Returning to the series in Japan is Martin Ragginger of Team Porsche Holding, absent from Korea last month while on duty at the Nürburgring 24 Hours where he and his team mates, amongst them 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Alexandre Imperatori, took a podium finish in their class in a Porsche 997 GT3 R. Having missed out on two opportunities to add to his points tally, Ragginger now lies joint sixth on the leaderboard along with Budweiser Team Absolute Racing’s Tung Ho-Pin and Team Porsche Korea guest driver for Rounds 3&4, Myung Gil Choi.
On the podium in three of the four last races, memorably opening the season with an outright victory, Baird leads the charge to Japan with an 11-point advantage over fellow New Zealander, van der Drift. The rookie van der Drift, a former International Formula Masters Champion and GP2, A1GP and Superleague Formula driver, races with Kamlung Racing, a Porsche dealer team entered by the KLM Group.
Following the success of Baird and van der Drift’s fellow countryman Earl Bamber, who in just two years was propelled from the PCCA ranks to a full Porsche Motorsport LMP1 factory driver, both Baird and van der Drift are showing once again the extraordinary wealth of motorsport talent a country with a population of approximately 4.5 million folks.
Third in the chase for the overall championship title is Skyangel. The Singaporean made his PCCA debut last season and continues to impress with his increasing pace and consistency amongst the highly-experienced field. Skyangel leads both Menzel, the rookie, and Avila by less than a 5-point margin.
Last season, it was Bamber who white-washed the competition with two victories. With Bamber and Imperatori out of the picture this season, we should see a more interesting match up in the two races at Fuji. Ragginger, the veteran, should be able to challenge Baird and van der Drift for the wins at the picturisque Japanese track.