That was pretty damn close!
It was a nail biting end to the 2017 season and unfortunately one that we were on the wrong side of! Though it was an absolutely fantastic season for my 9th consecutive year in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, and one that will be massively unforgettable for the rest of my life!
The mood was set. It was the season finale at the Shanghai International Circuit, the home of the automotive industry in the 21st century where the city has grown at an alarming rate over the last decade. I was trailing in the championship hunt and with two races on offer, a pole position and two race victories was what I needed in order to seal my 2nd title with Team Jebsen in the last three seasons. The weekend was in my hands and coming 2nd was not an option.
Things started off with a little instability as we had a small problem with the car during practice. The engine had increased in temperature to far above normal parameters however it was still within the window of acceptable temperature. We had to pull the car out early of practice which hindered us a little but the situation was fully recoverable.
Qualifying came and in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, there is a bonus point given to a pole position in each category. I remember going back to the 2015 season whereby I won the title by a single point, and I also managed to take the pole position point in the season finale and that made all the difference. So that was my first objective.
My teammate Cui Yue and I went out in formation and since my car was the car that had a chance at a title, he helped me out by giving me a slipsteam that would’ve allowed me to gain several tenths of a second. We were behind early in the session by seven tenths to the man I was trying to beat but with the slipstream and a near perfect lap, we almost got a gain of a second and put the car on pole. Job number one was complete!
The first race of the weekend started off fantastically as well, as I took the lead from the start and the other man in the title hunt, Evan Chen fell down to 4th place. We drove over half the race in this order while I lead, though Chen managed to overtake the two cars in front of him within the next few laps, finishing right behind me. I saw what had happened in the mirror and was thinking damn, that could be a problem though its hard to influence what is going on behind me. I would’ve preferred a larger gap, as long as I finish in front of Chen weekend, the title was mine. It also felt good that after the first race of the weekend, I regained the lead of the championship by a single point.
We were finally here. The final race of the season. 20 points given to the winner. 18 points given to 2nd place. One extra point for the fastest lap of the race. It was crunch time.
The lights went green and it was GO GO GO. I slotted into 2nd place behind Chen after the race start. The race was on and I knew what I needed to do. For 12 laps, we continued to circulate the Shanghai International Circuit and I just couldn’t catch the car in front of me. I tried everything. I remember over the last few laps feeling as if victory was starting to slip through my hands and as we crossed the line, there was less than two seconds between us.
The title was lost.
It’s a humbling moment in racing when stuff like that happens. In the last nine seasons in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, nothing like that had ever happened to me before. To win by a point in 2015 made me so massively happy to the point of it not being able to be described in words, though the inverse reaction was nothing that was ever on the cards.
I have a personal belief that I should never think about losing until it actually happens so I did not try and prepare myself for what had happened. It was a tough moment but that’s racing!
I want to thank everyone at Team Jebsen for the last three seasons. After 39 International race starts, 26 podium finishes, and a title to our name, the Jebsen era of my racing will always be engrained in my history, and Team Jebsen history. Thanks team.