Alexandre ImperatoriPICC Team StarChase and star driver Alexandre Imperatori stunned their rivals at the weekend with a wheel-perfect performance against the strongest field ever in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia history.

Pole position and two superb victories see the team at the top of the championship leaderboard with an encouraging seven point lead. Imperatori set the fastest lap both races for good measure, completing a perfect weekend.

The weekend heralded the start of an exciting new partnership between PICC, Team StarChase, one of China’s top racing teams, and sparkling young racing talent Imperatori.

Said Imperatori, as he celebrated with the team in this home city of Shanghai: “It was a tough but ultimately successful weekend for us, and no better way to begin the season. I believe our pole position was an important psychological moment for us as it was difficult to gauge from testing and practice if we really did have the edge against this unprecedented field.”

“It’s an encouraging start to the season and our championship campaign, but Round 2 certainly proved that it is going to be incredibly competitive. Watch this space!”

As the region’s most competitive and prestigious international sportscar championship got its 10th season underway at the 2012 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX in Shanghai, PICC Team StarChase were on the pace from the word ‘go’.

Imperatori threw down the gauntlet to his 27 rivals early on, snatching pole position for Round 1 with a scorching lap of the 5.5km Shanghai International Circuit of under two minutes nine seconds, the only driver to do so.

Having given the 24-year-old Imperatori the perfect car with which to take pole, and the all-important championship point which went with it, expert race engineer Frank Rohwer and his technical team ensured the Shanghai-based Swiss ace was in great shape for the first race of the season.

As the lights went out, Imperatori was away like lightning and never look back. Crossing the line with an impressive margin of almost eight seconds from his closest challenger, he had paced the 12 laps perfectly to ensure he was ready for all takers.

Sunday, however, brought a far more testing task. New for the 2012 season is the reverse grid system which sees the first eight finishers in race one reverse for the start of the second race.

While victory in Round 1 may have given PICC Team StarChase a strong moral boost, starting from the fourth row for Round 2, amongst an enormously-competitive field, meant the team had their work cut out for them.

Off the grid, Imperatori was on the hunt for places, as the seven cars ahead jostled for position at break-neck speed. Holding his nerve, he piled on the pressure ever watchful for potential incidents up ahead.

Lap 8 saw the drama unfurl, as a challenge at the front of the pack saw a fast-paced change of position, with cars running wide, coming together, and rejoining the chase. Grabbing his chance, Imperatori’s lightning reactions helped him navigate his way through the melee to claim the race lead in a performance that was nothing short of jaw-dropping. Flat out the flag, he had managed to pull out a margin of more than four seconds by the finish.

Brains, courage and skill, combined with the perfect car, had given Imperatori and PICC Team StarChase the victory, one which tasted all the sweeter for the white-knuckle ride it had been. The race was hailed by one and all as the most exciting in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia history.

The weekend was doubly successful for the team when their second Porsche Carrera Cup Asia entry, for China’s Tung Ho-Pin in the Budweiser Team StarChase car, finished third in Round 2. With Tung joining Imperatori on the podium, it was a proud moment for the team.

Said StarChase Chief Operations Officer Mr. Robby Niermann: “We’re delighted to leave Shanghai at the top of the leaderboard, but the weekend has shown that we’re competing right at the pinnacle of the sport this year. We’re going to have to be completely at the top of our game all year. More than ever, there is zero room for error.”

“We are also extremely proud to have a second car this season, and to have another talented driver on board. We are equally committed to supporting both Alex and Ho-Pin to capture as many race wins as possible for the team,” added Niermann.

Team StarChase will be back in action to continue their quest to capture the 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia title at the Zhuhai International Circuit from June 1-3.