Team Jebsen celebrated two superb podium finishes in the opening rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia held in support of the 2011 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX in Shanghai this weekend.
With 24-year-old driver Rodolfo Avila of Macau, the team earned a second and third place finish in each of the 12-round opening races of the season, no easy feat amongst a record field of drivers and strong competition. Team Jebsen left Shanghai second on the championship leaderboard, just six points adrift of the leader but with a 10-point margin over the third placed driver.
Saturday’s 30-minute qualifying session to determine the starting order for Round 1 saw Team Jebsen set the third fastest time, despite the frustrations of traffic caused by the record field, and Avila lined up on the second row for the start of the opening race of the season. Avila made a strong getaway, adeptly grabbing second place during a high-speed wrangle off the start. However, in response to aggressive attempts to regain the position from his rival and sensing possible contact as they headed into the congested first corner, he wisely elected to give his rival some space and slotted back into third. Running on used tyres, after a Safety Car interruption it became clear the Team Jebsen Porsche could not match the pace of drivers running on new rubber and, try as he might, Avila couldn’t catch the leaders. However, a podium finish - and the 16 valuable points for third place - were an excellent start to the season, but Avila and the team demanded more of themselves.
The second race saw Avila brilliantly avoid a three-car incident, as the trio raced three-abreast and wheel-to-wheel off the start. Emerging unscathed, he was able to continue the charge, but had lost out on valuable time during the earlier battle and wasn’t able to close in on the leader enough to challenge for the win. Avila sailed across the line in 2nd place, a full 17 seconds ahead of his closest challenger.
Team Jebsen will be in action again next month at the Zhuhai International Circuit in the Pearl River Delta Region.
Avila says of the weekend: “It was a good weekend, but not quite good enough for me! I definitely need to find an extra something to be in a better position to challenge for an outright win.”
“There were frustrations in qualifying as it was so difficult to get a clear flying lap, but I made up a place at the start of the first race to go into 2nd. The driver behind was very determined to regain his position and came through aggressively on my inside. With many points at stake and it being the start of the season, I didn’t want to risk us both crashing out.”
“In the second race, after the start it was quite a lonely race for me. Alexandre pulled away quickly and I saw that I didn't have the pace today to overtake him, so I pulled back to conserve the tyres, stay out of trouble and collect the points. Overall it was a good weekend, but of course we are still looking for outright wins. I'm happy but there's still work to do. We need to find a way to match the pace of this weekend’s winner.”
Sven Schnabl, Team Jebsen Engineer: “The second race for sure we changed quite a lot in terms of set-up; basic things such as the ride height and the camber toe. Personally I think it was the right decision and definitely the pace in Race 2 was better than what we had for Race 1. That being said, the pace was still not fast enough because ultimately we want to be on top of the podium - we still have some work to do.”
“This year, compared to previous years in Shanghai, we did have a few changes to make, especially as we are working with a new tyre spec, but we managed to work a lot of this stuff out during the test day. Overall, we're moving in the right direction."
Prepared by Team Jebsen