Entering the 2023 season for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) one-make racing series marks 20 years since the one-makes series began, and the first race for the season was held at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, which was also where the very first race of the series was held in 2003.
The 20th season of PCCA also welcomed a renewed thrust from Malaysia in the series with the debut of the Sime Darby Racing Team (SDRT), fielding a single car entry in the Pro category with Malaysian racing driver and former Formula 3 racer, Nazim Azman.
The 2023 season saw the return of two veterans of the PCCA series, Chris van der Drift for Team Shanghai Yonda and Martin Ragginger for Porsche Holding, who began in in third and fourth place on the starting grid of Race 1 of the Sepang round, respectively.
Pole position for Race 1 was claimed by PCCA newcomer Florian Latorre, with a qualifying time nearly one second quicker than that of Luo Kailuo of Toro Racing who started in P2. Top Pro-Am starter and P6 on the grid overall was three-time PCCA Pro-Am champion Bao Jinlong, while the top Am class starter and P9 on the grid overall was Eric Kwong.
Race 1 began in damp conditions, with Luo and Latorre starting strong though the former managed to start putting clear air between himself and Latorre early in the race. The respective Pro-Am and Am class pole-sitters ran into hardship, Bao spinning out before reclaiming P8 and Kwong dropping down to P19, leaving fellow Am class racer Adrian D’Silva to take the class lead.
A spin into the T15 gravel trap by Jacky Wu of Shanghai Pudong & Waigaoqiao 69 Racing on lap 4 brought out the safety car before the race was red-flagged a lap later, as the car was unable to move away to safety on its own. Following a 10-minute pause, Latorre found himself in P1, though also with a 10-second time penalty that would be added to the race finish due to a jump start at the beginning of the race.
Latorre would cross the finish line first on track, however the time penalty meant he would be classified for a fourth-placed finish, just outside the podium positions. Luo was second to the chequered flag and claimed the race win as a result of Latorre’s penalty, while van der Drift and Ragginger completing the podium in second and third places, respectively. Malaysian PCCA debutant Nazim Azman took fifth in Race 1.
Race 2 of the PCCA season-opener at Sepang brought a similar lead pack on the starting grid but in more ideal weather. Latorre led on the grid in P1, followed by Luo, van der Drift and Ragginger behind him. Similarly Bao Jinlong took the top Pro-Am starting position in P6, while Eric Kwong also took the Am class pole in P8 on the grid amidst Pro-Am racers.
Several battles took place on Race 2, with Latorre in pursuit of Luo at the sharp end for nearly the whole duration of the race, while van der Drift saw a relatively quieter run to P3. Behind the New Zealander was Ragginger in P4, who was fending off the valiant efforts of Nazim Azman before the Malaysian spun out of his overtaking attempt on Ragginger at T1.
Nazim dropped back to P6, though a quick recovery and a reinvigorated chase by the ex-F3 racer recovered the position from Gao Yujia of Team Jebsen to hang on to P5 at the chequered flag.
Meanwhile, Pro class race leader Luo held on to take the race win by a margin of two seconds for his second win of the season, while Latorre recouped his Race 1 shortfall with a P2 finish, and the podium was rounded up by van der Drift.
The Pro-Am class saw Bao Jinlong and Gao Yujia trade positions several times during Race 2, eventually with Gao emerging ahead though Bao scooped the Pro-Am class win.
Meanwhile in the Am class, pole sitter Eric Kwong dropped down the order on the first lap of the race, leaving Yang Ruoyu to lead the Am class pack in P11 overall. Kwong fought his was back up the order, though had to settle for second by the chequered flag as Yang took the Am class win, with Li Xuanyu rounding up the top three Am class finishers.
Next on the 2023 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia calendar is Round 3 and 4, which takes the series to Yeongnam, South Korea where the next rounds will take place from June 2 to 4.
This will be the second of a total of eight rounds, followed by Suzuka, Japan and Buriram, Thailand before the series comes back to the Sepang International Circuit on August 25 to 27 when Round 3 of the Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) will also be held. The 2023 PCCA season concludes in Shanghai, China, where Rounds 13 and 14 will be held from October 27 to 29.