– Team StarChase new recruit shows he can deliver
– Silverware for Eshan Pieris on Porsche debut
– Good TSS preparation for “Turbo” Sathienthirakul
Absolute Racing rookie drivers Johnathan Hoggard and Eshan Pieris celebrated podium positions during in the inaugural Porsche Sprint Challenge Asia at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia (February 28/29).
The event that served as “dress rehearsal” for the upcoming Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season saw 2019 BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award winner Johnathan Hoggard doing his Team StarChase first appearance as former F3 Asian driver Eshan Pieris had his first real taste in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car with Munkong “Turbo” Sathienthirakul also joining the grid to prepare the Thailand Super Series new season.
On a day that included both qualifying and two races, the team was able to gain the clearest indication so far of its drivers’ pace and performance ahead of the season opener.
Strong results for the Absolute Racing rookie duo in qualifying saw the drivers share the first line of the starting grid for race one and race two with Great Britain’s Hoggard packing the pole position for both races and his Sri Lankan teammate Pieris standing alongside him. Sathienthirakul put in a surprise performance to qualified third for both races.
Pole-sitter Hoggard led the race one for four laps in the early stages, but he eventually dropped to the second position. It was still a great debut in the category and the 19-year-old Briton was delighted to achieve his first podium in GT racing.
Eshan Pieris showed consistent improvement across the meeting on his way to the first podium of his GT career in race one, crossing the finish line with a comfortable 15-second margin to Munkong Sathienthirakul.
Starting from second place for the second race, Pieris had a strong start to the race leading the way off of the line. The Sri Lankan driver led the first two laps before Porsche veteran Martin Ragginger took over the top spot. He settled into a good rhythm and although he lost one more position for his teammate Hoggard he still managed to return to the rostrum, collecting silverware for his second podium finish of the weekend.
Despite losing two positions in the early laps, pole-sitter Hoggard remained patient throughout the race, moving up one spot to finish second at the checkered flag.
“Turbo”, who was driving his brother Tanart last season’s car, has been forced to retire due to a technical failure on lap 8.
Commenting about the weekend, Team Director Fabien Fior said: “It was an excellent experience for our drivers to take part in the Porsche Sprint Challenge Asia. We can look back at the last week with satisfaction for a job well done, although we are fully aware that the real task is still ahead of us. Carrera Cup Asia is the toughest one-make series in the region, but Eshan and Johnathan have gained a good understanding of the Cup car. There are some areas we need to work on, but we feel ready to go into Vietnam for the first event of the new season.”
The 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season kicks off on April 4 and 5 at the Hanoi Street Circuit in Vietnam in support of the first Vietnamese Grand Prix.