Preview – Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Rounds 1 & 2
Shanghai International Circuit, April 15-17, 2011
Shanghai, China, April 19, 2011 – New Team StarChase driver signing Alexandre Imperatori proved why he was an inspired choice for Porsche Carrera Cup Asia reigning champions when he took two superb victories in the opening rounds last weekend in his TransAsia Airways-backed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
In front of cheering home crowds, the 23-year-old Shanghai-based star didn’t put a wheel wrong on his way to both victories, seizing and holding the lead in the opening race, and then charging unchallenged from pole-to-flag in the second.
The two victories not only put Team StarChase firmly on track for a successful title defence, but also bring their unbroken tally of wins at the 5.5km Shanghai International Circuit to an impressive nine. It was also a superb start to the partnership between Team StarChase and TransAsia Airways, a winning combination that will continue when the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia arrives in Singapore in September for 2011 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX.
Said Imperatori following his second, emphatic victory: “Two wins on my series and Porsche racing debut is fantastic. It’s a great result for the team, and I’m pleased to repay their faith in me. There’s a long way to go in the championship, but it’s good to come away on top of the leaderboard, although I do know it’s going to be a tough season ahead.”
Although the end result in Shanghai was the best possible, it wasn’t all plane sailing. The drama began on the Friday of race weekend, when the team’s practice session – and crucial track time for Imperatori and his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car – came to an abrupt and premature end after the main drive belt inexplicably broke.
Undeterred, the team took to the track for Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session and immediately impressed setting the second quickest time, just one hundredth of a second off pole.
Team StarChase lined up on the front of the grid, the car shod with brand new Michelins, for the start of their championship defence. After a strong getaway, Imperatori briefly lost a position but some plucky manoeuvring saw him quickly reclaim his place behind the leader.
Holding his concentration during a Safety Car period, Imperatori resumed his challenge for victory as racing resumed, hauling in the leader before making his move to successfully seize the lead on lap six. From there, Team StarChase were in control all the way to the flag and Imperatori’s first victory on his debut outing with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.
Starting Round 2 from pole position, Imperatori got away well off the grid, which proved to be crucial as carnage ensued behind him: “I got a proper start this time, which was key as I saw in my mirrors what was happening behind. I just had to concentrate to keep the lead, particularly in the first few laps as I was on old tyres. After four or five laps, I just managed the tyres so I wouldn’t be in trouble at the end of the race, and kept an eye on the gap from the rest of the pack. In the end, it was a comfortable win, but I am very much aware that it won’t always be this easy!”
Team StarChase will be back in action at the Pearl River Delta Region’s Zhuhai International Circuit next month, for two races as part of the China Touring Car Championship. Imperatori will be very much at home in Zhuhai, as it was there where he began his career in junior single seaters, and later raced with A1 GP. However, it will be his first time racing a Porsche on the 4.3km circuit, although as he more than proved this weekend in Shanghai, if it has four wheels, he can race it – and win.
StarChase Holdings was established in 2006, and is one of the leading dealer groups for Porsche in China today.