Sensational debut for Team StarChase’s Yu Kuai with a maiden podium finish at Shanghai
10 May 2021 | SHANGHAI-CHINA
Shanghai. After a year in which motorsport stagnated worldwide, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the region's premier one-make racing series, returned to the Shanghai Formula One circuit last weekend (May 8-9) with a brand new car. Team StarChase's new driver and series rookie Yu Kuai was out to impress.
Switching from a successful career in open-wheel single seater cars to the mighty Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 992), plus acclimatising to a new team and a different style of racing, has meant a steep learning curve for Yu Kuai, but one which he is scaling with impressive speed.
Yu Kuai produced a fine performance in qualifying for the 2021 Carrera Cup Asia season opener and the first race for the series in over 16 months, the Shanghai native putting the V-KOOL orange liveried No. 99 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup on the second row. He went third fastest with a time of 2:06.849, only 0.189 seconds shy of the fastest lap of the 30-minute qualifying session.
The second best time achieved by each driver during the qualifying session is used to determine the starting grid for the second race. Undoubtedly proving himself as one of the most exciting young drivers in the Asian region, the 20-year-old Chinese ace posted the fastest second best time to secure pole for race two on Sunday.
The opening race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon provided exciting action for the fans. Starting from the outside of row two, Yu held his position at the start and drove faultless in the opening lap. A safety-car period on lap two allowed the pack to close up. However, on the restart, he was slowed by a technical glitch that cost him a couple of positions, eventually he finished in fifth.
“We had a good start in race one, and I managed to stay in third for the first couple of laps,” Yu Kuai said. “Unfortunately, a technical throttle problem developed soon afterwards and I was not able to control the acceleration as I would like to. The team worked late into the night to get the car ready for Sunday's action”.
Expectations were high when the 18-strong field lined up on the grid for Sunday’s race. Yu Kuai lost a position at the start when the second-place starter successfully maneuvered his car past Team StarChase’s new 992 generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. He briefly dropped to third in the opening lap but made an impressive move to regain the second position during the second lap. With superb race pace, Yu Kuai put the race leader under pressure, his best hope was to force his rival into an error. It didn’t happen, but the local racer earned his maiden podium finish in GT cars
Commenting about the race weekend, Yu Kuai said: “This weekend has been very productive. We made good progress from official test days and we now have the pace to fight for podiums. It’s a shame we were not able to make it a pole-to-win in race two, but I am still satisfied with P2 given our mishap yesterday. The team did a fantastic job of making the car nice to drive. I think we are in a strong position and I look forward to learning more and more with the team”.
Yu Kuai lies fourth in the drivers’ championship standings with 32 points as Team StarChase is currently sitting fourth in the Porsche Dealer Trophy’s standings.
Said Chief Executive Officer Greater China of StarChase Mr. Robby Niermann: “This was definitely a start worthy of Team StarChase. From preparation to execution I was impressed by how comfortable Yu Kuai looked at the wheel and the obvious racing talent he possesses. At this high level of international competition, qualifying in top-3, setting the second best time, and bagging his first podium finish on his first appearance is an impressive achievement. This weekend we have seen Yu Kuai’s enormous potential, and with more track time, we have no doubt we are going to see him quickly release his full potential. He showed that he can be a regular podium finisher and a front row qualifier. We will take what we have learned to be even stronger in the coming races.”
Team StarChase and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia have now been given a glimpse of the capabilities and natural talent of this young contender. All eyes will be on the team when they return to the race track in two weeks’ time at the 4.3km Zhuhai International Circuit for Rounds 3 and 4 from May 22-23.