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|Imperatori Scores Second Straight Victory in Round 2 Thriller|
PICC Team StarChase driver Alexandre Imperatori expertly raced his way to a second-straight victory in a drama-filled Round 2 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, held in support of today’s FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX. The thrilling race saw 2011 champion Keita Sawa with LKM Racing finish second, ahead of Imperatori’s team mate Tung Ho-Pin with Budweiser Team StarChase.
The race - where the top eight finishers from Round 1 started in a reverse order - saw Tung on pole, with Class B driver Anthony Liu of China alongside. Round 1 winner, Imperatori, started from eighth on the grid.
Series newcomer Egidio Perfetti with Seminole Racing Team took his maiden Class B Porsche Carrera Cup Asia victory in just his second outing. Second was Liu, who had brilliantly held on to second for the opening laps, before a nail-biting battle with Perfetti for the Class B Win. Third in the category for non-professional racers was China’s Huang Chu Han in just his second career Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race.
Having completed a perfect weekend with pole position and wins in both Rounds 1 and 2, the Shanghai-based Swiss Imperatori now leads the championship from Sawa by seven points. Tung is a further nine points adrift. In Class B, Liu leads Perfetti by just one point in what is already shaping up to be an exciting championship title race.
After his uninterrupted run from lights-to-flag in Round 1, Imperatori had to fight for his second consecutive win, but victory in arguably the most electrifying race in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia history tasted all the more sweet: “Today was very difficult. I had to be aggressive because I had to overtake seven guys to reach my goal. I had a very long fight with Martin (Ragginger). I have to say in the end, it was fair - aggressive, but very fair. I think we gave everyone a good show today!”
Sawa, meanwhile, was aiming to achieve his pre-race target of reaching the podium, but getting there was no easy task: “In the beginning, Avila was fighting with me too much, so I needed to wait and keep my position. After five laps, I tried to push more and, as my tyres were still working well, I pushed and pushed until I was in P1. But at that point everyone was pushing me - three cars pushing me to go out!”
Series newcomer Tung was pleased to be on the podium in just his first weekend of Porsche racing, saying: “I think today was a big step forward compared to yesterday, especially in terms of pace. The progress makes me quite happy and hopefully we can carry it forward in the next race.”
Class B winner Perfetti spent much of the race battling with Liu. “I tried to pass him three or four times. We were fighting quite a bit, but when he went wide at Turn 1 [on Lap 8]. I managed to go on the inside and overtake him. The win is fantastic! I didn’t really expect it and I hope to keep it up.”
Tung got away well from pole, and set about building up a margin from the chasing pack, admitting afterwards that he may have pushed a little too hard at the start. The opening lap saw a close fight for positions, with Allan Simonsen in the Team Carrera Cup Asia attempting to pass Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila. The move saw the pair come together, ending Simonsen’s race and damaging the Macau driver’s car.
As the car thundered across the start finish line at the end of the opening lap, Tung led the pack from Liu, Sawa, Avila, who was right on the tail of the reigning champion, Team Eagle - Jiejun & Junbaojie driver Martin Ragginger of Austria, Imperatori and Perfetti.
As Tung pulled out in front, Liu came under fierce pressure, eventually running wide. Meanwhile, Imperatori was desperately looking to find a way past Ragginger, and Avila trying to get by Sawa on lap 5. While the four may have been engaged in a high-speed fight for position, none had lost sight of the main prize, and by mid-way through the 12-lap race, Tung’s margin was diminished and Sawa loomed large in his mirrors.
Making his move to take the lead on Lap 8, Sawa got by Tung, with Avila attempting to follow. Sawa and Avila came together, and it was game over for the Macau driver. Sawa then ran wide, handing the lead back to Tung, and allowing Imperatori and Ragginger through.
However, Tung’s lead was short-lived as Imperatori dived past the following lap to seize the lead. The ensuing battle between Ragginger and Tung allowed Sawa the chance to move up to second, and ended with the Austrian picking up a puncture and eventually crossing the line 15th. Sawa held on to second ahead of Tung, who led from Perfetti.
Behind the top four, the battle was far from over with Team Yongda Dongfan driver Benjamin Rouget of France getting by Liu in the closing stages of the race. Despite a spirited attempted to reclaim the place, Rouget held on to cross the line 5th.
An incident between Class B drivers Yuey Tan of Dorr McElrea Racing and Francis Tjia of OpenRoad Racing saw the pair out of the race in the early stages
If the extraordinary on-track scenes in Round 2 are an indication of what lies ahead, the 10th season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia promises to be nothing short of phenomenal. The 28-strong field will next be in action at the Zhuhai International Circuit from June 1-3, when the battle for both the overall and Class B championship titles resumes.
Prepared by Porsche Carrera Cup Asia