The 2011 season represented a watershed for Team StarChase as the Chinese team not only recorded the most number of race wins in a single season, but became the most successful team in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia’s nine-year history by victories.
The remarkable season saw Team StarChase, along with partners TransAsia Airways and PICC Property and Casualty Limited, and driver Alexandre Imperatori cement their reputation as the team to beat in the region’s premier sports car championship.
This year, the two-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champions Team StarChase began its partnership with the 24-year old Shanghai-based Swiss driver Imperatori. The young talent was making both his series and sports car racing debut, yet the winning combination of Team StarChase’s Porsche experience and Imperatori’s talent proved a powerful mix.
“I was thrilled to be asked to join Team StarChase for the 2011 season and knew, as reigning and two-time champions, there was no better team with which to make my GT career debut,” Imperatori said. “I knew we had the means to achieve something special this season. Of course, I could not predict that we would be as dominant or take so many victories together as we have, but I believe our performance this season shows our partners and fans – as well as our rivals – just how powerful a partnership we make. I look forward to next year!
“I would particularly like to thank our partners TransAsia Airways and PICC Property and Casualty Limited for their tremendous support throughout the season, as well as every member of Team StarChase, especially our engineer Frank Rohwer whose expertise ensured I had a perfect car every race weekend.”
As the curtain came up on the 2011 season in Shanghai in support of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, Team StarChase lined up on the front row of the grid with their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car having just missed out on pole position by a mere hundredth of a second. Although the pole-sitter got away cleanly at the start of Round 1, a Safety Car period saw the record field closed up, and Imperatori grabbed the advantage with both hands with a masterful overtaking manoeuvre that saw him charge into the lead.
Imperatori never looked back, with a wheel-perfect run to the flag, a victory on his sports car debut and the first win of the season for Team StarChase.
The drama of the first race was followed up by a powerful pole-to-flag performance in Round 2, with Team StarChase dominating the 12-lap race to take a second consecutive win.
Next up were two races in the Southern Chinese city of Zhuhai. Although Team StarChase narrowly missed taking pole position – this time by eight hundredths of a second – Imperatori once again stood atop the podium, charging to the lead at the start. Team StarChase made it four in row in the second race of the weekend, strengthening their championship lead.
July saw Team StarChase travel to Inner Mongolia where the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia made its debut at the new Ordos International Circuit. Qualifying third, Team StarChase went on the attack in Round 5 and had grabbed the lead by the end of the opening lap. Although Imperatori built up a sizeable margin at the front, a hard-charging rival closed the gap and an attempted challenge for the lead saw both cars come together and spin.
Although Imperatori expertly recovered to cross the finish line third, he was later penalized by race officials for his involvement in the incident and demoted to ninth.
Team StarChase returned were back on the podium after Round 6, however. Starting from ninth, an epic effort by Imperatori saw him charge through the field to cross the line in third.
The Porsche Carrera Cup Asia then left China for the first time in the 2011 season with two races in Kuala Lumpur in August. Putting the rollercoaster of Ordos firmly behind them, Team StarChase stormed to pole position on the Sepang International Circuit.
Having briefly dropped from the top of the championship leaderboard after Round 6, Team StarChase quickly retook the top spot in Round 7 with a flawless victory. Repeating the stellar performance in Round 8, the team notched up their sixth win of the season to complete a perfect weekend in Kuala Lumpur.
Previous racing commitments in Japan meant Imperatori had to miss the two rounds in support of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix in September, and Team StarChase drafted in German Christian Menzel, with whom the team had won both the 2009 and 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia titles, for the two races on the Marina Bay street circuit.
Team StarChase dominated from the first practice with Menzel taking pole position by nearly half a second, before winning both Rounds 9 and 10 to score the team’s eighth victory, equalling the existing record.
As a substitute driver, Menzel was ineligible to score points in Singapore, so Team StarChase entered the season finale in Shanghai third in the championship and with Imperatori back behind the wheel. While mathematically still in with a shot at the title, the
team focussed on achieving yet another perfect weekend, setting a new record of team wins and seeing Imperatori record an unprecedented eight victories in his debut season.
In an incredible display of pure talent, unshakable determination and Porsche expertise, Team StarChase dominated the final qualifying session of the season.
In the penultimate round of the season, Imperatori didn’t put a wheel wrong from the second the lights went out to the moment the chequered flag fell, taking victory with an astonishing margin of more than eight seconds from his closest challenger.
The final round of the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia saw another faultless performance, but it was not without its fair share of drama. With four laps remaining, a Safety Car period wiped out the impressive lead Imperatori had built. However, once racing resumed he was away like lightning, rebuilding a lead of more than two seconds by the time he took Team StarChase’s tenth win of the season.
Two dominant victories were the perfect way to bring the curtain down on a spectacular Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season for Team StarChase.
StarChase Holdings was established in 2006, and is one of the leading dealer groups for Porsche in China today. More information can be found on the official website: www.starchase.com.cn