|Championship Goes Down to the Wire as Wang Crowned Class B Champion|
The chase for the overall 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship will go right down to the wire and will be decided in the final race of the season tomorrow at the Shanghai International Circuit.
In a drama-packed day of racing, Wang Jian Wei of Team BetterLife became the first ever Mainland Chinese Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion when he clinched the Class B title after crossing the line of the penultimate race of the season third in the category.
Pole-sitter Alexandre Imperatori of Team StarChase charged to a dominant overall victory, his seventh this season, more than eight seconds clear of points-leader Keita Sawa of LKM Racing in second. However, it was Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila who was hailed ‘man of the race’ after holding off a ferocious challenge from Sawa’s team mate Tim Sugden to take the final podium place, and keep his team’s championship hopes alive.
Class B race winner was Woyo Racing Team’s Davide Rizzo of Italy. Fastest in the Class in qualifying, Rizzo drove a storming race, at one stage passing the vastly-experienced Sugden. Second in Class B was OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia.
Sawa now leads Avila by three points at the top of the championship leaderboard, with Imperatori 18 points behind, meaning the three remain in contention to take the title. Wang sealed the Class B championship with an unassailable lead of 32 points from closest challenger Ringo Chong of Team Kangshun, with Francis Tjia six points behind.
Said Imperatori: “I’m at home, so maybe I have a home advantage. I just concentrated on staying in front, putting in some consistent lap times and not making any mistakes. I am 18 points behind Sawa, so although there is still a mathematical chance of winning the title, you can’t rely on someone else’s failure – and with these two guys (Sawa and Avila), the odds are not in my favour!”
While Sawa was pleased to have pulled out more of a points gap from Rodolfo, his main championship rival, the tension is obviously building ahead of tomorrow’s title-decider: “The standard of competition in this series is really the top level, and it’s very close. Nobody can forecast what will happen tomorrow.”
Avila had obviously enjoyed the race, and his battle with Sugden which had everyone holding their breath for nine, excruciating laps: “I didn’t get the best start, and have been struggling with the brakes. I was putting pressure on Tim, he braked a bit too early and I managed to pass. Because of my brakes, I needed to slow down more into corners, and Tim was quicker into them, so there was a little tap. But it was a good fight, and that’s why we’re here! I’m a bit sad the championship is now tougher though.”
Wang, while not pleased with his race start, was nevertheless delighted with his championship win, and to have rewarded his team BetterLife for their season-long support: “I owe my gratitude to BetterLife as the whole team has given me so much support. I set a target at the start of the season to be the Number One racer in the Class, and to strive for the championship. I achieved this, and my thanks to everyone.”
Rizzo, who has now won five of the seven races he has entered in his debut racing season, would not be drawn on a potential graduation to Class A next season. However, he was pleased to have been mixing it with the front runners: “I got my best ever start and was side-by-side with Sawa into Turn 1. I took advantage of Rodolfo and Tim fighting, but then I decided I want to take trophies home too!”
Imperatori led the field off the grid followed by Sugden and Sawa, while Rizzo got by Avila to go fourth. However, the Team Jebsen grabbed back the place almost immediately, as Sawa passed Sugden and up to second. Francis Tjia made a good getaway to pass Jeffrey Lee on the opening lap, with Yuey Tan of Wimobilize McElrea Racing running fourth in Class B.
Lap two saw Avila get by Sugden, with Rizzo taking advantage of the battling pair to follow the Macau racer through to again take fourth. With Rizzo safely between him and Sawa’s team mate Sugden, Avila set about catching the Japanese ace. However, just two laps later Sugden loomed into Avila’s mirrors and the chase was on.
Behind the race leaders, Wang had made up ground after his bad getaway and was up to fourth in the Class B running order.
While Rizzo was keeping Sugden in his sights, the LKM Racing driver was homing in on his prey, piling almost unbearable pressure onto Avila. Despite a brief coming together on the thrilling final lap – which saw Sugden lose a headlamp – the Team Jebsen driver was not to be rattled, claiming a well-deserved podium spot.
The 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia championship will be decided tomorrow over 13 laps of the Shanghai International Circuit as Round 12 brings a record-setting season to a spectacular climax.
Prepared by Porsche Carrera Cup Asia