Over the last weekend, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia is gearing up for its tenth triumphant season with an official pre-season test at China’s Zhuhai International Circuit. The addition of a new partner Budweiser, new teams and drivers joining series veterans, and a schedule of races which spans the entire region. The 2012 season is poised to be the best yet.
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The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia gets season preparations underway with a 27-car entry that brings together international professionals and the best-of-the-best amongst ambitious up-and-coming talent from China and all over Asia. Drivers will compete in identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars across 11 rounds on five challenging circuits which range from Inner Mongolia to Singapore.
With the season proper getting underway as part of the 2012 F1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX in Shanghai in April, this weekend’s test in Zhuhai marks the start of a season that will tour Asia’s most preeminent race tracks. The series will be part of two China Touring Car Championship meetings: The first is in Zhuhai in June, with the second at the Ordos International Circuit in Inner Mongolia in July. The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia then descends upon Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, where it will join the Merdeka Millennium Endurance weekend for the first time in its ten-season history. In September, the series returns to Singapore and the Marina Bay street circuit for the 2012 F1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX weekend.
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The 2012 season comes to a close in November with another first: The grand finale will be held as part of the newly-founded Shanghai Sportscar Festival.
New partner Budweiser joins the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia fray this season, along with existing series partners Mobil 1, Michelin, ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Adidas. The first collaboration with the series, the partnership also marks Budweiser’s first foray into motorsport in Asia.
As the region’s premier sportscar championship cements its status as the most competitive and sought-after series in Asia, as well as attracting a new partner, new drivers and teams continue to join its ranks.
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The 2012 line-up will see the series debut of former Formula 1 test and reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung, who enters for Budweiser as part of the championship-winning Team StarChase. Alongside Tung on the team is 24-year-old Alexandre Imperatori of Switzerland.
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The addition of three new Porsche China dealer teams this season also raises the stakes. Team Eagle – Jiejun & Junbaojie enters former Porsche junior driver Martin Ragginger of Austria for his series debut. Team Yongda Dongfang enters Benjamin Rouget of France, the former single seater and Carrera Cup France driver. Team Basetex enters with 19-year-old Chinese hotshot Zhang Da Sheng.
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Reigning champion and two-time Macau GT Cup winner Keita Sawa of Japan – representing LKM Racing Team – returns to defend his title as the man to beat. Meanwhile, Rodolfo Avila of Macau, who finished the 2011 season just one championship point behind Sawa, comes back with the title-winning Team Jebsen to again challenge for the number one spot. Competing for the overall title in 2012 is Team Betterlife’s Wang Jian Wei of China. Wang took home the Class B championship in his debut season last year, and will prove a force to contend with as he guns for overall honours, this time racing against the professionals.
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Team Betterlife enters a second car, for Li Chao of China, while popular motorsport veteran Ringo Chong of Team Kangshun returns for his sixth season with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. Rose Tan, the series’ only female driver, is also back with Team C&D after her encouraging debut season in 2011.
Race instructor Davide Rizzo will build on his astonishing racing debut in 2011, when he took five Class B victories in eight races, to challenge for the overall title. BBT’s second car will be driven by newcomer Zheng Ting of China entered in Class B.
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Also entered in the category for non-professional racers, OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia starts as a strong Class B title contender. Tjia is joined on the three-car team by brothers Marcel Tjia and Christian Chia, whose cars will be run by ART Motorsports.
Another team of brothers, John and Wayne Shen – the latter fourth in Class B last season – re-turn with Modena Motorsports.
Yuey Tan, a darling of the Singapore racing scene, contests his fourth full season with McElrea Racing, while other Class B drivers back for 2012 include Australian Paul Tressider, Nexus Racing’s Adrian Henry D’Silva of Malaysia, OMAK’s Mak Hing Tak and Dr. Ma Chi Min of Hong Kong.
The category also sees a number of newcomers, and making their series debuts will be Chinese drivers Simon Yin and PS Racing’s Ren Wei, and Norwegian Egidio Perfetti of the Seminole Racing Team.
Photo Gallery: 2012 Season Launch for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia[nggallery id=472]
YouTube: Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2012 – Debuts