivers from Europe, Scandinavia and Australia. Tan was in the top 10 amongst the Class B finishers, 3rd in Carrera Cup France Class B by virtue of the Sébastien Loeb-run car, and was happy to have taken the chequered flag on his debut, particularly in such challenging conditions.

Said the Team Jebsen driver: “I couldn’t see anything for two thirds of the race! I think there were only a couple of us who had never raced at Spa before. We knew it would be wet a couple of hours before the race, so we were determined nobody would pass us. It’s great to be on the Carrera Cup France podium and both the series and Sébastien Loeb Racing have made me feel very welcome. I’m so happy to be on their podium and to take the trophy home to Asia! Team Jebsen and Porsche China have given me the most amazing experience this weekend, and I can’t thank them enough.”

Both van der Drift and Tan moved up a place on the grid after pole man, Joffrey Da Narda, did not take the start. That meant van der Drift took the rolling start from fourth with Italian Riccardo Agostini alongside, and Stefano Colombo joining Jaminet on the front row.

A challenging track in the best of conditions, the heavy rain reduced visibility to almost nothing, while the wet track reduced grip considerably. As the cars got away at the start, van der Drift was off like a bullet, the disappointment of forfeiting his pole-setting lap a day earlier firmly behind him, and immediately on the gas despite the conditions.

With the pride of their respective Carrera Cups at stake, the competition was ferocious, and while Jaminet pulled out a gap at the front of the pack, Italian Stefano Colombo and Palette were fighting it out for position in front of van der Drift, who wisely waited in the wings. The Frenchman got by to go second, and van der Drift, sniffing a podium finish, launched his attack on Colombo.

In a cloud of spray, the pair thundered around the 7km track, van der Drift dancing all over the back of his rival, lights flashing in his relentless attack. In a wheel-perfect move, he neatly dived on the inside to go third in the order and put his head down, charging to catch the race leaders ahead.

At the front, Palette was challenging hard for the lead, two abreast with Jaminet, neither driver willing to give an inch. Palette grabbed the lead and set about pulling a margin at the front, while Jaminet immediately came under fire from van der Drift, who had seemingly appeared from nowhere.

In a thrilling duel, Jaminet and van der Drift fought tooth and claw, the New Zealander’s absolute determination to get by palpable. Two abreast across the start/finish line for the penultimate lap, van der Drift finally found his way past to claim second.

Despite his scorching pace, van der Drift ran out of laps to challenge for victory, but he had shown the Carrera Cups of France, Italy, Scandinavia and Australia that the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is a force to be reckoned with anywhere and on any day.

Commented Alexandre Gibot, Motorsport Manager, Porsche China: “The Porsche Carrera Cup 24 Hours of Spa has been a fantastic event, and congratulations to Chris van der Drift for a superb performance and podium finish, and to Yuey Tan for finishing a race on one of the toughest race tracks on earth and in incredibly difficult conditions. We have shown that the quality of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is amongst the highest to be found anywhere in the world, and once again we have proved that our series provides a highly credible international benchmark. Our thanks to both our drivers, their Chinese Porsche dealer teams Kamlung Racing and Team Jebsen, our partners, and to Sébastien Loeb Racing for giving Team Carrera Cup Asia two excellent cars this weekend. This has been a spectacular weekend on an exceptional circuit.”

Now heading back to Asia, van der Drift and Tan will join their fellow Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers next weekend, when the region’s leading sportscar championship makes its return to Thailand with its debut at the Chang International Circuit. van der Drift, who leads the overall championship points table, and Tan, heading the charge for the Class B title, will join the 28-strong field for Rounds 7&8 in the Land of Smiles from July 31 to August 2.

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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