The 2016 PCCA season opens with the first of three F1 support races at the series’ home in Shanghai, before a return to the picturesque and challenging Fuji Speedway and a reunion with the Porsche Carrera Cup Japan. Thailand’s Chang International Circuit will host Rounds 4&5 of the 11-race season prior to the Australian leg. Singapore’s Marina Bay street circuit is quickly followed by another F1 Grand Prix, this time in Malaysia, which has moved from its traditional slot earlier in the year. The 2016 season will once again come to a spectacular climax at the WEC (World Endurance Championship) 6 Hours of Shanghai, where the Porsche motorsport family joins forces once again.
Here’s a flashback at the season just passed: In March, the 28-strong field gathered for the first time for a pre-season test at the Sepang circuit where they welcomed some new faces, among them rookies Nico Menzel and Chris van der Drift (the eventual champion), who had received a last-minute call-up from Clearwater Racing.
Round 1, at the Chinese F1 GP, saw a familiar face take the opening win of the season, with Baird beating fellow countryman van der Drift, and Team Porsche Holding’s Martin Ragginger taking the final podium place. The New Zealanders would not have it all their own way though. van der Drift retired in race two and Baird was beaten to the podium by Tung Ho-Pin and Rodolfo Avila, with Ragginger taking his second podium of the weekend.
Korea’s International Circuit welcomed PCCA for the first time in 2015, and it proved a happy hunting ground for van der Drift who, bouncing back from his DNF in Round 2, took pole position and wins in both races. Baird proved the fight would last all season with a brace of second places, while Myung Gil Choi more than repaid his call-up from Team Porsche Korea to join the series for the first time since 2013, by taking the final podium spot after both races.
PCCA moved to Fuji Speedway for the Japanese leg, which took placed in June. There, van der Drift continued his run of form with another double victory, but this time it was Ragginger who stood on the second step of the podium after both races. Baird took third in Race 1, but lost his grip on the championship after an uncharacteristic performance in Round 6.
Returning to the Land of Smiles after a ten-year absence, the championship made its debut at the Chang circuit in Thailand, and van der Drift continued to extend his winning streak, taking pole and yet another double victory. Menzel continued his impressive debut season, taking his debut podium with a second place finish in Round 7, and repeating his success in Race 2. Baird and Ragginger shared third place honors.
At Sepang, Menzel went one better and took his first Porsche victory in Race 1, and a third place in Round 10 adding to his podium tally. Van der Drift’s run of wins suffered a blip in Malaysia with a fourth place in the opening race, but he was back to his winning ways in Round 10, taking his seventh victory of the season. Second place in both races was Ragginger, who took his second pole of the season.
As the field headed to Singapore, van der Drift had a healthy 19-point lead from title rival Baird, while Menzel’s increasing pace put him third on the overall leaderboard. The double header saw Baird strike back, taking pole, a win and a second place, while van der Drift could only manage a third place podium in Round 12. Tung was second in Round 11, ahead of Menzel who took his fifth consecutive podium.
Van der Drift had an eight-point lead in the standings from Baird, going into the finale in Shanghai. However, no one could prevent the inevitable as van der Drift got the job and took PCCA drivers’ honors on his rookie year.