It was happy days for Singaporean racing driver Yuey Tan over the weekend as he scored a double podium finish as Porsches one make series went to Fuji Speedway. In the process, Tan also took the lead of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia class B title chase for the first time.
It was a slow start for the thirty-three year old Singaporean, going 4th and 5th quickest respectively behind the likes of Vuitthikorn, Francis Tjia, Wayne Shen and Ringo Chong. Weather was also a changing factor, with the drivers experiencing rain, damp and sunny conditions all throughout Friday so for them, it was important to adapt quickly to squeeze out good laps in ever-changing conditions.
“When we went out on Friday, we had somethings we wanted to find out so we tried different things with the car and as a result, the times were not mega quick!” said Tan. “We were not competitive in Korea so it was important that the driver car package found its sweetspot once again. I also had a problem with the fuel pump and it barely made the weekend. We actually changed it but the spare one wasn’t working well either so it was a nervous moment. The weather was changing like crazy too which made it difficult.”
Qualifying on Saturday morning was a different story with overcast conditions and the possibility of rain. Team Jebsen’s racing engineer Minal Kanagsundaram prepared for all weather conditions as rain looked like it was on the way. During the session, Tan drove a consistent stint placing him 2nd on the grid for both race 1 and race 2 in the dry. Thailand’s Vuitthikorn took pole for both races showing that his much talked about form was steadily improving.
Race 1 saw Tan have a fantastic start, before getting boxed up on the inside of turn 1, with both Francis Tjia and Wayne Shen flying past on the outside, putting Tan down into 4th place. As the race settled after the first lap, the Singaporean Jebsen driver put his head down and started to work through the field regaining 2nd place by lap 4, with a surprise move into turn 1 passing Francis Tjia. The next two laps saw Tjia and Tan trading places twice more, with Tjia getting the upper hand on lap 9 by overtaking Tan and making it stick! Thailand’s Vuitthikorn took his first victory of the season.
“I must say I was smiling in the car when I was battling with Francis,” said Tan after an epic duel between the two. “Francis has always been one of the guys that I battle with for wins, podiums and this year perhaps the championship and I respect him very much as a driver. We both continue to up the level and follow each other still tying to beat each other! Thats fun and the best part of racing. He got me in the end and of course I’d rather beat him but it was fun nevertheless! Vuitthikorn was too fast for us today and he will always be a threat!”
Race 2 started in the same order with Vuitthikorn on pole, then Tan, Tjia and Shen all lined up for the top 4 in the class B running. As the lights went off, the field bunched up into turn 1 with Wayne Shen going wide and losing some places, while sustaining contact with Thailand’s Bobby Hunter. Then on lap 2, Tan managed to make a pass on Vuitthikorn to take the lead for about five corners, with the massively experienced Thai driver taking the spot back and Tjia managing to pass Tan one lap later. Though on lap 4, Vuitthikorn made an uncharacteristic error by pulling 1st gear going into turn 10, resulting in spinning the car and damaging the gearbox. His race was over and registered a DNF.
From here, the next ten laps saw Tan chase down Tjia in what could be the highest pace class B race that the two had ever had in five years of duelling, both drivers putting a fantastic show on for the spectators as they pushed as hard as they could push till the chequered flag. Their fastest laps in the race were just about as quick as qualifying.
“What a race!” said Tan. “I know I have a lot to say about Francis this weekend but for me he is the driver of the year so far. He’s showed massive resilience and character to continue to close the gap in the title race and today, he drove with just the right amount of controlled aggression. It was a sensational race and I tried to keep the pressure on as much as I could. He didn’t make a single mistake with credit given where credit is due. He drove awesome. There was nothing I could do!”
After round 6, Tan leads the class B championship sitting on 91 points with Francis Tjia close behind him on 82 points, and Wayne Shen making up the top three with 81 points.