Ordos. Team Eagle – Jiejun & Junbaojie driver Martin Ragginger of Austria conquered the unforgiving Ordos International Circuit today to take his maiden Porsche Carrera Cup Asia pole. Ragginger was the man to finally put an end to the hitherto unbeaten run of Team StarChase racer, and championship points leader Alexandre Imperatori, who was second fastest in the session. Third quickest was reigning champion Keita Sawa of LKM Racing Team who overtook Team Jebsen’s Rodolfo Avila in the closing minutes of the session.
In Class B, it was Asia Racing Team’s Huang Chu Han of China who set the fastest time, edging ahead of category points leader Egidio Perfetti of Seminole Racing Team. Third was OpenRoad Racing’s Francis Tjia.
After heavy morning rain, the clouds lifted and the 30-minute session was run on a dry track. Ragginger was immediately quick after his team had worked overnight to fix his steering, bent during the last rounds in Zhuhai: “This is the first time (this season) we have had no issues. I hope to have a good start tomorrow. I set the fastest lap three times in that session, so I think we have very good pace. This is my first time here in Ordos, and we have to catch up in the points.”
For Imperatori, Round 5 will be the first time he has not earned pole position since the Ordos rounds last season, but the prospect of starting alongside Ragginger has not dented his confidence: “We’re still on the front row, so I’m quite satisfied. We’re struggling with set up and the track, and not really feeling spot on overall. Points are most important this weekend, and Ragginger isn’t our main championship rival right now. Of course, if I see an opportunity to take the win, I’ll go for it though!”
Likewise, Sawa was pleased with his outing, having changed the set up since yesterday’s practice. “I felt the car had better potential this time. On my attack lap, I made a small mistake at the chicane, but P3 is OK for us. The track is definitely better than last year.”
Francis Tjia was surprised to be third quickest in Class B: “This whole weekend we’ve not been able to get it right. Maybe the circuit is twisty and that doesn’t play to my strengths, but the car is not coming together at all. The track feels different to last year, when I felt hooked up, but this year I’m just sliding and sliding.”
With the top eight separated by less than one second, qualifying was a hard-fought affair. Team Yongda Dongfang driver Benjamin Rouget of France initially topped the leaderboard, before Ragginger put in a scorching lap of 1:45.912, and Sawa climbed to second. Rouget remained with the front-runners, with series newcomer Pekka Saarinen of Finland. After a pit stop, Imperatori rocketed up to second with a lap of 1:45.725, with Avila climbing to fourth and then third, before Sawa’s late charge put him back down the order. Budweiser Team StarChase driver Tung Ho-Pin and Team Carrera Cup Asia guest driver Allan Simonsen will make up the fourth row of the grid.
Round 5 of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia will be run over 14 laps of the 3.751km Ordos International Circuit with the race results setting the grid for Round 6, but with the top eight finishers in reverse order.