INTERNATIONAL
Wednesday, Sep 25 06:45pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Keeping up with the Kiwis, your guide to the action: September 26–29

It’s title deciding time all around the world with Kiwi drivers in contention for some strong finishes in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, Formula 3 Asian Championship, Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, and Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia.

 

Marcus

Liam Lawson & Marcus Armstrong

What: FIA Formula 3 Championship

Where: Sochi Autodrom, Russia

When: R1 SAT 7:15 PM | R2 7:55 PM 

How to follow: Spark Sport | Live Timing

  

The FIA Formula 3 campaign returns for the season finale at the Sochi Autodrom, but what should you be watching out for this weekend?

 

Given his dominance this year, Robert Shwartzman will expect to claim the FIA Formula 3 Championship title on home soil in Sochi, during the season finale.

 

Having led for almost the entire campaign, the Russian will be confident of making the final hurdle and won’t fancy giving up the Championship now.

 

As it stands, he could take the crown on Saturday, if he can keep the gap between himself and Jehan Daruvala in second to more than 17 points – it currently stands at 33.

 

Having won again in the Monza Feature Race last time out, it would take a brave man to bet against Shwartzman winning the title in front of his home support.

 

Daruvala is the only driver other than Shwartzman to have led the Formula 3 Championship this season, but the Russian’s remarkable consistency has proven marginally too great for the Indian to handle.

 

Shwartzman’s win in Monza last time out added further air between them and has left the former Force India protégé with a lot to do. The 20-year-old will be waiting in the wings for any slip-ups from his teammate and you can bet he will be on his metal in Sochi, should the opportunity to prise the trophy from Shwartzman arise.

 

Below Shwartzman and Daruvala, the fight to be the ‘best of the rest’ is hotting up, with a mere 32 points separating third from sixth. Currently leading the way are Jüri Vips and Marcus Armstrong.

 

Both enjoyed title tilts of their own this season and won’t want to lose their places in third and fourth. Vips was in scorching form mid-season, before a difficult couple of rounds post-summer break. While, Armstrong has improved as the season has progressed and will want to end the campaign strongly.

 

Words / FIA Formula 3

 

Jaxon

Jaxon Evans

What: Porsche Carrera Cup Germany

Where: Sachsenring, Germany

When: R SUN 6:30AM

How to follow: Live Stream | Live Timing

 

Julien Andlauer and Michael Ammermüller will fight for the championship in Porsche Carrera Cup Germany at the Sachsenring this weekend.

 

Porsche Junior Andlauer leads the championship with 242.5 points and has expanded after the two races at the Hockenheimring, his lead over team-mate Ammermüller to 27.5 points.

 

Andlauer can therefore be champion on Saturday at the Sachsenring. All he has to do is finish in front of Ammermüller. By contract, Ammermüller can prevent the title only with a win in the first race of the season finale, or he has to score 2.5 points more than Andlauer.

 

After a strong showing at the Hockenheimring, Evans lies third in the championship. He sits just 9.5 points adrift of Jaap van Laagen who has fallen off at the tail end of the title race.

 

Fourth is the highest place that Evans can claim, but it would require two wins. Though that isn’t out of the question after what has been a strong end to the season.

 

Since 1999, the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany has been at the Sachsenring every now and then. But the Porsche one-make cup celebrates a premiere this year, because never before did the season finale take place in Hohenstein-Ernstthal.

 

Although the "small Nordschleife" is only 3.645 km long, but a veritable up and down train. It is exciting, especially in the first three corners after the start, here often decides victory or defeat.

 

Words / Carrera Cup Germany

 

Nick

Nick Cassidy

What: SUPER FORMULA

Where: Okayama International Circuit, Japan

When: R SUN 5:30 PM

How to follow: Live Stream | Live Timing

 

It’s normally at this time of season when the points toward the championship really start to count.

 

Currently Nick Cassidy, the only driver who has scored points in each of the first five rounds, leads the championship with 28 points. Naoki Yamamoto, the defending champion, although he has not scored points in the last two rounds, is second in points with 27, just one point behind Cassidy.

 

In third place is rookie Alex Palou, on 20 points, who won his first SUPER FORMULA race at Fuji Speedway earlier this year.

 

Palou has put himself in a position to possibly fight for the championship by winning pole twice this season, showing his speed and potential. Following Palou is Kamui Kobayashi, on 19 points, who has placed second in two races this season, but is still hungry for his maiden series victory.

 

Yuhi Sekiguchi won the race at Okayama last season and has one win this season. Teammate Ryo Hirakawa won his first SUPER FORMULA race in the heat in at Motegi. Both are drivers to keep your eyes on in Okayama.

 

As the 3.730 km course at Okayama is known for being difficult to pass at—even though the SF19 has been able to offer drivers passing maneuvers like no other time before—the higher a driver qualifies, the better chance they will most likely have in the race.

