Carrera Cup Asia Insights: Round 3 Interview with Martin Ragginger —— A view from inside the no. 86 car
Martin Ragginger raced a perfect lights-to-flag victory for Round 3 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, walking away from the round with his second victory of the season. Upon leaving Fuji, Japan, the no. 86 driver had clinched four consecutive podium finishes in the series, four consecutive Dealer Trophies for his team Porsche Holding, the overall lead in the championship, and to top it all off, a first place trophy for his performance in the Carrera Cup Asia-Carrera Cup Japan joint invitational.
At the end of the weekend he reflected back on his experience during the non-stop race event and what it’s like for a driver leading up to a competition.
“It was a very tight qualifying this weekend and it was important for us to get the pole position,” he said. “In my opinion Round 3 was a great race. We made the mistake of using new tyres, because I actually think that our speed would have been good with used tyres too. So, this was a disadvantage for the second race [Round 4], but it certainly made it easier out there for race one.”
Ragginger is no rookie to the famed track, which has 16 turns and boasts one of the longest straights in motorsport at 1.5 km. But despite having raced here three times, he and his team still took advantage of the scheduled track walk that took place before qualifying to become reacquainted with the circuit and its current conditions. “It’s a really nice track because you have many high speed areas and fast turn areas like turn 4，5，6 and you also have the slow parts and the last section which is really tricky to drive,” he said. “Plus, there are two really tough breaking areas where you transition from very high speeds to low speeds. It’s quite a challenging track but I think once you understand how to be fast here, it’s not so difficult anymore.”
It seemed Ragginger has gained quite a strong understanding indeed, coming in .73 seconds faster than the second place driver, Andrew Tang of Porsche China Junior Team, and more than five seconds quicker than third place Chris van der Drift of Team Formax in Round 3.
Having become an early force to be reckoned with in the series, Ragginger says that thus far his strategy has stayed the same – “just try to stay out of trouble.”
That strategy was an advantage in Round 3, but after his race one victory, Round 4 saw some difficulties when Tang made contact with Ragginger’s car. “I’m just really happy that he is okay,” Ragginger said. “I made a similar mistake when I was young. Sometimes, when you are a fast guy like Andrew and want to overtake someone, its really difficult because you just don’t know when the other guy is going to break. When you’re on the inside you have to break earlier. Even when I made my mistake I didn’t calculate that right. It isn’t easy.”
Ragginger’s strategy leading up to a race weekend is all about preparation. “You have to try and stay focused, try and eat healthy,” he shared. “We race almost every weekend, so you start to develop a regular race routine. You start at home preparing all of your things and getting mentally ready, then you get on a plane and travel a long way to Asia. Once you arrive you have two to three calmer days with free practice where you can get adjusted. Then it’s on.”
In previous years, overcoming jetlag had been difficult for Ragginger, making it a challenge to get to sleep at the right times right before race weekend. “This year, I don’t know why, but I am able to sleep much better than before. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older,” he joked.
This weekend, even more energy than usual was needed as the drivers participated in not only Rounds 3 and 4 of the Carrera Cup Asia, but also a joint invitational with Carrera Cup Japan which saw 41 cars line up on the grid.
“I was lucky I got the pole position for the invitational because it gave me a really unique perspective,” Ragginger said. “When we went into the formation lap I looked in the mirror and saw so many cars. It was really just amazing. If I recall, when I was a Porsche Junior in Germany in 2007 we had a grid with 40 or so cars, but this was possibly the biggest race I’ve ever driven in.”
Ragginger raced his second lights-to-flag victory of the weekend on Sunday afternoon, proving it was ‘go big’ not ‘go home’ for the Team Porsche Holding Driver in Fuji.