Former Porsche Carrera Cup Australia driver Sam Power has finished an impressive 10th on his Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup debut in Barcelona, Spain.
The South Australian qualified 15th and moved through the field to record the top 10 finish in the 14 lap event, which was won by Michael Ammermüller (Lechner Racing Middle East). The 29 year old Ammermüller triumphed over strong international opposition at the wheel of his 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. “What a perfect weekend. Pole position and victory after a flawless race. It can continue like this,” said Ammermüller with a grin. Kuba Giermaziak (PL/VERVA Lechner Racing Team) and Christian Engelhart (D/MRS GT-Racing) crossed the finish line of the Circuit de Catalunya as second and third.
In sunny 22-degree Celsius temperatures, 28 drivers from 13 countries lined up on the grid in front of packed Formula 1 grandstands. Ammermüller, who lives in Bavaria, got away cleanly at the start and settled in at the front of the field. Côme Ledogar (Martinet by Alméras) from France, the reigning champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup France, slotted in behind him. With a cracking start off the line, Giermaziak catapulted from ninth on the grid to third place. In the first lap, Porsche Junior Sven Müller (D/Lechner Racing Middle East) collided with fellow-Junior Connor de Phillippi (USA/VERVA Lechner Racing Team) which resulted in the deployment of the safety car. The 23 year old from Bingen in Germany was unable to continue: “That was a most unfortunate race for me. I managed to make up a lot of positions at the start, but then I braked on the dirty part of the track and slid into Connor. I’m incredibly sorry about that.”
After two laps, the safety car driver and former Supercup pilot Bernd Mayländer pulled into the pits and the field went green again. Ammermüller grabbed his chance and eked out an advantage from lap to lap. Behind the Bavarian a battle for positions raged. In lap six, Giermaziak squeezed past Ledogar and held on to second place to the flag. “That was tough racing. I came from ninth on the grid and finished second. It wasn’t easy, but I’m super happy,” said Giermaziak. In the tenth lap, Engelhart slipped into third place which he defended to the flag. “The race was full of action. Kuba and I were faster than Côme, but it was really hard to get past him,” said Engelhart. Philipp Eng (A/Market Leader Team) was flagged off in fourth ahead of Barcelona-local Alex Riberas (E/The Heart of Racing by Lechner). Ledogar saw the flag in sixth place.
Power finished one place behind fellow Carrera Cup Australia graduate Ben Barker, while Spike Goddard, who raced in the opening two rounds of the 2015 Australian season, placed 17th.
For the Porsche Juniors Müller, de Phillippi and Matteo Cairoli (I/Market Leader Team), the weekend turned out somewhat bleak. After Müller’s retirement, de Phillippi was able to continue his race and finished on eleventh. “I was hit in the very first lap. After starting on third that was disappointing! Now I just have to look ahead to the Monaco street race and hope that I can earn a bunch of points there,” said the disgruntled de Phillippi. After starting from the tenth grid spot, Cairoli worked his way up to position six. In the sixth lap, the vehicles of Cairoli and Jeffrey Schmidt (CH/The Heart of Racing by Lechner) touched and Cairoli fell back to 19th. He finally saw the flag as fourteenth. “I had bad luck today. First I need to process what happened,” stated Cairoli.
The next Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race is contested on the unique street circuit of Monaco. From 21 to 24 May, the Porsche paddock is set up in the circus tent at Monaco. With very few chances to overtake, the narrow 3.340 kilometre track through the streets of the Principality is very unforgiving of mistakes and poses a challenge to the pilots in their 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
Round 1 Barcelona
1. Michael Ammermüller (D/Lechner Racing Middle East)
2. Kuba Giermaziak (PL/VERVA Lechner Racing Team)
3. Christian Engelhart (D/MRS GT-Racing)
4. Philipp Eng (A/Market Leader Team)
5. Alex Riberas (E/The Heart of Racing by Lechner)
6. Côme Ledogar (F/Martinet by Alméras)
7. Robert Lukas (PL/FÖRCH Racing by Lukas Motorsport)
8. Jeffrey Schmidt (CH/The Heart of Racing by Lechner)
9. Ben Barker (GB/MOMO-Megatron Team PARTRAX)
10. Sam Power (AUS/MOMO-Megatron Team PARTRAX)