Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup: USA race report
Earl Bamber has secured the 2014 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup title after seeing off the challenge of closest challenger, Kuba Giermaziak in the season finale at Circuit of The Americas.
Visiting the Texas track for the first time, two 14-lap Supercup races would decide the destiny of the 2014 championship, with Giermaziak drawing first blood in qualifying, setting a lap good enough for second on the grid, just 0.029s behind poleman Nicki Thiim and, crucially, two places ahead of Bamber.
However, the grid for race two would be set by the drivers’ second-fastest lap times and it was here that Bamber showed greater consistency at a circuit he had never seen before, taking pole for the second encounter.
As it was, Saturday’s first race saw Bamber take his biggest step towards the title after a titanic duel between the Kiwi and his Polish rival gave the International Cup scholar a 14-point advantage ahead of race two on Sunday.
Thiim made a poor start from pole position in race one, allowing Giermaziak to briefly take the lead only to see the outgoing champion sweep back in front, heading off to take his second victory of 2014.
Behind, Giermaziak came under increasing pressure from Michael Ammermüller, with the German finding a way through on lap five, leaving the former to fend off the attentions of Klaus Bachler.
Bachler eventually demoted Giermaziak to fourth on lap 11, pushing the Pole into the clutches of his tital rival, Bamber. The two went wheel-to-wheel, with some paint being traded before Giermaziak spun, dropping to 11th and leaving Bamber free to take fourth, just ahead of Philipp Eng.
Total 911 columnist, Ben Barker qualified seventh and couldn’t find a way passed sixth-placed Christian Engelhart during the duration of the 14-lap opening encounter.
Race two was another frantic affair, although Bamber needed to finish just ninth in order to clinch the title, a task made easier by his pole position grid slot, while Giermaziak found himself starting in fifth.
For the first lap, Bamber held the lead however, on the second tour of the 5.3-kilometre circuit, the fast starting Eng made a move, demoting the Kiwi to second, before the battling Walter Lechner Racing duo of Ammermüller and Thiim pushed Bamber down further to fourth.
Thiim’s challenge would end with a spin, rejoining at the tail of the field before charging through to 11th. Meanwhile, the leaders continued to battle, continually swapping positions with the help of COTA’s long straights and heavy braking zones.
British ace, Barker joined the fight at one stage, running four abreast for the lead alongside Ammermüller, Eng and Bamber. In his best performance since Catalunya, the 22-year-old would have to settle for fourth, narrowly missing a second podium of the year.
Ammermüller eventually was able to go clear of Bamber, who in turn had managed to distance Eng by 1.5 seconds. Second was easily enough to secure the Kiwi a maiden Supercup title as Giermaziak struggled to seventh.
Bamber also secured the Rookie title ahead of Porsche Junior, Sven Müller (winner last time out at Monza). Meanwhile, Ammermüller’s first victory of the year helped the German finish the year ranked third in the standings.
Despite the best efforts of Ammermüller and Thiim though, the team title went the way of Giermaziak and Barker’s VERVA Lechner Racing outfit, seeing off the challenge of Walter Lechner Racing by just nine points.
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