Expanding its development of a sportscar culture in the world’s second largest economy, Porsche China has announced the introduction of the country’s first-ever driver development programme specifically geared to sportscar competition.
Held in conjunction with the region’s premier sportscar racing championship, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, the China Junior Development Programme 2014 is designed to support talented Chinese drivers between the ages of 18 and 26, and will utilize Porsche Motorsport’s formidable expertise gleaned over more than 60 years of international racing success.
As the first professional education and coaching programme to be launched around the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, it is hoped it will lead the way for other nations to follow suit, with the championship becoming recognised as the ideal environment in which to develop young sportscar professionals across the region.
Enrolled into the China programme in its first year are four Porsche Carrera Cup Asia drivers: Series newcomer and reigning Scirocco-R Cup China champion Bao Jin Long of Team Synsanly; another newcomer, Zhang Zhen Dong of Team Basetex; Zhang Da Sheng, this year competing with new team Zheng Tong Auto; and Jason Zhang Zhi Qiang of Team C&D.
Said Porsche China’s Motorsport Manager, Oliver Schwab: “We are proud to introduce the first driver development programme in China specifically designed to nurture the country’s leading talent for a career in sportscar competition. Our goal is to utilize the expertise and knowledge of the global Porsche motorsport heritage to ensure China has sportscar drivers who are competitive at the highest international level. We hope the programme will be replicated by Porsche across the region, further enhancing the high quality of sportscar competition and enabling all young drivers to reach their full potential.”
The comprehensive, season-long programme includes tuition in all elements of professional motorsport, from race craft, technical training and a motorsport-specific fitness regimen, to mental focus and media training.
Chief trainer for the programme is two-time Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Christian Menzel of Germany. For the official pre-season test, held last weekend at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, the trainees had the benefit of tuition from Menzel and also Porsche works driver Sascha Maassen, former Le Mans Class winner and Macau Grand Prix title holder. Last year, newly-crowned Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Earl Bamber won the coveted Porsche International Cup scholarship, beating the brightest talents from other Carrera Cups to earn the top prize.
Bamber’s success demonstrated once again that the level of competition within the Asian edition of the one-make series is of the highest level, making it an ideal training ground for young talent. The intense on-track competition provided by the series, combined with expert professional tuition, will ensure the Chinese trainees have the benefit of the best possible environment in which to develop their talents.
Added Schwab: “We hope all four Chinese drivers will take full advantage of this ground-breaking new initiative from Porsche China. We look forward to seeing the trainees reach their full potential through the programme, and eventually competing on the world stage. The Porsche Motorsport family is truly international and there are no limits to the opportunities it offers real talent. This is an exciting new development for motorsport in China.”
The four drivers will take to the track for the start of the 12th Porsche Carrera Cup Asia season on March 29th at the 2014 FORMULA 1 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX, the first of three occasions on which the series will support the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this season, and a high-profile showcase for China’s most promising sportscar talent.