- Philip Hamprecht narrowly missing out on a podium
- Tanart Sathienthirakul shows speed
- Bo Yuan mounts stunning round one drive into top six
Shanghai, April 9th, 2017 – Team StarChase’s Philip Hamprecht made an impressive debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at Shanghai over the weekend, narrowly missing out on a podium after qualifying second for both Chinese Formula One Grand Prix support races. Teammates Tanart Sathienthirakul and Bo Yuan also showed front running pace in a variety of challenging weather conditions throughout the weekend.
Absolute Racing made a few changes to its line up for the 2017 season. The former Formula Masters China Series champion Philip Hamprecht will drive the #99 Team StarChase entry. 2016 Class B (now called Pro-Am Class) champion Yuan Bo returns to the series to drive the #88 Team C&D Auto for his 2017 premier season in the Overall class. Tanart Sathienthirakul, a former single seater racer from Thailand, completes the team’s line up for the upcoming season, driving the #15 Absolute Racing car.
The opening qualifying session of the season took place on a sunny Saturday morning with all three Absolute Racing cars looking to make an impression early on. The best qualifying time determines the position on the starting grid for race 1, while the second-best qualifying time of the driver in question determines the position on the starting grid for race 2.
Hamprecht, a rookie in the field, has produced an impressive display to ensure he would start the both weekend races from the front row. Having enjoyed strong running in testing, the German continued his form to set the second quickest time, lapping in 2:09.099, just 0.206s behind the session best. Make a late charge in the session, the 19 year old put a new set of tires but came up forty-three hundredths of a second short from the race 2 pole-position.
Showing his natural affinity for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, Tanart set the sixth fastest time for both races, while Yuan Bo qualified Team C&D Auto’s car in ninth on Race 1 and eighth on Race 2.
Saturday afternoon’s race saw the three Absolute Racing drivers losing places at the start. Hamprecht dropped to P4, Tanart to P8, and Bo to P12. But the worst was yet to come for Team StarChase new recruit. The safety car was called onto the track in lap 5 when car #51 punctured, leaving debris littered across the track. On race restart Hamprecht couldn’t avoid a chunk of debris left behind minutes earlier and damaged the front bumper and the radiator, affecting the overall performance his car for the remaining of the race. Eventually he crossed the finish line in 9th.
Further back in the field Yuan Bo was a man on a mission. On lap 8 he overtook his teammate Tanart, moving up to 8th. He climbed two more positions, moving into the sixth spot by lap 11 – settling for 6th at the fall of the flag. By overtaking Hamprecht in the last lap, Tanart concluded the race in 8th position.
The rain showed up on Sunday as thousands of spectators took their place in the grandstands. The cars went to the pre-grid on slicks but as soon as drizzle started to set in, everyone decided to bet on wet tires for the race. The race action didn’t last long as the safety car came out on the first lap. Hamprecht lost two positions at the start, Tanart kept his sixth place and Bo Yuan dropped to P10.
When the race resumed in lap 4, the spectators were thrilled by a five-car battle for the win. On lap 7, Hamprecht had the bit between his teeth and pulled out of the three-driver stampede ahead of the rest but was passed by one opponent on the next turn.
Struggling with the tires by the end of the race, the young German kept firmly the third place until the penultimate turn of the race, when he was overtaken by the 2015 PCCA champion. Chris van der Drift made a spectacular and perfectly timed move on Hamprecht who had no room to turn on the slick surface and was sent wide off the track. He had to content himself with fourth place again.
Tanart had a solid performance in the tricky track conditions, sitting pretty in sixth position.
With the field being so competitive from front to back, Yuan Bo revelled in the action and gave full commitment and at the fall of the flag the Team C&D Auto driver claimed 7th after an action-packed contest, being the best Chinese driver at the flag.
After the first two races of the season, Hamprecht sits fifth in the championship standings, while Bo Yuan and Tanart are seventh and eighth respectively.
Team C&D Auto and Team StarChase left Shanghai second and third in the Porsche Dealer Trophy category.
Absolute Racing Team Manager, Nicola Sgotto said: “It was a difficult weekend, but our drivers were solid, drove really well and staged good performances. It’s a shame we didn’t come away with at least a podium, but there are plenty of positives to take from this weekend and now we have to work hard to put a few things right for Japan. We are going in the right direction with our pace and performance.”
Fuji International Speedway in Japan will host the next two races of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, on 1st and 2nd of June, as well as the first of two invitational races planned for the season as Asia’s Carrera Cup drivers race against Porsche Carrera Cup Japan counterparts.