Kiwi Earl Bamber has won this season's first round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
On Sunday, the 23-year-old Kiwi beat Philipp Eng (A/Team Project 1) and Ben Barker (GB/VERVA Lechner Racing Team) to the flag on the circuit in Barcelona, Spain. As Bamber swept over the finish line he punched the air as he revelled in his maiden Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup victory. "This is totally unbelievable. How fantastic is it to kick off my first season in this series with a win. I'm quite happy if it continues like this," said the Porsche Scholarship driver when he was handed his trophy.
After a heart-stopping qualifying on Saturday, Eng took up the race from pole position. The Austrian had beaten Bamber to the front grid spot by just 18-thousandths of a second. In Sunday's race, Bamber got the jump off the line and promptly planted his 460 hp 911 GT3 Cup, which is based on the seventh generation of the Porsche 911, at the head of the field. There, the defending champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia steadily built on his lead and crossed the finish line in first place almost five seconds ahead of Eng.
"Unfortunately my grid position was completely in the shade and the track was still damp from rain during the night. The sun had already dried the second spot and for this reason I had no answer to Earl and he was simply faster than me in the race," explained Eng, who was nevertheless delighted with his first Supercup podium result.
Taking up the race from seventh on the grid, 23-year-old Ben Barker put in a spirited charge to finish on the podium. "During 2013 I didn't manage once to finish in the top three - and now I do it at my first race of the season. That was a fantastic moment," said Barker. Following the 1.93-metre Briton over the finish line in fourth place was Christian Engelhart (D/Konrad Motorsport).
For Porsche junior Alex Riberas (E/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing) the race could easily have lasted somewhat longer: over the course of the race the 20-year-old Barcelona local battled his way up the order from position eleven to finish his first race of the season in fifth. "I'm over the moon with my result. I had a close call with Klaus Bachler in the first corner and had to leave the racing line. This left my tyres pretty dirty and I needed two laps to get back up to speed," stated Riberas.
Despite crossing the finish line on sixth place, Porsche junior Klaus Bachler was not particularly happy. "Unfortunately I got away badly and lost two places. Basically I was off the pace. Now we have to analyse what the situation is." At his first outing in the Supercup, Porsche junior Sven Müller managed to clinch eleventh place in the 26-strong field of international drivers. "My start was really good and I leaped ahead three places. But then things became chaotic and I got caught up in a minor collision. Despite the damage to my car, I still managed to turn faster and faster laps towards the end. Under these circumstances eleventh place is good." Porsche junior Connor de Phillippi (USA/FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport) finished in twelfth. "In the first corner I was nudged from behind and it damaged my car. After that it was as huge effort to get the car to the finish line," said de Phillippi.
The next Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race takes place on the legendary street circuit of Monte Carlo. From 22 to 25 May, the Porsche paddock will be in a circus tent in Monaco. The 3.340 kilometre street circuit poses a challenge for the drivers of the 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup: overtaking is virtually impossible here and the narrow track does not forgive mistakes.
Points standings after 1 of 10 races
1. Earl Bamber (NZ/Fach Auto Tech), 20 points
2. Philipp Eng (A/Team Project 1), 18
3. Ben Barker (GB/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 16
4. Christian Engelhart (D/Konrad Motorsport), 14
5. Alex Riberas (E/Mc Gregor powered by Attempto Racing), 12
6. Klaus Bachler (A/Konrad Motorsport), 10
7. Jeffrey Schmidt (CH/Lechner Racing Team), 9
8. Christopher Zöchling (A/Konrad Motorsport), 8
9. Kuba Giermaziak (PL/VERVA Lechner Racing Team), 7
10. Clemens Schmid (A/Lechner Racing Team), 6
11. Sven Müller (D/Team Project 1), 5
12. Connor de Phillippi (USA/FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport), 4