While Porsche Motorsport has long been active and present in the region through Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, which has been running since 2003, the next development was made with the decision to establish a permanent motorsport office in 2017. Developing from the existing infrastructure of the one-make series, and with support from the German marque’s central headquarters in Stuttgart, the focus of the new regional motorsport office was clear: to develop car sales and after-sale support for the extensive line-up of GT cars in the region and to create new platforms to compete in, growing the business from the grassroots level all the way to top tier racing, as well as develop new talent.
The office’s first race victory came almost immediately, with JRM pairing Li Chao and Chris van der Drift in the Porsche 911 GT3 R taking the first GT3 win for a Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific customer in China GT during their title bid, fittingly at the Shanghai International Circuit where the office is based.
In accordance with the office objectives, customer numbers grew in China GT and the Thailand Super Series, with multiple successes in the latter’s GT3, GT Cup and GT4 classes. The Thailand Super Series also became a strategic partner to run the Porsche Cayman GT4 Trophy Thailand, a championship specifically for the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, which Thailand Super Series president Sontaya Kunplome raced in. Kmik Karnasuta won the title, as well as the GTC trophy, before it was renamed the Porsche Sprint Trophy Thailand for 2019.
Early that year came one of the high points, with Earl Bamber Motorsport claiming a momentous Bathurst 12 Hour victory to see out the previous generation Porsche 911 GT3 R’s tenure. Later in the Intercontinental GT Challenge season, Absolute Racing further contributed to Porsche’s eventual title, scoring an overall podium at the Suzuka 10 Hours to top its teams’ title in GT World Challenge Asia and Pro-Am drivers’ championship.
Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific customer cars have also raced at two of the biggest endurance races in the world: the Le Mans 24 Hours and 24 Hours of Spa, with the Nürburgring 24 Hours set to the added to the list in 2020. Regional customers have also made appearances at the iconic FIA GT World Cup in Macau and the FIA Motorsport Games, as well as its previous incarnation as the FIA GT Nations Cup.
A testament to Porsche’s long-standing and ongoing commitment to developing new platforms in Asia Pacific came with the Porsche Sports Cup China, which debuted in 2019. Combining customer and clubsport racing, it brought together drivers and road car users for a series of track activities catered to both parties, with race events for motorsport customers and driving challenges for non-race license holders.
This was further reinforced at the beginning of 2020, when the debut of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Asia gave customers a chance to continue racing during motorsport’s traditional off-season.
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific: “Looking back on the last three years, we have achieved so much more than we could have ever expected. We have reached every level of motorsport, from the grassroots to top tier international GT racing, in our bid to develop racing in Asia with great success. We look forward to a bright future.”
Michael Dreiser, Director Motorsport Sales: “It is amazing to think of what Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific has achieved in three years. We are working closely with our regional customers to offer them the best support possible and creating new platforms for racing, especially in Asia. We are looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Volker Holzmeyer, Manager Sales America & Asia Pacific: “One of our key objectives has been to develop long-term and consistent customer racing programmes in the Asia-Pacific region, and we have established this in a very small amount of time. Being a local entity helps us get closer to our customers and develop resident racing activities, which is a big part of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific’s objectives. More recently we’ve been building bridges to other continents so our customers can race internationally, with our cars at the Le Mans and Spa 24 Hour races in 2019, and a Nürburgring 24 Hours programme in place for this year also.”
Q&A with Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific
What were your expectations for Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific when it was created?
We wanted to become the hub for Porsche Motorsport in the Asia-Pacific region. Our primary goal was to be the link between our customers here and our colleagues in Weissach, allowing us to get closer to the teams and drivers and build strong relationships together which we have done very successfully. We have long-term customers, some newer ones who want to expand their programmes with us and some who aim to try something new so was have a broad field.
Did you anticipate this much success in such a short period of time?
You always have to be ambitious when you set up such an organisation, especially with Porsche. However, it would have been a level of overconfidence for us to predict so many victories on circuit, prestigious ones too like the Bathurst 12 Hour in only three years of operation. Away from the circuit, we are also scoring many wins on the business side too, so success all around!
How has the landscape of motorsport in Asia change since Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific’s creation?
It’s been quite a dramatic shift since Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific was founded. There are more platforms for racing, such as the GT World Challenge Asia, China GT and Thailand Super Series which our customers race in but crucially these are sustainable as well, so they are in for the long run. The level of professionalism from local teams is quickly increasing in all of these championships, but particularly in the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the FIA GT World Cup in Macau. Each year they are raising the bar. We’re identifying more sports car and racing enthusiasts through the Porsche Experience Centre in Shanghai and the Porsche Sports Cup China event we held last year. We are finding more and more people are becoming interested in not just motorsport but cars in general, so this is very positive for us.
Do you have a personal highlight from these three years?
It’s too hard to pick just one! The first edition of the Porsche Sports Cup China in Shanghai was a very good moment of last year as we brought together our road and race car customers. Obviously, Bathurst was a particular highlight, winning in 2019 but also scoring pole position this year. The first win for the 2019-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R worldwide came in GT World Challenge Asia, this is another big moment for us. I would also say our Porsche China Junior, Daniel Lu, winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race in Singapore, on the F1 support bill too so this was special.
What’s next for Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific?
Our first priority is to constantly improve customer satisfaction and, where possible, accompany their success from the grassroots level to top international sports car racing. The Porsche pyramid covers so many levels of motorsport and we cater to each one with our range of GT models from the amateur level to clubsport and the professional tier. We would like to reinforce the development of clubsport racing by making that more accessible with the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport. Our one-make series are another area we think we can strengthen, such as Porsche Carrera Cup Asia which has a new Am category for 2020, while also continuing to develop our GT3 competition. But we also want to push customer support with after-sale services to make sure we are providing them with the best possible service.
Source. Porsche/Photo. Porsche Sports Cup China