 

Due to traffic woes at Okayama, like at Sugo in this season, the 10-minute Q1 will see the drivers divided into 2 groups (10 cars each group)—giving them a chance at a fast lap that will hopefully vault them into Q2.

 

The 250 km race at Okayama will require drivers to pit at least once for a mandatory tire change. The timing of the pit stop could play a significant role in how a driver finishes in the race, and where they stand in the championship heading into the last round of the season at Suzuka Circuit.

 

Brendon

Brendon Leitch

What: Formula 3 Asian Championship

Where: Shanghai International Circuit, China

When: R1 FRI 7:10 PM | R2 SAT 2:20 PM | R3 SAT 6:50 PM 

How to follow: Live Stream | Live Timing

 

The battle for the 2019 F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA goes down to the wire this week at the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit between Hitech GP duo of Ukyo Sasahara and Red Bull Junior driver Jack Doohan.

 

Race 13, Race 14 and Race 15 will be held across September 27 and 28, ahead of China’s National Day holiday on October 1.

 

Whoever takes the coveted prize will also bank 18 Super Licenses points, with the top nine finishers each earning points on a scale from 18 to 1, raising the stakes considerably in the final three races of the season.

 

Japanese ace Sasahara arrives in Shanghai with 38-point advantage over Doohan after the 16-year-old Australian endured a frustrating debut on the tricky FIA Grade I circuit just two weeks ago. Despite grappling to find the sweet spot which has so far earned him four victories and six podiums in twelve races, Doohan nevertheless fought hard to ensure he remains in championship contention.

 

Newly-crowned Porsche Carrera Cup Japan Sasahara, meanwhile, has proved masterful all season, collecting eight victories and only absent from the podium on one occasion.

 

While all eyes may be on the two Hitech GP drivers, their team already two-time F3 Asian team champions, their rivals will be keen for a final opportunity to showcase their talent and earn all-important Super License points. Any one of their rivals has the potential to crash the title fight party, and all will certainly be pushing hard to do so.

 

Top of that list are the third Hitech GP entry Jackson Walls, who took an impressive podium finish at Suzuka in June, and Shanghai native Daniel Cao. The Chinese Absolute Racing driver is overdue for a race win having earned six podiums so far this season to put him third in the championship – with the potential to earn 12 Super License points.

 

BlackArts Racing’s Brendon Leitch has also made his mark this season. The 23-year-old Lamborghini Squadra Corse Young Driver’s no-holds-barred racing style and his epic comebacks have become an exciting feature of the championship this year.

 

Words / Formula 3 Asian Championship  

 

SVG

Shane van Gisbergen & Chris van der Drift

What: Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia

Where: Shanghai International Circuit, China

When: R1 FRI 8:15PM | R2 SAT 3:55PM

How to follow: Live Stream | Live Timing

 

Shane van Gisbergen and Chris van der Drift head to Shanghai International Circuit in China this week for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia final.

 

Neither are in the hunt for the championship, but both come to the grand finale with a point to prove at the host circuit of the Chinese Grand Prix.

 

Triple Eight Race Engineering driver van Gisbergen rejoins Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim of Malaysia for the third time this season.

 

Earlier this year van Gisbergen made his series debut at Suzuka Circuit where they struggled, but by the time he returned at Korea International Circuit they managed to get their Mercedes-AMG GT3 competitive.

 

Ibrahim lies third in the Pro-Am Cup, mathematically in with a shot of taking out the title that is led by  Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak. With a Pro-Am Cup class win at Korea and a third place finish, van Gisbergen lies 12th in the points.

 

Just behind Ibrahim is van der Drift who isn’t able to win the title, but can move forward is he and Li Chao can make headway in the final two races of the season.

 

So far this season van der Drift and Chao haven’t been able to win a race in their class, but podiums have been forthcoming. So far they have four podium finishes. However, a double DNF at Fuji Speedway effectively took them out of contention for the class title.

 

They’ll reconvene at Shanghai this weekend, a home round for Chao, in their Porsche 911 GT3 R.

 

The overall championship is led by Roelof Bruins of Solite Indigo Racing on 137 points. Phillip Hamprecht and Tanart Sathienthirakul lie second on 125 points while Yuya Sakamoto sits equal third on 118 points with Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak.

 

A maximum of 25 points are available in each race. A unique format this weekend will see Practice get underway on Thursday. The two-part Qualifying will happen on Friday afternoon and will be followed by Race 1 at 4:15 pm local time (8:15pm NZST). Race 2 takes place on Sunday at 11:55 am local time (3:55 NZST).

 

The Formula 3 Asian Championship, Chinese Formula 4 Championship and Geely Super Cup will play support to the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia action.

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