With his third win of the season, Nicki Thiim has moved into the lead of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Driving for the Attempto Racing squad, the Dane won the first of two final races in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, beating the strong guest driver Earl Bamber from New Zealand (FACH AUTO TECH). Third place went to VERVA Racing team’s Kuba Giermaziak from Poland. At the wheel of his 460 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which is based on the seventh generation of the 911, Nicki Thiim would only have to finish in the top ten in the last race of the season on Sunday to take home the title of the world’s top class brand trophy series which has run as support to Formula 1 since 1993. Thanks to his victory, Attempto Racing is the early winner of the team classification.
The surprise at the sweltering race on the Yas Marina Circuit in the capital of the United Arab Emirates was Earl Bamber. On the back of clinching the title of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia a week ago, the New Zealander set pole position in qualifying. At just his second Supercup race, he got away cleanly at the start to lead the field and defended his position to the final lap. Shortly before the flag, he made a tiny error which Nicki Thiim used to sweep past and on to victory. Earl Bamber had to console himself with his first podium result in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the fastest race lap.
Finishing behind Kuba Giermaziak in fourth place was another Supercup rookie Ben Barker (Team Bleekemolen) from Great Britain. Fifth place was occupied by Frenchman Kévin Estre (Attempto Racing), the newly-crowned winner of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. With his sixth place, Germany’s Michael Ammermüller (Lechner Racing) theoretically still holds a title chance. The Porsche juniors Klaus Bachler (Austria/FÖRCH Racing) and Michael Christensen (Denmark/DAMS) landed on position seven and ten respectively. Michael Christensen managed to defend his lead in the rookie classification as the best Supercup newcomer. Frenchman Jean Karl Vernay from the MRS GT-Racing team, who receives support this season from Porsche for his Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign as the winner of the International Cup Scholarship, had to park his Porsche with a clutch defect.
In memory of their colleague Sean Edwards, all the drivers gathered around his car with the starting number 14 on Friday prior to free practice. The Briton was killed in an accident on 15 October during a private coaching session in Australia. In Abu Dhabi, all competitors drive with a black ribbon on the front of their cars.
Nicki Thiim (winner): “It was a very beautiful and very emotional race for me. I was constantly thinking of Sean Edwards, particularly in the last lap. With him I achieved the greatest success in my career, winning the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring. I stayed behind Earl in the race and waited for him to make a mistake, which he then did with deteriorating tyres shortly before the finish. I could overtake without risk.”
Earl Bamber (second): “That was a fantastic race. If someone had told me when I arrived in Abu Dhabi that I would be second here, I’d have said they were crazy. A huge thank you to the team for their great support. Unfortunately I made a minor mistake in the last lap, but I haven’t had that much Supercup experience. Maybe I can do better tomorrow.”
Kuba Giermaziak (third): “That was the toughest race of the year for me. Ben stuck like glue to my bumper and it was extremely hard to fend off his attacks. But we had already found a great set-up for the car in qualifying. It was a wonderful feeling to finish on the podium, especially as it was not easy today emotionally. It’s very painful to have lost a great colleague and friend in Sean.”
Klaus Bachler (Porsche junior, seventh): “It was an exhausting race in the heat. I didn’t use the fan in order to have some additional speed on the straights. Because I was running on used tyres I knew beforehand that it wouldn’t be easy. But I’d expected a little more than seventh place. Still, I’ll take the points and I hope that things go better for me on Sunday.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche junior, tenth): “That was the toughest race I’ve ever contested in my life. My start wasn’t good and I lost a place. I was able to reclaim the spot, but it took me a while to find my rhythm.”
Jean-Karl Vernay (Winner International Cup Scholarship, DNF): “Today was not our day. Tomorrow I start further up the grid and I’m hoping for a positive conclusion to my first Supercup season.”
1. Nicki Thiim (DK), Attempto Racing, 31:36.673 minutes
2. Earl Bamber (NZ), FACH AUTO TECH, + 0.719 seconds
3. Kuba Giermaziak (PL), VERVA Racing Team, + 9.280
4. Ben Barker (GB), Team Bleekemolen, + 10.649
5. Kévin Estre (F), Attempto Racing, + 10.959
6. Michael Ammermüller (D), Lechner Racing, + 13.916
7. Klaus Bachler (A), FÖRCH Racing, + 15.744
10. Michael Christensen (DK), DAMS, + 18.755
Points standings after 8 of 9 races
1. Nicki Thiim (DK), Attempto Racing, 120 points
2. Sean Edwards (GB), Team Allyouneed by Project 1, 118
3. Michael Ammermüller (D), Lechner Racing, 106
4. Kuba Giermaziak (PL), VERVA Racing Team, 93
5. Kévin Estre (F), Attempto Racing, 89
6. Michael Christensen (DK), DAMS, 85
1. Michael Christensen (DK), DAMS, 85 points
2. Klaus Bachler (A), FÖRCH Racing, 73
3. Ben Barker (GB), Team Bleekemolen, 58