MONDAY 16 APRIL 2012
CARRERA CUP PODIUM AT CHINESE FORMULA ONE GRAND PRIX

Allan Simonsen had little time to spare after the opening round of British GT at Oulton Park. With the event taking up Easter Monday, it was a rush to the airport and onto China where he would take up the guest drive in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Championship.

It would be a highly succesful weekend, claiming a third place podium after qualifying fifth, in front of huge crowds at the UBS Chinese Formula One Grand Prix. Here's how the PR guys at CCAsia called it...

PICC Team StarChase star Alexandre Imperatori converted his pole position into an emphatic win in the opening round of the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season today.

By the chequered flag, the 24-year-old Swiss driver had managed to build an impressive gap of 7.754 seconds from runner-up Martin Ragginger of Team Eagle- Jiejun & Junbaojie. Third across the line after 12 laps was Allan Simonsen in the Team Carrera Cup Asia car.

Imperatori’s opening victory gave his team a crucial confidence boost ahead of what he believes will be a tough season, but warned he expects his trouble-free run to the flag to be the exception rather than the rule: “I didn’t get a great start, but it was enough to stay in front. I focused on being quick right from the start and building up a gap. This is a great boost for the team, particularly as it’s a whole new ball game this season. However, this is by no means a sign of what is to come, and we just don’t know what to expect tomorrow with the reverse grid.”

Rival Ragginger, was full of praise for Imperatori as he continues to look for the right balance in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on a track which is new to him. Simonsen was pleased with his getaway, which saw him gain two places off the start: “I knew I had to get past at the beginning. The race was really tough, but fair and square, and I’m happy to be on the podium.”

As a non-series registered driver, Simonsen is ineligible to score points, meaning Ragginger lies three points behind Imperatori going in to Round 2, with Sawa in third.

Said Perfetti of his Porsche Carrera Cup Asia debut: “It took me a while to get past Ringo Chong, and a while to get into a groove, but I felt the last four or five laps were pretty good. On the last lap, I didn’t really know it was the final lap and I had been getting closer to Tung, and thought I might try a move on him. I got a bit too excited, but luckily I had built enough of a cushion to recover. ”

As the lights went out for the start of the 10th Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season, running as part of the 2012 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX this weekend, Imperatori got away well to lead the largest and most competitive field in the series’ history. However, Simonsen was away like lightning from the third row, diving outside Sawa, then into the inside of Avila to go third.

The opening lap was drama-filled with Sawa diving past Avila to go fourth, and John Shen running in to Team C&D lady driver Rose Tan. Meanwhile, a fierce, race-long battle was ensuing between reigning Class B champion, Wang Jian Wei of Team Betterlife, impressive newcomer Huang Chu Han who, before Friday had never driven the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, and Zhang Da Sheng of Team Basetex. The Chinese trio had the crowds on their feet as they fought for position lap after lap.

Huang spun out on lap 10, but it was nevertheless and impressive debut.

Back at the front of the pack, Sawa claimed a place briefly from Simonsen and, as the Dane charged back to reclaim third, Avila seized the momentum to get by the Japanese driver. With Simonsen determined to hold on to the final podium place, the three were nose-to-tail.

Behind the leaders, Liu got by Budweiser Team StarChase driver Tung Ho-pin to go seventh overall behind Team Yongda Dongfang driver Benjamin Rouget of France.

Lap six saw Avila make a move on Simonsen, the Dane once again reclaiming his position, and a lap later a move by Sawa saw the Macau driver demoted to fifth.

The Class B action when all the way to the flag with Wayne Shen challenging Francis Tjia for the final podium place in the closing stages. His place was assured when Tjia spun, rejoining further down the order and crossing the line fourth in the category for OpenRoad Racing.