For the second year in succession the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup produced a race filled with thrills and spills at the Red Bull Ring, the Austrian venue swiftly becoming the favourite of drivers, teams and fans.
Yet for one man the circuit will now hold a very special resonance. When the Fach Auto Tech squad called Christopher Zöchling as a stand in for round three of the 2015 season, neither would have expected that the weekend would end with the Austrian atop the podium.
Zöchling started mid-grid with American driver Connor de Phillippi having stolen his first ever series pole position in the Saturday qualifying session. The VERVA Lechner Racing Team driver held the lead until lap six and was deposed in quick succession by Zöchling and then Team Project 1 contender Philipp Eng. An ecstatic and bemused victor commented, “I’m absolutely thrilled with my first place, especially since it was a last minute deal. It’s incredible for the team and me.”
It was a weekend during which the home stars shone, with Eng finishing a strong second and stealing the championship lead. de Phillippi is worthy of more than a fleeting mention. After qualifying it appeared he had finally found the prodigious pace that many suspected was always in him. He would have been deserving of a rostrum finish but was removed from the podium altogether by Spaniard Alex Riberas (The Heart of Racing by Lechner). Riberas is another youngster who appears to have matured since 2014 and both would be worthy of one’s money if you were wishing to place bets on potential winners at Silverstone.
MRS-GT Racing man Christian Engelhart finished fifth and is once again using his guile and experience to launch a stealthy title tilt. Lechner Racing Middle East driver Michael Ammermüller looked likely to dominate the season after victory in Spain and then a sixth in Monaco but a ninth in Austria has seen him dethroned. His comeback will be another key point heading to Silverstone.
We cannot keep referring to the home of British motorsport without referring to British drivers. Ben Barker and Cameron Twynham of the MOMO-Megatron Team PARTRAX squad both endured mixed weekends. The former was fighting for fifth position when contact led to a spectacular and laundry-bill raising spin to finish an eventual nineteenth, whilst Twynham finished in twenty first.
The Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup now heads to the UK and Silverstone, where the addition of several front runners from the Porsche Carrera Cup of Great Britain looks set enliven the spectacular action yet further. Keep an eye out in the coming days for a TCF Feature on why the additional entries may well cause a big, big upset.