Porsche claims multiple podiums in GT3 class as Pan and Tang take home two Trophy wins during China GT opening weekend
Beijing. The Porsche line-up grabbed multiple podiums across the GTC and GT3 class while Pan Chao and Andrew Tang picked up double Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy wins as the China GT successfully hosted its opening race weekend at the Goldenport Motor Park in Beijing on Friday and Saturday.
It was a roller coaster race weekend for Porsche’s GT3 competitors, who started off on a strong footing by grabbing key pole positions in Round 1 during qualifiers on Friday. FAW T2M’s driver pair Bao Jinlong and Martin Ragginger (No.99) were at the front of Porsche’s entries for the first race after snagging the P2 position with a 1:03.006 average lap time. Following suit, JRM’s Li Chao and Chris Van der Drift (No. 911) started P3, Li Jiaqi and Maxime Jousse (No. 991) started for JRM in P7 and FAW T2M’s Morris Chen and Hiroki Yoshimoto (No.89) entered in P9.
Despite their strong performance in qualifiers, however, the Porsche squad was put on the instant defensive, conceding positions across the board as soon as the light turned green. Jousse, taking the first shift in No.991, was the quickest to recover, trading spots in fourth and fifth before making a determined run at the lead and brawling his way to P2. Bao Jinlong deflected several attempts to pass early on but was eventually pushed back to P6, while an unfortunate turn in the first quarter of the race saw Li Chao go wide of the track, leaving the No.99 car unable to finish the race. Chen, meanwhile was faced consistent pressure from all sides as he sparred in the middle of the pack.
Jousse continued his dash for P1 up until the 10-minute pit window opened at the 35 minute mark, giving the French driver an ultimatum to seal the lead before changing drivers. Calm under pressure, Jousse managed to pull ahead to first place just before being forced to the pit.
The shift in drivers significantly altered the race landscape. Martin Ragginger, taking over controls for Bao Jinlong early on in the transition period, left the pit with a clear hunger for victory, starting the second half of the race in the middle of the pack but cleverly utilizing the switch in drivers to maneuver to P2. From there he faced with the monumental task of chipping away at the 20-second lead held by the race leader. In an amazing combination of determination and persistence, Ragginger showed true fighting spirit as he closed the gap between P1 and P2 from 20 seconds to .8 seconds with one lap remaining. In the end, however, he was unable to finalize the pass to P1, but earned a respectable second place finish for Porsche.
Round 2 presented a bigger challenge for the Porsche line-up after a tricky qualifier round left most starting mid-pack. Bao Jinlong put in a steady performance, finishing the first half of the race in P5, while Li Chao, starting in last place after a spin into the gravel pit that left them unable to finish the previous day’s qualifiers, faced an uphill battle from the start.
After a tough first half of the race, Chao handed the wheel to Chris Van der Drift who ascended through the ranks in a flourished display of speed and skill. Just 10 minutes after the close of the pit window, Van der Drift had climbed from the back of the pack to 6th, and continued his drive forward to P3, where he then battled with fellow Porsche driver Hiroki Yoshimoto. With just one lap remaining, Van der Drift executed a flawless clean pass to finish Round 2 in second place, just ahead of Hiroki Yoshimoto, who earned Porsche its second podium spot for Round 2 by finishing third.
“We were very unlucky in the qualifiers and started from the back, but beginning of the race was very good. We had a good strategy and the team worked perfectly. Chris drove very well and we managed to get back in it and finish second. We’re very happy with the results of Round 2 and look forward to future races,” Li Chao said in an interview after the race.
Reflecting on his first time racing in the China GT, Bao Jinlong said: “This weekend is my first time driving the Porsche GT3 R. The team did a great job. Porsche has given us strong support with top engineers. If I can push even harder, I think a win is possible in the next race.”
On representing FAW T2M, driver Morris Chen said: “It was a challenge weekend. There are many strong teams in 2017 China GT but we made a remarkable results. Thanks to the support from FAW T.2 and Porsche China. All our team members and drivers worked very hard so we could get better results two races in Goldenport circuit. We believe Porsche 911 GT3 (type 991) have more potential so we will make more tests and we hope we could get a better results in next race. ”
In GTC, Andrew Tang and Pan Chao proved they were there to win from the onset, claiming the coveted P1 spot for the No.777 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (type 991) car in Round 1 with a solid 1.05.559 average lap time during qualifiers on Friday, with fellow Trophy contestants and JRM Team competitors Zheng Hui and Min Heng (No.900) starting in P7, Xiao Min and Zhang Dasheng (No.918) in P8 and Li Xuefeng and Tian Liying (No.333) in P10 in GTC.
The Round 1 race got off to a rocky start for the Porsche competitors, however, after a collision at the start of the race took out Zheng Hui, leaving the No. 900 car unable to finish the race and bringing out the safety car, while Tang saw his first place advantage evaporate after a lightning start from the P2 driver . Less than a quarter into the race, misfortune struck once more as Xiao Min was forced into the pit and out of the race due to technical problems, resulting the No. 918 car to retiring for Round 2 as well.
But Tang recovered quickly, regaining P1 immediately and accruing a massive half-minute gap ahead of the pack and maintaining his lead in the Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy. Pan Chao took to the track for the No.777 car after the pit window midway through the one-hour race, holding on to the lead for most of the remaining time until a last minute pass by the No. 22. In the end, they finished the race in second place overall while winning the first-ever Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy. Meanwhile, No.333, having fell to back of the pack in the first half of the race, made a strong comeback, overtaking several cars to finish fourth overall in GTC and second in the Trophy.
Round 2 saw Pan Chao start in P2 in what would prove to be a roller-coaster battle for the entire hour. Pan started in the driver’s chair and was instantly put on defense, shutting the door repeatedly on the No.99 driver while trying to keep pressure on the pack leader. With the safety car coming out at the 10 minute mark, he ceded only one spot before the switch halfway through the race, giving Tang a strong advantage in P4 for the second half of the battle. Tang took to the track with victory in his sights, threading his way through competitors while he ferociously defending. Despite a courageous effort, he was unable to maintain the lead, being overtaken and settling back down to P3. A last minute spin in the last lap by the No.22 car unhinged Tang’s grip on his podium spot, sending him back to P4 where he finished the race.
Meanwhile, Zheng Hui (No.900) got off to a rocket start, jumping several spots on the first turn, but eventually settling into the middle of the track in P7, one spot ahead of Tian Liying (No.333) in P8 where both cars remained for much of the race. After the driver switch halfway through Round 2, Min Heng (No.900) had a brief window to pressure Tang for the Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy win, but Tang proved the stronger driver and managed to clinch the team’s second Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy win for the weekend, with No.900 in second and No.333 in third.
“I’m incredibly honored to have the chance to compete for the Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy, it’s been a great weekend for us with two wins in the category. There was a lot of tough competition on the track, but I feel we did well. I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to participate in both the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and the China GT for Porsche and believe this opportunity will help me take my driving to the next level,” Andrew Tang said in an interview after Round 2.
Detailed results, timings and rankings of the China GT can be found by visiting: http://race.iluckid.com/index.php.
China GT 2017 Season Calendar
May 13 –14 Round 1 and 2 Goldenport Park Circuit
July 8 –9 Round 3 and 4 Ordos International Circuit
July 29 – 30 Round 5 and 6 Zhuhai International Circuit
September 9 – 10 Round 7 and 8 Shanghai International Circuit
October 3 – 5 Round 9 and 10 Chengdu International Circuit
October 21- 22 Round 11 and 12 Zhejiang Circuit