The Swiss driver just misses out on pole position but conquers a second place finish after battling with former World Champion Rob Huff
Alex Fontana’s 2018 season in the China Touring Car Championship, the most important touring car series in the Asian country, started on the front foot this weekend. Confirmed as a works driver with KIA Motors for the third year, the Swiss driver immediately gave evidence of his potential with a splendid podium finish in Race 1 on the Shanghai circuit that also hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
ON a wet track in qualifying Fontana only just missed out on pole position at the wheel of his K3 2.0: after recording a time of 2'09"235, he was only beaten in extremis by Rob Huff, the WTCC 2012 World Champion, now driving for Volkswagen. The head-to-head with the British driver continued in the first races, albeit without any real opportunities for overtaking. The red flag that was immediately shown for a multiple pile-up at the first corner and a long interruption meant that when the race restarted there was only time for three laps to be disputed: Alex retained his second place behind Huff and in front of the local Ford driver Martin Cao, the 2014 British F3 champion.
In Race 2, with the inversion of the grid for the first 12 finishers in the opening heat, the Swiss driver started from 11th place: unfortunately Fontana was rear-ended by an adversary and was forced to retire on the 8th lap, just as he was fighting his way back up the field. He therefore missed out on the opportunity to gain further points for the overall standings.
Alex will be back in the CTCC in July, again at Shanghai but this time on the Tianma Circuit. With a length of just 2,063 metres this will without doubt present an unusual driving challenge. In the meantime we will see him on track in the Blancpain GT Series with the Emil Frey Racing Jaguar, following up on his fantastic win in the Silver Cup category at Monza in the Endurance Trophy series.
“My 2018 season in the CTCCgot off to a great start with a battle for pole position involving an established champion of the calibre of Rob Huff and then second place in Race 1. These are hugely encouraging results and reflect well on the intensive work conducted with KIA Motorsto develop the K3, which is becoming increasingly competitive. I’m only sorry about the retirement in Race 2; it would have been great to be able to collect further precious points. We’ll be looking to make up ground when I come back to China for the race at the Tianma Circuit with the objective of going for the win.”